The first season of The Walking Dead felt more like a teaser reel than an actual season. “This is what we’re capable of doing,” it seemed to say. Now, finally, with the premiere of the show’s second season, which will be over twice as long as the first, it feels like we’re actually getting into the real show.
The premiere episode, “What Lies Ahead,” picks up right where the first season left off — with the gang on the road out of Atlanta. They leave the way Rick came in, on the road made famous by the season one promotional poster. But just because they’re out of the city doesn’t mean that they’re safe. While the city was a bit of a trap, it was also a shelter — now they’re out in the open, unprotected, unguarded.
The survivors are more on edge than they ever were. After all, the season one finale left them in some pretty bad places. Andrea blames Dale for not letting her kill herself at the CDC, while Lori hasn’t forgotten Shane’s near-rape of her in the same episode. Rick and Lori continue to clash over how they should raise Carl in this drastically different world. Even T-Dog has a pretty bad first episode — a case of blood poisoning leaves him feverish and paranoid. Glen and Daryl seem to be, for the most part, the only characters who don’t really clash with anyone. For Glen, it’s because he unfortunately doesn’t get that much screen time. For Daryl, well, he’s too busy killing zombies with his crossbow to really care.
The show’s first episode hinges on a pivotal scene set on the highway, where the RV breaks down and the survivors are forced to hide under abandoned cars to evade the Walkers, who travel the roads in hordes. Something goes wrong, though, and a character goes missing. Rick, once again exercising his Jack Shephard muscle (LOST fans know what I’m talking about), decides that he needs to find and save the missing person. This quest leads to the episode’s grossest scene, as well as to the episode’s most poignant scene. One features a zombie dissection, the other features a church (to read my thoughts on the irony of Christianity in The Walking Dead, check out this article).
It’s the final scene of the premiere, though, that will get your pulse pounding. It’s certainly the most beautifully shot scene in the series thus far, but it comes with a twist that will set the ball rolling for the rest of the season.
“What Lies Ahead” is a great episode of television with a variety of strengths. There’s plenty of great acting to go around, and the story manages to be simple and poignant — though of course if you’re wanting to see some blood and guts, you need look no further. The season premiere holds the promise of more greatness for the future of The Walking Dead, and I can’t wait to see where the show takes us next. A
The Walking Dead‘s second season premiere will air Sunday, October 16, on AMC.