Spoilers up to and including episode 5 of the second season
The first season of The Walking Dead was ultimately a disappointment. It had a lot of good moments but the finale was a let-down. While the action scenes and tense moments throughout the season were done well, most of the characters were badly fleshed-out. After Frank Darabont’s departure I thought the show would suffer a dip in quality. But the first two episodes of the second season were some of the best of the show’s run. The scene in which the survivors hide under cars from a band of wandering zombies was perhaps the most tense moment of the entire series. While it felt a little cheap, being reminiscent of Rick hiding under cars and a tank early in season one, the scene brilliantly captured the constant tension that the survivors live under. Walkers are potentially around every corner. And the last scene of that episode, in which Carl gets shot in what is seemingly a rare positive moment, was a massive surprise.
But episodes 3-5 have slowed the pace, and that’s where The Walking Dead struggles. As season 1 was only 6 episodes, the show had little time to flesh out the supporting characters. The writers seem aware of this, opting for Lost-style flashbacks to open the show. Yet at this point most supporting characters have only filled their roles in unoriginal ways. Characterisation feels forced, as if the writers know they need to add to these characters, but just don’t have the heart for it.
Episode 5 exposed the lack of engaging characters with an installment of little narrative impact. The search for Sophia feels like it’s been going on forever. At least the characters are now starting to echo that sentiment. And sure enough, The Walking Dead again managed its ‘awesome moment to end the episode’ routine, ensuring that you’ll tune in next week, the boredom long forgotten. It was a great , if implausible moment. Glenn sends Maggie a note to meet him in the barn for some very special lovemaking. The scene darkens as she reads the note. Hmmm, I thought, either the director has really hit the wrong note for this scene, or Glenn is very bad in bed. As she raced towards the barn I realised that something was amiss, and for the first time in the episode my interest piqued. Glenn arrives to find the barn full of captured zombies, something Maggie turned out to be fully aware of.