So, here’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for. The Walking Dead season two. The season premiere, TS-19, left Jacqui dying at the C.D.C., while Dale made Andrea leave.
“What Lies Ahead” opens with Rick, still talking to Morgan, still in uniform. They’re leaving Atlanta for Fort Benning. It doesn’t seem like the episode takes place long after TS-19, but Shane’s scratches seem to be gone.
Unfortunately, Dale’s RV breaks down and they encounter a pileup of cars on the highway. The survivors take the opportunity to scavenge through the broken-down cars. I just can’t help thinking of the scene in The Stand, when Trashcan Man is trying to get to Las Vegas and The Kid picks him up. They get stuck in a traffic jam on the highway and Randall Flagg sends a bunch of wolves to kill The Kid.
Unfortunately, a herd of walkers starts to make their way down the highway. I mean, it’s like a herd, there’s at least a hundred of them and they’re all going in the same direction. Where are they going? Am I the only one who was thinking that? Were they just drawn by the group or are they getting some kind of hive-mind, like the Phoners in Cell?
The group that’s outside hides under the cars, Dale hides on the roof of his R.V., and Andrea hides in the bathroom with the gun she was trying to clean. In a moment that was very surprising, Daryl pulls a move from the “Guts” playbook and saves T-Dog’s life by covering them both up with corpses. Holy hell, Daryl saved a black man! There’s hope for him yet.
Unfortunately, Carol’s daughter, Sophia, leaves her hiding space too soon and attracts two walkers. She runs into the woods with Rick in close pursuit. His challenge is to kill the walkers without making noise that would attract the herd that just passed. He tells Sophia to hide and wait for him, but, of course, she doesn’t. Sophia is officially missing and it’s not like you can put out an Amber Alert.
Rick returns to where they’re parked to give everyone the bad news. Shane gives them jobs to keep them occupied while Daryl and Rick track Sophia. At the camp, Shane confesses to Lori that he plans to leave. Just slip off into the night, because that would make Rick so happy. I just wonder how long Shane has had feelings for Lori. Were they brought on by the apocalypse or were they doing it beforehand?
Daryl and Rick catch a walker. Rick goes all C.S.I and tries to find skin under its fingernails. It looks like its eaten recently. Daryl does the only thing there is to do–he skins and guts the zombie. This was the most barfworthy moment in the whole episode. You know, Daryl is really growing on me, despite his racism, bad temper, and penchance for flannels with the sleeves cut off. He kind of reminds me of Nelson Muntz if Nelson grew up.
Luckily, the walker just munched on a woodchuck. That’s an…odd sentence.
Daryl and Rick decide to go back since it’s getting dark and there’s no way they’re going to find Sophia in the dark. It’s pretty clear that Carol blames Rick for Sophia’s loss. This, DESPITE the fact that Rick gave her very clear directions that she didn’t follow. Plus, there’s the fact that Rick has been pretty much carrying the burden of leadership on his shoulders from the time he found the group. So, I’m sorry Carol, but please to shut up k thnx.
The next day they plan an all out sweep for Sophia. Bladed weapons (or crossbows) only, to cut down on noise and to keep themselves from shooting each other. I was wondering if they were going to obey that rule. I remember Morgan telling Rick that the walkers are attracted to light and sound, but afterwards, everyone was pretty free with the gun use. People should just take a page from Katniss Everdeen’s book and stick to bows. Anyway, Dale took Andrea’s gun after the walker attack and she wants it back. Dale refuses and it’s pretty clear that he doesn’t trust her to not off herself. Andrea snaps at Dale about how awful it was that he saved her life, that he took away her choice, that she just wanted to escape this nightmare.
Damn. I hate where they’re going with these two characters! I really do! They’re romance in the comics is unexpectedly adorable. But in the series, Dale comes off as overbearing and a little creepy and Andrea is just stone cold. I miss the Andrea of the comic. In the comic, she’s the best shot in the group and plays an integral part in cleaning out the prison in volume three, Safety Behind Bars. She’s strong and tough, even after the death of Amy. They’ve taken away her power in the show.
Rick and Shane step in and justify the idea that it’s better to have as few guns around as possible. They do a sweep of the woods and hear church bells. They follow the bells, hoping that maybe Sophia heard them too. It turns out the bells are automatic and there are three creepy walkers in the church, four if you count the statue of Jesus who’s the ultimate zombie. This is actually one of my favorite creepy scenes, there’s something so eerie about the walkers in their church clothes. They kill the walkers and Sophia prays for forgiveness for her sins–apparently praying for your abusive husband to die is a sin. Can someone hand her a copy of The God Delusion? Meanwhile, Andrea asks Shane to let her come with him.
Shane, Rick, and Carl stay behind to do one final sweep and Daryl leads the others to the other side of the stream-bank to continue the search. In a moment where I actually like her, Lori calls Carol out for blaming Rick. Rick prays for strength, that he’s making the right decisions, and for a sign.
While sweeping the perimeter, Rick, Shane, and Carl find a beautiful buck. It looks young and its antlers are all velvety. Carl very careful approaches the deer and can almost touch him, when a shot goes through the deer and Carl. The episode ends there.
This gives me hope that they may be returning to some of the storylines from the comic. If I recall correctly, Carl was shot at the beginning of volume two, Miles to Go, and taken to the Herschel Farm of Zombie Horrors. Let’s just say that farmer Herschel has watched Survival of the Dead one too many times.
I appreciate that they opened the new season with an action driven episode. I wonder how soon Rick is going to crack. I don’t look forward to that, because I’m very fond of him. I know that there’s a moment in Safety Behind Bars when Rick loses it, but that’s as far in the series as I’ve read.
What I liked about this episode is that while it had a lot of action, it also explored the dynamics of the group and how it’s ultimately being pulled apart. The makeup and special effects were as good as ever. Sadly, I don’t know how long this will last. I’ve read up on the reason Frank Darabont left the show, and it seems that money is the issue. AMC is cutting the amount of money the show receives per episode. AMC actually owns The Walking Dead, unlike its other shows, Mad Men and Breaking Bad, so there isn’t really a studio like Sony to demand more money. AMC also stipulated that during the usual eight-days-per-episode filming schedule, they had to film half of those days indoors. Uhm, AMC, have you actually watched your show? The Walking Dead isn’t an indoor show. They’re driving through Georgia. A note to AMC, please do not fuck this up!
Despite the character developments that I didn’t like, I’ll admit that this episode was highly enjoyable. It delivered on suspense and gore. At least as much as a t.v. show can deliver gore.
It ended with an awesome Johnny Cash song–is there any other kind–playing over the end credits. Here’s the song, “I See a Darkness.”
What is it with zombie flicks and Johnny Cash? Aside from the fact that he’s awesome.