Tuesday, October 18, 2011

31 Days of Horror: The Walking Dead S2E1

I will preamble this with the fact that I have an unreasonable fear of zombies.  I love the genre but if anything was going to illicit that nightmare reaction to a monster, where you are always running away but being tripped and knowing eventually you will be eaten, then it would be from zombies. It's something about the relentless nature of them, the fact that they are generally everywhere (by the time the story starts) and they are constantly self producing.  My brain ignores the fact that the classic zombie is dumb, slow and easily killed.

The Walking Dead is possibly the greatest franchise in the zombie industry and I am talking about the comic book series, not the TV show.  It took the classic idea of a road story and added a horror survival element. Of course, like most of these stories it is not so much about the monsters it involves but about the people, the loss of humanity and the change of morals when the tissues that connect modern society are taken away. People fight the zombies, survive the zombies and eventually persevere but then another human comes along and fucks the thing up.

The first season was compelling and pretty faithful to the comic but for the ludicrous ending in Atlanta so I was very glad the story picks up again on the road.  This is an introduction episode yet again, placing our band in one of the common tropes of zombie fiction -- the highway of abandoned cars.  The line of cars is both an obstacle and a department store, providing tons of raw materials for survival -- but you have to get through. Oh, and there is usually a large number of the dead lingering from the death of the traffic. The only thing that annoyed me about this setup, beyond Lori's asinine "I don't know how I feel about this" comment, was how many dead dead there were. Why didn't these people who died in their cars just get up and walk away?  No obvious head wounds but we can just leave it to the never completely explained phenomena of when-you-walk-when-you-don't.  The episode plays off the tropes very well even adding in something fresh with the migrating "herd" of walkers.

This was a good opening episode for the season despite the lack of show runner Frank Darabont.  I hope the new heads know to keep Robert Kirkman writing on most episodes, allowing him to exercise some new plot elements into the show while keeping the strongest plot lines from the comics.  And here's to hoping that the money men don't get their way in having the zombies as occasional side characters or "off screen" antagonists.  Sure, it is about people but without the actual icky dead it's going to fall flat.