Jon Bernthal, Andrew Lincoln, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Jane McNeill, Lauren Cohan, Scott Wilson and Chandler Riggs in THE WALKING DEAD - Season 2 - "Bloodletting" | ©2011 AMC/Gene Page

Jon Bernthal, Andrew Lincoln, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Jane McNeill, Lauren Cohan, Scott Wilson and Chandler Riggs in THE WALKING DEAD - Season 2 - "Bloodletting" | ©2011 AMC/Gene Page

Stars: Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, Steven Yeun, Chandler Riggs, Norman Reedus, Melissa Suzanne McBride, Madison Lintz, IronE Singleton, Lauren Cohan, Scott Wilson, Neil Brown Jr. 
Writer: Ardeth Bey and Robert Kirkman
Director:  Ernest Dickerson and Gwyneth Horder-Payton
Network: AMC, airs Sunday nights 
Original Telecast: October 16, 2011

In the second episode of THE WALKING DEAD Season 2, “Bloodletting,” Rick (Andrew Lincoln) finds a possible safe haven for the group while seeking help for Carl (Chandler Riggs), and Shane (Jon Bernthal) undertakes a mission to obtain medical supplies to save Carl’s life. New friends are made, but how long can any alliances last in a world where the ravenous dead are waiting around every corner?

After a somewhat disappointing season opener that suffered from odd editing, uneven pacing, and a lack of distinctive set pieces (apart from the early attack of the herd), this installment features a more satisfying balance with the usual powerful performances. We also reach Herschel’s farm this week, a location well known to readers of the comic book series. Given the TV show’s tendency to go way off the graphic novel map last year, however, this does not mean we can expect to see the same plot threads play out as they did in the comic’s pages.

Another few words of caution: while the zombie genre is usually best focused on the living characters, with the dead as a backdrop for exploring the human condition, there still needs to be a strong presence of the “walkers” or it just becomes a hard-boiled tale of survival that lacks its most potent metaphorical element.

The serious lack of zombies in this episode (until the end) doesn’t bode well, especially since we know that AMC – in their infinite lack of wisdom – actually wanted the show to reduce the reliance on the titular characters this season. Why? Who knows why television executives think of any of the stupid things they come up with? Budget issues, presumably, but never let it be said there wasn’t a hit that a network couldn’t kill with over-thinking.

Still, this is only the second episode of the season, so it’s too soon to sound the alarm bells. The episode does do well by most of our cast, especially the Rick/Lori/Shane triangle. Bernthal’s Shane has really emerged from the shadow of the clichéd “other man” role, reaffirming his strong bond of friendship and almost-brotherhood with Rick, caring for him in this episode and even going so far as to reinforce for Rick how important Rick’s family is while he shoulders the burden of protecting the three of them.

It’s also good to see Rick out of it for a change, spiraling into near catatonia at Carl’s brush with death. Kudos too to Chandler Riggs for selling Carl’s agony in the torturous scene showing Herschel’s removal of the bullet fragments. And while Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) continues to display an incredible potential for insane judgment, criticizing Herschel for being a vet when he’s the only man standing between Carl and death, she does get a wonderful moment when she stands up to Rick and demands that he stay to fulfill his role as father and husband.

As for the others, Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) and T Dog (IronE Singleton) shine in one tense conversation while newcomers like Herschel (Scott Wilson) and Otis (Pruitt Taylor Vince) come across as warm people not necessarily in keeping with their images that might turn into even more well-rounded characters with a bit more development. Glenn (Steven Yeun), however, has been marginalized in the last two weeks, but knowing how the farm sequence pans out in the comic, perhaps there’s potential for Glenn to have some decent material soon even if the TV show diverges on other aspects of the story.

This zombie-light episode at least concludes with a tense mission to get medical supplies, but the creatures’ behavior is definitely shifting. For one thing, they don’t seem to have nearly the acute sense of smell that was such a major plot point last year, or else they would surely have pegged Shane and Otis sooner. On top of that, bright lights now apparently sway them more than the presence of living flesh – why do I keep hearing “sky flowers” in my head? As for their tendency this year so far to get up to a faster clip, they’re still well within Romero rules; after all, the Cemetery Ghoul from NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD jogged pretty briskly in that film’s opening scenes.

Next week looks a bit more action-oriented as Shane and Otis will have to find a way to escape the horde and get back to the farm with the much-needed supplies. What other challenges lay ahead in this post-apocalyptic hell? Let’s find out!

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Article: TV Review – THE WALKING DEAD – Season 2 Premiere – “Bloodletting”

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Comments:

  1. Pingback: Episode 2.02 ” Bloodletting” – Reviews « The Walking Dead

  2. Pingback: TV Review: THE WALKING DEAD – Season 2 – “Bloodletting … | Appalraju

  3. Disappointing season opener? Were we watching the same show? The Walking Dead is one of the best programs on television and who cares if you didn’t see many zombies in S2E2? This show is about the characters as well and how people can unravel during a crisis. You definitely need to work on your reviewing skills because you are totally off the mark here.

    Linda M.
  4. Since I’ve written or contributed to books about the zombie genre and teach a class that I created entirely about the use of the zombie as a metaphor in pop culture, I do in fact know what I’m talking about. We just have a slightly different opinion, that’s all. And if you read this review, you’ll see that I did stress precisely what you said – that the story is always about the humans and their emotional responses. But you can’t have that set against a backdrop of zombies without the backdrop of zombies, and it’s a fact that AMC wanted to eliminate most of that from the show. But I still thought it was a good episode, and I still agree with you that this is an excellent program. You’re arguing about the slightest difference of opinion on 45 minutes of television, so how about we just wait a week and see what happens next? Thanks.

    ARNOLD T. BLUMBERG
  5. lol! nice comeback!
    i really enjoyed this episode, though it has me more distraught at the cliffhanger than last season – prolly cos i’ve become more invested in the characters…i don’t mind a slight reduction in the zombies – after that zombie herd i could take a little break. i like how the *absence* of zombies seems to enhance the fear and apocalyptic feel – but that might just be me…either ways, i’m loving this season and can’t wait til next sunday!

    nas
  6. I was just clarifying why my opinion is at least an informed one, but that doesn’t invalidate Linda’s or any other viewer’s take on the show. They’re all equally valid, and my only note of concern this week is because some of the real-world constraints that AMC definitely intended to impose on the show sound like potential roadblocks for better storytelling, and that seemed partially evident this week. But we all hope the show continues to deliver on what it established last year, and yes, the absence of the zombies themselves in a given episode can indeed be fodder for suspense and fear. So it’s all good…hopefully. :)

    ARNOLD T. BLUMBERG
  7. I agree with your review. Not such a good second season opener. However, this one was better paced and appeared comfortable with its subject matter. My only gripe: I feel the writers are making our group look like a bunch of narrow minded elitists; not looking for guns and not driving off in better cars. Any good hick from Georgia would have looted every house on the way (enough rifles in those homes to supply a third world country) and dumped the crap RV and other junk cars for sturdier ones (how many RV’s, armed Army cars, and better gas millage auto’s have they passed by?) as they still cipher gas and tear out hoses from better cars. It’s a common since thing. I would love to love the characters on their decision making as much as their back story. Still, they’ve created a Zombie soup opera with strong character development and great suspense. Guess beggars’ can’t be choosers. Good show.

    Bobby

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