Wednesday, 26 October 2011

THE WALKING DEAD, 2.2 - "Bloodletting"

Wednesday, 26 October 2011
In many ways an even more confident step forward this week, as the consequence of Carl (Chandler Riggs) being accidentally shot while admiring a deer took full advantage of the actors. Even better, we were introduced to three new characters living together on a farm: kindly Hershel (Scott Wilson), daughter Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Otis (Pruitt Taylor Vince). Hopefully they're going to be part of the story for awhile longer, as all made more of an impression than many of the regulars. I was particularly taken with Wilson's unwavering performance as he tried to save Carl's life (especially in one harrowing scene to remove a bullet fragment with no anesthetic); Maggie's action sequence involving a horse, a baseball bat, and a zombie in the forest; and the strong feelings of sympathy Otis evoked for unintentionally shooting a little boy, considering he could have been little more than a country bumpkin.

I know season 1 was serialized, but this season already feels like it's going to be more like one continuous road adventure, which is just feels like a wiser choice. I always hated how limiting the base camp was last year, as it just resulted in a lot of sitting around with the occasional trip into Atlanta. It just makes more sense to give the characters a clear destination to head for, and throw various obstacles in their way during the journey. The current search for missing Sophia (Madison Lintz) and the life-threatening injury to Carl are much better story ideas than we had last season, mainly because they affect some of the prominent regulars in father Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and mother Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies). Remember how last season spent so much of its time on Daryl's (Norman Reedus) redneck brother Merle, handcuffed to a besieged building's rooftop, who simply vanished and still hasn't been heard from since? I'm glad this season appears to be making better choices about what it should be focusing on.

This episode even did something I suggested last year, inspired by how successful it was for Lost: it gave us a pre-outbreak flashback to the moment Lori was told Rick had been shot in the line of duty, and how she had to break the news to her son. I hope the show does more of this, because it gives us a little insight into how these people were before they had to deal with a zombie apocalypse, which in turn humanizes them to some extent. This episode's opening flashback didn't do much beyond remind us of the parallel between Rick and Carl, as the oldest and youngest members of the Grimes family have now been shot in recent months, but I appreciated the introduction of what's hopefully going to be a running plot-device.

The story focused on Carl's situation and lead to terrific performances from Lincoln and Callies that felt very authentic, especially because the whole situation and the seriousness of being shot wasn't sold short. This all felt very real and people's reactions were utterly believable. The subplots were less involving, but still agreeable to watch, with T-Dog (IronE Singleton) having to cop with suspected blood poisoning to the cuts on his forearm he sustained last week, and a mission where Shane (Jon Bernthal) and Otis had to steal vital medical equipment from a hospital crawling with "walkers". As with last week, it's good to see the show giving us more zombies than the majority of episodes delivered last season, although the number of extras requiring make-up probably hasn't helped the show's budgetary issues. But as a viewer, it all helps sell what's a global event.

Overall, I was again rather pleased by "Bloodletting" and how the writers appear to be tackling The Walking Dead this season. It all feels more personal and pregnant with possibility, three new characters were introduced very well, the story again ended on a decent cliffhanger (Shane and Otis cornered by zombies with only a chain-link fence between them), and this story provided solid opportunities for good performances and human drama... together with a smattering of cool zombie-slaying moments.


  • Daryl is seen carrying blue-coloured meth, which is likely a reference to the narcotic from AMC's other series Breaking Bad?
written by Glen Mazzara / directed by Ernest Dickerson / 23 October 2011 / AMC