The creepy crawly AMC hit, based on the comic book series, returns for its second season!
It seems we're witnessing the dissolution of Rick Grimes as a leader.
At the start of the second season premiere of The Walking Dead, Grimes is on his walkie-talkie, still trying to reach out to Morgan, who he knows there's little chance of reaching. He's mostly using this time to express a personal testimonial. As he reflects on those he's lost on his watch last season, he's starting to doubt himself. All the same, he needs to move on, and the group needs to move on.
So they pack up and leave, on their way to Fort Bennington. Hoping to find some measure of safety or support, they instead end up with a blown radiator hose in the RV in the midst of gridlock. So much for moving on. As they rummage through the abandoned cars looking for supplies (By the way, what's with all the corpses in these cars? They're not zombies, nor were they eaten by zombies. They're just dead bodies. Did they all just keel over while stuck in traffic?) they're set upon by a large hoard of "walkers." They're able to escape the attack, even taking out a couple of the undead guys, but little Sophia goes running off into the woods to get away. Rick immediately chases after her, and makes the curious decision to let her find her way back to the others while he leads the zombies away from her. She gets lost, and so "What Lies Ahead" is dedicated to looking for little lost Sophia.
The search leads to two great visuals. The first is Daryl gutting a newly killed zombie to see if it had feasted on a lost little girl recently (nope, just some local wildlife). It's a great, grisly scene that's made real by Andrew Lincoln's reaction shots to what must be a foul stench. The second comes after a false lead, that being church bells off in the distance. The group finds the church (the bells are actually a recording set on a timer) and break inside to find four zombies sitting in pews (one of them in a wedding dress). It's a striking and even hilarious image that leads to not only some more pulpy zombie-killing, but two prayer scenes. First, Carol begs for mercy for her daughter. This inspires Rick to kneel before the statue of Jesus, asking for some kind of a sign that he's doing the right things for these people. It's another introspective scene that recalls his monologue at the beginning of the episode. He mentions in his prayer that he reserves his faith for things other than religion, particularly his family. When the group splits up to cover more search area, Lori pays back that faith when she lectures Carol, Andrea, Glen and Daryl about how none of what's happened to the group is Rick's fault, and how he's the one making all the hard choices. It's a nice, to the point "inspiration speech" type of scene, but little does she know that Rick's decision to take young Carl along with himself and Shane leads to her son getting shot through the gut. He stops to admire a deer, when an unseen hunter's bullet blows through the deer and takes out Carl.
So that's two children endangered by Rick's decisions. One is lost in the woods, and the other is dying of a gunshot wound. If Rick was at one point trying to put up a brave front for the others, that isn't going to be possible anymore.
It is a pretty dysfunctional group, though. We don't know where Daryl stands. Although he was a vicious racist who hated T-Dog (They're really sticking with that name, huh?) for being black and also for leaving his brother out to die, Daryl is now the most capable zombie hunter there is, even saving T-Dog's life. Andrea has a ton of problems. She is suicidal, claiming that death is her way of getting out of the hellish existence of a zombie apocalypse (Although she does fight off a zombie early in the episode, when she could have allowed it to kill her. Maybe she doesn't want to turn into one of them). She lays into Dale for forcing her to leave the exploding CDC building in last season's finale and lashes out at eveyone around her. Shane, meanwhile, can't stand being around Rick and Lori, considering his feelings for the latter, so he decides that he's just going to walk away from them and go off on his own. Carl getting shot probably puts a monkey wrench into that plan, but the fact is, putting all these personal problems into a group like this is a recipe for disaster. In The Walking Dead, the zombies aren't the only things to be afraid of.
Written or Contributed by: Royal Nonesuch