Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer DVR Dump: The Walking Dead 1.02: "Guts"

“All I am anymore is a man looking for his wife and son. Anybody gets in the way of that is going to lose. I’ll give you a moment to think about that.”

Like the series pilot, “Guts” featured plenty of zombies and gore. I’m guessing from what I saw in this episode that the series has a structure more like “Game of Thrones” than a broadcast network show, where each episode is like a chapter in an overall narrative arc. This episode mostly dealt with Rick getting out of Atlanta. What makes it interesting is that he meets a few of the big group of survivors who have their camp outside the city. These new characters were sort of cliché at first, and their dialogue was a bit painful, but by the end of the episode, they seemed to be a bit more fully realized. I thought the fate of one of the new characters was especially bold, but I’ll talk about that more when we get to it. One thing I will say overall about this episode is that it made me very glad that nobody has invented televisions with smell-o-vision. This would have been one darn unpleasant episode on that front.

While, like I said, the episode mostly focuses on Rick and his new friends getting out of Atlanta, we begin in the more rural survivors’ camp. Lori goes out hunting for mushrooms, and she keeps hearing rustling in the woods. It’s shot in fairly typical horror movie style, so I was expecting something bad to happen to her, but not too horrible because she still has to reunite with Rick and deal with the fact that she’s seeing his best friend and partner. Speaking of Shane, he’s the source of the noise. The hunting for mushrooms thing was all a rouse so they could have some forest floor sex. They’re so hot for each other that they only pause briefly when Shane notices the locket Lori is wearing. Presumably it contains a photo of Rick. Lori and Shane really gross me out. And boy is Rick in for some interesting times when he finds out what’s going on.

The action in Atlanta picks up right where the last episode left off. Rick is still in the tank with the dead body, and someone is talking to him over the tank’s radio. The voice says that he should make a run for it while many of the zombies are still distracted by feasting on Rick’s horse. It’s still dangerous, but it may be the only chance he has to escape. Rick grabs and gun and a grenade, and when the voice asks about weapons, he only tells him about the gun. The grenade appears to be a Chekhov’s gun (if you see it in Act 1, it better go off in Act 3), but unfortunately, we don’t get to see the payoff in this episode. Outside, Rick meets the source of the voice, a young Asian man named Glenn. He’s part of the survivor’s camp, and he and a small band of fellow survivors have traveled into Atlanta to get supplies for the camp. Glenn hurries Rick inside a department store (they just barely escape a few stray zombies on the way), where he meets the rest of the survivors who have joined Glenn on the supply run. A woman named Andrea points a gun at Rick, saying that because of him, they’re all going to die. Apparently the gun shots Rick fired to get from the tank to Glenn attracted a whole mess of zombies, who are now pounding on the department store door like there’s no tomorrow.

The group hears gun shots coming from the roof, and the rush up to investigate. The source of the gun shots is an older rough looking redneck named Dixon. He’s part of the group of survivors, too. A survivor named T-Dog chides Dixon for making so much noise and drawing more zombies to them, and the two men get in a huge fight, escalated by Dixon’s use of racial epithets. Dixon beats the crap out of T-Dog, and he tells the group that he’s taking over leadership. The rest of the group starts to cower, but Rick sneaks up from behind and handcuffs Dixon. This makes Dixon even more unhappy, naturally, but at least he’s no longer an immediate threat. The group realizes that the only way out of the city is through the sewers. Glenn and Morales are going to test out a potential route, while Rick and Andrea try to keep the zombies from breaking through the department store door. Jaqui, who is on the city planning commission and was able to tell the gang where to find the building’s sewer entrance, is going to yell down to Glenn and Morales if there are any problems above ground.

Meanwhile, up on the roof, Dixon is trying to convince T-Dog (who is too injured to really help with the escape plan) to let him out of the handcuffs. Which is about the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen. Why would you ever let the guy who just beat you senseless out of handcuffs? Even if he promises gobs of money. Thankfully, T-Dog doesn’t give into Dixon’s demands. Down in the sewers, Glenn and Morales run into a dead end- a metal gate-like barrier, to be more precise. On the other side of the gate is a zombie, who is eating a rat, of course. Got to have our quota of gore for the episode. By the doors to the apartment store, Rick and Andrea look at a mermaid necklace that Andrea has been eyeing. She mentions that her sister loves mermaids, and she kind of wants to take the necklace for her sister. Rick thinks she should go for it, even though he’s a cop, telling Andrea that he doesn’t think the old rules apply anymore. Right after Andrea pockets the necklace, the zombies break through the first set of doors, and Glenn and Morales pop up to say that the sewer plan isn’t going to work.

The new plan for getting out of Atlanta is going to involve driving a construction vehicle. Getting the construction vehicle is a bit complicated, though, because the area around the department store is still zombie central. They come up with a rather disgusting solution to the problem. Rick gets a dead zombie and starts chopping it up. Morales helps with the chopping, too. The idea is to get enough gore for Rick and Glenn to smear all over their jackets. They can look like zombies by walking slouchy, but they needed the gore to smell like zombies. Overall, they want to blend in with the locals on their way to the construction vehicle. Rick and Glenn shuffling through the streets towards the construction vehicle is really more comical than suspenseful. The zombies don’t suspect a thing.

Up on the roof, T-Dog finally gets through to the base camp on his radio and lets the rest of the survivors know that the supply group is trapped. At base camp, Shane doesn’t want to do anything to mount a rescue, and Andrea’s sister Amy is understandably pissed about that. I presume Amy is the person for whom Andrea stole the necklace. At the most inopportune time, it starts to rain. The supply group watches from the roof as the rain washes the zombie smell off of Rick and Glenn, and the zombies start to take notice of them. This seemed a bit unrealistic to me. Gore like they were smearing on themselves is powerful stuff. I’ve watched enough “Dirty Jobs” and “Mythbusters” to know that it takes professionals to get rid of those kinds of smells, and sometimes even that’s not good enough. I guess then we wouldn’t have any action at the end of the episode, though. Rick has to start cutting through the zombies with the fire axe he brought along.

Rick and Glenn make it to the construction vehicle, but in order to safely get the rest of the group out of the department store and into the vehicle, they’re going to need a distraction. Glenn provides that distraction by driving a sports car with the car alarm going off. Rick, meanwhile, drives the construction vehicle to the department store’s loading dock. T-Dog has a moral quandary as everybody is rushing off the roof and down to the loading doc. To leave the racist redneck behind or not? T-Dog, against his better judgment, decides to unlock Dixon, but just as he’s about to do so, he accidentally drops the key. T-Dog has no choice but to leave Dixon on the roof, cursing to high heaven. Rick picks everyone up just as the zombies are breaking into the store, and Glenn has quite a good time driving out of Atlanta in his new sports car.

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