Week two of the rather spiffing television adaptation of The Walking Dead comic books delivers on the gore and the action in spades. Picking up where the first episode left off, with Rick trapped in a tank surrounded by walkers, we're immediately off to a thunderous start.
Within minutes we've seen the 'Hinzman hobbler' zombies pose a real, armchair-gripping threat, and been introduced properly to Glenn (played pitch-perfectly by Steven Yeun) - who goes on to provide the best lines and the most fun throughout this episode, which boasts an impressive mixture of serious issues, horror, humour and moments of gruesome gore (such as the titular scene, re-worked somewhat from the source material).
Similar to the first episode, some of the zombies - at times - can seem a bit too spry, but I guess these are the vagaries of wrangling a whole cast of zombie extras on a production. I'm sure over time they will really find their footing to create a consistent shambler for the series.
Branching out in a slightly different direction, character wise, from the source material, episode two introduces us to some new faces - such as Michael Rooker's racist redneck Dixon, who gets into a bit of a fuss with African American T-Dog, which establishes a story arc that we'll see play out in future episodes.
Speaking of these newly introduced characters, some of them feel a bit useless - only there to provide a piece of information and then just to become bystanders (I'm thinking along the lines of Jacqui and Morales, who don't do an awful lot here). Then again the comic books (in particular Volume 2 of the trade paperbacks) had their fair share of bystander characters who weren't of much use - perhaps we'll see these characters expand in future episodes, but with so many other characters at the camp site that we've not been introduced to yet, I do wonder if we really need this many side characters. It would be nice if some of these side characters actually had names, or had their names said more than once, so we could at least identify with, and refer to, them by more than just what they look like.
More impressive though is the sense of scale, as our protagonists desperately try to figure a way out of the zombie infested city, and the aforementioned titular scene in which Rick and Glenn have to make themselves smell like the zombies to avoid detection as they go in search of means of escape.
This is the sort of thing that The Walking Dead handles really well - the sort of situations and ideas that we zombie fans (or "zed heads") like to discuss on internet forums and chatrooms to the nth degree. To see these 'what if' and 'how would you' scenarios play out on screen is a real joy - speaking of which, Glenn zooming around in a brand new Dodge Challenger? So much fun!
So with a considerable amount of action, and future plotline establishing, handled in this episode, I'm looking forward to the next one, which will no doubt really get into the meat of the character interplay as we finally get to see everyone come together and really get to explore the camp site set-up and characters. Although that said, the main scene between Shane and Lori was impressively worked with a deft hand and sense of subtlety.
This is shaping up to be an excellent series.