Monday, November 29, 2010

TV REVIEW: The Walking Dead "Wildfire"

     The Walking Dead slows its pace in this week's episode drastically. For good reason, as last week's episode ended with a massacre at the camp in which Amy (Andrea's younger sister) got bit, among others. The episode opens with Rick at dawn, trying to contact Morgan over the walkies, to failed results. I understand the need to help build Rick's character as someone with a high moral code but the scenes just rung false to me. The rest of the folk back at the camp are busy disposing of the zombie bodies (burning them) and the victims of the attack. Glenn has a nice scene where he explains to Daryl that there's a pile for 'Geeks' (zombies) and there's a pile for the one's who lived among them. Obviously, humanity is a big part of any zombie story and it's clear that this episode focused on the theme extensively.
     The death of Amy isn't going too well with Andrea, expectantly.  She's been up all night just kneeling over Amy's body. The others are clearly worried as it's only a matter of time before she comes back as a zombie. But they are respectful and give Andrea her time as she clearly is a capable and sensible woman who knows what needs to be done, when the time comes. Tension during the episode runs high as Rick proposes the idea to go to CDC (Center for Disease Control). Shane doesn't agree with Rick but his option involves them having to travel 100 miles. Shane also expresses to Rick how unwise it was to have left them there and that many of the casualties that were suffered resulted from that decision. They built the tension well as Shane has a rather ugly moment as he contemplates shooting Rick, unknown to Rick but observed by Dale. Rick later confides in his wife Lori, looking for some peace of mind but she doesn't lie to him about how she feels. It helped build Lori's character, who has come off a bit cold, and I found myself starting to get a sense of who she is.
      Dale pays his respect to Amy as he tries to console Andrea. The scene between the two of them started off a bit disingenuous but the scene took its time and grew into something more. Amy's reawakening was absolutely heartbreaking, as you see the sadness and vacancy in her eyes. We also discover Jim's been bit and his eventual death is chronicled throughout the episode. Rick wants to try to get him help, that's why he offers up the whole CDC idea in the first place. Hopeful thinking doesn't go too far, as they eventually leave Jim on the side of the road on there way to CDC, at Jim's request. Another scene that could have been heavy-handed is handled with care as Jim refuses to take a gun (to kill himself) that the group is clearly going to need.

     At this point in the episode, the twist comes in as the viewer is brought into CDC headquarters. As a sole scientist (presumably) is working on a cure, a la "I Am Legend." He's on the brink of giving up as his tests go wrong on him and he considers taking his life. Our survivors eventually make their way to CDC. When they arrive to CDC the entire area is in disarray. Bodies surround the building as they make their way to the front. Most of them quickly decide that no help is to be found here but Rick is adamant that someone is in the building and this is confirmed when Rick notices the camera on the outside of the building move, as the CDC scientist is watching them, hoping they'll go away. But his conscious gets the best of him as he opens the door for them and we are left with another great cliffhanger.
     I was surprised by this departure but I feel like it's a minor thing to help set up the final episode for this season. The slower pace of this episode was bothersome at first, but all the quiet moments were given enough time to blossom into something more. With one episode left, I feel like it was way shorter than it should have been. As much as I've enjoyed the show, up until this point, I don't feel a connection to most of the characters aside from Rick, Shane and Andrea. And I feel this is due to season one's time constraints. It's been a solid season but it needs more characterization. I need and want to care. 

Note: Some reviews have mentioned the fact that Daryl made no mention of his missing brother, Merle, which is clearly a misstep in character continuity. But I don't like Daryl or Merle enough to care.

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