mon 04/03/2024

The Walking Dead, Series 2, FX | reviews, news & interviews

The Walking Dead, Series 2, FX

The Walking Dead, Series 2, FX

With no zombie cure in sight, the survivors strike out down the highway

They rise again: what the undead are wearing this season

At the end of the first series, we left our bedraggled band of survivors in Atlanta, their expectations dashed that they might be able to find some glimmer of hope at the Center for Disease Control. Instead, all they'd discovered was a lone, slightly deranged scientist who had failed to find a cure for the zombie plague. Then the generators ran out of fuel, fail-safe devices kicked in and the CDC blew up.

Back to the drawing board. Sheriff Rick Grimes (an increasingly haggard and stubbly Andrew Lincoln) is now leading his tattered troupe towards the army outpost at Fort Benning, where there might be some sort of shelter from the roaming packs of ghouls. It's only 125 miles, but there's no knowing what horrors may infest the benighted land. Fuel is short and you can never get enough guns and ammunition, but you know the zombies will just keep on coming (Daryl and Rick lead the survivors on zombie patrol, pictured below).

The first series was only six episodes, but this follow-up is a meaty 13, and the opener had a feeling of unhurried foreboding that had you shifting uncomfortably in your seat, wondering how the next threat would materialise. The production team seem to have concluded that the trick is to use the zombies sparingly, since too much prosthetic rotting flesh and a surfeit of stumbling skeletons with gnashing teeth can quickly start to look more like a tacky fairground ride than a terminal threat to mankind.

We had to wait a while for the first sightings. It wasn't until our survivors had driven a few miles down Interstate 75 and were forced to a halt by a massive traffic-graveyard blocking the route. While they prowled among the vehicles looking for any useful water, gasoline, medical supplies etc, grotesque staggering corpses (pictured below) duly materialised in the distance. In seconds there were dozens of them, as if they'd been teleported down in a huge clump (the amazing power of the zombies to move very slowly yet cover unfeasible distances in the blink of an eye has yet to be fully explained). 

Anyhow, it set up a nail-biting scene where Rick's bunch had to hide under vehicles while the undead shuffled past, wheezing and moaning in that endearing way they have. However, Andrea (who wanted to kill herself after her sister succumbed to zombification in series one) was trapped inside a motorhome as the ghouls swarmed past. She had a gun, but it was in bits and she couldn't reassemble it in time, so she had to take out a zombie by repeatedly plunging a screwdriver into its eye socket.

It went from bad to worse. Young Sophia fled into the woods, pursued by a shambling corpse. Rick dashed to the rescue and despatched a couple of zombies by splatting their heads open with a rock as if they were overripe melons, but meanwhile the terrified Sophia had vanished. As the hunt for the missing girl progressed fruitlessly, the atmosphere darkened from mild concern to spine-chilling dread, though there was one interlude of ghastly humour when Rick and Daryl (Norman Reedus), the redneck hunter armed to the teeth with crossbow and Bowie knife, disembowelled a zombie to make sure it hadn't eaten Sophia. The gruesomeness was evoked as much by sloshing, squelching noises as by shots of slithering offal, as Rick rummaged around inside the thing's intestines and Rick's watching face registered a spectrum of nausea and disgust. Turned out the zombie had in fact dined on woodchuck (sometimes known as a groundhog, nature lovers). The cool and deadly Daryl, incidentally, is rapidly becoming the guy you'd most want by your side should a zombie invasion ever occur in your neighbourhood.

While all this was going on, there was some scope for character development, too. Rick's wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) is still having frantic spats with ex-lover Shane (John Bernthal), who's now so fed up with it that he's decided to take off alone in a Byronic strop (Callies and Bernthal pictured right). Andrea (Laurie Holden), sickened to the core by her sister's death, bitterly resents the way that Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) talked her out of committing suicide. She's planning to split from the group and join Shane, though not in a romantic sense. Yet. And Rick and Lori's marriage is about to be tested still further by the fact that the episode ended with their son Carl (Chandler Riggs) being mistakenly shot by an unseen deer hunter. Sallow-cheeked, hollow-eyed Rick is already beginning to look a bit like a zombie himself. He'll be bingeing on temazepam and ketamine soon, you mark my words. 

Watch the trailer for series two of The Walking Dead 

The cool and deadly Daryl is the guy you'd want by your side should a zombie invasion ever occur in your neighbourhood

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this series and the one before puts the fear in your belly brings back the feeling off fear you had as a child watching a scary film you know you should not have watched

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