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Episode Two: Guts

November 22, 2010

The start of the second episode finds us again at the base camp that a group of refugees, including Lori, Shane and Carl, has established outside of Atlanta. While gathering mushrooms in the woods, Lori is startled by Shane. Sexytimes ensue – though Lori hesitates as she removes her wedding band.

After the credits, the story picks up where it left off last week with Rick trapped in the tank in downtown Atlanta. The still-unseen Glenn speaks to him over the radio and coaches him through an escape plan, and Rick makes a run for it. He meets up with Glenn and they take to the rooftops.

Glenn introduces Rick to a group of refugees (Jacqui, Andrea, T-Dog, Merle Dixon and Morales) holed up in the department store, who meet him with a heavy dose of hostility and resentment for firing his gun and attracting a large crowd of walkers outside the store. Up on the roof, racial tensions build to a confrontation between Dixon and T-Dog. Rick steps up as an administrator of justice – the first time he’s really assumed this role – and handcuffs Merle to a pipe.

With the large crowd outside, the group seeks a way out. Glenn and Morales descend into the sewer tunnels beneath the building, while Andrea and Rick cover the first-floor entrance. The zombies bust through the first set of doors and flood the vestibule.

As the pressure builds, Rick devises a plan to soak garments in zombie guts as a cloaking device. If the zombies can’t smell living flesh, the survivors can potentially pass undetected among them. In one of the goriest scenes yet, Rick hacks into an inanimate zombiefied body with a fire axe – after using the body’s wallet to identify the man as an organ donor, which is cute. The reason for the episode’s title becomes clear as the survivors rub zombie entrails into Glenn’s and Rick’s lab coats, draping them with intestines. The two of them head out in hope of jacking a vehicle from the nearby construction site.

Back at the base camp, thunder rumbles as word makes it across the radio that the group is trapped in the department store. Amy frets about her sister, Andrea, but Shane refuses to compromise the security of those who stayed behind and nixes the idea of launching a rescue mission. Rain falls in Atlanta, blowing Glenn’s and Rick’s cover. They outrun the amassing horde, hop a fence and make off with a truck from the construction site. They set off car alarms far from the store to create a diversion, and Glenn hops into a red Dodge Challenger and goes for a bit of a joyride – all in the name of luring the undead away from the store, of course.

The survivors in the store engineer their escape and T-Dog tries to give Merle the key to his handcuffs, but stumbles and drops it. He padlocks the door to the roof behind him, effectively damning Merle to his fate. The group, minus Merle, makes it into the back of Rick’s truck just as the zombies bust through the second door. Looks like we’ll be back at the base camp in the next episode, with the Lori-Rick-Shane triangle likely taking shape.

This episode marked the biggest departure from the comic series yet. In the original, Glenn saves Rick and the two immediately head to the camp on the outskirts of town. The show has added four characters (among the department store refugees, only Andrea appears in the books) along with quite a bit of plot in Atlanta. So this episode has firmly established the series as an entity separate from the source material. This is a good sign, in a way, because Robert Kirkman has made it clear that he intends to continue writing and publishing the series indefinitely, while a television show must end sooner or later. By avoiding a strict adaptation from the comic, the show will likely be able to reach a satisfying conclusion to its story line – but hopefully not for a few seasons.

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