Blick Tolkien reviews The Walking Dead – Episode 008 – Bloodletting

The Walking Dead - Episode 008 - Bloodletting 45 min., 2011
Written by Glen Mazzara
Directed by Ernest Dickerson
Language: English
My rating: ★★★★★

A shot in the dark… or broad daylight.

* * *

Show Premise:

Sheriff Rick Grimes after waking from a coma, finding his family and a small group of survivors in a post-apocalyptic zombie infested world. He attempts to lead his family and survivors to safety at Fort Bennett after the CDC and its lone scientist are destroyed, but are sidetracked searching for Sophia.

Warning

The following review is rated SIN (Sincerely Intrigued Negro), it contains several rants that appear at random. The views here do not reflect the thoughts of a completely sane person. They are being presented by a person of African-American descent who has grown up in a rather unseemly portion of town, taken recreational narcotics and has been molested by a clown. Feel free to skip certain paragraphs, if you simply want a recap and continued review of the episode. Hipster, child, feline and vegan discretion is advised.

Review:

Welcome back folks. This episode opens with a flashback of Shane giving Lori the news that Rick was shot and is in a coma before all hell broke loose. It’s a hell of a scene where she has to tell Carl and watch his reaction knowing that sometimes the good guys get hurt when doing the right thing. This is a fact that all cops kids may face one day and it’s powerful to watch but we don’t get to indulge in the emotional aspects before the quick transition to where the last episode left off with Rick running through the woods to a farm house per the directions of the man that shot Carl, Otis, played by Pruitt Taylor Vince, who is notoriously great in small roles. Enter a fanboy favorite, Hershel Greene, played by Scott Wilson. During a very impromptu meet and greet he and Rick exchange names, even as Carl is being dragged into the bedroom and Hershel starts working to stabilize him. I would cite deus ex machina at the coincidence of being shot a hop, skip, and a jump away from a good ole country doctor’s house. However I can’t yet and if you are willing to unwad your panties you’ll see why shortly. As Rick, half dazed, shuffles outside blood soaked and distraught, Shane and Otis finally catch up to him. With Rick staring down at his blood-stained hands, the reality of the situation is plain on his face as you see it sink in. This is just another reminder of how good an actor Andrew Lincoln really is.

At this point we stop seeing psychotic Shane and get a better glimpse into the man that was and still seems to be Rick’s partner. He cleans the blood off Rick’s face and hands and they walk back in to get the prognosis from the doctor. Basically, the deal is the bullet that shot Carl is fragmented into five pieces and surgery is the only option. It seems like a cinch but in all honesty this will have to be done without any form of modern machinery, medical supplies, or most importantly anesthetic. Grief stricken Rick is more interested in going off to tell Lori than sitting there with Carl while Hershel does his work. And we see the first glimpse into some of the rationale behind Shane’s anger and disappointment at Rick’s choices. He starts giving Rick a little back-story on the strength Lori showed once he was shot. You can see in his face that he actually admires her quite a bit and tells Rick he needs to have that same strength and resolve for Carl and show it by not leaving Carl’s side. Hershel comes out after Shane assures Rick that as long as he stays there for Carl he will take care of everything else. Unfortunately, Hershel only has more bad news. Carl needs to be sedated for him to do his work, but if that happens he will stop breathing. So, this becomes a need for medical supplies which sends a guilty Otis and loyal Shane on a trek to a high school about five miles off to pick those things up. In the meantime, Hershel’s daughter goes to fetch Lori. Back at the ranch, or should I say RV, Dale and T-Dog, who we find in a fit of delirium is actually named Theodore, have an awkward tete a tete over what T-Dog thinks is their seeming apparent weakness in the group, evidenced by their being left behind. Turns out his arm is septic and he has a raging fever, but it still brings up the point that the token black guy is likely the most expendable one in the group. The group being led by Darryl is still wondering why it is taking so long for the others to catch up as they make their way back to RV. Andrea’s life is saved again by Hershel’s daughter charging through the forest on her faithful steed. She grabs Lori, give everyone directions to the farm and takes off.

Once Lori shows up and is done lamenting at Carl’s bedside, her and Rick have a heart to heart with the doctor asking for references, checking degrees, and asking where he did his residency. It turns out that deus ex machina was foiled as he went to Moo-town University…because he is a vet. Traditionally you don’t want your bullet riddled son attended to by someone likely to ask if you would also like him spade or neutered but at this point beggars can’t be choosers. It’s decided that Glen and T-Dog will be going to farm for medical attention and to reconnect with the group. The rest of the crew will stay with the RV in case Sophia makes her way back. Rick and Lori have it out since Rick is feeling useless and wants to go after Shane. She has to remind him that his place is there with Carl even though time is running out to perform the surgery. Shane and Otis get to the high school unmolested to find a couple of hundred former students, soldiers, and staff lumbering around in search of their next meal. They devise a plan to distract the zombies and grab the medical supplies then hop back in the truck. Parts one and two of this three part plan go off without a hitch but they get spotted and swarmed before they can get close to their ride. They bolt for the school but around every literal corner is another batch of hungry zombies. They barricade themselves behind the front doors of the school with only a sliding metal gate between them and certain death.

Even though its only touched on in this episode, you get more insight into who Darryl is beneath the surface. He has proven himself to be more than just a dumb redneck. He is actually insightful, a capable hunter and tracker, and the only one who has displayed real optimism that Sophia will be found unharmed. Honestly, this episode has moved faster than a jack rabbit hopped up on coke and ecstasy and yet even at the speed at the speed the episode was going, the pacing just felt right. It didn’t lose any poignancy or meaning during the dialogue and truly had me captivated from beginning to end. Fans of the graphic novel will note that a few things either have happened very quickly and out of sequence while others haven’t happened at all. I’m glad to see Hershel, disappointed Shane isn’t already dead, and still confused about why Sophia is missing as well as what the hell T-Dog is doing there. Those have been more curiosities than distractions. Barring the sequence of events and additional characters, the essence of the show seems to have superbly captured the spirit of the comics. Other than episode one of season one, I would have to say this is the best episode so far.

I’ll be bringing a kid into the world shortly so the next review may have to wait a week or so more than usual. However when I see you again it’ll be for season two episode three: Save the last one. Until then may all your films bring fright.

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About Blick Tolkien

About Blick Tolkien: The bastard half brother of Zeb Carter, he grew up in Chicago's urban jungle, forced to be the victim of racial injustice and daily bullying until the day he saw Night of the Living Dead. the immersion into violence on film gave him the tools to externalize his hate and make the world a horror show for all his enemies. A card carrying member of the Black Panther party, he hates whitey and all forms of coonery including any and all Tyler Perry films. You have been warned. About Zeb Carter: The younger brother of Blick Tolkien, he used horror films as a way to open him self up to the social and story telling aspects of cinematic fear as well as his love of the silver screen. After seeing Gremlins at the drive in he was hooked. He also writes short fiction, has 2 daughters and a pack of animals that he is currently serves as the alpha male over. You can read his fiction at forums.drabblecast.org.
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