Guts (The Walking Dead)

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The Walking Dead episode
TWD, Episode 102 Guts.jpg
When rain washes away the camouflage of human blood and guts, Rick dispatches an attacking walker.
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 2
Directed by Michelle MacLaren
Written by Frank Darabont
Featured music "I'm a Man" by Black Strobe
Original air date November 7, 2010 (2010-11-07)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"Guts" is the second episode of the post-apocalyptic horror television series, The Walking Dead. It originally aired on AMC in the United States on November 7, 2010. The episode was written by Frank Darabont, the creator of the series, and directed by Michelle MacLaren. In the episode, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) joins a small group of survivors in an attempt to escape Atlanta.


The episode begins with Sheriff Deputy Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) trapped inside a tank at an abandoned military blockade in Atlanta, surrounded by a swarm of walkers. With the assistance of Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun), Rick is able to escape from the tank and take shelter in a department store where the other members of Glenn's group are holed up. Tensions quickly rise, as Glenn and Rick attracted the attention of the walkers to the previously unnoticed store, risking the lives of everyone inside. On the roof of the building, Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker), a virulent racist, attempts to assert his leadership over the group and beats another group member, a black man named T-Dog (IronE Singleton). Rick subdues Merle and handcuffs him to a pipe, leaving him under the watch of T-Dog while the rest of the group look for a way out. T-Dog is able to make brief radio contact with the larger group of survivors, which includes, among others, Rick's former partner Shane Walsh and wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) (who, it was revealed in the previous episode, have begun a relationship, both thinking Rick was dead) and his son Carl (Chandler Riggs).

They find an exit to the sewer, but it is securely barred and the sewers have walkers in the tunnels. As the walkers try to break through the plate glass doors of the store, Rick decides to try to reach a box truck at a nearby construction site. To reach the truck, he and Glenn cover themselves in the blood and viscera of a dispatched walker, taking care not to get any of the olfactory camouflage on their skin. They are able to successfully pass among the walkers, shambling towards the construction site, until a brief rainstorm washes off enough of the blood scent that they begin to draw attention. They make a break for the construction site, scaling a fence with walkers in pursuit, and Rick is able to reach the box truck. Glenn drives a Dodge Challenger, its alarm blaring, to draw the attention of the walkers away from the store, while Rick drives the box truck to one of the store's cargo doors. In the rush to escape, T-Dog accidentally drops the handcuff key down a drain, leaving Merle stranded on the roof. T-Dog tries to apologize to Merle but Merle insists that T-Dog did it on purpose. T-Dog does, however, in an attempt to keep walkers from killing him, padlock a heavy chain to the roof access door. The entire group (other than Merle) is able to escape the city in the box truck, apart from Glenn, who drives away in the Challenger. The episode ends with Rick and the group in the cube van following Glenn, in the Challenger.


Filming for the episode commenced in several places throughout Atlanta, including the Sam Nunn Federal Building.

"Guts" was written by Frank Darabont and directed by Michelle MacLaren. The episode contains a sequence in which the survivors kill and dissect a walker. Rick Grimes and Glenn agree to find a vehicle to escape from downtown Atlanta and, to avoid attracting the attention of hordes of walkers, wrap entrails around themselves. Filming for the scene commenced at the non-skyscraper part of the Sam Nunn Federal Building, depicted as an abandoned Macy's location.[1] (It is in fact the historic former flagship store of Atlanta-based Rich's, closed by Macy's parent company; the actual downtown Macy's was the Davison's store.) Writer Robert Kirkman felt that it "very much makes sense in the context of the story", and added that the graphic violence had it place within the show.[2] In his interview with Entertainment Weekly, Kirkman explained why the characters covered themselves in the blood and entrails of a walker:

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.[2]

Alongside the main cast, "Guts" features guest appearances from several actors and actresses, including Emma Bell and Michael Rooker. Kirkman stated that he was thrilled upon hearing of the actor's appearance, and added that had known of Rooker in the comedy film Mallrats (1995).[2] He was pleased with Rooker's performance, retorting that it was "'The Michael Rooker Show' for one solid episode."[2]

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.[2]

The sign on the white box truck Rick and Glenn requisition to rescue their supplies from the Atlanta department store reads "Ferenc Builders". Ferenc is the given name of series developer-writer Frank Darabont.[3]


The name of the episode refers to the courageousness of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) after making a run toward Glenn. In response to instructions from the radio broadcaster who is Glenn (Steven Yeun), Rick Grimes left the tank in which he stayed after the zombies (Walkers) besieged him, making a run toward Glenn while zombies attack from every side. Also during the scene where Rick, Glenn, and others chop different parts of a dead walker to spread blood on their clothes and hang entrails on their bodies as camouflage, Rick said that they need more "guts".


Critical response[edit]

Leonard Pierce of The A.V. Club gave it a grade of B- on a F to A scale, commenting it was a step down in quality from the pilot, but said it "had many good qualities" and "the show still looks fantastic, and the choice to use 16mm film pays off time after time, giving everything a stark, bright quality that fits the mood perfectly."[4] Eric Goldman of IGN rated the episode 7 out of 10, and also noted how it was a weaker episode than the pilot. Goldman disliked the introduction of Merle, calling him "ridiculous", but enjoyed the sequence in which Rick and Glenn cover themselves in guts to disguise them from the zombies. He commented, "Overall, this episode had its fun moments, feeling more like an adrenalin-filled straight up horror movie than the more slow-paced pilot. But it also lacked the pilot's emotion and depth."[5]


Upon its initial broadcast on November 7, 2010, "Guts" was watched by 4.7 million viewers, which was slightly down from its pilot episode.[6] It is the lowest rated episode of The Walking Dead to date.


  1. ^ Christenson, Kurt (November 8, 2010). "'Walking Dead' episode 2 recap: No 'Guts,' no glory on AMC's zombie series". New York Daily News. Mortimer Zuckerman. Retrieved January 14, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Collis, Clark (November 8, 2010). "'The Walking Dead': Comic book series creator Robert Kirkman talks about last night's 'Guts'-y episode". Entertainment Weekly. Time, Inc. Retrieved January 14, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Post Mortem with Mick Garris": Episode 1 -- Frank Darabont
  4. ^ Pierce, Leonard (November 7, 2010). "Guts". The A.V. Club. Retrieved February 12, 2013. 
  5. ^ Goldman, Eric (November 7, 2010). "The Walking Dead: "Guts" Review". IGN. Retrieved February 12, 2013. 
  6. ^ Gorman, Bill (November 9, 2010). "Sunday Cable Ratings: The Walking Dead Lives!; Boardwalk Empire Up; + Real Housewives, Hannah Montana, Kendra & Much More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved November 9, 2010. 

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