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The Walking Dead Season Premiere Review: Worth the Wait

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The wait is finally over for the anticipated return of The Walking Dead and, yes, it's off to a fantastic start.

Where last season ended on what could be considered a low note, the second season premiere hit the ground running... and simply kept going.

From the outset, the tension buildup and level of suspense was beautifully crafted against the warm and calm backdrop of the abandoned highway. Not only were the characters slightly on edge, but as a viewer, all I could do was wait for that moment where something would jump out and sink its nasty teeth into an unsuspecting victim.

Under a Car

Even when the herd of Walkers appeared, forcing the characters to run and hide, I continued to anticipate some moment that would reveal the survivors to the zombies. More so, the random zombie that found its way into the RV was a lumbering and scary piece of work that amped up that "when is it going to happen" moment. All I could do was wait. And wait. And wait.

I swear I think I set a new record for holding my breath.

Of course, there was also plenty of graphic moments filled with sharp instruments and head-plunging gruesomeness. Yet, it was the scene where Daryl opened up a zombie with his knife that was probably the most gut retching. Not only was the blood and the entrails visually disgusting, but the sloshing and the squishing was enough to make me want to gag. I have no idea how Rick managed to keep it together.

I guess that says something of his growth as a character. Rick has certainly become more hardened and even brazen when it comes to killing zombies. That harsh look in his eyes as he beat the Walkers with a rock was somewhat chilling. It seems that the dangerous conditions are slowly transforming the man and default leader of the group.

Yet, even so, as that leader, Rick's begun to doubt his abilities to protect everyone. He wants to do the right thing, but feels unsure about the choices to make. He's even gone looking to faith and God for a sign that could help him head in the right direction. Being a leader is clearly tough.

And Andrew Lincoln has done a great job portraying Rick and his complexities. Rick's quiet but assured demeanor played against his own insecurities when alone are clearly visible to the viewer. There's a range of emotions that he gets to play and I'm liking the choices he's making. Andrew Lincoln is Rick Grimes.

Rick isn't the only one that's changing, as the zombie apocalypse has affected everyone. It makes sense that the people remain wary, are jumpy because of a twig snapping, or even just plain stressed out. How could you not be? The end of the world is no easy cake walk and making decisions isn't as simple as ordering a meal at your favorite restaurant. Every choice has a consequence and it's easy to see that each character is teetering on the edge of stability. It's just a question of when that breaking point take place.

I'd love to point out that I appreciated Melissa Suzanne McBride's acting when it came to expressing Carol's distress over losing her daughter. I expected her to shout and scream at Rick while pounding her fists against his chest uncontrollably. Instead, she gave out a quiet strained cry that expressed just as much pain as a loud scream would have. Less was certainly more and the following silence of the rest of the group added to the somber and forlorn moment.

The Walking Dead Season 2 Premiere Pic

There's clearly a lot of tension between each of the group members and their desires to survive. It was great that the episode began to set up little issues for each character that could eventually become a full blown problem that affects everyone. Lori and Shane's affair perhaps? Rick's faith in himself? Dale and Andrea's relationship or, currently, lack thereof? As much as the group is banded together, simply being human and filled with emotions of fear, jealously, etc. is enough to tear them apart.

It's not always the zombies that are the worst enemy and it's clear that the characters still remain a top priority for the show.

I'm also glad that Rick's son, Carl, finally got to do something more than stand in the background. Not only was he finding some helpful weapons and bravely trying to assist in the hunt for Sophia, but he had multiple speaking lines. It looks like it's time to finally start exploring his character further and see how youth are affected by the end of the world.

That final scene, while inducing another form of drawn out suspense, was a great cliffhanger. Is that really it for Carl? Probably not, but in this world, nobody is ever safe. It looks like Rick could really use one of those slim chances.

"What Lies Ahead" was the perfect set up for season two. There was a nice balance of calm apprehension and full-on zombie fighting that kept the pace from feeling like it dragged on for too long in any moment. The 90-minute episode was worth the wait and it's obvious that all the pulse pounding, breath catching, and heart stopping moments will have viewers craving and clawing for more. Indeed, The Walking Dead is back!

Review

Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (125 Votes)

Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.

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    19 Comments New Comment Subscribe

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    I know I will be hated for this, but I predict cancellation. I really liked last season. But so far this season is not only not keeping my attention, but serving to annoy me. Sci Fi typically uses the "corridor run" to excess. That is what I call it when characters run through alleys, or caves, or streets, or anything that basically is used to consume time with getting from point A to point B rather than using plot or dialogue to fill out a script.
    In this case it is running between cars and running through the woods. Take away the amount of time used just moving from place to place and that is most of the episode. So then I look at the reason for all the running. Searching cars for stuff, and then being taken unawares by an army of rotting dead lurching silently until they were breathing on them. Also, searching for a kid that I have no investment in as a character. Add to that conversations that I am also not invested in. Add to that the "we gotta address our passion right now even though we may die for it cuz we can't wait a few hours" action. I think they are misjudging the audience for the show. I expect the show is going to continue to be about either the "bad guy group" of the week, or the "oops, we stumbled into the middle of a thousand zombies which way did they go George now what" plots. I hope it gets better, but their budget was cut in half and appears the writers were the first to feel it.

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    Loved the season 2 premiere.
    I do hope Carl is going to make it!
    I'm not involved with many characters except Rick and the Asian guy, the guy whose brother was left on the top of a building and the old man. The wife annoys me because she keeps going back to Dale. The blondie with her whinning is insufferable. She has potential to be a great kick ass protagonist so I'm not giving up on her.

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    I loved TWD S:01. I had high expectations for the S:02 premiere but the magic wasn't there. Knowing they smashed two episodes together to make one long episode left a lot of good scenes on the cutting room floor. I, for one, would have loved to see the aftermath of the CDC explosion. Other things seemed out of place. I just couldn't get into the little girl lost in the woods storyline. I know next weeks episode introduces new people/locations (not mentioning names for those who haven't read the comics) but after 15 mins of searching the woods, I pretty much shouted "leave her if she can't follow directions!" Sheesh. Knowing what lies ahead will keep me coming back, this is one of the best series on TV. I also didn't like the zombie herd (where were they along the way) or the lovers quarrel between Shane & Lori. Overall the episode was okay, due to the awesome zombies. I mean Rick & Daryl's autopsy was astoundingly awesome! So here's hoping for more this season.

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    I think Dale messedup or made a mistake looking infront of himself 97% of the time, so that those zombies were all upon them as we saw. Furthermore Rick himself was looking behind just as he handed the binoculars to Dale. I think Rick realizes this error made by Dale as he looks upon him on the RV(propbably thinking you should have seen them coming!). Those Zombies must have been inside the woods too, for them to appears all of sudden like that in close proximity to the group.

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    I enjoyed the beginning of the second season! The gutting scene was great! reminds me of the scene in Jaws. One thing I saw wrong was the church, the sign outside said it was a Baptist church, but inside was a crucific with Jesus on the Cross, a Baptist church would NEVER have a cross with Jesus on it.

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    Piecar had mentioned this in his post, and I thought the exact same thing. Dale should have seen that crowd of zombies coming from a mile away. Especially on top of the RV. Extremely poor writing like this is what ruins a very good show. Pretty soon there's going to be more scenes like this that aren't caught. Oh, one last thing...Piecar, they didn't pass those zombies. They were looking ahead off into the distance of where they were going. The RV is facing forwards still.

    Please writers of The Walking Dead, stop making these huge mistakes. I know it's a zombie show, but it's meant to seem realistic, right? So, next time don't write a scene where a man with binoculars, standing approximately 15 or so feet above the road, can't see a crowd of at LEAST 200 zombies approaching his way. When he finally DOES see them, they are freaking 20 or so feet from the RV. It was such an obvious error. And something that just should have been caught.

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    I do love this show, while it has flaws. I am the first to nit pick, but I will allow for some alternate possibilities to pacify my realism issues:

    1) its possible the zombie herd crossed the road from some other direction before turning to follow it, they are crazy zombies and prone to going off road. just look at the two or three stragglers they caught out there

    2) kids have fear but also a lot of energy, they tend to stretch the limits of a parents radar when the parent is preoccupied with adultery and zombie killing

    3) Dale is old, tired and maybe less than aware, but its just drama that showed the zombies 100 feet away when first detected. And they did weave the RV into the mess a bit, I suppose to show that they were deep in the jam. More realistically they detected the zombies several hundred yards out, but it would still have taken time to get everyone accounted for. Personally I would have jumped in a vehicle. But I am wierd like that.

    4) I suppose in the middle of the apocolypse you let your son approach a large animal as if to pet or hug it. this is probably not normally going to end with the animal pulling out a 9mm and shooting the kid. But anything is possible in zombieville. The animals have had enough.

    I do have one comment for the first season though. Who in their right mind would have a fricken fish fry at night with a big fire and no posted guards in the middle of a zombie apocolypse? I do love the show, but these idiots deserve to die if they continue to feast and forage unprotected.

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    After a great season one the producers seem to have decided a soap opera story line would be better. Easier to write and produce for sure, not so much fun to watch.

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    Great show. And you critics out there, hope you become zombie food.

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    I agree, Kate. Let's act mature here and realize that things have changed. The Shane thing is retarded

    I don't see where any of the kids misbehaved, though. Sophia WAS told that she should head back to the road if Rick didn't come back for her. It must have seemed like a long time for a girl terrified and alone in the woods. She got waylaid somehow.

    I'm sorry I read other opinions on the Herd Scene because it just galvanizes my own disappointment with the scene. Why did they have the zombies come from behind? Everything would be okay if they came from the front.

    Let's stop the soliloquy scenes. And the long winded talking into a radio with no way to recharge it scenes too.




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