The Walking Dead begins its second season with Frank Darabant’s final contribution. Will the Walkers survive the absence of the Runner?

Certainly, the viewers seem to believe in this show; the season two premiere set records for basic cable viewership.

Title: “What Lies Ahead”

Cast and Crew

Directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton

Written by Frank Darabont, from the graphic series by Robert Kirkman
Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes
Sarah Wayne Callies as Lori Grimes
Jon Bernthal as Shane
Laurie Holden as Andrea
Jeffrey DeMunn as Dale
Steven Yeun as Glenn
Norman Reedus as Darryl
Melissa Suzanne McBride as Carol Peletier
Madison Lintz as Sophie Peletier
Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes
IronE Singleton as T-Dog

Additional cast and crew information may be found here.

Premise

High Point

Despites its flaws (this episode features some of the show’s cheesier dialogue), the premier features more genuine suspense than the average contemporary theatrically-released horror movie.

Low Points

Visually, they made the appearance of the zombie-herd1 work, and the scenes that followed proved quite tense. Realistically, however, I see no way Dale could have failed to see them coming sooner.

The Scores:

Originality: 1/6 I began my reviews of the series last year by saying that “This series adapts a successful comic, in a culture that has more zombies than anyone could have predicted, the year after a successful zombie film that had been pitched, originally, as a television series.”

This is Season Two. It begins with shambling zombies, people hiding, a girl disappearing, and a cliffhanger taken directly from the comic book itself. The series has added elements not found in the source material, but it hasn’t added anything especially original.

Effects: 5/6 The make-up and prosthetics remain spectacular in their gruesomeness. The (reused?) matte looked cheap.

Story: 4/6 The story works, but elements seem forced. Dale doesn’t see the herd, somehow. Somehow, Sophie gets lost. Somehow, people who have encountered zombies numerous times let their guards down in new circumstances.

Given how they’re dragging out Rick’s secret knowledge, I really hope this pays off.

Acting: 5/6. The acting remains strong, but they really need to work more on building these characters. They’re believable, but I was expecting, based on the early eps, for more fleshed-out people.

Emotional Response: 5/6

Production: 5/6.

Overall: 5/6 The show has received some criticism online and elsewhere for its handling of female characters, but it has benefited from similar complaints made against the original graphic novels. While others took offense to the discussion of gender-based labor-division last season, I felt the conversation nicely problematized the rather simple-minded one from the source material (Character is not Kirkman’s strongest point), and now, with the developments (of sorts) with Andrea, Dale, and Shane.

In total, “What Lies Ahead” receives 30/42

Notes

1. Herd? Crowd? “A Shamble of Zombies?” “A Pod of Walkers?” Unsurprisingly, others have held this critical discussion.