Review of The Walking Dead episode 1.02 “Guts”


Episode 1.02 “Guts” Airdate 11.5.10

Directed by Michelle Maxwell McLaren, Written by Frank Darabont 

Previously, on The Walking Dead: the pilot episode, “Days Gone Bye,” reviewed here.

The Walking Dead‘s second episode of the 6-episode season is titled “Guts,” and let me tell you, on that score, the ep does not disappoint. As far as gore, kick-ass action and a few moments of breath-holding suspense, “Guts” is a perfect episode. However, as I said last week, The Walking Dead is *supposed* to be about believable characters making relatable decisions. While I understand and appreciate Darabont’s choice to introduce new characters who aren’t in the comic book to the universe, homeboy’s going to have to try a little harder than Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker) and T-Dog (IronE Singleton).

guts michael rooker

Allow me to repeat: new characters MERLE DIXON and T-DOG are in this supposedly racially charged episode. ughh.

Now, I love Michael Rooker as much as way, way more than the next gal (read my review of his face-melting performance in Slither here), so I was incredibly excited to see his guest starring role on TWD. Until we met him and discovered he’s FAR more of a cartoon character than a comic book character. For those of you who don’t read comics, trust: the difference is vast. Merle the Racist Cartoon Redneck has about as much nuance and subtlety as a dick joke. He hates black people and Mexicans! He likes to shoot shit up! He’s super angry! And he’ll be goddamned if he’s gonna let some cop and a taco vendor tell him what to do, or whatever! T-Dog, played by Singleton, seems just fine as a character, except for how HIS NAME IS FUCKING T-DOG. That is not a name, my friends.

 But! Some other, cooler stuff happens! Glenn (the fully winning Steven Yeun) uses a walkie-talkie to coach Rick out of his tank snafu from last week, and it’s just like that scene in Bourne Ultimatum, or The Matrix, where the expert uses a phone to help the novice escape the bad guys! I LOVE THAT SCENE. When Rick asks Glenn why he’s helping him, Glenn replies “Guess I’m an even bigger dumbass than you.” Have I mentioned yet: I LOVE GLENN?

Once Glenn safely coaches Rick onto the roof, he meets T-Dog, Merle, and a survivor crew who are now surrounded thanks to Rick’s general dumbassery. The crew is displeased, most especially Merle The Racist Cartoon Redneck and my hero, bad-ass babe Andrea, played by Darabont darling Laurie Holden. This is definitely good casting.

andreaandrea 2

After a rocky start, Andrea and Rick bond a bit when he looks the other way while she loots a fug unicorn necklace for her sister, Amy, played by Emma Bell. This is also good casting.

amyamy 2

Really, Darabont, why don’t you just stick to the enlightened casting of already established characters instead of misusing brilliant genre actors in prairie-flat roles you invented for no damn reason? Gah!

But if I can allow myself to move past this misstep, the rest of the episode is pretty great. One of the most visceral, memorable storylines of the comic, when Glenn and Rick smear themselves in walker guts in order to blend in with the geeks (I seriously love that carnie terminology), is executed perfectly here. SO AWESOMELY GROSS!

guts guts

guts blending in

Their escape from the predicament created by Rick is thrilling, and I appreciate the closeness it fosters between the survivors as they strategize their way out of danger. It makes for a rad storyline with some breathless action.

guts crew

We tune in back at home base, as well, just in time to see some truly off-putting sex by Lori and Shane. I applaud Darabont’s risky decision to expand their relationship in such unsettling ways before they encounter Rick.

guts lori

The effects make-up by Gregory Nicotero (also a consulting producer!) is as stellar as the pilot promised, the action is every bit as rousing and the music choices are just as bad. Though I definitely dig the credits, can someone please explain to me these soundtrack choices? I find them confounding. But despite the blunders, “Guts” delivers in plenty of ways. Some of the lines are utterly delicious, including Rick’s dry delivery of “I can see you make a habit of missing the point” to Merle the Racist Cartoon Redneck. And my abso favorite part: as Rick and Glenn prepare to chop up a newly redead walker in order to wear his guts as garters (way more literally than that phrase is usually meant), Rick begins pontificating on the life the walker lived before he was geekified. As he blathers on sanctimoniously and I start to get antsy, Glenn saves the episode by adding: “One more thing. He’s an organ donor.” AXED! GUTS GO SPLAT!

So I’m very much looking forward to the third episode, as I have a strong feeling that with more Glenn and less Merle, the quality will improve immensely. And with the delightful, albeit unsurprising news that The Walking Dead has already been renewed for a second, full 13-ep season, Darabont and co. have plenty of room to stretch their legs.

guts axed

5 Responses to “Review of The Walking Dead episode 1.02 “Guts””


    again, this just makes me thankful that i have you, oh brave marla, to guide me through the show, instead of actually watching it myself.

  2. Don Hamilton Says:

    There should be somewhere that reviews the reviews (maybe there is). Your reviews are always informative and uber entertaining. Thanks for the link to your Avatar review which reminded me (after reading it again) that it may be the best review I’ve ever read.

    Keep being the best!

  3. Aww, thanks Uncle D! That means so much to me!

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