Coming off of the slow-burn that was the pilot, the newest episode of The Walking Dead (entitled “Guts”) definitely proved the show’s willingness to… well, show its guts. And it confirmed that the creators are willing to take risks and stray away from the plot of the comics, despite some maybe not so positive results.
Besides the opening that sees Lori and Shane doing a little more than making campfires and washing clothes in streams, if you know what I mean, “Guts” picked up right where “Days Gone By” left off. Rick is barricaded in a Tank, and the voice on the radio turns out to be Glenn (played by the fun and likeable Steven Yeun). Rick escapes the tank while the zombies munch on the carcass of his dead horse. He and Glenn climb a ladder (that old adage finally being answered: “Can zombies climb ladders?” Answer: no, no they most apparently can not) that leads to the rooftops of Atlanta.
From here Rick meets a group of characters who, yet for him to find out, are the people his wife and son are camping with. We get a few familiar faces, Andrea (Laurie Holden) for example, who is still one of my favorites of the comic. But most of this group (holding up in the city after being trapped there because of Rick’s crazy antics in last week’s episode) consists of new characters introduced for the show.
There is one character that will probably hit everyone’s radar – Merle Dixon, played uncomfortably well by Michael Rooker. This guy drops racial slurs like they’re going out of style and knowingly attracts hordes of zombies while practicing some headshots on the roof. Saying they succeeded in making him immediately unlikeable is a gross understatement, but what was the point in the first place? Conflict, I guess, but even when Rick ties the guy up and gives him a few harsh words, he’s no less of an asshole. I even realized towards the end of the episode how happy I was when they left him to die on the roof, the guy who was on the receiving end of those nasty words going so far as to bolt the roof access door from the inside. Okay he did try to save him first, but still. And then we see he has a brother, whom in next weeks episode seems to want revenge on these actions. Great. Another one.
The holed up group in the city formulates a plan, which ends up blatantly showing us the reason for this week’s title. They grab a zombie carcass, and Rick (after performing a small sermon, further proving this guy’s stand-up character) proceeds to smash it to bloody smithereens. Glenn accompanying him (and both with zombie intestines literally wrapped around their neck) they set out for the edges of the city. The tension in this scene is palpable; every time a zombie looked quizzically in Glenn or Rick’s direction, I paused, feeling certain a zombie mutiny was about to go down. These are the kind of zombies that look unfairly smart, giving Rick and Glenn evil glances and unbreakable stares, as if they know something is up, they just haven’t figured it out yet.
All-in-all “Guts” was an ultra-fun follow up to the pilot, despite maybe not having as much character focused moments as that episode. I can already feel the pressure of not knowing what the writers will squeeze into this minuscule first season; we already have but four episodes left. And with this entire episode taking quite a detour from the comic’s continuum, I’m getting apprehensive of the show even being able to hit the end of the first issue’s arc (which is where I assumed it would end). Reservations aside, The Walking Dead is only getting better and better. I mean, seriously, two guys wearing zombie entrails like huge, disgusting necklaces? You won’t find that on Extreme Home Makeover, my friends.
What did you guys think of this week’s episode of The Walking Dead? Non-lovers of last week’s premiere, do you think it’s getting better? And those who enjoyed last week, are you satisfied in where the story is going?