‘The Walking Dead’ Season 2 Premiere Review

Published 4 years ago by , Updated July 18th, 2014 at 9:56 am,

The Walking Dead Season 2 Premiere Review The Walking Dead Season 2 Premiere Review

Fans are undoubtedly excited for the start of The Walking Dead season 2, but there also many questions handing over this season, in light of showrunner Frank Darabont being fired from the series.  Darabont was the driving force behind the show, and a major reason why season one of The Walking Dead was a hit. While it remains to be seen how the show will fare without Darabont influencing future episodes, fans of the acclaimed director can rest comfortably in the knowledge that he crafted the first part of season 2.

So, is The Walking Dead season 2 premiere episode, “What Lies Ahead” a satisfying return to the bleak world of Robert Kirkman’s acclaimed comic book?

Short answer: This episode showed Darabont and the cast at their best.

When last we left the survivors of The Walking Dead, they had fled the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, after a discouraged scientist and a few dispirited survivors chose to end their lives, rather than face the zombie apocalypse. As season 2 opens, the survivors are still on the run and hoping to find salvation. But where does salvation reside in hell – and how does a world of savagery, brutality and death change a person? These are the hard questions that face Rick Grimes and his companions in season 2.

Review (Spoilers)

“What Lies Ahead” is easily the best episode of The Walking Dead since the pilot episode (which was also crafted by Darabont), and it demonstrated the incredible potential this show has. In one episode we got terror, suspense, mystery, gore, drama, shock, and even some elation. Best of all, every minute of the premiere qualified as genuinely compelling TV.

Darabont’s experience as a director elevates this show to a level most TV programs can’t hope to match. The “zombie herd” sequence on the highway – which was shot on a real Atlanta highway with 150 zombie extras over 4 days – is something that not only reaches the upper echelons of quality TV programming – it’s also in the upper echelons of quality movie moments. (I’m certain that I wasn’t the only one who felt like they were watching a movie during that highway scene.)

After such a fantastic beginning you would think there would be nowhere to go but down – but Darabont and the cast definitely retain a good amount of the energy they initially muster for the remainder of the episode. The search for the missing girl, Sophia, was not as cinematic as the highway sequence (and definitely adhered to a more episodic TV structure), but that’s OK, since it was still pretty good TV. That feeling of dread and despair was always present, and made you tense at the thought that Sophia could indeed meet an unhappy end – leaving her mother and the rest of survivors’ fragile morale shattered by the tragedy.

In the midst of that high tension, there were some great dramatic moments between the various characters, which sowed promising seeds for the arcs the survivors will be on this season. Some characters (Andrea, Shane) are more interesting than others (T-Dog, Dale), but the great thing about a show like this is that characters can (and will) die at any moment, so it’s easy to keep the cast trimmed and still give the audience a shock or two when someone bites it (no pun).

Virtually every scene in the premiere was relevant, and expanded both the characters and the themes of season 2, so it’s hard to pick a favorite. Some of the more undercooked characters from season 1 had great moments to shine – Daryl (Norman Reedus) in that nauseating dissection scene, or Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) finally showing spunk by defending Rick’s honor – and on the whole the episode balanced the time spent with each character well, so that no one felt left out or irrelevant. A drastic improvement on one of the major issues with season 1.

Admittedly, the scene with Rick (Andrew Lincoln) in the church was a little bit over-dramatic (the whole church scene was, really), but it still laid out an interesting arc for Rick this season, as he struggles to keep it together and lead his people, even though this horrible existence eats away at his morale – and morality – the same as it does any other man. Now that Rick and the survivors are over their initial confusion and panic about the world they’re living in, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of person each of them becomes, as they’re forced to make hard choices (how long do you search for a missing child in zombie land?) and face hard realities (death, loss, etc…).

Last but not least – what an ending! Just when you thought there might be a glimmer of hope (Rick, Shane and Carl encountering that gorgeous buck and having a happy bonding moment) – hope turns into horror in the span of a gunshot. There are not many shows that will go so far as to depict a child getting shot – but hey, this is The Walking Dead we’re talking about. Expect the unexpected.

Whatever budget Frank Darabont was asking for – whatever creative decisions he was making – it’s clear from this episode that AMC should’ve catered to the man. Mad Men may be the critical darling (which gets it the biggest investment from the network) – but TV like this Walking Dead season 2 premiere has the potential to attract the masses, and ergo, the advertisers. Hopefully the ratings will tell that same tale.

You can catch The Walking Dead season 2 Sundays @ 9/8c on AMC

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  1. Awesome can’t wait the premier is just half an hour away I’m so ready to watch it.

    • most def waiting for this tonight

  2. well, why do we have to:

    You can catch The Walking Dead season 2 Sundays @ 9/8c on AMC

    when you pretty much drop spoilers (without announcing there may be spoilers) all throughout this review. thanks.

    • It says right in the title line of the “Review” section that there will be spoilers.

    • I’m pretty sure the author mentioned “Review (Spoilers)” in their article before they “pretty much drop spoilers”.

      Anyways, I am currently watching the season premeire at this very moment, and I have to say, it’s keeping me at the edge of my seat. (:

  3. I’m really enjoying tge episode but the commercials every 4 minutes makes the show hard to follow.. By the time the commercials end Ive forgotten what I’m watching… I doubt I’m going to continue watching I’ll just wait to see it online someplace else.

  4. Spoilers are one thing. Actually spoiling the ending is brainless.

  5. is this going against dexter???

  6. loved the episode but disappointed that we may not see Wilshire Estates along with those involved with it, but still a great start to season 2

    • Agreed. And honestly I’d rather have them skip the Wilshire storyline in hopes it’ll make room for the prison and Tyrese this season.

  7. Stop lying. Either you’re being paid to write this garbage or worse… you actually believe this stuff.

    Season 2: Episode 1 was the worst yet. 90 mins (40 of commercials) and we went nowhere. The entire time looking for a dumb girl (while BAD actors are unable to show any empathy for the mother) and then the dumbest thing happens to the dumbest kid at the end. With this kids mono-tone, no range of acting skills, I hope he is gone.

    What is unfortunate, is I am compelled to watch this train wreck because of my love for the comic book. (which though it is not following at all, IS NOT the reason it sucks).

    It sucks because nothing makes sense. It sucks because the writing, acting, make up, special FX, sound FX and everything else about it hasn’t been good since the series premiere. (and no wonder. They used up all the budget to make an AMAZING premiere and suckers keep coming back for that high).

    Rant over?


    See you next week.

    • No. Please dont come back. Please, oh please, dont come back.

    • 0/10 too much effort, not discrete, worked up over nothing

    • i draw with you. i watch it cause the comic is epic, and show is a huge let down. i dont care how many writers they get if kirkman aint behind the wheel this show is doomed. plus carl should of killed shane and been on his way to being a dark little zombie killer, instead he is a little b**** that cant act and that bothers me. i understand there are things that must be changed to make it new but there are parts of the story that need to stay the same in order to make it good.

    • I agree with words, 0/10 for troll effort. A good troll knows how to play its victims, not overuse its hand. Boooo, the only reason I read the comments section is to be amused by dumb people and hopefully some funny trolling. Hopefully you’ll be a better troll next week.

      • you, sir, have not read the comic book, and wouldn’t no the difference between plot progression and pointless, emotional banter if it was a face-eating gorilla zombie.

        • Incorrect. Try again.

    • @Terrible Show – I totally agree, it was a huge disappointment! We watch the clock and timed the commercials to actual show time… 4 minutes of commercial then 6 minutes of actual show… F’ing ridiculous! The writing is still terrible and the chooses the actors make are so unrealistic! I’m done with this crap show… enjoy suckers!

  8. Ps. Wish I was watching Dexter. Don’t get TMN. Downloading tomorrow. Though not what it used to be, the worst episode of Dexter > The Walking Dead (minus series premiere.)

  9. People are doing dumber things in this episode than in previous episodes.

  10. Now that Breaking Bad is on hiatus this shall sustain me as one if my dramas. Hell On Wheels looks entertaining, though curious as to how Common is gonna add up acting wise. And of course, Game of Thrones is coming soon.


    Will there be a review of Boss with Ksey Grammar. Show looked pretty dope. Havent had a chance to watch it yet.

  11. Was very excited about the premier but the commercials just killed the flow. It seems as though AMC was just trying to cash in on the mass audience and promoter their other series for 90 min.

  12. This episode was great loved the highway scene. What a shocking ending to it. I will be there every Sunday watching it.

  13. I loved it and to say the actors showed no skill is just garbage talk, i thought the commercials were a bit much but hey they gotta get there money, i cant wait to see how this Season plays out cuz even though ppl will say they are not following the Graphic novel i think they should re read them cuz they may do some things diffrent but they always go back to the source

  14. You can’t begrudge them the want to cash in, with the cost of an original series, but there is a limit and the constant commercial interruptions has killed the show for me, I’ve switched channels and will download it tomorrow.
    Poorly done AMC.

  15. C’mon if you’ve read the comics it was very obvious Carl was going to get shot there, especially if you saw the set photos.

  16. Uh… Hey writers, where was the electricity to power that bell coming from???

    • Or the nice cold water bottle pulled out the bag?? Gotta watch it again to see how cold it was.

    • Lol. I caught that too. Maybe it is solar bells. Over all, I thought it was a weak start for the show. So many holes in the story line and if there is a plot, I can’t find it. No, I didn’t read the comic books, but I didn’t realize that was required.

  17. Bragging about a 90 minute premiere just sickens me when it was just a way to stretch out a normal length show to add tons of commercials. Very little moving forward in this episode. I hope they are not trying to drag it on to make show last longer cause that will just ruin it and it wont go on any longer. Always like the realism of this show from season 1 so was kinda dissapointed with ending scene even if its from the comics should have been rewriten. Happens to be lined up perfectly with a deer thats not afraid of people for a shot that is 1 in 100 clean throw hitting him perfect center mass… Love this show and can deal with everything but the large amount of commercials. If it doesnt cut back i will recommend to my friends to wait and download along with me.

  18. The season 2 premier was ridiculously bad. It’s as if the new writers did not watch the previous episodes. The characters did way too many dumb things that made no sense, and they acted in ways they never would have in season one. Overall a huge disappointment.

    • Agreed

    • Exactly. The entire show just had a different feel. And not in a good way. It was almost like the producers hired David E. Kelly to take over. So many stinking over-dramatic dialogue scenes. UGH!

  19. The opening scene and dialogue was terrible. The editting of this episode was sloppy. The plot was nonexistent but that part I don’t care about. I felt no tension or sympathy. The special effects looked pretty bad this time around as well, quite disappointed.

  20. Have it recorded will watch later today/night.

    For all of you people comparing it to the comic just stop. It will never compare to the comic. It will never panel for panel be the comic.

    If you are watching it because you expect it to then you never truly understood what the show was going to do.

  21. I don’t understand how in a situation where all of the survivors know what is out there, they allow their kids to just wonder around. Then there is the fact that these kids are either very dumb or have no fear. Why on earth would they crawl out from under the vehicle before they were told it was safe?

    On another note, when they went into the church and there were people sitting in pews as if they were at a service made no sense. These people are like animals with no human thought process. I didn’t get it. Like others have said already, the bell ringing with no power made no sense.

    • based on your comment, I’m not surprised you “didn’t get it”. You are obviously looking for things to complain about.

      • No, I’m looking for realism. I love the show which is why I watched it.
        So since you are so wise. Help me to understand the people sitting in the church.

        • Its really quite simple. The zombies have been VERY commonly seen to be more than just flesh-eating animals– they retain SOME (few) of their old human characteristics.

          They sit in buses, they remember how to open doors, in S01E01, Duane’s mother is seen attempting to re-enter their house.

          These zombies still have some semblance of their old habits. If you call that unrealistic, I’d say you are simply unobservant.

          • Thank you Daniel. Even tho you are trying to kick me like Nick did at least you explained. Have a nice day.

  22. They replaced horse crap with horse pee… and with 10x the amount of commercials in between

  23. This episode was really bad. I loved last season. I am not sure what happened. I hate to say it but the little boy really needed to bring it in those scenes and he did not. The characters are not going anywhere?
    I am hoping it will get better, because I loved this show last season.

  24. Imho, this was the worst episode so far:
    – Slow pace
    – Kids being annyoing and screwing stuff up (as they always do in tv)
    – Boring drama and pointless fighting over little things
    – Andrea whining about everything

    Atleast ending was interesting.

    • Slow Pace – Character Development and interaction.

      Kids being annoying and screwing stuff up – REAL LIFE

      Boring drama and fighting over little things – sounds like real life to me.. get people together for a while, and they will do just that.

      Andrea – well, considering she just lost her sister a few days ago, I’d say that is a normal reaction. You know what mourning is, right?

      • Nick, didn’t you think the episode lacked a clear direction? For a premier, I thought more intense scenes would have been better. It was clear that the point of getting them in the woods was to get to the Carl being shot scene (which leads to Hershel’s farm later), but most of that came at such an agonizing pace. And I agree that the character interaction is realistic, but I thought this episode just needed more intensity and less wandering. Essentially, the group was only threatened by the wandering heard and that was it. The rest was rather dull.

      • Character Development and interaction — I’d call it horrible, overly-dramatic dialogue and uncharacteristic behavior.

        REAL LIFE & Boring drama and fighting over little things — You REALLY want real life? Or would you rather have an exciting and compelling television show?? Really? You prefer to be annoyed?

        Normal reaction — Maybe for you. But compared to how she reacted all through season one, her behavior this entire episode was completely out-of-character. I’m gonna go cry about my gun. You stole my wish to die. I wanna leave! Blah blah blah. She was never like that. Her reaction after her sister died was already dealt with last season. Now all of a sudden she turns major beotch? I think you’re reaching.

  25. I though this was a great episode. The acting was just as I had expected it to be. The opening was fantastic, and just as they had described it, it was a graveyard. All those things they pulled out that once represented everything they once knew. I felt that Sophia getting lost was a bit built up when Rick said they wouldnt go to the Grand Canyon without her and her mother. I think one of the best scenes was Daryl’s use of the dead, to camouflage himself and T-Dog like that, I was rolling with laughter, never had I thought of that. I think it was a bit of a let down when they spent most of the show looking for Sophia just to still let her fate unknown, I dunno that’s just me. As for Shane leaving the group, I can see it, the man is a bit raw right now, so the last thing he wants is to be around Rick and his wholesome family. By the way, Rick, not his best performance, but, I guess he can only get better. The ending? Wow. I didn’t see it coming, I was expecting someone to die, either T-Dog or Sophia, but for Carl to get shot? Wow.