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The Walking Dead: Bloodletting

Last week we were left clinging to a few plot threads. The daughter of Carol and her now zombie chow abusive husband, Sophia, had been lost alone in the woods. Carl, son of the de facto leader of this band of survivors and the shows main protagonist Rick Grimes and his wife Lori, had just had his guts ventilated it what is most like the first hunting accident post zombie apocalypse. It was a bad day to be a kid.

Great day if you are an AMC exec though. We’ve already talked about how the season premiere was a ratings bonanza for the network, so how does episode two hold up? Meh, it was alright. “Bloodletting” seems to be a solid 42 minutes meant to show us who these people are with tedious conversations. While it was light on zombies, it was big on characters talking. A lot. The cold opening starts the pace for the episode, its a talker. Luckly we get some action towards the end and yes, another cliffhanger ending.

Lets sink our teeth in and rip this baby apart. Spoilers start after the jump.

The episode kicks off with a cold opening flashback of Lori talking to a friend about a fight her and Rick had. The very same fight Rick was talking to Shane about in the series pilot. If you recall, he was then shot and sent into a coma that allowed him to skip the whole end of days. Anyway, we get the other side of the fight. Lori hates Rick for being quiet, yadda yadda ya. Is it wrong that I just don’t like Lori? Besides the whole ‘my husband is in a coma and the dead have risen to eat the living, guess I’ll start banging his best friend/partner’ indiscretions, besides the fact that she is mostly characterized as the ‘mean mom’ of the group. I just don’t like her. Was the cold opening the writers way of trying to give her a little more dimension? Make her a little more likable or at the very least understandable? Maybe, or maybe it was just the writers weakly trying to add in a little more back story for the sake of drama. It wasn’t particularly insightful, didn’t add anything to the story or the characters (Lori literally word for word reiterated what Rick said in the pilot.) Luckily the opening credits roll and take us back to what we’ve been waiting for.

We quickly get to meet a whole new set of characters. It turns out the man that was on the other end of the gun that shot Carl is with a group that luckily has a rather nice set up close by. Otis, played by Pruitt Taylor Vince, is the hunter in question and is also most likely the fattest man alive. Seriously, as a chubbier fellow myself, just watching him run made me worry about my chances when the dead walk. I’ve got to start going back to the gym. So Otis, with all his chins a waggling, leads Rick, Shane and the wounded Carl to a farmhouse of Herchel Greene (played by Scott Wilson). A man that can save the boys life. Welcome to the majority of the episode, folks. Will the boy die? Of course not, but that’s what we get for the next 42 minutes.

Back with the rest of the group in the woods, they are still on the search for little whatshername, apparently she’s is still lost or something. Back at the RV Dale and T-Dog are still scavenging the abandoned vehicles for parts. It turns out that Ice Cubes cut arm from the season opener is getting infected and without medical attention we might end up losing Dr. Dre for good. Oh noes. Dear Walking Dead writers, if you are are looking for a character to develop a bit more,  My vote is for the one that IronE Singleton plays. Please give him a little more to work with that ‘urban black guy’, at times I find the characterization almost insulting to the viewers intelligence. Stop doing that.

Now to the farmhouse again. Herchel Greene, the classic small town medical man, works on saving Carls life. Rick gives a staggering amount of blood to save his son (and give the episode a title.) This is the lion’s share of the episode. Rick gives blood, freaks out, Carl Clings to life, Rick Freaks out, gives blood. Interspersed with the characters trading heart to heart conversations, Andrea almost becoming a zombie chew toy, Lori arriving at the farmhouse and being the mean mom to them too, finding out that Herchel is actually a veterinarian (lady, it’s the post zombie apocalyptic world, I don’t care if the dude is a chiropractor, if he can stitch up a wound he’s good to have around) and oh yea, and Daryl rocks the crossbow.

To save Carl’s life, much needed medical equipment is, well needed. FEMA had a station set up at the local high school and Otis will lead Shane to it. They arrive quickly, get more than enough medical supplies and make it back to an already full recovered Carl. Just kidding. The school is overrun by zombies that just happen to have surrounded the very trailer the guys need to get into. This is the only real tension/action in the whole episode. Meanwhile, back at the farmhouse, the stock conversations filled with stock emotions about guilt and fear continue. Back the RV however, its stock conversations about fear and guilt (nice of them to change that up.) The whole episode really feels tedious and made up of filler. In it’s defense, we get to know the characters a little more, but not much more. I like the new faces, mainly Otis but Herchel Greene works too. His ‘I’m just a small town Doctor’ mannerism do something for me, as did his overly optimistic rundown on the zombie plague. I hope the new blood is around for a little while. As a whole though, the episode just came across as adequate to me.

For just the second episode in to the season, the characters just seem to be reacting to the world around them and it feels a little phoned in. Sure we got a little cringe from a bullet removal scene, but for the most part the episode was just the characters reacting and over reacting. Statement, screaming, end scene. As I said before the only tense suspenseful moment I got from the whole episode was at the end. Watching a fat man run from zombies… gah, its like a personal nightmare brought to light.

Next week: “Save the Last One” – We’ll get to see how Shane and the Fatman make it out of tight jam and maybe something about the missing girl, maybe…

 

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