The Whaling Dead #2: There Are No Rules
The Whaling Dead is a new weekly column I write for GordonAndTheWhale.com. In these posts, I'll take a detailed and analytical look at the new AMC series, The Walking Dead. This post focuses on the second episode of the show, "Guts." Be warned: spoilers abound! For more of my thoughts on The Walking Dead, don't forget to check out DeadChatter.
Just when it looked like things couldn’t get any worse for Rick Grimes, he was given a beacon of hope in the form of a radio transmission from an unknown person. In the second episode of The Walking Dead, we learn who that person is, and Rick manages to escape his predicament and meet a handful of other survivors. Unfortunately, as I discussed in last week’s analysis, in a post-apocalyptic society overrun by zombies, there really is no escape, just a move from one prison to another. In this episode, Rick stopped being trapped in the tank only to find himself trapped in a department store. It’s here that we got our first look at what life in this new society might mean for a group of people. And it was not a particularly optimistic picture.
Like the pilot episode, “Guts” starts off with a bang. Not the same kind of bang, but a bang nonetheless. We see Lori head off into the woods surrounding the survivors’ camp to pick mushrooms or any other form of food, only to discover that she’s actually going there to meet Shane for a little afternoon delight. Like many other elements of this episode, things got a little heavy-handed (what with her locket being a reminder of Rick that quite literally comes between them), but the opening scene did imply some intriguing things about the nature of their affair. For one thing, considering it’s supposedly only been a month or two since the beginning of the zombie outbreak, she doesn’t seem to show many doubts about her actions. Perhaps this affair didn’t begin as recently as we’d like to believe. Either the level of marital tension simmering between her and Rick was much higher than normal, or she and Shane have been doing this for a while, since the idea of betraying Rick doesn’t seem to faze her at all. Plus, she and Shane seem quite comfortable coming up with an alibi to hide their extracurricular activities – perhaps it’s due to past experience sneaking around before the world went to hell.
This implication is interesting in and of itself, but director Michelle MacLaren (an AMC regular, having helmed a few of Breaking Bad’s best episodes) wisely uses the opening scene to develop more than just Shane and Lori’s affair. She introduces the sex scene not as romantic or erotic, but as something straight out of a horror film, with Lori alone in the woods and seemingly attacked from behind by an unknown assailant. Shane thus becomes associated with a feeling of foreboding and the prospect of something monstrous. During foreplay, he licks her stomach and tastes her flesh, setting in motion what will become the dominant theme of the episode: that in many ways, the human survivors are no different than the zombies.