Original Air Date: October 16, 2011

The Story: Having left the blown up CDC at the end of Season 1, the gang continues their trek in their beat-up 80’s RV on the wreck-strewn interstates around Atlanta.

What Was Good: This is going to be a full-on SPOILERS INCLUDED review, so you were warned….

This episode had a number of outstanding scenes.

The whole scene with the zombie herd on the interstate was really well done for a couple of reasons.  For one thing, I did really appreciate that the show seemed to drive home that zombies aren’t really scary when you have one or two of them to worry about.  When that happens, you just whack them in the head with a hammer and move on– it’s like killing an ant.  But when you get hundreds of zombies, you suddenly have a major problem.  Having everyone hiding under cars was really intense, and seeing Darryl save T-Dog’s ass was cool. But, it wasn’t a perfect scene. Why did T-Dog lose the ability to hide after cutting himself and just stagger around like a moron– how cliche is it that the racist redneck Darryl and the black man with no name but T-Dog are going to become friends (before one sacrifices himself to save the other, surely).  Actually, I cringe every time I see T-Dog because he is just painfully ineffective at everything.

Basically, every scene with a zombie in it was really good.  The scene in the church was creepy when the zombie faithful turned to look at Rick’s gang.  The scene with the two zombies chasing Rick and Sophie was exciting, and even watching Rick and Darryl gut that zombie in the woods was kinda cool in a, “this is the kinda shit that is ‘normal’ in the land of the zombies: seeing if you can find a little girl in a zombie stomach.”  The makeup also looked great on the zombies.

The Dale character continues to be really good as well.  I like him acting as the moral compass of the group, which is kinda what he did in the comics.  He’s the one who approves Carl going off with the search party.  His scene with Andrea (who is a major eye candy addition, btw) wasn’t too painful because he sells that he really just cares for her in a way that you could only care for someone when you’re pushed together in an apocalypse setting. And the whole deal with the radiator being completely fixed was brilliant…

But, the best was saved for last.  Most readers of the comics saw Rick, Carl and Shane head off into the woods and probably thought: “Is Shane about to get shot?”  I’m sure there were some folks who saw the deer and knew what was coming, but I was so fixated on whether Carl had a weapon and whether Shane was about to point his shotgun at Rick, I literally yelled, “oh shit!” right before the final moment. Very cool and it’ll take us right to Herschel’s farm…

What Wasn’t Very Good: Basically, any scene without zombies was lousy.  We started with Rick monologuing into a walkie-talkie to Morgan.  That was an okay scene, but it was about 15 seconds too long (and 15 seconds can seem an eternity when you’re watching a painful TV scene).  Also too long were all the scenes of the cast wandering around in the woods looking for Sophie.  It’s as if the director knew he was making a 90 minute episode and just let those scenes run long– way too long.  Then we have the whole “Shane is leaving” nonsense and Andrea is going with him.  I could buy that Shane is leaving since he’s supposed to be dead anyway, then he’d be out of the way for story purposes, but could be brought back in some capacity in the future.  But I just can’t accept that Shane AND Andrea (both played by actors whose faces I know) are going away.

And we had that final, painfully long scene of Rick praying in the church.  Spare me.

I had lots of other little quibbles too: Why miss the opportunity to have a zombie “alive” but seatbelted into the car?  What is the point of the whole group searching for Sophie if they’re just going to walk in a single-file line through the woods?  Why was the zombie that Darryl hid under really dead?  That’s NOT how you gut animals?  How dense does Andrea have to be to not be able to reassemble a Glock?  (they have 5 pieces total)  What was the point of the tent scene?  Why no Tyrese?  And please don’t tell me that T-Dog is supposed to be Tyrese… Tyrese was a badass from the get go.  T-Dog has no useful skills.

Conclusion: Mixed bag.  On one hand, it IS better than a lot of stuff on TV.  On the other, I don’t watch most of the tripe on TV.  Compared to Breaking Bad (which just finished it’s 4th season on AMC), The Walking Dead is really mediocre.  Seriously, the writers of Breaking Bad laugh out loud when they hear TWD’s dialog.  It’s in the ballpark of Terra Nova or Falling Skies in that there is a lot of promise and a few cool scenes, but the ultimate execution is lacking.   This particular episode was a 60 minute idea stretched over 90 minutes.

Grade: C+

– Dean Stell