Last night, AMC broadcast the second episode of The Walking Dead, its adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s still ongoing zombie comic book saga. Would executive producer and show creator Frank Darabont maintain the jaw-dropping level of carnage featured in the pilot, which opened with Andrew Lincoln’s sheriff hero Rick Grimes shooting a cute zombified girl in the head (and which scored record-breaking ratings for AMC)?
The answer was a definite “Yes-and-then-some!” as the appropriately titled Guts found Grimes and his new buddy Glenn (Steven Yeun) attempting to blend in with the undead hordes of Atlanta by covering themselves with blood, viscera, and even a severed foot. (Between this show and the just released 127 Hours, I can only assume it must have been National Detached Extremities Weekend. My, it seems to come earlier every year!) The second episode also introduced a number of characters including the racist Merle Dixon, played by Michael Rooker of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer infamy.
After the jump, Kirkman—who in addition to creating the original comic, is one of the show’s writers and executive producers—ruminates on the episode, talks post-apocalyptic sex, and admits that the severed foot may possibly have been… a step too far! (Warning: The post does contain an image of an extremely gore-covered Grimes.)
Entertainment Weekly: The sequence in which our heroes hacked up a body and then started smearing bloody grue over each other was one of the most grotesque thing I’ve ever seen on a TV show. I imagine there really were a lot of faint-hearted folks who thought about switching over to Brothers & Sisters at that point.
Robert Kirkman: [Laughs] Well, hopefully, not. I hope they… [Laughs] Well, if that’s how they are, then screw ‘em! [Laughs] I think the violence shown in the show always has its place and it very much makes sense in the context of the story. I hope that it never seems gratuitous, because that’s not the intent.
EW: I’m 99.9% with you on the gore not being gratuitous. But what about the severed foot-necklace?
RK: Ha! I wasn’t there that day. I might have advised them against the foot.
EW: I mean, if you look up “gratuitous” in the dictionary, there’s a picture of a severed foot hanging from Andrew Lincoln’s neck.
RK: [Laughs] I would like to buy that dictionary.
EW: The ruse did work in terms of making the zombies believe that the now odorous Rick and Glenn were also undead. So are we supposed to believe that zombies can smell better than before they died?
RK: It’s not that they can smell better, it’s just that they’re used to a general smell of deadness, as they’re moving around in groups. And the only way that they can possibly differentiate between living people and dead people, is kind of an absence of that smell. It’s really just a difference in how they smell, not “Hey, we can seek out living flesh like a bloodhound!” It occurred to me that every now and then there are zombies that don’t really look that much more dead than an alive person. It can’t really be from a visual perspective that they’re attacking human beings. And they don’t attack each other, ever. So there has to be a reason for that. So maybe it’s some kind of a smell thing.
EW: There was something of a sex scene in the episode. Do you think people will be having more or less sex during the inevitable zombie apocalypse?
RK: Probably more sex. Just because there’s very little to do. People don’t have jobs anymore. There’s not a lot of responsibilites. Once you find food, and put a roof over your head, you’re pretty much done for the day. What better way to pass the time, right?
EW: Could you talk a little bit about the greatness of Michael Rooker?
RK: Well, Michael Rooker is great! He really sells that episode. It’s really The Michael Rooker Show for one solid episode. [Laughs] It’s awesome. I was so thrilled that I found out that he was going to be in the show. And the ridiculous thing is that I know him as the bad guy from Mall Rats.
EW: The Stink Palm!
RK: Exactly! I actually got a chance to hang out with him and he’s a totally awesome guy. He always plays bad guys and psychos and it’s weird, because he’s this really boisterous, friendly guy. But yeah, his character is very important to the life of the show. He’s a completely original character that was never in the comic. He’s kind of the first human that they come across where it’s like, “Hey, this guy’s really dangerous.” Also Michael Rooker likes to ad-lib. He got us over our cursing limit a couple of times. I think it was a bit of a pain in the a—for the post production people.
EW: His character’s fate was left uncertain at the end of the episode. I’m not asking you to spoil anything, but you’ve got bring that bad boy back, right?
RK: Oh well, you’ll just have to watch episode three, won’t you?
Did you see Guts? What did you think?
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‘The Walking Dead’: Robert Kirkman talk’s about the shocking pilot
‘The Walking Dead’ recap: Boyz in the Zombiehood
‘The Walking Dead’: Ken Tucker’s review
‘Night of the Living Dead’: How a 42-year-old zombie movie refuses to die