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Posted at 10:14 AM ET, 11/ 8/2010

'Walking Dead' episode two: Five questions about 'Guts'

By Jen Chaney and Liz Kelly

Caution: Spoilers ahead if you haven't yet watched "Guts."

On most television shows, we rarely get the chance to see the rotting, drippy entrails of a human corpse draped across our protagonist's shoulders. But "Walking Dead" is different, dang it. As Sunday night's second episode -- appropriately titled "Guts" -- demonstrated, the team behind AMC's zombie-pocalypse drama has no problem spreading the viscera around.

"Give me the axe," Deputy Sheriff Rick Grimes said while continuing to hack into that dead body that eventually became a disguise. "I need more guts." How very Dexter of him.

While we enjoyed every ooky, suspenseful moment of watching Grimes and Glenn make their stanky attempt at escape -- Rain! Why didn't they come up with a plan B in case of rain?! -- last night's installment also raised a few questions in our minds. Join us and let's discuss.

1. Who *hasn't* tried the 'ol "Spread guts on yourselves and no one will smell you" routine when trying to get out of an awkward situation?

I mean, come on. We've all been there. At the very least, Simon Pegg and co. attempted a variation on this "just act like a zombie and no one will notice us" tactic in "Shaun of the Dead," which worked only briefly. For Grimes and Glenn to cut up a corpse and spread its internal slime on themselves in order to mask their scent? Well, that takes it to a whole other level. Too bad they had no way to consult a weather forecast.

(For the record, Liz and I also tried this exact same thing one day when we wanted to sneak out of work early, but it was not a success. No one in the newsroom noticed the ripe odor of undead all over us. It was the undeniable smell of guilt that gave us away.)

2. Why does it take so long for zombies to break through glass?

It took almost an hour -- closer to 43 minutes without the commercial breaks -- for that ragingly undead posse outside an Atlanta department store to break through both sets of glass doors. And apparently at least one of them had a brick in his hand. We realize that zombies are a little on the slow side, what with the lack of genuine blood flow and the decay taking over their bodies and all. But surely their collective weight alone could have toppled that less than stable glass, at least before Andrea decided to snag that mermaid necklace for her sister. This leads us to our next question...

3. How come the zombies could suddenly move so fast when Grimes and Glenn's nasty cover began to wash away?

This is an ongoing debate among the academic zombie community. Are they supposed to move achingly slowly, as they did in George Romero's original "Night of the Living Dead"? Or can they spring quickly into desiccated action, a la the zombies in Zack Snyder's remake of "Night of the Living Dead"? "The Walking Dead" seems to have settled on the following answer: both.

Generally speaking, our zombies so far seem to be lurchers, dead-eyed and flesh-hungry travelers who can't crank their speeds up much above 1 mph. But once Grimes and Glenn started to lose their flesh jackets and zoomed closer to that gate, it was as though some of the zombies suddenly turned into way less cuter versions of the Roadrunner, leaping onto those chainlinks maybe not super-quickly, but pretty fast for zombies. We suppose that's an inevitability; the writers have to maintain suspense in action sequences and if the zombies are always dragging what's left of their feet, that may not work. All we ask is that, in a future episode, one of the zombies actually gets to say "Meep! Meep!"

4. Can zombies not climb ladders?

To continue the dissection of what the undead can, and can not do, when Grimes escaped the tank he made a run for it past a battalion of zombies to follow Glenn up a fire escape to safety. But why exactly was that safe? The zombies congregate at the bottom of the ladder for several minutes before one starts making a move to maybe mount the ladder, but we never get confirmation that the zombies actually follow Grimes and Glenn up to the top of the building. So why can zombies scale tanks and fences, but not ladders? Are we to believe that perhaps there is a sub-class of super-stupid zombies who don't know how to climb or effectively throw bricks through plate-glass windows?

5. Why no catheter, doc?

We're reaching back to the pilot for this question, but it bears consideration. Accustomed as we are to shows (cough "Lost" cough) in which every detail counts, it struck us -- and some readers -- as a bit odd that when Dep. Grimes woke up in the hospital, he was hooked up to an IV and oxygen, but umm, no catheter. Not to be gross (although we've already talked about "viscera" and "flesh jackets"), but we're left to conclude that either Grimes managed -- while in a coma -- make it to the bathroom when he needed evacuate all those IV fluids or left the hospital sheets in serious need of laundering. Or, option three, that was our first clue that Grimes is a superhuman -- a man capable of absorbing his body's own waste in order to more efficiently escape zombies.

If you missed the first two episodes, watch online at

By Jen Chaney and Liz Kelly  | November 8, 2010; 10:14 AM ET
Categories:  TV  
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I guess we're still in Lost mode when we start to overthink a zombie show!! I was doing the same thing.

But then I figured that since zombies were involved, everything else that would make sense would go out the window.

The catheter, the running & lack of real climbing skills, the meat vests, etc., mean nothing when there's zombies already around.

Posted by: wadejg | November 8, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

I think I love this show! It sort of reminds me of *cough* LOST *cough* because ultimately it's not about the zombies (Island). It's about the characters.

Quite a racy opening $ex scene in the beginning, btw.

Posted by: duhneese | November 8, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

I caught the show for the first time last night and although there are gaps, it's not too bad. I'm not going to miss "Boardwalk Empire" for it, but I'll definitely catch the re-runs and maybe put the season on my Netflix queque.

Everything else out there is too boring.

Sort of off topic -I was very disappointed in Rizzoli and Isles! I read the books and the characters are nothing like the show, although the same is true of Bones (not even recognizable from the book). I really tried hard to watch, but sometimes no matter how hard you try...

Posted by: hebe1 | November 8, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Oh & Michael Rooker, I LOOOOVE Michael Rooker!! The whole show was worth it for just his scenes.

I think we haven't seen the last of him yet.

Posted by: wadejg | November 8, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Question, If you a zombie inwhich you are brain dead, you have no fuction of your motor skills. Therefore, how can you walk,screek,crawl & eat?? Let alone climb ????

Posted by: Raidersfan2 | November 8, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

They can't climb the ladder because of it takes structured thinking to decide which one will go first. They can climb a chain link fence because more than one can do it at a time.

Posted by: rfairweather | November 8, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

rfairweather, not a bad line of reasoning.

But i still think the zombies would just mindlessly scrabble for the ladder and one would eventually push the others out of his way to begin an ascent.

Posted by: Liz Kelly | November 8, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

A few big problems with this show (beyond the opening scenes, which are lifted almost directly from "28 Days Later").

First, the human reactions feel artificial. If you woke up in the hospital and the world was filled with zombies, don't you think you'd ask someone "How did this happen?"

Second, the fact that the zombies are slow or fast, stupid or clever, depending on the needs of the scene is just sloppy writing. A fantastical theme works only if the logic is consistent.

And finally, just sloppy plotting. A sunny day turns to a rainstorm in 5 minutes in order to complicate the narrative. The tiniest scratch can turn you into a zombie but our hero hacks up a bloody zombie corpse in front of everyone with no fear of infection. If zombies were about to crash through the glass and devour you, would you pause to pick out a necklace and tell a dopey story about your sister's taste in jewelry?

Posted by: cpmanx | November 8, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Quite a racy opening $ex scene in the beginning, btw.

Posted by: duhneese | November 8, 2010 11:02 AM

Whaaa? My Heart was hurting she was enjoying having sex while her Husband is looking for her and his son.

Then when I saw dude playing with her son, I thought maybe she was looking for a father figure for him, but then I thought again that it was too early for that ish. And she was enjoying the sex scene too much.

I know dude was in a coma and all that, but as a husband, I speak for us to say no way I could enjoy that scene with her Husband looking for her. And she was smiling too....woooooow!

Posted by: 4thFloor | November 8, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

They may have "...had no way to consult a weather forecast..." but the thunder beforehand was enough to telegraph the inevitable guts washing.

The line about the soon-to-be-diced zombie being an organ donor made me LMAO...pardon the salty language.

Posted by: mmr4 | November 8, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Here are my humble opinions on the questions that were posed. (sorry for the somewhat long post)

1. They probably thought they could make it to the building before the rain started coming down. Similar to how people in general get caught in the rain even with an idea of what the weather will be like (people caught with their convertible tops down, riding the motorcycle home thinking you can beat the rain, etc. )

2. The zombies could have broken through the glass a lot quicker IF they were working as a collective group (logic/cognitive thinking) and all decided to use their strength in one push. However since they are mindless, they are all banging, pushing, scratching at random times; they weren’t as effective without a resounding “heave ho!”

3. I think there has always been the capacity for these undead to ambulate faster once they see (food/prey) In the pilot episode, they were just milling aimlessly until Rick Grimes rounds the corner and encounters a large group (who then respond by moving faster than their default “shambling” mode to chase him down). If it’s a “virus” that caused people to change, the virus in their brain is doing whatever it can to “reserve energy” (default shuffling mode) and kick into “get sustenance” (hunting mode)

4. I think that each zombie is different based on who they were and what their skills were in their “previous life” If you rewatch the scene, only 3 of the group of zombies were able to scale the chain link fence. These may have been zombies who were in peak physical form or had athletic skills before becoming undead. It seems like these zombies retain some of their memories of their past lives (e.g.- little girl looking for her toy)

I also somewhat agree with what rfairweather posted about requiring a more structured thinking to use the type of ladder they showed. However, just because this group of zombies weren’t able to use this ladder in this particular scene doesn’t mean they haven’t or won’t ever be able to use one.

5. I thought the same thing when watching the pilot. However, maybe the first dead eviscerated body(1-2 days old) he saw at the hospital was one of the last employees (good samaritan nurse) caring for Rick prior to him coming out of his coma. She may have seen signs of him improving (sporadic signs of waking from the coma) so had removed the catheter. (similar to him being removed from the ventilator)

Posted by: iRonX | November 8, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure the Roadrunner says "Beep! Beep!" -- not "Meep! Meep!".

Posted by: willdd | November 8, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Some really good zombie analysis here. So I'm wondering, who would make the best, as in most effective brain-eating-wise, zombie? Would it be someone with high intelligence, great athletic skills, or maybe just someone who is most doggedly able to focus on the task at hand, that is, brain dining?

Posted by: justmike | November 8, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

My first thought as I was watching this episode was "amateurs". Literally every single decision made by the characters should have resulted in all of them getting eaten by ravenous zombies ("Let's go down that creepy sewer tunnel without a gun", "Let's douse ourselves in zombie blood but give every single one on the street a good whiff of our non-'disguised' heads", etc.)

I would love nothing more than for the show to introduce a new character: a former high school nerd who happens to have read the entire Max Brooks repertoire and knew exactly what to do when the zombie apocalypse hit. But then again, he'd take one look at the current cast and go back to his well-stocked isolated hideout.

Posted by: dcstudent11 | November 8, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

@ justmike "...So I'm wondering, who would make the best, as in most effective brain-eating-wise, zombie?..."

I think of the three types, the formerly intelligent undead would be the LEAST effective killer Zombie. Let’s say he was a doctor in his past life- his mindless state would not enable him to use his former knowledge of Anatomy & Physiology to find the best arteries to bite for the quickest kill

The athletic undead would be most effective when in a group. If they had skills in Track & Field, a group could overrun you in a matter of seconds (they would have ALL jumped over that chain link fence), athletic swimming zombies would snap you up quicker than “Jaws”. A group of zombified football players would be the toughest as they would have extra padding and helmets (help slow down or deflect a few bullets to the brain. But overall, even the quickest and biggest still can go down with a single bullet

I think the winner in a one-on-one situation would be the one most doggedly able to focus on the task. Let’s say you have a construction worker zombie at the top of a building. He watches a human walking around on the ground and follows him until he can jump off the building with mouth open- landing on the fresh brain. (the human would be so worried about the ones close to him on the ground, that he wouldn’t suspect the pounce from above.

Posted by: iRonX | November 8, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

@iRonX- You have obviously given this matter a lot of thought, although it's a little hard for me to picture that construction worker zombie leaping off his building with mouth wide-open, but I yield to your expertise in zombiology.

Posted by: justmike | November 8, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

@justmike- Heheh, yeah I was really stretching trying to figure out an example of a "doggedly task focused" zombie. I guess rather than imagining our Construction worker Zombie crouching and pouncing on the victim (like a leopard) , I was thinking more in the lines of him walking off the edge of a 30 ft or so tall building (mouth open) , falling on and maiming the unsuspecting person before he takes a bite.

Posted by: iRonX | November 8, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Zack Snyder did a remake of "Dawn of the Dead" not "Night of the Living Dead." And a mighty fine remake it was, too!

Posted by: Juli-uh | November 8, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

wildd: if you listen to the original cartoons, it's definitely a "meep, meep" sound.

Liz Kelly: I'm confused about the catheter question. Don't we all wear them, all the time?

Posted by: byoolin1 | November 8, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

To cpmanx:

"First, the human reactions feel artificial. If you woke up in the hospital and the world was filled with zombies, don't you think you'd ask someone "How did this happen?"

He did ask during the pilot. It's a virus spread by getting scratched or bitten by a zombie that cooks your brains and turns you into one.

"And finally, just sloppy plotting. A sunny day turns to a rainstorm in 5 minutes in order to complicate the narrative."

It's called an isolated thunderstorm and it's very common in the South (Atlanta) duing the summer. Hardly a plot stretch.

Posted by: duhneese | November 8, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

I was just gonna post about the thunderstorm thing, we have them all the time around in MD/DC.

As for the other stuff, don't overthink, just enjoy the story & zombie goodness!!

I'm loving the makeups on this one, they're surprisingly good.

Posted by: wadejg | November 8, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

It's tough to complain about stupid things the characters do when the show is based on a story that's already been written. If you re-do the plot too much, you get the rants from graphic novel purists saying it's not enough like the books. Having read them all, I am loving the show. Not only is it staying pretty true to the story line, but the producers are ripping visuals right from the pages and doing some great work with them on the small screen. Can't wait till they find the prison.

Posted by: GomerGross | November 8, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

re: the catheter. I also thought it was funny that the Sheriff stumbles out of his hospital bed with his little gown... and boxer shorts. clearly, the shorts and the no-catheter were just expedients to allow him to start stumbling around to investigate his surroundings. personally, i'm perfectly happy to have been spared his having to yank out his own catheter.

Posted by: PQSully | November 9, 2010 8:10 AM | Report abuse

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