Crumbs: Reviews » Dramas » The Walking Dead » Season 2 » What Lies Ahead
Critical reviews of U.S. TV shows
and analysis of what makes them
good, bad, irritating and enlightening.
60
/100
Viewer
64
/100

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead is a drama about a zombie apocalypse. It is based on the 2003 Image Comics series. AMC 2010-???

68
/100

Episode 1 - What Lies Ahead

23 February 2012

Credit AMC

Synopsis: The survivors head out of Atlanta but come across a highway traffic jam. Soon a pack of Walkers come stumbling through and Andrea has to kill one of them without making noise. Young Sophia is chased by two into the woods and Rick saves her by diverting their attention. Unfortunately they can't find her and a search the next day only uncovers an abandoned church. Shane tells Lori that he plans to leave and Andrea wants to go with him. 

The Good: I enjoyed Season One a lot. I thought the tension was excellent and the dramatic tone of the survivors plight made for an eminently watchable show. The writing didn't make me care about the characters in a way I would like but didn't make me dislike them or feel that they weren't real.

I felt "What Lies Ahead" was a very promising beginning to the new season. All of those strengths remained in place while the characters began to get a little more definition. It wasn't groundbreaking but it was solid. I thought the emotional confrontations were well handled throughout. Andrea attack on Dale was excellent. It would have been easy to forget about last season's stories as it's been so long since they were on TV but this really brought back her suicide attempt at the CDC and how it was Dale who forced her to leave and not her own choice. His fear that she might kill herself again made sense and I liked the definition of him as both wise and meddling. He foresaw that if he fixed the RV straight away some of the survivors would begin to give up on Sophia. It was a hint of the moral dilemmas that will surely come down the road and now we get a sense of where he will stand in those situations.

Sophia's disappearance in the woods was a nice simple idea to create a problem for the whole group. That led to another emotional confrontation as her mother Carol lays into Rick for abandoning her daughter in the woods. It was a believable parental response and Rick dealt with it calmly as a police officer would. Finally Lori stood up for her husband to the rest of the group, establishing her respect for him as a man so that we are in no doubt of that fact.

There were also other character moments worth keeping an eye on. Daryl saves T-Dog's life which will doubtless soften relations between them. I also liked the way young Carl felt hurt by Shane brushing him off as Shane tries to put distance between himself and the rest of the group.

The action scenes are of course what got us all in the door in the first place and they were as good as you would expect. The traffic jam scene was dramatic and exciting, particularly when Andrea is stuck inside the RV and doesn't know that the Walkers are going past. The church on the other side of the forest and its electronic bells were a clever setting to allow the characters a chance to reflect and pray. Characters like Darryl could certainly use more lines like the one here where he looks at the statue of Jesus at the front of the church and yells "Hey JC! You takin requests?"

The scene where he and Rick disembowelled a Walker was interesting. I liked it because it showed the kind of gruesome world they now live in where disgusting acts like this are necessary. I felt the same about Carl lifting the knives from a corpse in the front seat of a car. A world of corpses where some wake up would be a terrifying place to be.

The ending was quite a shock with Carl finding a deer in the wood and then a bullet slamming through both of them. Doubtless the survivors who shot them will now become the new focus of the story.

It's also worth saying that what remains true about The Walking Dead in every episode is just the sheer intrigue in the idea of a post-apocalyptic world. One of the reasons I am so easily sucked in is the curiosity of seeing what the next road, forest or church will look like now that civilisation has fallen apart.

The Bad:
Purely from a structural point of view it seemed odd to have Rick talk to the Jesus statue only a scene or two after Carol had prayed aloud to him.

The Unknown: It also felt a little soon after Rick's drunken confession at the CDC for him to be having another 'moment' where he established the weight of leadership on his shoulders. However I do understand that Rick needs to keep his hope levels topped up and this was an obvious place for him to do that.

I found it slightly odd that Lori was uncomfortable taking things from the people in the traffic jam. She equated it to grave robbing but surely the whole planet is a graveyard now? Was she planning on restricting herself to stuff sitting in stores?

The biology and behaviour of Walkers is always going to be a source of curiosity. I'm not sure we should look too closely though because the science is something the writers are making up. Still I had to question Rick saying that the Walkers won't get winded but he will. Why would they not get winded? If they have to eat to survive don't they also run out of air occasionally? It was also odd to see three of them sitting in the pews of the church. Do Walkers sit down and wait like that? Wouldn't they be hunting for food or just lie down and go to sleep?

The idea of a pack of Walkers moving together is interesting too. It suggests a level of instinct in their behaviour which matches what we know already. We saw that Morgan's wife still had some residual familiarity with her old house.

The emergency signal being broadcast seemed to be just an obsolete government message. However perhaps we are meant to wonder whether it means more than that.

Best Moment: Probably Andrea letting Dale have it. There was real emotion behind the idea that he had stolen her suicide and forced her to save his life. I hope we get a lot more of that going forward.

Conclusion:
I thought this was really enjoyable. It maintained all its strengths from Season One and hinted at improvements. Bring on nexd episode.

('DiggThis)

Feedback

Add your comments on this episode below. They may be included in the weekly podcasts.

Post your comment

Comments

  • Generally I thought this was a really good start to the new season, especially with the tension ratcheted up by the huge group of walkers passing by. I do agree though with Aaron and the G man that surely the walkers would have smelt them under the cars, and particularly have sensed T-Dog with his blood spurting everywhere.

    What frustrated me was the handling of the children. Why did Sophia come out so soon, without even a glance at her mother for permission? But worse, why did they take Carl with them into the forest? I know he wants to be treated like an adult but allowing him to go was asking for trouble. As a rule I would say they shouldn't take anyone they wouldn't trust to take out a walker by bashing its head in. And Carl is too small and young for that. I have no issue with plots that endanger or potentially kill off children (and applaud the show for being prepared to do that), but I felt the set up defied the logic and sensibility that has kept the survivors alive this long.

    Aside from that, really enjoying it all :)

    Posted by Kay, 19/12/2011 9:39am (7 years ago)

  • Great tense episode, the traffic jam scene both before and during the walker attack was great.

    Few complaints; slightly annoying Sophia leaves her hiding spot, it really looked like T-Dog was seriously injured losing a lot of blood and we don't really see any consequences from it. Final thoughts, Andrea is covering in Walker blood after killing it, which unlike Amy when she died (only bitten to death, blood loss would probably hamper infection).

    Best Moment: Carl getting shot, totally caught me off guard.

    Posted by Ben F. , 01/11/2011 2:31am (7 years ago)

  • I appreciate the show much more after hearing your review. I was alittle confused about why you and others were wondering why Rick's son would approach the deer as he did. The writers, I believe, are conveying the characters' need for normal human emotions of wonder or intimacy, even in the middle of an apocolypse. The same goes for the characters' need for faith, hope, or even sexual intimacy.

    Posted by Christopher de Morrow, 27/10/2011 6:16pm (7 years ago)

  • Hey G, nice to see you caught up on the Walking Dead. And as I suspect you won't hear the podcast - great point about the smell. This episode made me think a lot about what the Walkers can and can't do and you're right that is something you would expect after all the "dead smell" stuff from last season.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 19/10/2011 11:42pm (7 years ago)

  • Sometimes TV characters really really annoy me. It only happens when I actually like the show and my anger is directed at the character rather than the writer or actor. As you say:

    "I found it slightly odd that Lori was uncomfortable taking things from the people in the traffic jam. She equated it to grave robbing but surely the whole planet is a graveyard now? Was she planning on restricting herself to stuff sitting in stores?"

    That's putting it quite mildly. This made me incredibly angry at Lori and, oddly, that is mostly a compliment to the show.

    I also felt it was slow paced and gruesome in a way that TV shows normally never can be. This new generation of non major network shows is pretty enjoyable and I look forward to them finding the girl and saving the boy... but then again maybe they won't...

    Oh and also agree with Aaron's "nitpicks". After weeks they should have various systems in place should someone get separated. You can draw the walkers away and kill them so easily that there must be a way to avoid this sort of thing. And can't the walkers smell them? I don't see why they wouldn't find them under cars...

    Posted by The G man, 19/10/2011 4:55pm (7 years ago)

  • Love the show, but here are some nitpicks anyway:

    It's asinine that it's been weeks and people STILL aren't properly armed and equipped. Every single person including the kids should be walking around with a knife or crowbar. It's a freaking zombie apocalypse and the mother doesn't approve of her 12 year old carrying a knife or taking clothing from a broken down car?

    I liked how it was totally safe to come out from under the cars 30 seconds after the herd passed. Where the heck did they all go?

    And finally, the kid was going to try and sneak up on a deer that was looking right at him and kill it with an axe? Wha?

    I love the show, but they're kind of at their limit of how many things I can overlook before it's totally ridiculous.

    "There might only be 10 or so humans left on earth, but I'm sad about not being able to sleep with somebody so I'm going to leave the group and go off on my own!"

    Posted by Aaron, 19/10/2011 2:26am (7 years ago)

  • Great kickoff to the new season! Gives new meaning to the phrase "Can't take you kids anywhere!" There's plenty talk about. Zombie autopsy has to be a first, I can't wait for more

    Posted by David Lopez, 18/10/2011 5:29am (7 years ago)

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments