The Walking Dead: 2x01, "What Lies Ahead"

By Karen Moul

The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead returned this week, opening the second season with a truly terrifying hour of television. Unfortunately, the episode was an hour and half long, which meant the story dragged at times.

Although the episode was perhaps longer than necessary, it was a great premiere in which the creative team gave notice that season two raises the stakes in every way. In particular, the search for Sophia was too drawn out. But I totally fell for the diversion, which meant I had a great OMG moment at the end when Carl was shot. I don’t know if he’ll live or die, but I’m not counting on him making it. If the writers are willing to shoot him, I think they’re willing to kill him. We’ve been warned: don’t get too attached to anyone this season.
The big question is who shot him. Clearly there are more survivors in the woods, and even if the shooting was an accident it’s a sign that this season the living are just as dangerous as the dead. Lord knows Shane is still dangerous, he referred to attempted rape as “a mistake.” He scares me more than the walkers.

I liked the explosive ending, but far scarier was the extended opening sequence, in which the survivors hid under some cars while waiting for the walker “herd” to pass by. This was possibly the scariest thing I’ve seen on prime time TV; I could feel the tension and my heart was in my throat. The scariest part was the shots from under the cars, where all you saw were the zombies’ feet. The Walking Dead has top-notch makeup effects and doesn’t skimp on the gore, but sometimes the scariest thing is what you don’t see.

As a whole, this episode seemed to be about faith. Although we saw some scenes in a church, it was less about religious faith and more about Rick’s faith in himself and the group’s faith in him. Rick has been losing faith since the CDC, and it’s clear in the episode that he has no idea what he’s doing. If he can’t get himself together and be a strong leader, the group is not going to follow.

The zombie herd!So much more happened this week, it’s hard to cover it all, and everything faded anyway when Carl was shot. But I feel like it was setting up action that will play out in the next few weeks. Shane is planning to leave the group, which seems like a bad idea for everyone. Andrea had a falling out with Dale and she might or might not want to die, so she asked Shane to take her with him. Another bad idea. And how can T-Dog survive with that nasty wound? Most importantly, now that there is another child in greater peril, can they find Sophia and put this storyline to rest? It’s pretty boring, Sophia has barely said three words in the entire series so it is hard to feel invested in her. And don’t get me started on Carol. She wouldn’t last five minutes on her own.
Additional things we should note this week:
  • The survivors took time out of their busy day of searching wrecked cars to discuss the herd, reminding us that we saw this behavior last season on a smaller scale. I think the writers were foreshadowing that we’ll see more huge groups of walkers this season and fewer loners.
  • Many viewers have asked why the walkers couldn’t smell everyone hiding under the cars and T-Dog gushing blood all over the place. Robert Kirkman answered this question on AMC’s Talking Dead. He said the walkers are not like dogs, they do not have a super sense of smell. They can smell the difference between the living and the dead, but only up close.
  • Daryl saved T-Dog twice in this episode. This is noteworthy because it was T-Dog who dropped the key to Merle’s handcuffs and Daryl blames him for his brother’s disappearance (and presumed death?) For Daryl to save T-Dog’s life demonstrates a few things we already suspected: that Daryl is not an irredeemable racist redneck, deep down inside he is a good guy, and he is developing into a key member of the group.

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