The second installment of The Walking Dead has finally arrived, and I’ve been on tenterhooks since the release of the teaser trailer some months back. On paper, season one of The Walking Dead shouldn’t really have been a success, I know it has Zombies in and everyone has love for the Zombies, but that’s half my point. The genre has seen a resurgence of late, and I hate to say it, but The Walking Dead hasn’t really added anything unique. It’s the same old story we’ve seen again and again; a small group of civilians thrown together in an attempt to survive in the wasteland of what once was civilisation.
However, where The Walking Dead works, is largely in part to the TV format in which it finds itself. For once, we’re not hurriedly escorted through 90-minutes of shallow drama in order to get to the good stuff (the smashing of skulls, resourceful yet quirky weapon choices or the endless, endless blood) but instead we have time to develop the characters, and focus more on the interplay of the survivors beyond that of the obvious, and often, plot-enhancing distrust. Much like many of the big American productions, it becomes a tale of people thrust in to different situations (a world of super-powers, or a desert island for example) and it seems, we’re still very fond of watching deep relationships, well-developed characters and enticing story lines.
Which brings us on to the first episode of The Walking Dead. The remaining cast from S1, are all present and heading to Fort Benning when they encounter a huge traffic jam of abandoned vehicles. Whilst, they remain stationery due to vehicular trouble, they are almost besieged by a herd of walkers. The survivors all hide and manage to avoid the attention of the dead, except for Sophia, the young girl, who is chased by a pair and flees in to a nearby forest, alone. Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) pursues her, and eventually kills the walkers but loses Sophia in the hunt. The group attempt to track Sophia down whilst simultaneously attempting to maintain certain interpersonal relationships. Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal) seeks to secretly leave the group, whilst Andrea and Dale clash over the futility of continuing to live. As the episode draws to a close, Sophia remains lost and her young friend (and Rick’s son) is unexpectedly shot by an unknown assailant.
The episode remains fast-paced, and whilst it gives nothing away for the remainder of the series, you can already see the cracks begin to appear in the group dynamic. There are curious religious overtones, even attributed to stoic Rick Grimes who appears to be feeling the strain of leading the group, and who can perhaps only get worse with the uncertain fate of his son. The blood and gore remains pretty extreme, albeit in a very natural and believable way, offering just the right mix of drama and violence to keep everyone interested.
The subsequent episodes will be produced by a number of different writers, led by Glenn Mazarra who penned episode Wildfire in season one. Whether we’ll see a change in the script remains to be seen, but as I mentioned earlier, The Walking Dead is fairly unoriginal in my opinion but that just means there’s plenty of new directions it can go, and just maybe we’ll see some of them soon?