This week’s episode of The Walking Dead is all about figuring out if you have the ‘guts’ to do what it takes to retain your humanity while fighting for your life. While “Guts” will live up to zombie-lover’s expectations of gore and violence, we get a healthy dose of drama and reality checks as well.
This review has a few small spoilers – read at your own risk.
Right from the start, we get a juicy story plopped in our laps. It seems that the ever persistent Rick will have quite the mess on his hands if he ever meets up with his family again – Lori has apparently moved on and moved in with Rick’s partner, Shane. At first, I thought, “Wow, this gal just really doesn’t care!” After thinking about it for a few minutes, it actually has a pretty realistic quality to it. Shane is a cop, which means he’s probably a good leader and protector. Her husband is either still in a coma, or dead by now (so she thinks), and she has a child to think about. Makes a lot of sense for her to latch on to him. “Guts” is full of moments like this. Before dismissing any character, try putting yourself in their shoes in this post-apocalyptic setting, and it may change your view of why they do the things they do.
OK, zombocalypse aficionados, this is where you get your little slice of heaven. The first 15 minutes or so of “Guts” is jam packed with an axe-swinging, pistol-shooting, zombie-killing good time. There are little nods to Romero here and there, including having a city block crawling with flesh eaters and by empowering a few zombies with the ability to use crude tools and climb over fences. In the paperback Walking Dead world, zombies follow the more traditional and ‘realistic’ shuffling, moaning, low brain function standard. I can see that Darabont doesn’t want to alienate any potential zombie-loving viewers, and maybe sees a need to have a few more dangerous zombies on the loose. While zombies aren’t the main focus here, they can certainly add some adrenaline pumping moments; so having some ‘higher functioning’ zombies sprinkled about can shake things up a bit.
Lucky for Rick, he meets up with a handful of Atlanta survivors who are scouting for supplies. This small group manages to help him out of the little “tank situation” where we left him in “Days Gone Bye.” Among these are two familiar main characters, Andrea (Laurie Holden) and Glenn (Steven Yeun). Rick is obviously a great shot with a hand gun, but as any good zombie killer would know, gun shots are nothing more than an excellent dinner bell call for the undead. Our survivors end up trapped in a high rise department store. (Continued…)
Along with our main characters, we are introduced to a few new faces. I won’t go into detail about them, but I wonder how many of them will be in it for the long haul. A few of them seemed fairly expendable, having enough knowledge about Atlanta building layouts to aid in the survivor’s escape attempts, but I can foresee at least a couple of them not lasting very long. There is an instance here where one particular new face is quite a threat to the rest of them, and though you really hope he won’t make it, another survivor still makes an attempt to rescue him – with an undetermined outcome. For those who have read the series, I have a feeling this ‘bad guy’ may come into play later down the road, possibly during the encounter with the Woodbury survivors. But that’s just one theory I have. The point though, is that the scenario follows suit with the theme of “Guts” – retaining your humanity while fighting for your survival.
In a particularly ballsy attempt to escape the store, Rick and the others decide to try to camouflage their way out into the street. They grab a thoroughly dead zombie to hack it to pieces, but again, they run into a dilemma. Can they really just cut this dead guy up to use him to their advantage? It’s a pretty intense scene, but Darabont cleverly throws some camp and humor our way to lighten the mood a little.
This intense mixture of violence, gore, extreme situations, moral quandaries, camp, and humor are what make AMC’s The Walking Dead so deliciously addictive. It’s unlike anything else you will see on cable TV at this time. Showtime and HBO have their work cut out for them now that AMC is here to play. These first two episodes have got me hooked, and I hope that you are too. I can’t wait to see where Darabont and AMC will take our survivors next. “Guts” airs tonight on AMC at 10/9 central, and next week be ready for an all new episode, “Tell It To The Frogs.”
I give “Guts” 5 “Do you have it?!” out of 5.