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Monday, October 17, 2011

'The Walking Dead' Season 2, Ep. 1: Sophia's Choice

Bald mom stars in Not Without My Daughter
  • AMC
  • Bald mom stars in "Not Without My Daughter"
Look. I know Sophia's 12. Twelve year olds don't take direction well because of their underdeveloped brains and their raging hormones and things. Plus, you know, she's living in a post-zombie-apocalyptic world in which her first period is less cause for celebration (which is weird anyway) and more cause to sew her stuff shut before Walkers catch her scent. But, seriously, that little girl led everyone budding-breasts-first into what would appear to be a lot of unnecessary trouble in the much-anticipated (a thing people say) premier of "The Walking Dead."

At the end of last season, there was a battle of the wills between Rick and Shane: Go to the CDC (good-guy Rick's idea) or go to Fort Benning (sex-with-Rick's-wife-having Shane's idea). Our rag-tag gang of still-alive-people, naturally, chose the former, which ended up being a bust (LITERALLY). So, after some wine and some hot showers, a date-rape attempt, and a couple lives lost, they're off to Fort Benning.

The episode begins with one of Rick's external monologues delivered via walkie talkie to Morgan and his son, who are probably dead and then undead at this point. And he ALMOST tells us what Jenner whispered in his ear right before the CDC got blowed up ("Rick, you are NOT the father"), but decides it doesn't matter, most likely because the new writers have yet to decide what Jenner said.

Then they're on the road. In the truck, Rick and Lori share a quaint story about a failed trip to the Grand Canyon. In the RV, Shane's cleaning guns and offers to clean Andrea's, because it's abundantly clear NO ONE wants Andrea to have a functioning gun. She lost her deadly weapon privileges when she lost her will to live.

The highway's a mess, (why they didn't take backroads is beyond me), and as they try to negotiate their way around a wrecked semi, Dale's RV breaks down, which, of course it did, because it's needed a new radiator hose since forever ago, and even though are a hundreds of unmanned (albeit, corpse-filled) vehicles on the road for the taking, they've consistently refused to swap it for a vehicle that hasn't been in service since Nixon was in office.

Even if the cars are no good, the stuff inside apparently is, so they start looking for the necessities — water, food, cute red dresses. See, shorn-haired mom wasn't allowed to have nice things when her dickhead, abusive husband was alive (before he got zombie bites and she got to bash his brain in a bunch). Now she IS allowed to have nice things and it doesn't even fucking matter. Isn't that the way?

From the next scene we learn three important things:
— Walkers travel in "herds." Social commentary.
— Hiding from Walkers under cars doesn't always work.
— T-Dog has way more blood in his body than other people.

As a herd approaches and everyone runs for cover under cars, T-Dog manages to cut his arm — no — manages to SEVER AN ARTERY on a car door, and scramble around a bunch whilst spraying blood everywhere. Daryl saves him, which is heartwarming, because Daryl's a racist hillbilly — who's growing on us! — but who's also probably still a little sore about the oopsie when everyone left his brother on a rooftop to die.

Andrea has a showdown with a Walker inside the RV, demonstrating that she does, in fact, have a will to live. Still, no one wants her to have a gun. (An aside: Should everyone be a little more concerned about getting zombie blood in their mouths? It bothers me that they're not more concerned about this.) The herd has just about passed when Sophia is spotted getting out from under a car too soon — 12 year olds, amirite? — and leads two Walkers on a chase into the woods. Rick follows, and instructs her to wait under a stump by the crick and then ... you know, to Sophia's credit, I wasn't exactly sure what he told her to do after that. Anyway, she didn't do it. Because she's 12. And scared shitless.

Meanwhile, Sophia's prepubescent counterpart Carl is becoming a man. Who screams like a lady whilst prying a bunch of hatchets and things from a corpse's cold, dead hands. Carl can't wait to show his second dad Shane what he found, but is rebuffed because Shane has blueballs and we all know how guys act when they have blueballs. Lori gets mad about this, which seems ridiculous considering, well, lots of things. I don't like Lori. Of course, Shane does, and announces he isn't just working on that Hyundai Tucson for his health, he's leaving. Being second dad's no fun.

In the woods, Daryl and Rick kill a member of My Morning Jacket (my indie rock references are getting stale, shut up) and then the best scene in the entire episode happens. You know, to this point, knowing about human anatomy what I learned in middle school, I always thought stomachs were near the fronts of bodies. That is not the case at all, apparently. You have to really root around for them. What great comic relief, right? Rick's winces! The egregious sound effects! Everyone gets an Emmy.

Rick and Daryl emerge from the woods Sophia-less and OH MY GOD LOOK T-DOG IS ALIVE. A bandage on his arm, but no worse for the wear. Which is crazy because he SEVERED AN ARTERY.

After Andrea berates Dale for putting her on suicide watch and Carl pouts about Daddy 2 being a dick, the whole group (besides Dale and T-Dog, I think) goes to search for Sophia. Second best scene of the episode? Bald mom luring Sophia out of a tent in the woods (she's not in there anyway) while Daryl stands poised with a bowie knife in his hands. Seems real safe to let a jumpy, knife-wielding hick be the first person your terrified daughter encounters.

Then, hey, church bells! Which means people are nearby! Nope. Just a few undead parishioners in a Baptist church, a bell on a timer (which, presumably, would run on electricity, which I didn't think existed anymore) and the King of the Zombies, Jesus. Rick, though not a believer — he put his faith in his friends, family and job, see, three things that have basically fucked him — asks Jesus for a sign. Something to keep them going. Anything will do, he says. And then Carl gets a shotgun blast to the stomach.


What did we think of the first episode? Great? Or REALLY GREAT? Will they find Sophia? Do we care? Will Shane really be a big enough dumpy baby to leave the group? Is that deer OK? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

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