Review: The Walking Dead S2E2 “Bloodletting”


“It’s nature correcting itself…restoring some balance.” – Hershel Greene

[slight spoilers]

The new season of AMC’s The Walking Dead arrived with a major bang. The season 2 premiere episode, “What Lies Ahead”, was seen by over 7.3 million viewers which more than eclipsed the show’s own high-ratings pilot premiere from 2010. It’s no surprise that the episode would do so well with the network having pushed the new season through most of the summer. With fans of the showing growing with every passing month (DVD and Blu-Ray sales of the first season also helping keep the show in the public’s consciousness) there was really no doubt on whether the new season would come back firing.

“What Lies Ahead” saw Rick and his group fight through their very first experience of a zombie “herd” and how this event led to the two kids in the group in extreme danger as Sophia goes missing after the herd encounter on the highway and Carl getting himself accidentally shot to end the episode. While I would think that the writers would begin episode 2, “Bloodletting”, soon after the events of the premiere episode we instead get a flashback moment. A moment in time before the zombie apocalypse arrived and Lori waiting for Carl outside his school and confiding to a friend about her and Rick’s relationship. The emotional impact of this scene is not that Lori and Rick were having marital problems, but its from the arrival of Shane to inform her that Rick has been shot (seen in the pilot episode “Days Gone Bye”) and now she has to tell Carl. We see in this sequence the look of anguish on Shane and, most likely, the seed of his love not just for Lori but Carl as well.

This flashback will segue into Rick running desperately with an unconscious and bleeding Carl in his arms with Shane and Carl’s shooter, Otis, right behind them. For those who have read the comic book shouldn’t be surprised how this scene plays out, but I know that many who have not and only been following the show will be hoping for the worst for the youngest of the Grimes. Soon enough Otis (Pruitt Taylor Vance) leads them to the farm, the Greene family farm, where it’s patriarch might be able to help Carl survive the gunshot. We get to meet Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson) and his family, from the eldest daughter Maggie (Lauren Cohan) to the youngest Beth (Emily Kinney) and, for the moment, we only see how this family will be able to help Rick and Carl. For fans of the book this family will prove to be integral to the continued survival of Rick and the original group.

“Bloodletting” continues the theme established with the premiere episode in that this new world is going to be about slim chances even if logic says there’s none to be had. There’s only the slimmest chance that a country veterinarian doctor will be able to save Carl. It’s the slimmest of chances that T-Dog may survive the wound he suffered from the previous episode. Only the slimmest of chance that they will ever find Sophia. Finally, the episode ends in another cliffhanger which gives Shane and Otis the slimmest of chances to survive their trip to an overrun FEMA station for much needed medical supplies and equipment.

This episode’s title also makes for a proper description for Rick and what he’s been going through since he woke up from his coma in the hospital. It’s not just the literal bloodletting he must endure to help save Carl’s life, but just every waking moment since the pilot episode. Rick has been trying to remain the bedrock of optimism and provide the sort of calm leadership his group of survivors need in this new world. Yet, we see how much every moment has cost him even before leading up to Carl’s incident with a wayward bullet. he’s being bled not just literally in this episode but figuratively. It helps that Andrew Lincoln’s performance during the first two episode of this new season has been great, so far. We get to see some genuine emotion as Rick must watch someone else try to save his son. The look of utter grief and impotence in Lincoln’s face as he tries to do anything and everything to save Carl continues to make Lincoln’s work in this show one of the reason to continue watching it.

The Walking Dead wouldn’t be the fan-favorite it has become if it skimped on any sort of zombie action. While it doesn’t have the high gore quotient that the previous episode had it still had enough zombies to sate the show’s fans until next week’s episode. Most of the zombies appear close at the end of the episode at the FEMA camp and it’s also in this sequence where we get the show’s heart-thumping moments as Shane and Otis must figure out a way to get out of their predicament which ends the episode on another cliffhanger.

“Bloodletting” doesn’t do much in terms of finding Sophia or even whether Carl gets to live. It does make a good job of introducing a new set of characters without making them feel extraneous. While we only got to know a few of these new additions there’s a sense that they will (at least some of them) become important ones during this first half of the season. Finally, those who have been fans of the comic books should accept the reality now and admit to themselves that this show has become it’s own growing tale. While still remaining on the basic path Kirkman set for them through the comic book the show has taken on a life of it’s own and it’s unpredicatability and changes in that path should make things interesting moving forward.

Notes

  • Once again Norman Reedus continues to make Daryl Dixon a badass. He also has done a great job in making what happened been a stereotypical redneck role into a character with hidden complexities and layers. I was reticent on this character being added specifically for the show, but each new episode has made me a believer and thankful to the writers for doing it.
  • Liked how Daryl nonchalantly tells the zombie that had been attacking Andrea in the woods to “shut up” before sending a crossbow bolt through the side of it’s head.
  • One final great moment with Daryl is his surprise to the rest of the group concerning the hidden stash of “meds” that was Merle’s stash. He may be a Southern good ol’ boy, but Daryl continues to prove just how much more of a survivor and team player he has been to this group despite first appearances.
  • One of the changes made from book to show has been the physical casting of veteran genre actor Pruitt Taylor Vance as the Greene ranch hand Otis. It’s an interesting choice, ut having Vance as part of the cast overrides any fanboy reaction to having a much larger actor portray the slimmer Otis from the book.
  • Lori continues to become a stronger character this season and Sarah Wayne Callies does some very good work in this episode by becoming the steel to talk some sense to a grief-stricken Rick.
  • I think the show’s didn’t need the brief, fever-induced paranoid rant from T-Dog about how he being the only black person in a group of Southern good ol’ boys. While part of me hopes all that talk from T-Dog was due to the fever from his injury I have a feeling he won’t be with the show for long. The way he’s talking makes him this season’s “Dead Man Walking” role.
  • There was a positive, albeit very disturbing, moment involving T-Dog in this episode and that was when he noticed the baby seat in the back of the car he was looting for supplies. His growing expression of horror at seeing the bloody baby seat with bits of flesh on it was one of this episode’s best moments. I’m sure I wasn’t the only viewer who wondered what happened to the baby in that seat.
  • It was a nice bit of detail work on the writers of this episode to populate the FEMA camp with zombies from the soldiers, FEMA workers and refugees who were overrun prior to Shane and Otis arriving. Rarely do we see such detail in zombie films and stories. What else but the very people who were suppose to be in the camp would become zombies once they’ve been overrun.
  • Can’t end this without mentioning Glenn’s look at seeing Maggie come riding in like Arwen from The Fellowship of the Ring. I do believe the boy’s been struck by cupid.

What Horror Lisa Marie Watched Last Night: The Alphabet Killer (dir. by Rob Schmidt)


Last night, I watched the “Lifetime world premiere” of the 2008 horror film, The Alphabet Killer.

Why Was I Watching It?

Because I was, okay?  Don’t judge me!

Actually, I was watching for 2 reasons:

1) Being the kinda morbid girly girl that I am, my love of a good Lifetime movie is almost equalled by my love for reading about unsolved murders.  A little while ago, I was going through my copy of Michael Newton’s Encyclopedia of Unsolved Crimes and I happened to come across the Alphabet Murders.  In the early 70s, three young girls were murdered in New York.  Each of the girls’ first and last names started with the same letter and each body was found in a town that started with the same letter as the girls’ name.  Now, this kinda freaked me out because, if I ever decided to use my mom’s maiden name, then my name would be (Lisa) Marie Marchi.  That, of course, would make me a potential victim — especially when you consider that the town of McKinney, Texas is within driving distance.   I mean, seriously.  File that under things that make you go “Agck!”

2) When I first saw the commercials for the Alphabet Killer (which was advertised as being a “Lifetime world premiere!” even though the film wasn’t originally made for the Lifetime network), I immediately assumed that it had to be one of those terrible Ulli Lommel true crime films.  And I was all like, “Really?  Ulli Lommel is now a member of the Lifetime family?  This, I have to see!”  Well, turns out that he’s not and, quite frankly, thank goodness for that.  This Alphabet Killer was directed by the director of Wrong Turn, Rob Schmidt.

What’s It About

There’s a serial killer on the loose and fortunately, Detective Eliza Dushku is on the case.  Less fortunately, Detective Dushku is already dealing with adult onset schizophrenia…

 What Worked

The idea of a schizophrenic detective trying to catch a serial killer is a pretty clever one and director Rob Schmidt did a fairly good job making the audience wonder how much of what we’re watching is a real and how much is just the product of the detective’s psychosis.  Eliza Dushku, who kicks ass in general because she was Faith the Vampire Slayer, gives an excellent performance.  I had a hard time, at first, believing she was a cop but I did believe her as a schizophrenic and yes, that is meant as a compliment. 

As well, the entire cast did a pretty good job, particularly Cary Elwes and Timothy Hutton.  Both of them brought some interesting layers of complexity to thinly written characters.

The scenes where the dead would literally confront Eliza Dushku were well done, even though I’ve seen the same scene in countless other horror films.

While I was watching the Alphabet Killer, I had the house to myself because my sister Erin had gone into Arlington for the Rangers game.  When I was about halfway through the film (I was watching it off of my DVR), Dallas got hit with the storm of the century.  Seriously.  It started raining around one in the morning and at 1:10, the power went off.  The TV (and the movie) flicked off with a sharp THRACK and the entire house was plunged into darkness.  My bedroom was suddenly pitch black and I found myself feeling very vulnerable lying in bed in only my beloved Pirates t-shirt and panties.  All I could hear was the sound of rain and hail pounding against the house while somewhere in the distance, sirens wailed.  After the first flash of lightning briefly illuminated my shadowy bedroom, I started to count.  I had barely started to form the word, “Two…” when a deafening explosion of thunder caused not only the house to shake but me to have to catch my breath.  Suddenly, I heard a wailing meow and another flash of lightning briefly revealed my cat Doc sitting in my doorway.  Stumbling through the darkness, I managed to get Doc and carry him back to my bed with me.  I sat there with him, fully knowing that even though I was trying to protect him, he probably thought he was protecting me.  (Or, more likely seeing as how he’s a cat, claiming me as his territory.) Suddenly, a terrible thought entered my mind: “Did I remember to lock the front door?  Or the back door?”  Was I hearing the wind and rain pounding against my house or was I hearing the Alphabet Killer stumbling around downstairs?  Finally, after half an hour of this, the lights finally came back on and I could breathe again.  I slowly made my way downstairs (Doc, of course, stayed up in my room and went to sleep) and discovered that I had indeed locked all the doors before the storm.  So yay me!

Now that I was fully freaked out, I went ahead and watched the rest of the Alphabet Killer.  I’m not sure if it was the movie that kept my uneasy or if it was the storm.  All I know is that it worked.  (The rain, by the way, mysteriously ended as soon as the movie did.)

What Didn’t Work

This is another one of those films where the idea behind it is actually more clever than the way that the idea is actually executed.  Once you get passed the idea that Dushku is schizophrenic, you realize that the film itself is actually pretty predictable.  If you can identify the killer from the minute he first appears on screen, then you might not be that smart.  Just saying.

Needless to say, The Alphabet Killer has next to nothing to do with the actual case.  Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal because that’s the grindhouse way, right?  But in this case, the truth is so interesting that it’s a shame that it was pretty much just shoved over to the side.  If there isn’t one already, somebody needs to do one of those hour-long, basic cable documentaries about the Alphabet murders.  And Bill Kurtis needs to host it.

“OMG!  Just Like Me!” Moments

Honestly, if I was tracking a serial killer, I’d probably do it in much the same way as Eliza Dushku does in this film.  By that, I mean I’d probably be way too obsessive for my own good and I’d eventually end up strapped to a table somewhere.  Seriously, I just don’t think I’m meant to hunt serial killers.

Lessons Learned

It’s good to be a Bowman and sometimes, storms can actually be scary.