The Walking Dead S2E2: Bloodletting’s Soap Opera Elements

Rick Grimes carries his son Carl, followed by Shane and Otis.(AMC's The Walking Dead
Rick Grimes carries his son Carl, followed by Shane and Otis.(AMC's The Walking Dead /

AMC’s The Walking Dead brought a major soap opera/medical drama feel to episode 202 of the zombie survival drama, making “Bloodletting” an emotional ride.

Soap opera/medical drama elements hadn’t really been explored much in The Walking Dead before episode 202. These may have existed a little bit in season one, but in the episode “Bloodletting” we’re immediately led deeper into a more soap opera-like zombie world.  Consider how the episode opens with Lori Grimes.  She stood outside of her son’s school, discussing with other women how she may no longer love her husband Rick.

She was not very specific about what the problem was, but suggested he had grown weak because, during arguments, he no longer put up much of a fight. Previously, Rick and Shane Walsh discussed similar problems, emphasizing Lori’s cold nature.  To many, Lori came off looking negative in the flashback, even as Shane arrived to tell her and Carl Grimes about Rick being hospitalized during a shootout.

As if to gunk things up more, we previously learned that, while Rick was in the hospital and presumed dead, Shane and Lori occasionally got it on like jungle cats.  Since Rick came back, plenty of other non-soap opera things happened, too: A bunch of the group were eaten alive by zombies, Dr. Edwin Jenner and a few others “opted out” at the CDC, the gang met a herd of walkers, and we even saw Rick and Glenn walk around draped in zombie guts.  I’m not aware of any soap opera where that happened before. Or how about the zombie autopsy?

Nevertheless, there were plenty of moments that could be on any soap, such as when old man Dale Horvath saw Shane point his gun at Rick. Or how about the previous episode where T-Dog accidentally cut himself on a broken down vehicle?  That very much reminds me of something from a soap.  Most recently in the season, Carol Peletier’s daughter Sophia went missing, Rick tried unsuccessfully to talk to God in an abandoned church, and Rick’s son was mistaken for a deer and shot (so I’m assuming the NRA loves this show).

Not far into the episode, we met the would-be Elmer Fudd who shot Carl — whose blessed name is Otis — as he led Shane and Rick (with Carl in his arms) to the farm of Hershel Greene.  It turns out that Hershel is a veterinarian rather than a doctor of humans, but he nevertheless demonstrated value in taking care of Carl.

Hershel Greene and family. (AMC's The Walking Dead)
Hershel Greene and family.(AMC’s The Walking Dead) /

In Hershel’s home we also meet Maggie, Beth, Beth’s love interest Jimmy, and Otis’ wife Patricia. These characters barely said or did anything, aside from Maggie, who located Lori and took her to the farm via horse.

Not long after she arrived, Lori belittled Hershel for his lack of experience, not stopping to think, “Hey, what if we didn’t have anyone with any sort of medical experience? Gee, maybe I should calm down, let this lowly veterinarian at least try to help my son, and not put extra stress on him as he operates this delicate procedure of removing bullet fragments from my son.” When she noted how he’s in over his head, he answered plainly yet assertively: “Ma’am, aren’t we all?”

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A race divide subplot between T-Dog and the group was also highlighted in the episode, as T-Dog told Dale he felt he didn’t fit in, and that the group views both Dale and himself as weak.  T-Dog even suggested they get into the RV and head off.  Where?  No one knows.  Dale attributed this attitude to a fever related to a blood infection.  Eventually, Daryl Dixon arrived and gave T-Dog some painkillers that were in his brother Merle’s stash, with the obvious irony being how Merle previously expressed racial hatred toward T-Dog, both in words and in actual physical violence.  The plot thickens everywhere, with about as many twists and turns as Young & The Restless.

Next: Episode 3: Save the last one

The story’s irony is heightened even more when, back at the farm, Otis volunteered to help Shane get a respirator for Carl’s survival.  This was after Shane told Rick he would not let Mr. Grimes leave his son’s side, due both to honor and Rick’s weakened condition from blood loss (Rick donated blood to Carl). When Otis and Shane got to the medical supplies at the zombie overrun school, the two had to eventually barricade themselves into the school building.  I can just imagine Lori standing above them somehow, arms folded and a  stern look on her face, ready to express her outrage over the unfolded drama.  Either way, America was ready to tune in next time for their stories.