The Walking Dead: "Guts"

When last we left our hero the stalwart Deputy Grimes at the end of the show's first episode, he'd gotten himself stuck inside a tank in the middle of Atlanta, surrounded by zombies, and I was on the couch staring at the TV slack-jawed and freaking out about how awesome this show was.

Episode 2 starts at the survivor encampment where we see Grimes's wife Lori, who is – hey, what do you know – wandering in the woods by herself. That's showing some excellent post-zombiepocalypse judgment. Naturally, she hears some lurky noises in the brush, and realizes, okey dokey, time to be scared, and what the hell was I thinking wandering off alone?

A hand grabs her, she whirls around, and it's Walsh, her new boyfriend (psyche!), who, if you recall, is also her husband's cop partner. Ah, I get it -- she wasn't wandering around like an idiot – she was waiting for him. So they could get down. You know. Get down. Down town. In the grass. Sure, she's pissed at him for scaring the hell out of her rather than announcing his presence in a low, non-threatening tone. She makes her anger clear by letting him lick her stomach. Cue the brief, but actually sort of explicit, (sweet!) sex scene.

Oh, and right before they do it? Lori removes her wedding ring from the chain around her neck, to make their woodsy coitus less sleazy. In the storytelling business, we call that foreshadowing! They have their wilderness sex which is clearly going to come back and bite them both in the ass when they finally reunite with Deputy Grimes in the next episode. I predict awkward extra-marital pregnancy. Just you wait.


After commercials, we're back with Grimes inside the tank, stuck in the middle of Atlanta and surrounded by zomboids. Acting on the advice of the mysterious kid talking to him on the tank's CB, Grimes decides to make a break for it. Which he does successfully, with bonus points for an AWESOME shovel slam to a zombie's face. Because AMC is badass and won't be shielding us from glorious zombie violence. I love the zombies on this show, by the way. They may not have a lot of coordination, but they're goal-oriented. They've got pluck.

Grimes discovers his savior, an Asian kid named Glenn (played by Steven Yeun) who grabs him and shoves him up a fire escape to the roof of a nearby building where we meet another survivor group. Way more tense than the group in the country. This group is extra peeved because as it turns out, they only snuck into the city to get supplies, but now they're trapped on the roof of this here department store because Grimes galloped into town, raised a ruckus, and now the zombies are all riled up and on red alert for yummy human flesh.

Members of the group include a pretty blonde woman named Andrea (Laurie Holden) who's clearly going to be a love interest for Grimes; a kindhearted black guy named T-Dog (IronE Singleton), a couple other expendables, and a head-shaven, gun-toting, angry redneck named Merle (played by the incredibly convincing-as-a-racist Michael Rooker, who's made an impressive career portraying characters carved out of granite. You'll recognize him when you see him).

Instantly, we get a glimpse of some of the conflicts happening in the group, mainly spawned by Merle, who has a penchant for throwing the N-bomb around for fun. After he starts to beat up on T-Dog for no reason, the newly arrived Deputy Good Guy Grimes puts Merle down like a dog, handcuffs him to a pipe, and gets all up in his face, to help him see that he's currently not being Part of the Solution. Unfortunately, he does so with cheesy lines like:

"We survive this by pulling together, not apart."

That's ok. I forgive.

The group brainstorms some escape options. They consider using the sewers, but that proves unwise. There be zombies down there. But from their spot on the roof, the group spies a construction supply site nearby, one with plenty of available trucks in the lot, perfect for a getaway. The only problem? How to get there. Then Grimes has a truly horrific awesome idea. See, it turns out that zombies can literally sniff out humans, since living things smell differently than dead things (duh). So Grimes and Glenn retrieve a handy corpse lying out back, hack the carcass open and smear themselves all over with viscera oh no they didn't oh yes they did. Presto! Instant undead disguise. This way they can casually stroll through town, hobnob with the zombies, and make their way over to the trucks.

Which sets up the one of the most awesome scenes in the episode: Grimes and Glenn staggering through teeming masses of the Walkers, doing their best imitation of that slow-shuffle walk. Unexpected comedy gold: when one zombie gets close to Glenn and starts sniffing him skeptically, and Glenn has to do his best casual uuurrrggghhhhhh growl to be convincing. I love that this show just made me laugh in the middle of such a nerve-wracking scene.

And then it starts to rain. Of course. And the rain quickly washes away their Zombie Fresh Scent. The undead catch on, Grimes and Glenn are revealed as impostors, and a frantic chase ensues.

Meanwhile, our rooftop survivors are watching the progress below, and are ready to run back down to the department store garage as soon as they hear word from Glen over the CB. And here's where we learn something that I'm pretty sure wasn't made clear in the first episode: the people stuck in Atlanta and the people roughing it in the woods outside of town are part of the same entourage. I didn't get that before. I really get it now though, when the wilderness contingent gets a transmission from the city folk about being trapped in the department store, and Walsh (Deputy Douchebag, currently porking his partner's wife) basically says, Hey, they're on their own. They knew what they were risking when they decided to go into the city for supplies. Already, I can't wait for the eventual smackdown this dude has coming from Grimes when they finally meet again.

So Grimes makes it to one of the trucks over at the construction lot. The gang up on the roof see this, and barrels back downstairs to the department store's loading dock to get picked up. Everyone except Racist Merle, who's still on the roof, handcuffed to a pipe. Not so tough now, are you, buddy? Merle starts whining like a little bitch, and of course T-Dog, the recipient of Merle's fists of fury earlier, has to go back to unlock the cuffs. But as he heads back, he trips, and loses the handcuff key down a pipe! Gah! Merle is apoplectic with rage, thinks T-Dog did it on purpose, goes all racist again, and T-Dog has no choice but to leave, blubbering about how sorry he is for being unable to free Merle. Which he shouldn't be. Merle's a dick. But clearly there'll be repercussions of some sort for leaving Merle up there, screaming epithets into the echoing city.

Grimes drives the truck to the department store, mowing down zombies all the way. The crew from the store piles in and slams the back gate down just as zombies get to them. Whew! But wait! "Where’s Glenn?" someone frets.

Glenn is fine. After being trapped and terrified in the middle of the city, Glenn is going about 90 on a freeway out of town in a hot-wired Camaro that was part of Grimes's plan to help distract the zombies. And as he drives off, Glenn lets out a whoop of delight. The credits roll, and I sit up on the couch, saying, Wait! It's already over? But... but...

The first half of the ep was a little slow, but picked up quickly once the survivors suddenly had to resort to Plan B to get the hell outta Dodge. Once again, this show's premise is reaffirmed:& when the end of the world comes, the brave get braver, and the weak get weaker.

And the dead stay hungry.

Scenes from next week: the two groups reunite! Grimes and his wife are suddenly face to face again. And it turns out Racist Merle's got a brother who's as much of a dick as he is.

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