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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
  • 4.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (126 Votes)

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

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I a not a fan of any film or television show in which people in the midst of danger put up with kids who won't obay and adults more concerned with their sex lives then the fact that something wants to eat their faces off! Give me an ever loving break. When I was a kid, if I had acted like this when my family was in danger, my mother would have taught me a quick lesson in obedience and I would have learned very quickly. And, if you have an affair with your husband best friend (cause you think he is dead), then your husband comes back (cause obviously he is not dead after all) then you move the heck on with your life and leave off bothering your ex lover! And, if the blonde chick wants to do herself in...by all means give her her gun back so we don't have to hear her whine any more! Please...I am begging you! People this stupid should never be allowed to live this long.

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The zombies react to sight and sound, they distinguish food from smell, they do not track pray from smell alone.

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Agree, the herd scene was HORRIBLE. These zombies do not move fast, and suddenly they are 100 feet behind them on a clear day? Dale was using binoculars looking both ways, wtf! "Hide under the cars" was even WORSE! They already established in episode 2, Guts, that zombies can SMELL and HEAR you. The cast did not get out of the RV at the road jam and display how overpoweringly bad of a smell it was there, so why would the zombies NOT smell them 3 feet away under cars? IT MAKES NO SENSE! Continuity Fail! BIG TIME! They didn't just 'detour away from the main comic highway', they massacred it! What happens to Carl at the end, which leads to Rick going to Hershel's farm doesn't even happen for some time. There is stuff that happens before that. Like the introduction of a MAJOR CHARACTER, Tyreese! Agree with poster Tyler above, this episode barely held my attention for more than 10 minutes. The best scene was Andrea and Dale's exchange which was showed in a promo for the season 2 premier. That was great stuff right there, but the rest, I agree with another review on another site, it was NOT the stuff of a seasons premiere. It was lackluster and dull. PS> Seriously tired of people NOT being able to look behind them, or keep their eyes on their kids for more then 30 seconds in this show. And someone let Dale know he's using binoculars not bifocals. =P

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Incredible! The season opener was a much anticipated event; for me, at least (not eveyone is into zombies). And it did not disappoint. I am a latecomer to the party and didn't even know about The Walking Dead until about a week ago (thank God for Comcast's OnDemand!). I have been very impressed with the character developement and the plot developement. This is "must see" TV! Finally, a TV series for us weirdos that enjoy watching zombie flicks. But... PLEASE keep it real!! You've done such an outstanding job so far. I don't want this ruined the way so many other dramatic series do. These characters make choices and take actions that I can see myself possibly doing in the same situation. I'm telling everyone. I love it!

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It was alright, but honestly it was nothing like the first season, it had be wanting more ever minute, this episode barely kept my attention for more than 10 minutes. Also where the hell did all those zombies come from? One minute theres nothing there and bam 50+ come out of nowhere. God i hope it gets better.

Piecar

I thought it was a pretty good episode, and I loved most of the scenes...(The exception being the soliloquies that scream "Let's tell the audience what we're thinking!!!" It's nice to see Carl do a little more, I agree with the reviewer. I don't think the reviewers read the comics though....It's a big deal to get Carl into it. He's a VERY big part of the comic story. That said, we have a major issue to overcome with a continuing story dealing with a young person. Young persons don't stay young forever. This is the reason that Walt on that show 'Lost' suddenly disappeared and why we don't see awesome child actor Dakota Fanning in anything anymore. I would like to see the Shane and Rick's wife secret outed soon, because it's a cheesy tv convention and always plays out the same...One person knows...then another, then the 'secret' collapses under the weight of itself. We see the first step in the collapse here, with Andrea finding out. the scene with the three zombies sitting in the church was interesting. I like that there is a dichotomy to how the zombies act. The 'smiling zombie' certainly was creepy, It's good that they're starting to give various zombies a little more "personality" T-Dog is the klutziest person ever. The man falls all over the place. Keys, tool bags and his own veins have been victims of his klutziness. I am so happy that the whispered words that Jennings had for Rick weren't "The wife is pregnant" I knew they would be something more important. So Andrea's in the RV bathroom trying to reassemble a gun....She never had a lesson about assembling a gun from Shane. Why did she think she could do it? It was a stupid contrivance.....and why wouldn't she close the door when she saw all the zombies? Shane went shopping at the Desert Storm combat fatigue store in the off season? Wasn't there another vehicle in the convoy before? Lori has been picking off the bones of the dead for at least a couple of months. She suddenly gets squeamish about scavenging at the road block? The actress who played Carol chewed it up, this week. I liked her in The Mist. I'm glad Darabont brought her over, and she was added to this cast. She's interesting. The Herd scene was interesting, but watching it the second time, I just don't get it. They all came from BEHIND our heroes. How did the convoy pass them on the road and not see them? How does Dale not see them all walking up the empty road behind them? Either way. A very good episode with a lot of both kinds of action. The handwringing relationship stuff for the "shippers" and the Post Apocalyptic action stuff for the people who enjoy the actual genre.

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I love Sci-Fi more than any other genre. HOWEVER - This is a SCI-FI Drama, which just catapulted my love to a higher level. The fact that this show is aesthetically pleasing makes me want to throw my hands up and cheer. But then the script, the moments.. I think we need a bad episode just to see the lol.. human quality... I can handle much gore, but I looked away and focused on twitter while Daryl was gutting that zombie. Andrea's scene though in the camper bathroom was intense and wickedly gross and awesome! I can't even imagine how in a script you can explain what is needed!! Bravo!! Every few decades a Science Fiction show actually works on television. As of today, I can't see anyone topping this for a while.

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LOVED IT!!!!!!!!!
And I screamed at the final scene. Wtf was that?!?!?

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Superb episode!!! Loved it all!! I almost puked when Daryl was cutting up the zombie ewwwwwwiee!!! I think it had the perfect blend of emotions action gore suspense all of it.
Looking forward to the rest of the season.