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Walking Dead Recap: It takes guts


The Walking Dead Recap: It takes GUTS

Season 1/Episode 2: Guts

Last week ‘s Walking Dead left off with everyman hero, Rick Grimes, down one seriously gored horse and trapped inside a tank with throngs of the undead crawling all over it.  Will he make it out alive!? Yeah, sure, of course.  But not without trial, error, carnage and a morally compromised ol’ lady.   This week’s episode, Guts, started off driving home Rick’s cruel fate even further by opening up with his former cop buddy, Shane, licking the now wedding ring eschewing Mrs. Grimes all over. 

After the first of what’s sure to be many more survivor boning scenes, it’s back to Atlanta, where the zombies are still gorging on horsemeat and Rick’s making a run for it at the urging of a voice from the tank’s emergency CB channel.  He climbs out fighting, axes a zombie in the face and shoots several more before running into the guy who was snarking at him over the CB.  The two run down an alley, scale a building and climb onto a roof to escape the zombie horde of Atlanta.  Did this pick the pace up enough for those of you who didn’t care for Darabont’s down tempo, slow building suspense style last week?  (It seemed quicker to me but then again I didn’t have any issue with it so let me know in the comments).

Anyways, Rick’s new survivor pal, Glenn, has a posse. They come out dressed like ninjas to save them in an alley.  One of them, Andrea, threatens to kill Rick for “ringing the dinner bell” and getting them cornered in a department store.  He’s worked her last nerve. She’s THIS CLOSE to shooting him. Then they hear shots from the roof. The ragtag, culturally diverse group of survivors heads upstairs to see what the fuss is all about where they find major dumbass redneck, Merle Dixon, un-strategically and wantonly shooting zombies.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, dude goes off on a totally irrational, racist rant, calling African American survivor, T-Dog (Seriously?) the N word.

Rick works Andrea's last nerve (Photo: Courtesy of AMC)

Dixon tackles T-Dog to the ground and spits in his face to assert his alpha male dominance.  Rick, however, is having none of that shit.  He bashes him over the head with a shotgun and handcuffs him to a pipe.  Then he breaks it down, lest there be any doubt: This is a Post-Racial Zombiepocalypse they’re living in.  But it aint’ Kumbaya – it’s Them vs. the Dead.  And there will be no meth in this Zombie Virus Outbreak Aftermath!  After finding a baggie of suspicious looking white powder in Dixon’s pocket, Rick chucks it over the side of the roof, which left me wondering, where the heck do you get post apocalypse meth?  I guess he already had a supply?  No matter now, as the roof party drags on, Rick learns there’s no refugee center. And we learn that Darabont is lifting his dialogue directly from the gossip columns when Dixon calls Andrea “Sugar Tits.” Good one (mark my words, Darabont was leveling a subtle, writerly diss at intoxicated racist Mel Gibson with that one).

Merle Dixon: Racisot Provacateur Meth Head

Not so good is that Rick, Glenn et al are now trapped on the roof.  “What about the sewers?” Rick asks.  Helpful Atlanta City Zoning Office survivor, Jacqui, points out that most buildings built in the early 20th Century (like the one they’re in) had sewer entrances.  Jacqui, Glenn and the Hispanic survivor dude (whose name I didn’t catch) go to check it out while Rick and Sugar Tits go back to head off the zombie reserves at the department store.  The sewer’s a bust – they can’t get out due to a serious looking fence and a bloody-mouthed rat eating zombie.  The department store’s growing more vulnerable to the undead invasion and getting worse all around, particularly when Sugar Tits picks out a mermaid pendant necklace for her sister and Rick doesn’t arrest her for stealing something so tacky (where are the fashion police when you need them?)

It’s time for the survivors to head back up to the roof and do some problem solving.  Zombies are attracted to the smell of the living.  Check.  They’re also distracted by sound. Check.  Sounds like a plan.  A super gross plan!  But the survivors are running out of time.  The zombies are breaking through the department store windows.  So the survivors zombie-nap some poor, undead bastard from the alley named Wayne Dunlap to decapitate, disembowel and use his guts for downtown Atlanta accessorizing.  Taking care to get none of the undead insides on their skin or in their eyes, Glenn and Rick get all smeared up with amputated feet, blackish zombie blood, and gutted innards. Then, after Rick gives T-Bone poor, most likely doomed Merle Dixon’s handcuff keys, Glenn and Rick pile another helping of guts on their persons and head out into greater urban Atlanta.

Rick and Glenn accesorize with the undead for a stroll through urban Atlanta (Photo: Courtesy of AMC)

A truly horrifying scene (made all the more creepy by being shot in harsh daylight) follows.  Glenn and Rick make it out of the alley and into the street where they try to blend into zombie traffic.  Up on the roof, the remaining survivors keep an eye on them while reaching out to the RV gang where Shane’s acting all fatherly towards Rick’s son under Lori’s approving watch. T-Bone says they’re “trapped, surrounded!” Shane responds by totaling blowing them off.  They knew the risks when they left to find food to feed his ungrateful ass.  No one – not Lori or Sugar Tits’ mermaid loving sister – is happy about it but they all grudgingly accept it.

The undead accept Glenn and Rick but only until the rain starts coming down, washing the zombie blood off their clothes.  Then they’re fucked. 

100% Fucked (Photo: Courtesy of AMC)

After they’re spotted, they manage to climb up a chain link fence that the dead are, for the most part, too dumb to traverse. 

Later, undead horde (Photo: Courtesy of AMC)

After finding a truck with keys in the ignition, they drive off in search of a noisy zombie diverter, which they find in the guise of a flashy red sports car.  Glenn drives the hotrod into the zombie horde and succeeds in drawing them away in the nick of time for the survivors to escape. Except for Dixon, that is, who’s left screaming on the roof after T-Bone drops the handcuff keys in slow mo.  D’oh!  Then the episode closed on Andrea asking after Glenn’s whereabouts and a cut to a jubilant Glenn racing out of Atlanta.

Okey doke. Sound off, peeps.  Once again, for the most part I wholeheartedly liked it.  Darabont tends to lay a thin layer of cheese on top of everything he writes, but, as I said last week, I think venturing towards cliché and simple characterizations works in a dark, bleak, totally gory tale like this. Whaddayou think?

  1. This morning I woke up right when the zombies started attacking the barn me and my group (of strangers) had just finished fortifying. Thanks to Walking Dead!

  2. I didn’t have any nightmares.. but I woke up this morning… to find the power was out. Okay. There was maybe a slight moment of panic and flashing back to last night’s images of abandoned Atlanta filled with the walking dead last night.

  3. I’m still enjoying this series, though I have to admit it has as much to do with a lack of other shows of interest, the short commitment (only 6 episodes) and a serious case of Lost withdrawal, than the merits of the show itself. I suppose that’s a back-handed compliment, but there you go.

    Anyway, the second episode: overall, I found it compelling and suspenseful and entertaining. However, the characterization is still pretty non-existent, and with only 4 more episodes to go this season and about a dozen characters to cover, we’re obviously not going to get any “satisfying chunk” (sorry!) when it comes to backgrounds, motivations, etc. Also, the storytelling shortcuts really bugged me; more about this below.

    Likes: accelerated pacing, good acting from the lead, music that works well with the atmosphere of the show. Also, I think that the conscious decision to feature so much of the action and “scary moments” of the show in broad daylight is commendable and a clever direction to take down the well-worn path of zombie flicks. I’m also quite pleased with the production values and sets, especially for a basic cable show that doesn’t have the budget of network shows.

    Dislikes: one too many hackneyed plot ploys that stretch suspension of disbelief and only serve as a convenient (read: cheap) way to push the story into the path desired by the writer. Examples: zombies that are slow and shuffling, except when they need to sprint after the protagonists in order to heighten the tension; a brand new sports car that can be easily hotwired with a screwdriver, after the protagonists have risked their life trying to get to keys for another vehicle; the racist drug-addict who has presumably been cooperating with the survivors for a while now, but picks this moment to suddenly go all KKK on everyone; and of course the painfully cliché slow-mo key drop into the ventilation shaft (and preceding “foreshadowing-cam” shot of the hacksaw and tool chest being knocked over).

    So, yeah, nowhere near Lost in terms of complexity and characters and overall quality, but still about as different as anything you’d see on television, and very promising. Unlike The Event and FlashForward and V, I’m interested enough to keep watching and seeing how the series unfolds.

  4. @dara naraghi – i was more concerned with where merle dixon is getting his meth now that it’s been … what two – three months since the zombie apocalypse happened? that seemed like a questionable plot device. but yeah, in spite of the “many hackneyed plot ploys” i am enjoying this thing and look forward to seeing how things develop as well.

  5. yeah – when i talked to them at NYCC they were being cagey about a 2nd season, but it sounds like it’s in the bag (and probably was back then actually)

  6. @dara naraghi – That tidily sums up all the problems I had with this episode. But in spite of not being sure I actually liked the episode, and in spite of gross-out zombie gore being one of my least favourite things to watch, I was still on the edge of my seat scared through a lot of it (pitch-black sewer? no thank you!). I love a long, drawn-out process of being scared, rather than just being surprised and shocked and nauseated.

    And my nightmare involved fortifying an apartment in a fancy high-rise condo with a band of other survivors. Then those pesky aliens from Skyline got us. Some days you just can’t win.

  7. Rick mentions that a box with keys in it should be near the trucks. That’s how they get them.

    But what I didn’t understand is how they got the hot rod going. Were they able to hot wire it? Do they know how to do that?

  8. @Daniel: after they broke the window on the muscle car, there’s a brief shot (maybe a couple of seconds) of Rick jamming a screwdriver into the ignition, which apparently is all it takes to hotwire a late model car.

  9. Thanks Dara. I didn’t catch that moment.

    Rick was first to drive the hot rod, did we ever see him switch vehicles with Glen? I didn’t notice and it was a bit jarring (although no big deal).

  10. as someone who is not that big a fan of the zombie genre ,i have to say: i’m absolutely loving this show. probably has to do with the survivors being alot more “human” than what is usually shown in zombie flicks as well as the thrills and chills that the show brings. we’ll have to see how these characters are fleshed out (so to speak) as the series goes on. weird thing is, i too, had zombie survivor dreams last night after watching the episode, HHHhhmmm.

  11. I’m a bit let down that last night’s episode violated Chekhov’s “When you show a grenade in the first act, you must blow up a zombie with it in the final act” rule.

  12. Rick survived two months (?) in a coma on a single IV drip bag, if he can pull that off he can hotwire a car with a screwdriver. Not to mention THE DEAD ARE WALKING THE EARTH. My suspension of disbelief is in tact. (although, if you’re in a dept. store and are going down into a sewer, grab some spray-paint to mark your way and a compass).

  13. I loved it! Glen was one of my favorite characters from the comics, and I LOVE the actor they cast for him, he’s better than perfect– he brings such likability and vulnerability to the role.
    However, Merle Dixon was a little over the top for me and while I did not envy him his fate, he was practically a Dickensonian 2-D character, which doesn’t really match the rest of the much more complicated character work from the series, and even the show thus far.
    But otherwise I thought this episode was another great installment to what promises to be a kick ass show. More, please!

  14. @maggie: “dickensian 2-D character” – you nailed it. plus, where did he get the meth!!? it’s been two months.

  15. Maybe he’s using some sort of shake and bake method and making his own that way.

    Or maybe it was powdered sugar and Rick just screwed the survivors out of some wonderful scones. People assume the worst just because he’s a racist redneck. There are other aspects of his personality!

  16. Man, I must have blinked during the meth-reveal (oh, that cliched trope of old; the fabled Meth Reveal), I totally missed it. But hey, it doesn’t bother me. Drug addicts will do anything for their fix and maybe meth keeps. Or maybe he’s cooking some on the sly back at camp. Either way, during a zompacolypse, I bet people are looking for an escape any way they can.

    The biggest question betwixt myself and my room mates was weather or not we’ll see Merle again and, more importantly, how. I doubt he’s gone forever, but it’s going to take some writerly yoga to explain how he got out of handcuffs, through the chained door, and past a city of zombies if we do see him alive later on.

    But as for the rest of the episode, it was solid. My only complaint is the surprisingly low on-screen death toll. Not one living person has been yanked away screaming, or even been bit. I love the slow-burn pacing but it’s loosing some of the sense of peril a ZOMGzombithon should have.

  17. @Morgan: “…weather or not we’ll see Merle again and, more importantly, how. I doubt he’s gone forever, but it’s going to take some writerly yoga to explain how he got out of handcuffs…”

    Remember the “foreshadowing-cam” shot of T-Dog tripping and knocking over the toolbox holding the hacksaw (just before dropping the key down the vent)? That’s how. Plus, he chained the doors to the roof, so that’ll save Merle from the zombies who are now in the store.

  18. @Joe Lawler – nice to see you back in recap land, man. scones would have been nice. i’d totally eat a merle dixon scone right now.

    @Morgan – if there’s not a guerilla meth lab set up clandestinely near the RV next week, i’m going to at the very least complain about it again. unless i forget. oh also, it looks like merle’s much hotter brother, daryll, is going to get ‘im in episode 3. there’s your writerly yoga.

  19. PS: merle will be freed by daryl plus what @dara naraghi said about the toolbox and the vent keys. who wants to bet?

  20. While everyone was scouting the city for supplies, Merle could have pick up the meth from some place he was getting it before the zombie apocalypse.

    Anyways, so far I’m enjoying the series and I’m glad to see that it’s been renewed for a longer second season. :-)

  21. That’s why everyone should have a gun! If aliens or zombies ever break out, you liberals are all fucked! -I’m serious!

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