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The Walking Dead: “Guts” Review

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.

Foraging for berries in the woods, Lori? Riiight.

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.

A gun to the head isn't enough to change Merle's ways. Hmm.. maybe leaving him to die, tied up and with hordes of zombies outside? Yes, let's try that.

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?

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  • dan

    I really like this show. I have never read the comic. I have some general zombie questions if anyone wants to help me. 1). In order to move/walk/run organisms have to expend energy and burn calori etc. if the zombies dont eat what energy source propels them? Do they breath oxygen? Do they go to the bathroom after they eat something/someone? If they dont breath what’s to stop them from walking under water? 2). Are the zombies actual dead bodes or people who are suffering from brain damage etc. from a high fever? If they are dead bodies wont they continue to decompose and eventually just fall apart? Wouldnt the government just drop napalm or ome other incendarary device? Dont get me wrong a live the show there are just a LOT of wholes in the whole “dead body walking around” story.

    • Jody

      Dan I hope I can answer your questions.
      1. Zombies don’t breate, need to go to the bathroom or eat in order to keep moving. They can (and do in some stories) walk underwater.
      2. They are dead. Not brain damaged. DEAD dead. Normally in a zombie war (ha! can you tell I have read a lot of zombie stories?) the spread is rapid. One bite, One drop of spittle in your eye or mouth and BAM instant infection. The military would surely have tried to destroy them but the mass amount of people infected generally leads to failure.
      Yes they decompose. Remember the woman dragging herself across the field with half a body? They keep going even if the body is falling apart. That is what makes them so horrible.

  • Joe

    Im loving the show!!! Really loving it! Fresh and vibrant replacement for anything, except maybe Dexter, on television!

    @Jody…. The new victims asides, wont the zombie epidemic eventually just pass? I mean, how long does it take for an average body (without the benefit of being in a coffin and pickled in preservatives) to decompose and just fall to pieces?! I’d say, find a great hiding spot with plenty of food and wait a good year…. should be over by then!

  • Robin Pierson

    I picked the T-Dog key scene as the best moment on my podcast this week http://www.thetvcritic.org/casts/29.The_Walking_Dead_102_Guts.mp3 Loved it!

  • Mark

    Man you totally missed he chained the door as to not let him be eaten and as soon as he did that you should of drawn the conclusion that they would indeed come back.

    And happy days AMC has confirmed season 2.

    • yeah I guess I could see that, I think I just assumed from next week’s preview and how the brother looked all pissed and they guilty that they had left him to die.