What fans can expect in Season 2 of 'The Walking Dead'
By Curt Wagner
7:46 AM CDT, October 14, 2011
Fans of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” were thrilled this summer when the Season 2 trailer hit San Diego Comic-Con and the web. It began with dozens of hungry zombies shuffling after Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal), who stumbles just as the flesh eaters are reaching out to lunch on him.
Believe it or not, the dramatic scene has been cut from the 90-minute Season 2 premiere (8 p.m. Oct. 16, AMC; 3.5 stars) for less flashy but brilliant-in-their-own-way moments. How many TV shows can dump such a chilling chase yet still send shivers up your spine?
I’m happy to report that even in the absence of Frank Darabont, who ushered Robert Kirkman’s acclaimed graphic novel to the small screen last year, “The Walking Dead” can. Its cast, crew and new showrunner, Glen Mazzara, seem to live to thrill. And boy do they succeed in “What Lies Ahead” on Sunday and next week’s “Bloodletting.”
The ghoulies, created by makeup king Greg Nicotero and his team, are just as disgusting as ever, with their sunken eyes, rotting flesh and love for a tasty skin sandwich or raw liver. Speaking of innards, one particular scene in the opener is so nasty I predict audience members will A) cover their eyes, B) squeal with delight, or C) lose their lunch.
At its core, though, the series remains an absorbing survivalist story about the humans in peril. It examines how regular people can adapt and keep their sanity when their world is turned upside down.
The new season opens with the group of survivors led by lawman Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) leaving Atlanta for Fort Benning, where they hope to find an outpost of living humans. Of course they encounter a little bad luck when their caravan breaks down on a highway blocked by abandoned cars.
“This is a graveyard,” Lori Grimes (Sarah Wayne Callies) says as they pick through the ruins for useful items. “I don’t know how I feel about this.”
How they all feel about it, and how they hold on to their humanity in these inhumane conditions, appears to be a central theme in Season 2, as Rick doubts his every decision, the group dynamic begins to disintegrate and they meet several intriguing new characters.
And yes, shortly after Lori utters the quote above, a herd of shuffling stiffs attacks the group. What happens next sets in motion a new season of jump-from-your-seat scares and shivery twists that will leave you breathless.
SECRETS OF THE 'DEAD'
I spoke with"The Walking Dead" stars Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus last week to get an idea of what's coming in Season 2 of the hit series. Here's a somewhat non-spoilery rundown of what you can expect in the upcoming season, culled from those interviews and discussions at San Diego Comic-Con.
Rick Grimes (Lincoln) and company flee zombie-filled Atlanta for the countryside, but not before coming up against a wall of flesh-loving walkers on the highway. "Every time we opened the script we were like, 'Holy Mother, where are we going now?'" Lincoln said.
Rick and Daryl (Reedus) share a scene in the season premiere that likely will launch many a water-cooler discussions. "Every day we have one of those scenes where we're trying to get it censored and if we don't get it censored [we think] we're not trying hard enough, you know?" Lincoln said. "We're really pushing the boundaries."
A shocking accident sends the survivors to the farm of Herschel Greene (Scott Wilson), who will challenge Rick's beliefs about the world in which they now live. "Hershel represents that side of humanity [that still has] hope that one day an airplane may drop something that has the vaccine," Lincoln said. "I certainly think that is one of [Rick's] struggles; he's still trying to hold on to some semblance of hope, otherwise what's left?"
Herschel's daughter, Maggie (Lauren Cohan), will become a love interest for Glenn (Steven Yeun).
One-handed, racist hick Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker), whom the group left for dead in Season 1, returns. Reedus, who plays Merle's brother Daryl, hints that Merle's reintroduction may lead viewers to sympathize with Daryl: "[Daryl's] a guy that's just incredibly emotionally and spiritually damaged ... You discover why I'm such a hothead and the things that I went through. So there's a whole back story about my family life that entered into this and that's super interesting and super sad."
Rick continues to broadcast in hopes of reuniting with Morgan (Lennie James), but we will not see him in Season 2.
The villainous Governor from the graphic novels will not show up this season, but sword-wielding Michonne might, producers told Entertainment Weekly.
We (probably) will learn what the CDC doctor whispered in Rick's ear at the end of Season 1. Says Lincoln: "I'm not going to tell you! ... There is something that happens in Episode 9 that seems extraordinary and brutal, but that may give you a clue."
Tensions between Rick's wife, Lori, and his best friend, Shane, will grow. Lincoln teases that Rick will learn the secret the other two share: "Yes, there will be some resolution. As yet, I still don't know [how]."
Reedus says he's digging deeper into Daryl's character this season, and that he never wanted to play him as a Merle Jr. He'll demonstrate his ability to survive, to lead and even to form relationships within the group. "You see everybody just start deteriorating and he's sort of excelling," Reedus said.
Reedus was almost giddy when he learned that one of his Season 1 scenes made me pass out. He said to expect more of the same in Season 2: "That is my goal for the rest of the season. I'm going to make you pass out ... I hope you faint a bunch."