"What Lies Ahead" Review
“What Lies Ahead” starts with a tease. Rick nearly recants what Jenner said to him in “TS-19” but dismisses it, explaining that Jenner’s statement no longer matters. Then Rick and the gang leave Atlanta behind… only to break down on a highway with a massive zombie hoard approaching. The worst is always bound to happen, isn’t it?
This is an episode that largely tries to establish itself… in a way, it succeeds, as we learn the main themes of The Walking Dead. It pretty much boils down to gore and human relationships. In terms of violence, “What Lies Ahead” goes above and beyond. Cutting open that one zombie’s stomach to find traces of Sophie was so nasty… but well done in retrospect. Likewise, the zombie hoard reminds us of the threat and rules in this post-apocalyptic world. (Always cover yourself with the scent of death!)
The relationships between characters is the other integral part of The Walking Dead. The characters here are vast and diverse, and they continue to deal with the ramifications from last season’s finale. The love triangle between Shane, Lori, and Rick continues to heighten (and Shane’s near-rape of Lori in “TS-19” certainly didn’t help), while Andrea comes to grips with her near suicide in last year’s finale.
The Walking Dead reminds me of Lost in a way. The character dynamics are always shifting, and there’s a constant threat of division amongst the survivors. While there’s certainly tension throughout the large cast of characters, the church has a nice way of unifying the group.
On that note, the religious symbolism was a bit over-the-top, but I liked it and thought the church sequences ultimately worked. There were some poignant moments inside that church, and Rick’s plea for a sign will likely play out through the rest of the season.
I admire “What Lies Ahead” for leaving things so open-ended. Sophie’s still missing, the group is disjointed, and out of nowhere, Carl gets shot (through a buck, no less). It’s a “never saw that coming” ending that doesn’t do much to tie up any of the threads weaved into “What Lies Ahead.” I guess that’s another reason this show reminds me of Lost. The consolation here, of course, is that next week’s episode will pick up right where this one ends… something Lost had trouble with.
In the end, this is an appropriately-titled episode about what lies ahead… I’m excited to find out and hope this season establishes The Walking Dead as another fine AMC drama.