Tales of the Walking Dead Episode 2 was unexpected, fun, and maybe a bit too campy for The Walking Dead universe. It felt more like something I would see on Z Nation or in a Netflix made-for-TV zombie movie. While I enjoyed the episode and was certainly never bored, I think I would have liked it better outside of TWD universe. But Parker Posey and Jillian Bell certainly nailed their roles, and were thoroughly entertaining from start to finish.
This is a Tales of the Walking Dead Episode 2 review, so there will be major spoilers below.
Fans Are Split on Episode 1 vs Episode 2
While I personally liked Episode 1 better than Episode 2, The Walking Dead fandom seems split on the question. Many viewers think Episode 2 of Tales is better because of its creativity, writing, and pacing.
Others, like myself, prefer Episode 1 because it felt more authentic and fit better with The Walking Dead universe overall.
Episode 2 certainly put its setting firmly within TWD Universe. Blair and Gina are surviving the outbreak in Atlanta, while Rick is simultaneously asleep in his coma somewhere nearby. But even with that, Episode 1 still felt like it fit a little better with the rest of TWD genre.
This Was Basically ‘Groundhog Day’ Meets Zombies & ‘The Office’
This new episode was basically “Groundhog Day” meets zombies. While the idea of repeating a day over and over is pretty overdone in scifi tropes, it was certainly a fresh take on The Walking Dead universe.
I love scifi, sometimes even more than apocalyptic stories. So it kind of surprises me that I didn’t love this episode more than I did. I think I just couldn’t get over how out of place it felt within the universe as a whole. And although Posey never ceased to be entertaining, there was also never a moment when I was truly on the edge of my seat, wondering and hoping the characters would survive.
Posey played your quintessential horrid boss who doesn’t care about her employees at all. Her character did experience some growth during the episode, but mostly just because she was completely worn down and had to grow in order to escape the fatalistic purgatory that she found herself stuck in.
Meanwhile, Jillian Bell as Gina was a great foil to Blair. The two characters never liked each other, and Gina started out as more of your mild-mannered everyday gal trying just to make it through a soul-crushing workday. So seeing her turn from mild-mannered into a gas truck heist leader was quite the twist. It was never exactly believable, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t fun.
After awhile, I did get a little bored with the days repeating themselves, but thankfully the show simultaneously stopped spending a lot of time repeating scenes we had already watched. But as with many stories like this, I couldn’t help but wonder why the characters didn’t veer even further from the storylines they were stuck in.
Why didn’t Blair take a completely different road or urge her husband to get gas before he picked her up?
Why didn’t Gina try a different gas station or just leave work really early, without Blair’s permission? (There was a brief throwaway comment about a tire blowout, leading us to believe that no matter what she did, Gina would end up right back at that gas station.)
The Ending Was Left Ambiguous
Groundhog day stories typically work best when it really feels like the universe is pushing the characters to learn a very important lesson before their days can continue. But there was no overarching morality play here, which may have been part of the reason why the episode felt a bit uneven.
Because TWD universe has never been full-on supernatural, this episode couldn’t present itself as canon and dive too deeply into a supernatural force guiding Blair and Gina’s journey. It could subtly hint at it (maybe they needed to become friends or learn to be less selfish.)
However, to remain canon, the episode also had to leave us with a more mundane possibility: that the two characters had both simply lost their minds. It dangled the possibility of a delusional virus spreading on top of the zombie virus (which the show has given us no other evidence for.) It dangled the possibility that all of this is just occurring in the characters’ heads.
But the episode never lands on a solid explanation, instead leaving the viewer to decide what genre they want the episode to fall into.
Personally, I think the episode might have been better served if it followed through on a theory fans are throwing around: the idea that Gina and Blair are experiencing their brains’ psychosis as they are taken over by the zombie virus. But if the episode had firmly taken us down that route, it would have lost the lighthearted feel that drove the narrative.
In a way, this was an attempt at “Z-Nationing” a Walking Dead episode. And like I said earlier, it was a lot of fun to watch. But it also felt a bit jarring. I could never fully engross myself in the story because my mind kept coming back to how this is The Walking Dead universe, and that just didn’t make a lot of sense.