'The Walking Dead' Recap: What's Going to Happen to Carl?

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There is a sorrowful Breaking Bad-shaped hole in my Sunday nights now, but I am taking solace in the fact that at least there are zombies. I've been ready to get back into The Walking Dead, and forgive the show for the various trespasses it committed at the end of last season. (You know, like the initial embracement of the total disregard for the comic book's source material, the loss of strong character-driven storytelling, and of course that whole superlame CDC side plot.)

While I was disappointed in how The Walking Dead ended last year, I've been hopeful for season 2. With a new showrunner manning the creative helm and more than twice as many episodes as last year, I figured there was a good chance this would be the season that lives up to its dark and gruesome promise.

So, did the season premiere deliver? Let us discuss ... after the requisite warning, of course. *clears throat, shrieks into megaphone* ATTENTION! THERE WILL BE SPOILERS AHEAD! 

When we last saw Rick Grimes and the gang, they had just blown up the Atlanta CDC, having learned there's no impending cure or government assistance to hope for. Oh yeah, and Dr. Jenner had just whispered a Shocking and Mysterious Secret in Rick's ear. Tonight's episode started out with Rick on a rooftop having a heart-to-heart with an invisible maybe-dead maybe-not Morgan via walkie-talkie, and he mentioned the fact that Jenner told him the Shocking Secret ... but juuuuuust before we learned what it was, Rick said, "Ah, it doesn't matter."

Pysch.


I didn't think it was a strong start to the show. In addition to the ham-handed Secret Fakeout, Rick's whole speech felt wooden and flat and more than a little corny. Bad writing? Bad acting? A little of both, in my opinion.


As for how things went from there, there were definitely some good moments. The initial scene of their cars navigating the jammed-up highway was phenomenally creepy, and that ever-present swelling hum of cicadas lent an impressively desolate vibe to the atmosphere. The shots of everyone hiding under the vehicles as the herd of undead shuffled by were teeth-grindingly tense, as was the scene with Andrea battling the (mystifyingly alert) zombie in the RV.


The story of Sophia going missing started out well, but the more it dragged on, the less compelling it became. Having everyone rambling around in the woods was less interesting to me than that spooky highway, and once they arrived at the church, I was almost ready for poor Sophia to pop out of a pew as a zombie, just to move things forward.


Oh, and if I could make one request going forward, it's this: stop having Rick do monologues. He really sort of sucks at them, whether he's talking into a radio or a big old statue of Jesus.


I think they're doing good things with some of the characters—like Dale, who is awesome, and Daryl, who has suddenly become a likable guy. (Although his zombie-belly-hacking technique is awfully robust, wouldn't you say? I mean, I can't say I've ever cut open a man's midsection, but wouldn't you just, like, slice into it? Like a loaf of French bread?) Some of the other characters feel uninspired. Almost cartoonish at times, which is ironic, being as how this came from a comic that breathed life into every character that crossed its pages.


It's very hard not to compare the comic to the TV show, and not to obsess over where the TV storyline has strayed from the original. No one wants to hear the whinging of the comic nerd, but allow me this: I greatly preferred the moment when Carl was shot in the comic. It was shocking and seemingly out of the blue, like in tonight's show, but ... well, without the slightly malformed-looking CGI deer that I guess was supposed to represent life and peace and an overall sense of
yay, everything's going to be okay! as Carl slowly approached it and everyone stood around smiling goofily. Then BLAM.

Aaaaaand fade to black. Not a terrible ending, just kind of a really weird scene up until the moment when Carl got tagged.


Overall, I'm giving the premiere a C+. It sure looks great, and man, I want it to be awesome SO BAD, but it's just not there yet for me. I want to be more emotionally invested in the people, but so far the only person I'd be truly sad to see go is Dale.

Still, I'm interested to see what's going to happen next, especially as our gang finally gets to Hershel's farm.

Lingering questions to ponder for next time: who shot Carl?
What was Jenner's whispered secret? What repulsive thing could they have found in that zombie's belly to definitively prove it ate Sophia, anyway? Why are the zombies sometimes slow and sometimes fast? Was Carl going to shoot that deer or pet the damn thing? And hey, is Carl dead now? Is Sophia? 

What are your thoughts about tonight's premiere? Did you love it? Hate it? Somewhere in between?



Image via AMC

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nonmember avatar Lori

Gah. I was way too busy freaking out to criticize. I thought the CGI stuff was jarringly bad, but other than that, I was completely drawn into this ep. Andrea's getting annoying, and I can't decide whether to forgive Lori or not, but I'm definitely on board for this season.

nonmember avatar Katy

I was held very captive, which is not even always true of some of my favorite shows, so I feel like that has to count for something. I have never read the comics, so I also might feel less failed on various recreations. I do think ricks monologues are insanely clunky, but it does get the point across that he really feels he needs to hold himself to a higher standard, so he can't just let all his feelings out to Lori (a la Shane) or even be as honest as Andrea was to Dale about her thoughts on suicide. Without any monologues, he might seem kind of devoid of real emotions (a la Daryl, who barely spoke a complete sentence all episode despite ample screen time). Maybe the monologues will decrease when they go to that other house and interact with other patriarch type characters. I would say the most frustrating part for me tonight was Sophia. She is TWELVE. She's not like, an infant or even a toddler. Girlfriend needs to be picking up survival skills at a faster rate than this! If you can't find your way back, just stay in the beaver dam and wait for Rick. Furthermore, the search party should go in and provide her with a path back to the RV. Even if they can't find her, if they put ribbons on the trees or something, she could maybe find her own way back! Just saying. Let's think outside the box a little, zombie apocalypse survivors!!

tksho... tkshoults

I am SOOO glad I don't have cable if this is what's on these days....

nonmember avatar Rick Grimes

I thought the episode was decent. I am not a fan of the fact that they make the zombies intelligent when its convienent for them though. I agree with the author of the article whole-heartedly though, why stray from the source material if you felt it was good enough to turn into a tv show in the first place?!? The comic is one of the best reads in the past 10 years, don't mess with a good thing.

GirlN... GirlNamedBillie

tkshoults- If you don't have cable then why are you on this article? Move on, it's for people who care.


I absolutely LOVED the premiere! It had me on the edge of my seat the whole time! I'll admit that they should have found the little girl, they could have had more interesting climaxes while they were wondering around in the woods, but I am anxious to find out what happened to Carl.

alisa... alisabethjaimes

This was my first time watching the show, I'll have to watch the first season now. I thought it was good

MaggieCC MaggieCC

I loved it!  Thought it was a great season opener.  My husband asks me why I watch it when all I say during the whole show is "I don't think I can watch anymore".   It scares the crap out of me and I love it!!!

nonmember avatar lu

TKSHOULTS you just showed us ur a judgemental a-hole by judging something u dont even have access to. SO MY ADVICE IS STFU.

nonmember avatar Melissa

Have to agree with others, Sophia is at least old enough to follow instructions or climb a tree and wait for help, for cryin' out loud. I love this series, but the biggest disconnect for me in the Season 2 opener is that the zombies are suddenly faster and seem to have a few more IQ points. Meh.

Also, did anyone else notice that the zombie who got the stomach autopsy looked suspiciously like Nicholas Cage? Or maybe Mr. Cage just looks & acts a lot like a zombie...

MaoChow MaoChow

Loved it! Don't care about the author's opinions on the show. Yeah the CG kinda sucked, but that's due to a big lack of funding. Yeah their budget got hacked big time! Also the creator of the comic series is writing for the show! He'd said during season 1 that he's donig things differently than his comics just because when he started the books he didn't know how long it would run; the comic market being a very fickle thing. He had said that he now gets to do things how he originally wanted and move certain events up so we see them faster. I love it! But then... we're huge zombie fans and are thrilled to see them popular again. Also that things seem to based on reality. No super human slaying whole hordes of zombies without having to reload his gun.

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