“Guts,” the second episode of AMC’s new zombie series, The Walking Dead, is both faster-paced and, as the title hints, gorier, than the premiere. And with about twice as many characters as episode one, we don’t have time to really get to know any of them.
The mysterious voice we heard in the tank last week turns out to be Glenn, who helps steer officer Rick Grimes to the (relative) safety of scared, angry mob of survivors trapped in a downtown department store. Up on the roof, a coked-up, racist redneck is taking target practice with a rifle and declaring himself leader of the rag-tag gang. When Grimes knocks him on his ass and handcuffs him to a pole, we have our first apocalyptic coup—and our first problem of governing the few people who remain (not all survivors are necessarily good).
Meanwhile, back at survivor camp off I-85, Grimes’ wife and best friend Shane are sneaking off for their own little apocalyptic distraction. When they get a distress call from their friends and family back in the department store, Shane declares that there will be no rescue attempt. It’s becoming clearer he’s not the selfless hero Grimes seems to be.
The “guts” of the title are the zombie innards used to mask the smell of the living. Grimes and Glenn fool the Walkers by shuffling their way to a service truck just on the other side of the undead horde, smelling like corpses. But just like Elmer the multi-colored elephant who rolled in the elephant-colored berries, an afternoon rain spoils the disguise, and it’s time start chopping through some more zombies with an axe and a crowbar.
In the frenzy of the rescue mission, redneck gets left handcuffed on the roof, and the key gets dropped down a pipe. But redneck (we learn in the scenes from next week’s episode) has a brother, who I imagine is another typical Georgia hillbilly, who must have been busy washing his Klan costume and burning AME churches when the zombies took over. I also imagine that redneck on the roof will find a creative way to free himself with a pocketknife in 127 hours. I think I saw that on a preview somewhere.
Annoying Southern stereotypes aside, a little friction between survivors back on the beach—I mean in the woods—can only be good for the story as it unfolds. For those of us who are holding off reading the graphic novels until the season ends, we’ve only caught glimpses of the men and women of Survivor: Atlanta. And it looks like Grimes’ work won’t end with just killing zombies and finding his family. The real story will be holding together people from varied backgrounds with differing opinions about what to do when you’ve survived the end of the world.
They may have found a haven from the zombies, but it just might not be the safest place on earth.
• I love downtown Atlanta, but stocking up on supplies for the zombie takeover sounds like the first good reason to visit a Walmart in the ‘burbs I’ve heard in a long time.
• One of the department store seven pulls a gun on Grimes when he arrives, blaming him for attracting the horde, but hesitates before taking a necklace from the display rack. Now there’s a complex moral code.
• Zombies are better at climbing chain-link fences than ladders.
• Rat-eating zombie was the creepiest zombie of this episode. It’s not really a “horror” show, but they’re going to make you jump at least once an episode.
• That rat should lose his rat-card for being caught by a zombie. OK, I guess he could have just found a dead rat.
• I think I’m going to miss having this show primarily set in downtown Atlanta. Those outdoor scenes were some of the best and most cinematic The Walking Dead has given us so far. I hope they re-supply (or go back for redneck) soon.
• The show has done a nice job so far balancing human drama with action and suspense. This episode was lighter on the former and heavy on the latter, but I don’t get the sense that it’s going to be primarily nick-of-time escapes, zombie head-shots and literal blood baths going forward.
• There was no other TV show I was more excited about this week (sorry, Boardwalk Empire).