The Walking Dead: No Guts, No Story

While giving us an episode that is a full 180 degrees from the amazing first installment, the Walking Dead dazzles with character development derived from action and suspense. I was nervous that this episode wouldn’t meet the high bar set by the first but, in some ways, it actually surpassed it. We got a fresh group of survivors, a villain that wasn’t undead and some much needed comedy, albeit the dark variety.

At the end of last week we saw Sheriff Rick (gotta’ love a guy named Rick) locked in a disabled tank with the disembodied voice of a fellow survivor chiding him via two-way radio. This week, we get to meet that disembodied voice in the form of Glen, played with a nervous, quirky gusto by Steven Yuen. Glen presents us with a hero very unlike Rick. While Rick is cast from the mold of the quiet, iron-jawed heroes like Gary Cooper, Glen is reminiscent of Spider-Man. He tries to do the right thing and regularly risks his life, all the while making quips and jokes to mask his insecurities. It’s honestly refreshing to see such a non-traditional hero onscreen and I hope we see more of him in episodes to come.

The rest of the survivors introduced this week aren’t fleshed out too much, but we do get to learn a bit about Merle (sharp-shooting racist!), Andrea (tough-talking gun novice!) and T-Dogg (racist-hating klutz!) What we do learn is more about Shane & Lori. Unfortunately what we learn isn’t very positive. Sure, we witness Lori and Shane getting it on, but the manner in which it happens (and the not-so-subtle reminder of Rick) screams massive betrayal and hints at a future reckoning. What also irked me was the continuing undercurrent of sexism that oozes from Shane’s every pore. He’s a grade-A douche, but one that is played well, with complexity by Jon Bernthal.

But let’s be honest, this week is all about action and gore. Whereas last week’s episode gave us slow yet intense experience, this week brought us an hour of tense action-horror; not to mention a level of gore usually not seen outside of cable movie channels. With that gore, the producers of the show continue to give us the rules of this zombie universe. Zombies recognize each other by smell? Zombies can climb? Zombies have innards that look like chocolate pudding?! Anyway, the action was fast and furious, all while illustrating the aforementioned differences between Glen & Rick. The duo worked well together and brought the funny in the form of Glen’s giddy exclamation at episodes end.

Thus far, the Walking Dead hasn’t disappointed. We’ve seen that while not all survivors are willing to let go of the negative trappings of society, others are all too willing to let go of the positives of the past. Some are unable to adapt quickly enough, while others realize the new rules of these very uncertain times much too quickly. What I’m certain of is that I’ll be back next week, glued to my seat for another hour of undead drama. What about you?

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