After last weeks slightly uneven What Lies Ahead I was still ridiculously hopeful and excited for episode two – Bloodletting. I am also ridiculously hopeful that this review will be written a lot better than last weeks.
PLOT: Bloodletting opens with a flashback involving Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) bitching that Rick (Andrew Lincoln) is pushing her buttons by being reasonable and refusing to call her a bitch.
Rick carries an injured Carl (Chandler Riggs) to Hershel’s farm whilst Shane (Jon Bernthal) gets the more difficult job of carrying Otis (Pruitt Taylor Vince).
Hershel (Scott Wilson) sets to work on trying to fix up Carl whilst Rick falls apart.
Andrea (Laurie Holden) and Carol (Melissa McBride) bond over their respective losses which leads Carol to pray that Sophia doesn’t end up like Amy. Daryl (Norman Reedus) has no time for chick flick moments and leads the procession back to the RV.
Maggie (Lauren Cohen) rides in on a horse like Zorro to collect Lori and deliver her to the farm.
T-Dog (Irone Singleton) is struggling with an infection which leads him to have a Meta moment of self-awareness as he realises that the black guy dies first. Luckily for T-Dog, Merle got the clap on occasion and Daryl saves his life again by being able to tell the difference between meth and kick-ass antibiotics.
Daryl and Andrea agree to stay behind to look for Sophia (Madison Lintz) whilst the others take an ailing T-Dog to Hershel’s farm.
Otis and Shane head to the school to find the medical supplies needed to save Carl and they end up getting trapped until next week….. Uh oh. END PLOT
The pacing of Bloodletting flows a lot better than last weeks What Lies Ahead which hopefully means that the show has settled back into its groove after Darabont’s departure. I have to admit that I was surprised that they didn’t find Sophia in this episode – they need to bring this arc to its conclusion relatively quickly. I know that time moves slowly in The Walking Dead universe but this must not drag on like the “finding Able” arc in the Sons of Anarchy.
The episode was chock full of drama, tension and was genuinely stressful to watch. The scenes involving Hershel trying to remove bullet fragments from a fully conscious and crying Carl is probably the most upsetting moment in the entire show thus far. I was thoroughly relieved when Carl lost consciousness as it made my viewing experience easier.
It is rare that children are put in any real danger let alone have them take centre stage in a moment like this so kudos to the show for having the guts to try it and also to Chandler Riggs for pulling it off. It is important to note that this entire arc is completely Walker free showing that The Walking Dead does not need a Walker on every corner to ramp up the drama. I have always said that the best moments in The Walking Dead are when the focus is on the drama created by people rather than the Walkers.
The Walkers came later on during the school scenes and we know from the ending of Bloodletting that next week’s episode is likely to have some Walker heavy action. I don’t mind the wait for a big action moment as if they tried to squeeze more Walker/School drama on to the end of Bloodletting it would have overshadowed the performance heavy episode.
I cannot fault the acting of Sarah Wayne Callies but Lori is still throwing out irrational demands and coupled with her bitchy treatment of Hershel she is still making it hard for me to give her the empathy she deserves. The hurt and despair which Lori is going through is there to see but I do not understand why she is being written so unpleasantly.
Lori does redeem herself in this episode by growing a spine and telling Rick he is not going on the school run and that his place is on the farm with her and Carl. I like this stronger and more vocal side of Lori as in the comics she had very little influence over Rick in this regard.
A major plot revelation in this episode is that T-Dog’s real name is Theodore Douglas and some comic fans may breathe a sigh of relief that the T does not stand for Tyrese. The survival of Shane and the popularity of Daryl makes the introduction of Tyrese unnecessary. I would rather take the unknown journey with Shane, Daryl and even T-Dog than have Tyrese as his character will offer me, a comic reader, nothing new and those fans who haven't read the comic wont know any different.
It was good to see Irone Singleton getting some more screen time. T-Dog has already defied expectations by surviving two episodes into season two. It’s very good that The Walking Dead haven’t resorted to quick kills of the characters whether they be main or supporting as it gives a sense of continuity. The cast cull will come but it is likely to come towards the end of their stay at Hershel’s farm. This will allow time to develop the characters so when the deaths come the audience will actually care.
Steven Yeun as Glenn again got very little to do but now we have arrived at the farm and Maggie (Lauren Cohen) has been introduced his screen time will start to increase.
Melissa McBride is still doing a great job as Carol, Norman Reedus is still ridiculously bad ass as Daryl and Jeffrey DeMunn is becoming the grown up voice of rational and reason. The fact that there is no weak link in the ever growing cast is an impressive achievement.
Overall Bloodletting is a much stronger episode than What Lies Ahead. The pacing and plotting are better and the cast are already upping their game. All doubts over the quality of the show should now be quelled as The Walking Dead is back on track. Bloodletting is now my favourite episode of the shows entire run and gets an impressive 9/10. Bring on the next episode!
Performance of the week: Sarah Wayne Callies
Annoying character of the week: Lori
Zombie kill of the week: Daryl.
(He is too bad ass to bother to break stride and aim his crossbow properly at kneeling Walker)
Daryl line of the week: “Climb down outa my asshole man”
(spoken in typical bitchiness to Dale who accused Daryl of letting Lori go off with a complete stranger. I didn’t want to go for the already classic “Zen” line)
Daryl picture of the week: