So where were we last time? Rick wakes up, zombie apocalypse, wants to find his family, ends up in a tank surrounded by zombies with a lone voice calling to him on the radio. Oh yea, spoilers to come if you haven’t seen either episode so far. Well, we pick up right where we left off in episode 2 to learn that Shane certainly has no hard feelings about tappin’ Rick’s wife. A HUGE plot point in the early issues that the show so tastefully left in. We also meet Asian sensation Glenn, who was Rick’s savior at the other end of the radio. Along with Glenn are other survivors including Andrea. He also meets Merle Dixon, and man who connects authority to weaponry. Only thinking for himself, he attacks a member of the group (T-Dog), hitting all of them in the process, until Rick is able to subdue him and handcuff him to some pipes on the roof. With Rick’s actions attracting more zombies into the city, the group has to devise a plan to sneak back to the other survivors (Shane’s group) camping on the outskirts of town. With no sewer route, Rick suggests somehow navigating through the zombies to a few parked trucks and then driving to safety, but that would most likely involve being torn limb from limb. Rick starts to show his leadership skills at this point, and pulls the old “if he smells like a zombie, he is a zombie”plan out of the playbook. Rick and Glenn cover themselves in zombie guts and maneuver around the street, mimicking the undead. It works for a while, until the world decides to take another shit on Rick’s already horrible situation, and a steady rain begins to wash the zombie stench off. At this point, T-Dog is able to reach Shane back at base, but the campers fear the worst when all they hear is T-Dog proclaiming zombies are about to overrun their location. Shane makes the tough decision to not go help, even though some have family members in the city group. Back in the city itself, Rick and Glenn barely make it to the truck, create a distraction, and extract the remaining survivors from the department store. All except the extremist racist Merle Dixon who remains handcuffed to the roof.
So how’s it stacking up after episode two? Perfectly. We got a nice boost in the pace of the action, as Rick has to fight off zombies multiple times in the episode. The show is also getting to the point where as a fan of the comic, my interests are seeing the characters I’ve grown a connection to in the comic itself. Seeing Glenn and Andrea in the city was like a flashback to the beginning of the story. It’s also like a refresher, being 12 volumes into the series, because so much has happened in the written story. I’ll be honest, I have to dig deep to remember a lot of the events the show is going over right now, but the visuals are so memorable that they hit me one at a time. Seeing Rick and Glenn covered in the grime triggered that part of the story, and even before they showed it in the episode, I could think to myself “Uh oh, here comes the rain…” But I like that. I like it a lot. It means 1) the show so far is sticking mainly to the story 2) the story is successfully hitting on the stronger visuals from the comic book 3) the actors are falling into the roles their comic book characters have already established. Especially Rick. Already he is showing the leadership characteristics that makes him so valuable to the groups survival in the story. Also, I love how they showed the intensity of Shane and Lori’s relationship. It not only creates anticipation for Rick and Shane’s reunion, but how the information will be handled in the show. I know how it plays out in the comic and really hope the crew sticks to it, but it could be drawn out and milked for character drama people can relate to more than “my sister was eaten by zombies.” And we got our first taste of the “every man for himself” attitude the comics so prominently describe when T-Dog is basically given the choice of setting Merle free or leaving him to die. That’s what the comic is all about. Life has changed and so have the rules. Merle was a loose cannon that was going to cost people their lives, which did not make him a positive aspect to survival. Even then, T-Dog still tried to set him free, ending up with him dropping the key down a pipe. Did T-Dog do it purposely? Was it really an accident? It didn’t matter at that point. T-Dog didn’t have the time to hacksaw Merle free. At least he was nice enough to lock the roof door, hopefully keeping the zombies away from Merle. And it almost gets T-Dog killed. He makes it to the truck moments before Rick pulls away. Welcome to a world where no one is safe and doing the right thing isn’t always an option. Any more time spent on Merle and T-Dog would have been zombie chow. I know it’s not moral or “right,” but it’s the most intriguing part of “The Walking Dead”. This is going to be a huge driving force of the show, and can’t wait until the show has to deal with even deeper moral conundrums as the story develops.
We also get a glimpse of how the show is going to deviate from the comic in this episode. In the comic books, Rick meets Glenn in the city and they go right for the zombie walk of shame and back to the survivor camp. Andrea and the other survivors aren’t in the city too and they don’t stay hunkered down. T-Dog and the others are non existent characters. Also, Andrea’s character is much older than her sister back at camp. Laurie Holden plays her in the series, but in the comics she is a much younger girl who develops into one of the best marksmen in the group. Andrea couldn’t even tell the safety was on her weapon the first time Rick shows up in the city. So while the show is sticking to the main plot points, it deviates to create a more human drama element than the comics possess. Plus it gives us more characters to eventually meet their demise. No reason for panic yet.
Well, two weeks in and I’m already getting hooked on cliffhangers. Next weeks sneak peek shows that Norman Reedus will be playing Merle’s brother Daryl, who isn’t too happy that Rick basically left him for dead. So, Rick being the leader figure already, looks like is heading back into the city with Daryl, which promises to be dangerously action packed. Episode 2 brought the gore, guts, action, and story to live up to the much hyped premiere, but alas we’ll have to wait another week for some more zombie-drama goodness.