The Walking Dead 1.02: Guts

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Broadcast Date: 7 November 2010
Director: Michelle Maxwell MacLaren
Writer: Frank Darabont
Cast: Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Jeffrey DeMunn, Laurie Holden, Andrew Lincoln, Chandler Riggs, and Steven Yeun


© Copyright AMC Studios

© Copyright AMC Studios

Andrea: “Would it be considered looting?”
Rick: “I don’t think those rules apply anymore. Do you?”

Rick’s got a point. It’s no use pretending our old laws and principles hold the same when civilisation as we know it has all but fallen apart. However, where does one draw the line? In such desperate times, should one view compassion as a dangerous luxury or a human necessity? These questions lie at the heart of “Guts” (that’s a bit of entrails humour for you), in which Rick makes his way out of the city, introducing us to a new set of survivors and post-apocalyptic moral quandaries.

Take, for example, the matter of Merle Dixon, a raging bigot whom Rick’s new companions end up leaving behind after handcuffing him on a rooftop. It all comes down more or less by accident, and T-Dog makes sure to lock the door so as to keep the living dead from reaching him, but the scavengers’ awkward silence in the van says it all: the thought of getting rid of him permanently had crossed each of their minds. Can we blame them? At best, the man’s a liability, and, with its dwindling numbers, humanity can’t really afford those anymore.

At least that’s how Shane would have rationalised it, as evidenced by his refusal to help our heroes in the city, even though he sent them there for supplies. On the surface, his reasoning appears sound, though the man’s credibility strikes me as somewhat compromised by the fact he got all the visible minorities out in the danger zone and kept the white people safe with him. Yes, two of the city folk are Caucasian, but one of them volunteered and the other is a relentless troublemaker of whom Shane might have wanted to get rid. It’s hard to fathom why else he’d ask a white supremacist to tag along with the Skittles Squad (taste the human raibow).

I realise I’m characterising Shane as a cackling super-villain. Is it just me, or does he come with fifty percent more “ick” in this episode? His tryst with Lori disturbed me, and I can’t figure out why. I mean, two people having sex in the woods: big deal, right? Perhaps it’s got something to do with their foreplay’s violent undertones or the way Lori kept looking at her ring as if she knew her husband was still kicking. Come to think of it, Rick wandered by an awfully familiar site in last week’s cold open. Maybe he was closer to his spouse than he realised. Maybe she saw him and decided to let him fend for himself. How cruel!

You know who’d never do that? My new best friend, Glenn, for whose safety I feared throughout the episode, especially after he made his own red shirt with zombie guts. It’s always nice to see a genre series feature an Asian man who’s not a mob enforcer with inexplicable martial arts knowhow (Daniel Dae Kim in Lost), a space deputy (Daniel Dae Kim in Crusade), or Daniel Dae Kim. More importantly, I dig the character’s latent leadership skills and motor-mouth wit. It takes him all of sixty seconds to come up with a sensible plan for exploring the underground tunnels and all of thirty to call Rick a dumbass over half a dozen times.

Glenn also gives the final word (ironically at the beginning of the episode) on whether survivors should stick their necks out for others. His deceptively simple rationale for saving Rick exemplifies everything I like about The Walking Dead so far, which is to say its emphasis on the core values that make us human: “Call it foolish naive hope that if I’m ever that far up [poop] creek, someone might do the same for me in case I’m an even bigger dumbass than you.” Of course, the world’s surviving few already are that far up poop creek, aren’t they?

I Survived Because I Follow the Rules

While the premiere felt a bit derivative in parts, “Guts” seems more intent on establishing the series’ own take on the zombie myth. For instance, we learnt the living dead have varying degrees of intelligence. Some can climb fences and ladders. Others have figured out how to use a rock as a tool. The ghouls, it turns out, can also tell the living apart by smell, which explains why they never turn on each other. I don’t remember this ever coming up before in a zombie flick. Am I forgetting a classic? If not, I hope this ingenious plot-hole filler becomes part of official lore.

© Copyright AMC Studios

Bits and Pieces of Wayne

  • Where was my old best friend, Morgan, this week? If you’ve read the comic, please consider this question rhetorical.
  • The tank thing still bugs me. Why couldn’t Rick start up the engine and make yummy zombie puree?
  • Dixon’s dialog featured a number of references to Mel Gibson’s bigoted outburst a couple of years back, including the odd pairing of the words “sugar” and “tits”.
  • Rick’s little skip to the side midway into his axe swing had me in stitches, which made the thoughtful eulogy that followed all the more surprising.
  • Death toll so far: zero. Tension level: up the wazoo.

Quotes

It’s an all-Glenn spectacular:

Glenn: “Bright side? It’ll be the fall that kills us. I’m a ‘glass half full’ kind of guy.”

Rick: “They can tell us by smell?”
Glenn: “Can’t you?”

Glenn: “If bad ideas were an Olympic event, this would take the gold.”

Rick: “If I ever find my family, I’m going to tell them about Wayne.”
Glenn: “One more thing: he’s an organ donor.”

Glenn: “I am so going to hurl.”
Rick: “Later.”

Rick: “Think about something else. Puppies and kittens.”
T-Dog: “Dead puppies and kittens.”
Glenn: “Bleyaaargh!”

I was just kidding around. Daniel Dae Kim is awesome.

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Category: The Walking Dead, Verdict: 4.0 | Tags:

          
Editor in Chief / Movie Critic: When he started this site, Dimitri never thought he'd be writing blurbs about himself in the third person. In his other life, he works as a writer, translator, and editor for various publications in print and online. His motto is, "Have pen, will travel."