It’s The Walking Dead Season 2, Episode 2, entitled “Bloodletting”, and after an unexpected 10-minute intro of Pearl Jam performing a rewritten, zombie-themed “Yellow Bloodletter”, we pick up right after last week’s #DEERGATE with Rick frantically rushing his dying son to a mysterious but shockingly zombieless farmhouse.
With some guidance from Otis (aka Deadwood alum Pruitt Taylor Vince), the hunter who accidentally shot that deer when he was aiming for Carl, Rick rushes into the house, super-awkwardly tries to introduce himself, and quickly gets his son under the emergency care of Herschel, the farm’s proprietor and the country doctorest sounding country doctor who ever doctored in the country.
Fortunately, Herschel seems to have this ‘human medicine’ thing totally under control:
Herschel manages to stabilize Carl and says that the deer at least managed to slow the bullet down or he’d be dead (finally some GREAT news!), but he’ll have to remove all six shards of the bullet to ultimately keep him alive, and each bullet shard is located in an increasingly difficult Zelda dungeon (back to the bad news). Rick’s psyche starts to crack, as the vague guilt of allowing Carl to get shot right after forcing Sophia to wander off alone begins to swell, but Shane senses his desperation and does his best to consolidate all Rick’s guilt into one manageable monthly guilt payment.
Shane takes command of the situation by first symbolically wiping Carl’s blood off Rick’s face, not unlike a mother before a piano recital (in which something has gone horribly wrong):
Despite Rick’s fragile state of mind, he does appear to be somewhat aware that he’s losing his ability to rationally control this situation and appreciates Shane taking over, and he gratefully reciprocates Shane’s affection:
Back at the RV, Dale and T-Dogg continue fruitlessly searching for antibiotics in the freeway cars — not ONE person keeps surgical-grade ampicillin in their glove compartment? What is this, RUSSIA? What if the twist is that it IS Russia? — and T-Dogg begins to turn deliriously racist, telling Dale that as the lone black man in the group, he doesn’t trust the ‘2 cowboys and 1 redneck’ in charge. He adds “If only there were some way I could tell definitively if someone might be a redneck, perhaps through some comedian’s advice in page-a-day calendar form?”
Dale defends Rick, Shane and even Daryl, pointing out that they’ve done a good job and Daryl even saved T-Dogg’s life, but delirious T-Dogg has a plan of his own:
Back in the forest, Daryl, Lori and the leftovers continue looking for Sophia (what? You still care about the first maybe-dying kid? Cahmann, get on the Carl train!), and while Andrea’s walking slightly away from the group, she’s soon joined by a very casual walker who sort of walks next to her for a few seconds then engages her:
That’s a Times Square joke, for those of you who don’t have the luxury of working right inside the tourist’s asshole that is midtown Manhattan.
Anyway, Andrea stabs the walker but fails to kill it, and just as it gets into prime “about to bite you but gets killed from behind by another character” position, the walker gets clobbered in the head “William Wallace dream sequence”-style by n00b Maggie who arrives on horseback to take Lori back to the farmhouse. She tells the group to backtrack on the road and meet them there, then gallops away with Lori, leaving everyone else to mull the age-old question: “Keep looking for Sophia? Or BIIIIISSSSSCUITTTTSSS???” We’ll have to wait til next week to see if they stupidly chose the former. Oh also! Daryl has Merle’s drug stash, so T-Dogg’s fine.
At the farmhouse, Rick gives continual blood transfusions to Carl to keep him stable because they’re both A-positive (if this were Lost, there’d be seven novels online right now about the significance of that blood type — Doc Jensen says it’s the same blood type as the overly cautious knight from Alice In Wonderland!!!!), but Herschel says that to remove all the bullet shards and stop Carl’s internal bleeding, he’s gonna need a respirator and actual surgical equipment, marking the first problem on this show that can’t be bludgeoned away with a nice rock.
Otis points out that there’s a run-down FEMA shelter at the high school just 5 miles away, but the last time he went there it was teeming with walkers (nice job again, Mike Brown). Shane insists that Rick stay with Carl — Carl needs his blood, plus if Rick added any more guilt to his conscience he’d turn into a walking Richard Lewis routine — so Shane and Otis head off to the high school to grab the necessary surgical equipment. Rick might not be able to physically go with them, but he’s with them in gun-spirit:
Otis gives a tearful maybe-goodbye to his companions and loads up the truck with his trusty ol’ ONLY DEER gun (it’s awkward):
AMC throws in one quick “FORD” product shot on the back of the truck (weird that Taylor Hicks was in the back of the pickup truck singing a ‘truck’ version of “Life Is A Highway”), and Shane & Otis head off to their picturesque nightmare:
Rick and Herschel do some catching up on their own, and Rick finally manages to calm himself down enough to enjoy the scenery for three seconds:
They discuss the mysterious nature of the walkers epidemic, with Herschel arguing that it’s just the latest plague affecting mankind like the bubonic plague or AIDS, and they have to keep their heads above zombie-water until there’s a cure, but Rick argues that “this one’s different,” noting that he personally watched the CDC f***ing explode. Herschel’s like “That makes no sense, but even if it did, everyone always says ‘this plague is different.'” Rick’s like “But no seriously, this one is.” Herschel’s like, “Everyone always says ‘but no seriously this one is.'” When the world’s gone apocalypse, sometimes you just have to entertain yourselves with plague-themed vaudeville routines.
Herschel mentions that he lost a lot of family in the epidemic, but he does not explain just how this group of people managed to survive so long in a largely-exposed (if remote) farmhouse. Is he holding back something shady? Or did he just not get around to the full story yet?
While this detail was left unearthed, we do know that Herschel already has plenty of experience with outsmarting supernatural creatures:
Lori finally reaches the farmhouse to really help everyone’s guilt and logic and nonpanicking, and lays down next to her unconscious son, who now looks like a paper mache doll and the entire scene looks like the poster for some horror sequel about a creepy kid meowing:
After his brief and troubling brush with temporary non-insanity, Rick starts to get stir crazy again when he realizes Shane and Otis have been gone way longer than expected. Herschel’s like “I wouldn’t worry, probably just traffic and/or like a million zombies are killing the sh*t out of them.” Rick valiantly/deliriously wants to go after them, but Herschel tells him that he’s in no condition to even walk after giving so much blood, and that Carl will be much better off with him and Lori there to keep passive aggressively blaming Otis for stuff.
In order to make herself more nervous, Lori asks Herschel if he has experience with this surgical procedure, to which Herschel answers, “MMMMMMMMMM….. sorta?”
He’s a veterinarian! Perfect! When Lori tells him, “Don’t you think you’re in a little over your head?” Herschel responds with the episode’s oh-SNAP!-iest line, “Aren’t we all?”
Meanwhile, Shane and Otis arrive at the high school, which was once completely overrun with walkers, but how bout today?
Oops! It’s still completely overrun with walkers. Not sure why they thought it’d be different? It’s like when you tried to go to the one Outback in your college town when your parents were visiting and you rationalize “It’s always super packed on Saturdays, but maybe if we go at like 5:30 it’ll be… ah never mind it’s super packed. AHHHH ZOMBIES!!!!” then the zombies eat you. Man, college was crazy.
In need of a diversion for the walkers, Shane and Otis break into an abandoned cop car and grab a bunch of road flares, and because the zombies are part moth, they’re instantly transfixed by the pyrotechnics and migrate en masse to the flaming distraction:
Shane and Otis easily slip into the FEMA shelter, grab the components for a respirator and the necessary chemicals, and get away SCOTT FRAAAWWWW MAN the billion zombies noticed you. Nice work! Who planned your exit strategy, NIXON? (- Mort Sahl circa 1973)
The episode concludes, as so many of them are destined to, with Shane and Otis locking themselves in a cage surrounded by endless zombie masses with the lock starting to break. EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: VINCE GILLIGAN. It’s not him, actually, but they should still cut to that screen.
In general, this was a solid second episode; it was much more concise than the 90-minute bad-decision-athon that was the Season Premiere, plus we got some new characters, minimal “don’t do that, show!” screaming at the screen (except during the T-Dogg scene), an intense ER-style Carl operation (he can’t act crappily when he’s unconscious!), a solid episode-title double-meaning (medical bloodletting and people trying to rid themselves of guilt), and a bona fide 24-flavored cliffhanger.
All I gotta ask is… WHO ELSE IS HUNGRY FOR SOME PIZZA HUT???
Episode 2 reactions? Stuff you liked, stuff that annoyed you, renewed predictions, philosophical musings, longings for 7 more scenes of people praying in an empty church? Leave ‘em all in the comments.
All pics via AMCTheWalkingDead.com