Any fears of AMC’s hit show THE WALKING DEAD having lost its edge were put down like a walker by a precisely placed headshot. With just the second entry of its sophomore season, the show has resumed the pace, threat level and emotional heft that made it such a monster. Viewers are left breathless again, as if running for their very lives.
After a brief flashback to the day of Rick’s pre-apocalypse shooting, ‘Bloodletting’ picks up after last week’s season premier. Young Carl has been shot, and we learn that Otis, a hunter and member of another group of survivors, targeted a deer and took it down – but the bullet traveled through the deer into Carl. He points Rick toward a distant farmhouse and tells him to find Hershel. Andrew Lincoln, who portrays Rick, makes us feel his aching muscles, his despair, and his surging adrenaline as he carries his bloodied son. Hershel immediately begins medical treatment on Carl and stabilizes his condition. It becomes apparent that Carl will need surgery, and Otis and Shane head to an abandoned (and surrounded) High School that served as a doomed FEMA camp to find medical supplies. Maggie, one of Hershel’s daughters, takes responsibility for finding Lori and bringing her back to the farm to be with Carl and Rick, who is weakening from multiple blood transfusions.
The episode loses it’s way briefly with Dale and T-Dog arguing about fevers and racism back on the highway while the remaining survivors continue to search the woods in vain for Sophia. But quickly enough, the tension picks up with Shane and Otis being cornered by zombies after raiding a FEMA medical trailer, and the gate holding back the horde about to give way.
Finally, the claustrophobic danger that made THE WALKING DEAD such a hit last season is back. Featuring multiple plot lines (that don’t involve Shane and Lori’s bickering) and a shortage of interminable takes of people searching woods for missing group members, the narrative moves along at an exact pace. Fans of the comic already know that Hershel and Maggie become major characters, and if their story arc is translated closely enough, it’ll make for fantastic television. You won’t find more compelling drama, nail-biting action, or chilling horror anywhere else on your dial – might as well get it all on the same show. Long live THE WALKING DEAD.