Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 1 “What Lies Ahead” Review

It’s Back!  Walking Dead is back!  I do have to say, I’m a little nervous about this show since the firing of the genius Frank Darabont.  For every genius move AMC makes, they seem to make one equally stupid, and last night’s season 2 opener does nothing but make AMC look like garbage.  It’s maybe the best episode yet of the series, and it has the guy they fired’s fingerprints all over it.

But for now, we can rejoice in the last influences of Darabont in this spoiler filled review of the season opener “What Lies Ahead.”

“What kind of Spoilers?” “Only one way to find out.”

THE GOOD

THE FIRST HALF HOUR – The first half hour was commercial free, and some of the best television storytelling I have ever seen.  What this show does really ridiculously well is build anticipation. I watched the first half hour without going to get a beer, checking my iPod, or anything.  My eyes were glued, convinced that the next car they opened would a stereotypical startle (the kind the American horror film is sadly riddled with) but with each non-threat my anticipation heightened.  When we finally saw zombies, they were a slow oncoming mass…a force of nature.  When all of our heroes climbed under the cars and….oh God…there is still one in the Winnebago!  I forgot all about her!  Oh my god she doesn’t know!  She’s just sitting there trying to reassemble her gun!

That particular shot was one of the scariest things I have ever seen.  Frank Darabont is a brilliant visual storyteller.  Sometimes I’d like to punch AMC in the face.

ZOMBIE INNARDS – “What kind of flesh?” “Only one way to find out.” God, cutting open a zombie stomach to see if he ate the little girl is the coolest/grossest thing since they covered themselves in Guts in the second episode to sneak by the zombies.  The fact that this show uses such great practical effects in a world of CG is part of what makes it not only one of the best shows on television, but one of the best visual stories all in all.  The majority of that moment is sold though on Rick Grime’s face.  His looking like he wanted to throw up was so convincing that I felt the same way.

ARE YOU THERE GOD, IT’S ME, ZOMBIES – The ending cliffhanger was great, but greater still for the way it conveyed where God stands in the world of The Walking Dead. So much great symbolism and social commentary.  First, when they enter the church and zombies are sitting in the pews ( a metaphor for the luke warm church body if I’ve ever seen one) and the various members pleading to God.  Rick Grimes plea for God to just “Show him a sign” is so passionate, that you are completely sold on the concept when the deer appears.  I was honestly waiting for the deer to lead them to the lost little girl…and as crazy of a deus ex machina as that would be, I was completely okay with that.  Then the “sign from God” and Carl got shot.  Sorry, Rick, looks like you’re on your own.

THE BAD

T-DOG MIGHT BE THAT CHEERLEADER FROM HEROES - What was with them giving T-Dog that huge injury and then just showing it all bandaged up and him all hunky-dory later?  That was a big cut with a heck of a lot of blood.  How good is there medical equipment and abilities?  Is there risk of infection?  Why the hell did they spend so much camera time on it if it wasn’t important?

THE UGLY

FRANK DARABONT BEING FIRED - Seriously.  That was some of the best TV I’ve ever seen.  You broke records last night with how many people watched.  Reward your creative people AMC and stop being dicks.  I hope not, for your sakes, but for the audiences, that the show can be half as good without him.