TV Review: The Walking Dead 1.02 Guts

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SPOILERS — IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY SEEN THE EPISODE, DO NOT READ ON.

The good news: Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) has found survivors in the city of Atlanta. The bad news: it’s also teeming with the living dead. Worse, his presence has drawn the hungry horde of undead to a group of survivors looking for supplies, and they are not the least bit pleased. Actually, they’re pretty pissed off, and if Rick doesn’t do some fancy talking and soon, he might never live to find his beloved wife and child, who we have since learned, are very much still alive. That’s the other good news. The other bad news? Rick’s wife and child are now with Shane (Jon Bernthal), Rick’s former partner, who has become, er, very close with Rick’s wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies). Can you say, “Man, that is going to be one awkward reunion”?

Taking place immediately after the events of the pilot, 1.02, “Guts” finds Rick rescued by the resourceful Glenn (Steven Yuen), after which he encounters the scavenging survivors, including Andrea (Laurie Holden) and Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker), who just by the name alone, you know is one stereotypically racist Southern bastard. Since the survivors are quite the eclectic racial mix (there is one Hispanic, two African-Americans, and Glenn is Asian), it stands to reason that racist Dixon has plenty to get racial about. Quickly, though, Rick takes control. But with the undead now drawn to their department store hideout, the survivors are trapped, and Rick must come up with a plan to save them all or die trying.

“Guts” features teleplay credit by showrunner Frank Darabont, and besides introducing us to the small group of survivors/scavengers in the city, it also introduces more characters from Shane and Lori’s group, hiding out in the hills outside the city. By now most people will have realized that the two groups are one and the same, just split up. After a brief interlude with Lori and Shane, where we see just how involved Shane and Lori have become (hint: very), most of the episode occupies itself with Rick in Atlanta with the second group of survivors. Tensions are running high, but thanks to some quick thinking and sure shooting, Rick comes up with a plan to save the day. Shout out to “Shaun of the Dead”, anyone?

After the edge-of-your-seat tension of the final few minutes of the pilot, “Guts” makes for a thrilling follow-up. Imagine the final 30 minutes of most zombie movies, minus the set-up and character stuff, and that’s essentially “Guts” in a nutshell. The entire episode is one big zombie movie final act. Though I’m a fan of Darabont’s writing, he does drop the ball a bit with the Dixon character. Guest star Michael Rooker is criminally underutilized throughout the episode, not helped by his silly and one-note character. Rooker is a great actor, but hiring him on and never taking him off the rooftop seems like such a wasted opportunity.

“The Walking Dead’s” zombies continue to evolve, and I suspect Darabont and company were creating their zombie bible as they went. These undead are essentially Romero zombies, but they can pick up the pace when they smell food. Nevertheless, these aren’t the speed freak zombies that have become the fashion lately, which for a show that wants to hang its hat on being as realistic as possible, makes some kind of sense. Rigor mortis does have a place in “The Walking Dead’s” universe,it would appear. Also, the dead smell. The episode’s highlight involves a dead zombie and a fire ax, and how well Darabont scripts the whole scene. Too bad he couldn’t think of something better to do with Merle Dixon. I’m just saying.

Although it only cuts away to the first group of survivors for a few minutes, “Guts” presents a very interesting take on Shane and Lori’s relationship. Their little jaunt in the woods at the start of the episode makes you wonder if it’s little more than sex for Shane; but then later, you see him with Carl, Rick and Lori’s son, and it makes you question your previous conclusion. If nothing else, establishing the relationship between the two certainly sets up an interesting foundation for future episodes. Readers of the Robert Kirkman comic book will already know how the situation resolves itself, but I am very curious if Darabont has something else planned.

I guess we’ll find that out in episode 1.03 of “The Walking Dead”, titled “Tell it to the Frogs”, which will air next week on the AMC channel.

Author: Nix

Editor/Writer at BeyondHollywood.com. Likes: long walks on the beach and Kevin Costner post-apocalyptic movies. Dislikes: 3D, shaky cam, and shaky cam in 3D. Got a site issue? Wanna submit Movie/TV news? Or to email me in regards to anything on the site, you can do so at nix (at) beyondhollywood.com.
  • Doubleh55

    Here are two comments I’d like to share.

    1. I hope you really don’t believe that is the end of Merle Dixon. They made it very clear that he’s going to come back and be a giant pain in the ass to Rick Grimes and friends. There would be no reason to show, in slow motion, the hacksaw dropping to the ground and making a big deal about the guy locking the door.

    2. I actually feel bad that Rick is spending all this time looking for his wife and kid. Between the speech in episode one and the pretty graphic sex scene in the beginning of the episode, I don’t want to see her and Rick get together. I wanna see him catch up to his son but they’ve made it clear that his wife doesn’t really love him anyway.

    • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Nix

      1. I hope it’s not the end for Merle, I’d love to see more of Michael Rooker, but where did you get that they “made it clear” he would be back for more episodes? I know Rick and Merle’s brother are going back to look for him in next week’s ep, but I never read anything that said Merle would be sticking around for a long time. Daryl, Merle’s brother, too, for that mater.

      2. I think she still feels something for him, hence the brief hesitation. Granted, that didn’t stop her, but hey, she thinks he’s dead, after all, and as you’ll recall, Lori and Rick were having marital problems way back in the pilot. Or at least, according to Rick.

      • Doubleh55

        Well this probably counts as a spoiler but imdb lists him being in 6 episodes. Plus I remember reading that he was a new character that Darabont invented for the show and that the creator was happy about it. They wouldn’t make a big deal out of a new character if he wasn’t going to be around past an episode or two.

        • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Nix

          Well see, there’s your problem right there. They listed him in 6 episodes including the pilot, but we know he wasn’t in the pilot. Plus, they only listed him as a “guest star” in the episode credits. Mind you, I HOPE he stays on longer, I love Rooker as an actor…

      • Lancaster

        2. Hesitation? OMG, How would Lori have acted if she was really into it? I saw no hesitation, ohter than a very brief pause before she took of Rick’s wedding ring she was wearing around her neck. From what I have read, the majority of fans thinks that Shane and Lori were sleeping together well be fore Rick was shot and went into a coma. And it sounds like Rick wasrtrying at least to give Lori what she wanted from his conversation in epi 1 with his good “friend” Shane. From the way Rick described her reaction (nothing he did was right), Lori was probably already cheating with Shane. And even based on the remote possibility that Lori and Shane waited until they thought Rick was dead (not they they needed proof or anything to believe he was dead), she waited, what about a month before she was sleeping with his best friend with no signs of remore, guilt, etc. from either of them. And Rick is willing to battle an army of zombies to get back to that tramp??? I really feel sorry for him. Hopefully they will kill off both Lori and Shane soon (I was really hoping zombies would have pounced on them during the jungle love scene3 in the woods) and Rick and Andrea will get together to raise Carl.

  • Milky_stainz

    1. I also noticed the moment where the camera focused in slow motion on the hacksaw that T-Dawg dropped on the roof just as they were about to escape, implying a kind of “Saw” situation for Merle.

    2. Lori in the tv series is painted as rather unsympathetic, and I would like to see how Darabont takes her character in a different direction to that of the comic. Her current behaviour, along with her last words to Rick recounted in the pilot seem to indicate this, it wouldn’t make much sense for her to do a 180 a run back into Rick’s arms.

    • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Nix

      1. I figured he would still be alive by the time they get to him, but I don’t see him lasting beyond next week’s episode. Either the zombies will get him, or Rick, would be my guess. Remember, it’s not like he had any place to go off the rooftop.

      2. Rick and Andrea would be interesting. There was some chemistry between them in “Guts”.