The Walking Dead Returns

THE WALKING DEAD: 2.08 “Nebraska”

The Walking Dead returned yesterday for season two’s mid-season premiere. I had a lot of problems with the first seven episodes of the season; while at first I thought slowing down and focusing on the farm, and hopefully developing some of the characters, would benefit the series, it didn’t turn out quite that way. Things became a little too slow and boring, and the show didn’t really develop many of the characters anyway, with maybe the exception of Glenn and Maggie. The end of episode 7, with the showdown between Shane and Herschel, the zombies in the barn, and the reveal of poor Sophia’s fate, was a great moment though, so I was hopeful for the future.

Episode 8 opens up only a few seconds after Rick has put a bullet through zombie Sophia, and the episode unfolds in a similar way that all of last season did. Good stuff at the beginning and the end, but some fairly boring stuff in the middle. I’ll jump to the end first. Rick and Glenn drive into town to find Herschel, who’s run off to the abandoned local tavern to hide in the bottom of a bottle after watching Rick and his people gun down his zombified wife and son. While trying to convince Herschel to come back to the farm, two strangers saunter in. The interaction between Rick and the two interlopers crackles with tension; that scene was the most tense, exciting scene since the Walker crowd shambled through the traffic jam on the highway in episode one of season two. The two newcomers are quietly menacing, eventually making it quietly yet frighteningly clear that Rick had better lead them back to the safety of the farm and the rest of the group or else.  In a great “bad-ass” moment, Rick gets the drop on the interlopers, blowing them both away before they can fire their weapons. It was nice to see the decisive, no nonsense Rick over the equivocating, anxious one that we’ve seen a lot of over last season. I hope to see more of that. I also liked the introduction of some other survivors as as active, dangerous villains rather than just friendly, or at worst, misunderstood individuals. Walkers are scary and dangerous, but they’re also mindless, more like a force of nature. It’s scary and exciting to see some actual survivors with cunning and bad intentions matching wits with our heroes. I have a feeling that the dead men’s friends will show their faces pretty soon.

One final note: I’ve had it with Laurie. It’s not the actress’ fault that she’s been saddled with some bad material, but her character is really shrill, annoying, and kind of clueless. I guess it might make sense that she’s upset to see Carl become more callous, but seriously… she knows what kind of world they’re living in now, and it’s a world that requires at least some degree of harshness. It just seemed like she overreacted. And really, she should know better than to go driving off on her own to try and find Rick. That was an extremely dumb move. I’m sort of hoping that the writers kill her off, because I think her absence might give both Rick and Shane some more interesting things to do, especially if they come into conflict over how to raise Carl.

Here’s hoping that the episodes in the coming weeks will carry on the tension an excitement of the last few minutes of this episode.