When there’s a story to be told, flashbacks should be approached with extreme caution. A misguided memory-flash, if ill thought-out, can leave audiences more confused than enlightened.
As a horror set in a post-apocalyptic zombie hell, The Walking Dead has to rely on fistfuls of flashes. And it’s not just the rising corpses that should be explained – every major character demands a sufficient back-story. Thankfully, each of the drama’s flashbacks are astonishingly well-placed.
Should you be playing catch-up, Bloodletting allows for a minute to snatch a breath after Episode 1’s staggering conclusion. Zipping back to before the zombie take-over, Lori Grimes confesses her marriage to Sheriff’s Deputy Rick is beginning to suffer. Seconds later, Shane breaks the news – her husband has been shot on the job. After watching their son Carl get shot, the effect of catching a peek into the couple’s life before the world went topsy-turvy is astounding.
Back in the present, the aftershocks following What Lies Ahead are strong enough to leave the entire episode wobbly-legged. Stunned and riddled with remorse after accidentally shooting Carl, Otis (Pruitt Taylor Vince) leads the group to safety and a clutch of more new characters.
A zombie apocalypse is no time to be picky, and the arrival of fatally injured Carl means Hershal (Scott Wilson) is forced to use veterinary skills to save him. The farm owner is a man of great Christian faith, and his reluctance to accept claims that walkers cannot be cured allows The Walking Dead to again tackle the difficulties of remaining religious in a desperate situation.
In spite of introducing half a family in the space of five minutes, Episode 2 continues to dedicate adequate time for the regulars. While much of the group search for missing girl Sophia (Madison Lintz), two remaining characters begin to feel the pressure.
As the group’s fatherly figure, Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) is used to providing moral support, but remains wounded following problems with Andrea. Meanwhile, T-Dog (IronE Singleton), whose arm injury in What Lies Ahead has now become badly infected, begins to reach a state of near-hysteria. Together, their interaction as they wait for the other survivors to return makes for truly intriguing viewing.
If The Walking Dead keeps up such a speedy pace throughout Series 2, it might be worth anticipating piles of exhausted horror fans come the finale.
During a quest for supplies, Shane and Otis are left with a flimsy gate for protection against hoards of grisly walkers, and the audience with another cracking cliff-hanger. For a simple aftermath episode, Bloodletting managed to pack one serious punch.
Aired at 10pm on Friday 28th October 2011 on FX.
What do you think of Season 2 so far? Let us know below…