The undead roam the earth on THE WALKING DEAD - Season 2 - "What Comes Next" | ©2011 AMC/Gene Page

The undead roam the earth on THE WALKING DEAD - Season 2 - "What Comes Next" | ©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 ninety-minute second season premiere of THE WALKING DEAD, “What Lies Ahead,” Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the survivors leave Atlanta behind, heading for Ft. Benning and a very uncertain future. When they get trapped along the road, one of their own goes missing, forcing a harrowing search as tensions rise and the fragile ties that bind the group together threaten to unravel.

Let’s just forget about all the behind-the-scenes drama – the sudden forced departure of show runner Frank Darabont midway through production of this season has generated plenty of real and virtual ink – and focus on the narrative. After ending last year’s short season at the CDC only to discover there were no real answers to be found and that survival didn’t depend on them anyway, our ragtag group has decided to hit the road only to get immediately bogged down in traffic. The show itself feels like it’s in the same fix, and that’s not a good sign.

Right out of the gate this season opener doesn’t quite achieve the level of excitement that the series requires for such a triumphant return after all the praise from last year. Much of the ninety minutes is devoted to a protracted search for Sophia (Madison Lintz), a girl that wouldn’t have derailed everyone’s journey from Atlanta if she’d listened to Rick and waited five minutes for him to come back after risking his life to save hers. Some of the tension playing out from the Rick/Lori/Shane triangle and Andrea’s deferred suicide also feels forced already, as if the show is already falling into circular storytelling that doesn’t move things forward.

The look of the show is still top-notch, the zombies beautifully (yes, that can still be a suitable adjective) realized, and the cast is still compelling and capable of holding your attention. Norman Reedus as Daryl did a particularly good job last year creating a racist hick that could still command our respect, and here he’s already emerging as a better Number Two to Rick’s leadership than Shane (Jon Bernthal), whose sad sack “odd man out” routine has worn thin.

While Daryl shows great ingenuity in protecting himself and T-Dog (IronE Singleton) from “walkers” by pulling corpses on top of them in this episode’s one mildly exciting sequence, it’s aggravating to see Andrea (Laurie Holden) creating so much noise by trying to reassemble a gun she has no hope of using that it can’t help but ring the dinner bell for a zombie. She makes up for it with a powerful moment of independence, standing up to Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) and making a solid case for being allowed to choose the manner of your own death.

The episode also sports a by-now expected gross-out scene involving the gutting of a zombie, but although the story provides sufficient justification for the act, it still feels like the production team was working hard to shoehorn in a provocative “moment” to generate water cooler discussions: “Did you see what they did last night?”

Despite the opener’s extensive running time, not a lot happens at all until the concluding moments, when a shot fells both a deer and Carl (Chandler Riggs), who is beginning to show glimmers of the hardened version of the character seen in the comic book series. Hopefully he’ll be given a chance to develop further along those lines.

If this episode teaches us anything, it’s that the backwoods types have the best chance of making it in the post-apocalyptic world; they’re lucky to have Daryl around. As for those that feel they’ve earned the moral high ground like Dale, manipulating everyone around him may prove more dangerous than any ravenous walker. The zombies, meanwhile, keep their own counsel. But did we see them just sitting quietly in church? Creepy.

Will Andrea and Shane strike out on their own? Will Sophia be found? Will Carl survive? Will this show rediscover its narrative drive? Stay tuned.


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Click on Link: TV Review – THE WALKING DEAD – Season 2 Premiere – “Bloodletting”

Click on Link:  ASSIGNMENT X’s complete Season 1 episode guide

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Article Source: Assignment X
Article: TV Review – THE WALKING DEAD – Season 2 Premiere – “What Lies Ahead”

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