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The Walking Dead - Season 2, Episode 1: “What Lies Ahead” TV Episode Review

Written by James Ferguson and Steve Pattee

Official Site


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Directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton
Written by Robert Kirkman
2011, Rated TV-14
Episode premiered on October 14th, 2011

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes
Jon Bernthal as Shane Walsh
Sarah Wayne Callies as Lori Grimes
Laurie Holden as Andrea
Jeffrey DeMunn as Dale
Steven Yuen as Glenn
Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes
Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon
Melissa McBride as Carol
IronE Singleton as T-Dog

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James Ferguson: The second season of AMC’s The Walking Dead kicked off with record numbers for the network this past Sunday.  Over 7 million people tuned in to the over-sized premiere episode to see where Rick, Lori, Shane and the rest of the gang would go next.  After meeting a scientist at the CDC, the survivors didn’t have much hope as to their future but they’ve set out for a nearby army base.  

There was certainly a lot to live up to as the first season set the bar incredibly high.  This episode started out with an incredibly tense scene with the group hiding under cars on a crowded highway while a herd of zombies shuffle past them.  I’ve seen movies where people run from zombies but I’ve rarely seen them hide in plain sight like that.  That scene was so suspenseful.  If any of them made a single sound, they would all be dead.  They were surrounded at one point and their position was a weak one.

Steve Pattee: The first part of the show, the scene in which you are talking about, was easily my favorite scene in the episode and not just for the reasons you mentioned, but also the further character development of Daryl. Here you have a guy who is the epitome of a racist hillbilly redneck and he risks his own hide to make sure T-Dog gets to safety. This brings up an interesting conundrum once his brother, Merle (Michael Rooker, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer), shows back up (really, he just has to). And I’m not-so-patiently waiting for that showdown, as Daryl will no doubt have to choose a side. In addition, What Lies Ahead wastes absolutely no time getting to the grue. The scene in which Andrea dispatches the zombie with a screwdriver is cringe worthy and hopefully a further sign of things to come.

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JF: I’m glad this episode was extended because it’s been almost a year since the first season ended.  Although AMC was replaying the previous episodes, it was nice to jump right in to this episode that spent enough time on every character.  Carol (Melissa McBride) was given a lot of screentime, but most of it was spent in hysterics over the fact that her daughter Sophia (Madison Lintz) is missing after the highway scene.

SP: You know, I just don’t care about Carol’s character, so devoting some more time developing it might be a good thing. As it stands now, even after this episode, I consider her cannon fodder. The character is just so vanilla. I predict she gets offed at some point for some drama and maybe by then I might care, but as it stands now, I really can’t be bothered. However, I did care somewhat about Sophia’s situation, but that’s only because she’s a kid. Even then, though, it was more of a “huh, I hope they find her” then a “holy hell, find her!” That’s obviously because she (Sophia) was such a non-entity in season one that I have zero feelings for her. If they never find her, it doesn’t really matter. She, like her mother, are barely more than random victims. Even with that, I suspect if the team behind The Walking Dead continues to put them in the foreground, that will change.

JF: The drama with Andrea (Laurie Holden) and her gun felt so petty.  Yes, she wanted to die at the end of the last season, but this just seems tired.  On the one hand I think it’s messed up that they took her gun away since it was actually her property and not just something that she found along the way.  On the other though, I can understand why Rick and Shane are supporting Dale’s decision.  Yes, she was in the RV when the zombies came walking down the road, but she should know by now that they should all avoid making any unneeded noise as much as possible.  She’s untrained with that gun and could easily fire a shot haphazardly injuring someone else and drawing any nearby zombies to their position.  I thought this was common knowledge, especially after the first scene.

SP: Right! I can understand her going off to Dale for saving her, but the whole gun thing just made no sense. Did she suddenly wake up and realize that she shouldn't fire a weapon when the walking dead is about? Not that I saw. The whole thing just seemed contrived for the scene later on in the episode where Lori offers up her gun to Andrea. While that particular part was extremely well crafted and believable, the set up for it was rather insincere.

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JF: I like how they’re weaving in and out of the comic book.  Robert Kirkman wrote this episode and it’s like he’s getting a chance to retell his story.  Some things, like Shane’s continued existence and his urge to flee, are new, but they’re keeping up with others such as the startling finale scene of this episode (which I thought was a little drawn out).

SP: While I have not read the entire comic series, I do know what you are referring to and I’m very much looking forward to the next episode to see how it’s handled. I really enjoyed this upcoming part in the funny books, so I’m curious on how it’s handled here. It’s already been firmly established that this is an alternate universe to The Walking Dead print version, so anything goes. As far as Shane wanting to leave, I don’t blame him. I started to hate Lori midway through the first season, and that hatred is now back full force. She is, quite simply, a selfish bitch. She wants to have her cake and eat it, too. She tells Shane to stay away from her and her family and then yells at him for doing so. I hope she gets bitten on the mouth.

JF: Speaking of whiny bitch babies, I'm going to be one for a sec. Yes, this is a horror show, but did we really need close to five minutes of Daryl and Rick cutting open a zombie’s stomach?  That seemed a tad excessive.  I can understand what they were looking for, but it felt a little out of place.  It was suddenly like the show flipped to CSI: Zombie Edition with Rick checking the corpse’s fingernails and teeth for flesh.  

SP: Here’s where we disagree. Was it necessary to cut open that zombie’s stomach? Probably not. Did it rock? Absolutely it did. I don’t think it was out of place at all because for all the drama in this show, it’s horror first. They cut open the stomach to feed the fans, and I loved every minute of it. (Although Ron, one of our forum members, did jokingly call it a Jaws ripoff, which I thought was amusing.)

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JF: I was a little concerned about this season after hearing about the troubles they’ve been having with Frank Darabont leaving the show and the dramatic cuts in budget.  For the most part, the show didn’t seem to be adversely affected by it, but I did notice some pretty cheap makeup effects on some of the zombies.  For example, when Daryl pulls the corpse out of a car to hide under it as the zombies walk by, that looked like a dummy made of pillows.  A few of the other dead ones just looked too rubbery.  

SP: I’m hearing mixed stories on Darabont’s involvement here. Some people say he didn’t have much to do with this season at all, while others are saying he wrote a few of the episodes. I’m guessing as the season goes on, it will show whether or not his impact on the season will be felt. I’m truly hoping for the best.

JF: All in all, I liked the first episode.  I think the show is taking its time though, and things seem really stretched.  The events of the entire first season could be collected in one trade paperback.  The comic moves so much faster that I just want things to get going as I know there are a ton of awesome events on the way.  While I mentioned that this episode spent adequate time on every character, it didn't really move them forward all that much. They were literally in a traffic jam the entire time. As a Walking Dead comic book fan, I know that there are tons of exciting things ahead of these characters and they're just nowhere near that yet in the show. From the looks of the preview at the end of the episode, the cast is about to grow, and more people means more tension. If they stay even remotely close to what's ahead in the comics, season two is going to be crazy.

SP: With Darabont’s firing, I had some serious doubts about this season. However, The Walking Dead Season 2 opened with an absolute bang with What Lies Ahead. If this first episode is any indication at all for things to come, I’m definitely along for the ride.

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Video, Audio and Special Features:

Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a TV episode.

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James: 4 Stars
Steve: 4 Stars


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Click on a cover to read more episode reviews of The Walking Dead: Season 2.




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About The Author
Steve Pattee
Author: Steve Pattee
Administrator, US Editor
He's the puppet master. You don't see him, but he pulls the strings that gets things done. He's the silent partner. He's black ops. If you notice his presence, it's the last thing you'll notice — because now you're dead. He's the shadow you thought you saw in that dark alleyway. You can have a conversation with him, and when you turn around to offer him a cup of coffee, he's already gone.
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