The Walking Dead 2.02 "Bloodletting" Review

A tv review article by: Paul Brian McCoy

Desperate to find help for Carl, Rick heads for Hershel's Farm. Meanwhile, the rest of the group continues to hunt for Sophia in the woods. Finally, Shane and Otis head into the nearby town to scavenge supplies in order to save Carl's life.

The Walking Dead airs on AMC Sunday nights at 9:00.

In retrospect, I think I was too easy on the Season Premiere. Giving it a three out of five was pretty generous. Especially when taking the jump in quality from that episode to this one.

Because this is the good shit, and it really drives home just how weak the premiere was.

Yeah, we've still got a hunk of the cast wandering around in the woods for most of the episode, but that's countered by three other narrative lines that keep us from getting bogged down with the emotional confrontations amongst the trees. I don't know if that's just because the story demands we move on or if Glenn Mazzara is just that much better a screenwriter than Kirkman.

Regardless, as this episode gets moving we've got Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) and T-Dog (IronE Singleton) desperately rummaging through the abandoned cars for any drugs they can find, as T-Dog's arm is seriously infected, and we've got Rick (Andrew Lincoln) rushing through the woods with Carl (Chandler Riggs) unconscious in his arms, bleeding out while Shane (Jon Bernthal) and Otis (Pruitt Taylor Vance) struggle to keep up.

Who's Otis, you ask? He's the guy who accidentally shot Carl. And if you're a fan of The Mentalist, like I am, you'll be glad to see Vince playing someone very, very different from LaRoshe. It's nice to see range like that in an actor.

But back to The Walking Dead. The sense of urgency we get right from the opening moments carries through the entire episode. The introduction of Hershel (Scott Wilson) and the others at the farmhouse is a welcome change of pace, given how pared down the main cast has become. The breakout new character this week, though is Maggie (Lauren Cohan), who in just a few scenes gives us a woman on the show who isn't a bitch or useless or a combination of the two.

That's a very good thing.

Especially given her introduction to the rest of the group. Chronic depressive bitch Andrea (Laurie Holden) is again on the ground screaming uselessly as a zombie lurches out of the trees at her, when Maggie bursts onto the scene on horseback, clubbing the zombie away, saving Andrea's life. She then grabs Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies), shouts orders and directions to the others, then rides back to the farmhouse as fast as her horse will carry them.

Yeah, fresh blood was definitely what we needed.

We also get another great example of Bernthal making Shane the emotional center of the show. He's really the most interesting and complex character in the story and (attempted drunken rape notwithstanding) is far more sympathetic and heroic than either Rick or Lori. I'm almost to the point where I'd rather see Shane as the lead and let the Grimes family fall to the wayside.

Daryl (Norman Reedus) again provides the most memorable and likeable moments of the original crew, casually shooting a zombie in the head with his awesome crossbow and just as casually providing some Oxycontin for T-Dog from his brother's old stash. He's got some X in there, too, so let's all cross our fingers for a special Rave Episode!

Of course it's not all good. We still have Andrea playing the continual victim and I'm a little put off by the way the writers are isolating T-Dog from the others. His fever-induced rant about how the Rednecks are going to let him die contrasted with how selfless the resident White Supremacist, Daryl, is toward him is either a clever commentary on reverse racism or a clumsy way of characterizing the black guy as a paranoid weak link.

I'm not sure about that one yet.

Especially with the whitewashing Daryl's getting.

The final moments of the episode were also pretty strong, with Shane and Otis trying to gather the medical supplies Hershel needs to save Carl's life, but having to navigate a horde of zombies to do so. Of course, things go horribly wrong and we end with our heroes trapped in an abandoned school with only a flimsy metal gate between them and the undead swarm.

That's how you do it.

Paul Brian McCoy is the writer of Mondo Marvel and a regular contributor to Shot for Shot. His first novel,The Unraveling: Damaged Inc. Book One is on sale now for Kindle US, Kindle UK, and Nook, or can be sampled and/or purchased at Smashwords. He is unnaturally preoccupied with zombie films, Asian cult cinema, and sci-fi television. He can also be found babbling on Twitter at @PBMcCoy and blogging occasionally at Infernal Desire Machines.

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