“Guts” was another great episode of The Walking Dead. Not quite as excellent as the pilot, as I felt there was the odd moment of clunky dialogue or clumsy acting here, but overall still another compelling hour of television.
It was a real kick seeing characters like Dale, Andrea and Glenn brought to life from the pages of the comic to my television screen. Glenn was the one who got the most spotlight of the new arrivals here, and Steven Yeun did a good job in the role, providing a nice mix of snarky wit and wide-eyed innocence. Though I actually enjoyed what little we saw of Dale too – really looking forward to seeing more of him.
Less successful were some of the new characters, who were largely played in broad strokes. T-Dog feels very much like “the token black guy”, seeming only to be a minority placeholder until Tyreese arrives. Thankfully he gets something a bit more interesting to play with at the end, where he genuinely does drop the key to release Merle Dixon by accident, but everyone looks at him like he deliberately abandoned Dixon and is lying about dropping the key. Speaking of Dixon, he went from being very watchable – of course, he’s played by the great Michael Rooker – to feeling a bit like a pantomime villain.
Of the returning characters, we got a bit more into the side story of Lori and Shane here. It’s funny – while we all knew in advance of Lori sleeping with Shane, actually seeing them explicitly have sex in the forest actually makes their unknowing betrayal of Rick seem all the more dirty and lowdown. But star of the show is still very much Andrew Lincoln’s Rick. While being slightly upstaged by Lennie James’ powerhouse performance in the pilot, here is masterfully underplayed characterisation marks him as the standout amongst his new ensemble. I loved little touches like him being a total badass taking down Dixon, but his shaking hand afterwards reminding us that he’s just an ordinary guy and is no Jack Bauer.
So was it a step down? Sure. But not every episode was going to be on the level of that amazing pilot. And this episode had its share of enjoyable sequences – particularly the tense sequence on which the episode’s title is based. If “Guts” is what counts as a weak episode of The Walking Dead, I won’t be complaining.