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November 23, 2014

'The Walking Dead' Season 1, Episode 5 Recap

by Jason Hughes, posted Nov 29th 2010 7:30AM
'The Walking Dead' - 'Wildfire'['The Walking Dead' - 'Wildfire']

"Tell me something with certainty."--Lori
"I love you ... That's all I got."--Rick

We've seen a lot of different directions this show intends to go, and this week we got to see its heart on full display. It's an odd thing to say about a show featuring the undead walking the earth and people swinging pick-axes at dead bodies, but the word that first sprang to mind by the light at the end of this episode was "beautiful."

Now, more than in any episode prior, I can definitively say 'The Walking Dead' is just as cinematically flawless and powerfully acted as 'Mad Men' and 'Breaking Bad.'


The AMC stamp in the bottom corner of a television series has really come to mean something, and it's bizarrely perfect that a show about a zombie apocalypse can stand alongside Emmy darlings like the aforementioned. I don't know if Emmy voters would have it in them to give any nods to the show for acting or anything else, but I could definitely see a writing or directing nomination for an episode so tightly and beautifully framed as this one. From beginning to end, every beat of the episode was beautiful (there's that word again).

There was the beautiful and inevitable tragedy of Andrea and Amy. In a testament to her strength and compassion, Andrea stayed by her sister's side literally from the moment of her death until the moment of her turning. And why? Not because she was grief-stricken, though she was, nor because she had lost her senses, but because she had unfinished business to attend to with her sister.

An undead Amy isn't quite the same, but it was enough to allow Andrea the closure she needed for her own guilt. "Amy, I'm sorry," she said as Amy's eyes opened and she began to twitch. "I'm sorry for not ever being there. I always thought there'd be more time." By this point, Amy was starting to reach for her. "I'm here now, Amy. I love you." And before Amy could take a bite from her, Andrea calmly blew her brains out. She'd said her peace and had the strength still to kill what was no longer her sister. Again, a beautifully acted, shot, written and presented scene.

We got another tragic moment after Jacqui revealed that Jim had been bitten in the previous night's fracas. This time, though, he wasn't dead, and nobody shot him. Instead, he was left in peace by the side of the road. Surely, in time, he will be wandering the countryside. Would it have been more humane to shoot him? Perhaps, but the lesson learned here, and that Lori emphasized earlier when they were burying their dead, was that despite the world going to hell around them, they need to hang onto what humanity they have left.

The gang bid farewell to Morales, which was another important scene. It made it that much more significant that everyone else who chose to stay with the group did so. They faced the dangers of going back into Atlanta, or at least to the CDC. It may have been from fear that they didn't want to go it alone, but that moment tightened the bond between this group of survivors, growing smaller by the episode. As Lori said, smaller numbers makes them weaker.

It was a bit of a jarring transition, when we came back from commercial to a computer screen, and ultimately a transmission from Jenner, a man living still at the CDC, and admirably still working toward a cure. Admirable because it appeared that he was there alone. I could help but be reminded of Desmond in 'Lost,' locked down in the Hatch all that time. There was even a parallel by having the episode end with a flash of light coming out toward the survivors. The brightness of that light shining over a still shot of the cast created a powerful image of hope after such a bleak and seemingly hopeless episode.

The fracture between Rick and Shane started to show, and it's nice to see that things aren't always black and white. Shane thinks that had Rick and his gun-running crew been there when the zombie attack went down, more lives could have been saved. Rick thinks had they not had those guns, more lives might have been lost. Who can say who is right and who is wrong in that instance, which is an important lack of distinction. It would be easy to try to paint one or the other as clearly wrong-headed, as then we'd know who to root for.

Ultimately, it's nearly a stroke of luck that one man was still alive and ultimately -- despite his best efforts -- had enough of his own humanity left to open that door for them at the CDC. Otherwise, Rick's plan to head there would have surely spelled their deaths, as he was telling Jenner over the camera interface. Knowing how reckless and impulsive, if good-intentioned, Rick can be, and how persuasive, you can even almost understand that chilling moment in the woods when Shane had Rick in his sights.

The significant moment there came when Shane didn't take the shot, even before realizing that Dale had just seen what was going down. After what Shane did to Ed, he's showing himself capable of quite a lot to be nervous about. Very few would fault him the reasons for what he did to Ed, but the excessive violence of it spoke more to Shane's own demons. He's dealing with his feelings for Lori and his frustrations in how he sees Rick treating this woman he's so fond of; something that was happening even before the world ended.

I was sold on this series even before it began because of the source material, but now I am absolutely mesmerized by it. 'The Walking Dead' is the best show on television. From the writing, directing and the acting; even the special effects are horrifically beautiful. AMC is creating one of the most intense, emotional, powerful, cinematic and wonderful pieces of television. I can't believe, though, that it's almost over (for now). Just one more episode left and we have to wait until [*gasp*] next Halloween for Season Two.

'The Walking Dead' airs Sundays, 10PM ET on AMC.

[Follow Jason @ultraversion21 on Twitter.]

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Nick

I said outloud during the cdc guys scene that the entire thing reminded me of desmond in Lost.

To comment #2 about raiding a dicks...It's the end of the world. Don't you think all the dick's have been raided by now. Clearly that would be most people's first idea.

Also, stealing new cars is almost impossible for a typical person. Between transponder chipped keys and vats or passlock systems, any car newer than 2000 is very hard to steal. You can't just insert a screw driver into the ignition and start a car. Even on older cars you still have to break the steering wheel lock.

...So it's a tv show...these details don't matter.

December 01 2010 at 4:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Picviewer

I'm sorry but AMC must use the same reality distortion field Apple uses for their products. Beautiful? nah, semi-decent sure. Why yes your sister just became zombified so blow her brains out to splatter infected blood on you. Hilljack, sorry don't remember his name, has a crossbow he's probably lend you to wait but go on use a gun at pointblank range. Why look CDC containment protocols burned a batch of test tissues up. Why look live people beating on my doors so I'll let them in, wait what's that you say you were sprayed with zombified host blood? groan.... Didn't even need to wait to see the promo for next week to see Andrea deconing herself to see that coming a mile away.

Really this is well written TV? It's funny but whenever anything comes over from comic book form and it's good it'll be labeled from a graphic novel. Because something decent just can't come from a comic by god in the minds of the reviewers. But when it's bad it's just called a poorly translated comic adaption. Hell this show has pulled the cardinal sin for a Emmy, it pulls ratings so that'll disqualify it anyways in voters/reviewers minds. Gotta dig up a show that only pulls 1.5-2m a week for it to be a winner. See Mad Men for those who want to live in the 60's still.

November 30 2010 at 2:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Picviewer's comment
Piecar

I agree with you about the comics thing. It's clearly a comic, yet the big fancy Darabont has to call it a graphic novel to make himself feel artsy. I would think Kirkman would have snickered at that. Wait until they try to INVINCIBLE as a "graphic novel"

As for the CDC guy...he was about to eat his gun, and he's got nothing left to test, and they were about to die....I could see where he'd open the door...But not turn on the million watt porch light...What the hell was that?

November 30 2010 at 8:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
MosquitoControl

Funny, I thought Andrea watching over Amy as she came to life was awful and horribly acted.

Go figure.

November 30 2010 at 12:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to MosquitoControl's comment
Piecar

MC, that IS surprising. I, too, thought it was a great bit of acting. It's a retarded move to cuddle your zombified sister, with her mouth mere inches away from your neck and face, but I thought Laurie Holden sold it.

November 30 2010 at 8:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lynne

Did anyone else catch the fact that Jenner was distressed that he lost all of his "fresher" zombie samples when the lab was sterilized? Clearly, the group will have to go back and find Jim before he completely turns so that they can take a sample of him and continue working on a cure.

That seems to explain the egregious notion of leaving behind an infected colleague instead of doing the right thing and putting him out of his misery before he goes completely zombie.

November 29 2010 at 8:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Michael

The scene with Andrea standing watch over Amy was incredibly powerful,sad,& filled with tension as we awaited Amy's "return."I'm thinking that Jenner at the CDC will be desperate to have the survivors go right back out to locate Jim & return him to the CDC.Jim's tissue samples would be invaluable for Jenner's research & quest for a cure.AMC can't make us wait until next October for brand new episodes,can they? How about shooting episodes over the winter/spring & airing some of them during the summer & the rest in the fall?

November 29 2010 at 7:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mdisloki

Great job! I think 'Beautiful' is a perfect description of this episode.

I can't believe we are going to have to wait 11 months for this epic tale to continue :(

November 29 2010 at 1:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike

Here's a brief primer on the zombie apocalypse from me:

First, any person trying to prevent the destruction of an impending zombie is as bad as a zombie if you ask me. When the chick pulled the gun, as soon as her attention went back to the zombie in waiting, she'd have had a blast to the back of her own head. Unstable kooky bitches that want to talk to their newly zombified kin need not apply.

Second, on that same note, if I die by being bitten by a zombie, just because you have something to tell me, don't let me become one of the undead so you can get something off your chest. I will bite you if I can, not because I'm a zombie, but because you let me become a zombie. How selfish.

Thirdly, if anyone hides they've been bitten by a zombie, rest assured, I'm going to kill you... but if you've hidden it, not only am I going to kill you, but I'm going to hurt you... and I'm going to go on hurting you until you do become that zombie (the only exception to point 2), and then I'll kill you. Hiding a bite is just an attempt to take everyone else with you.

Fourth, anyone who thinks I've lost my humanity for thinking someone who has been bitten is already not human can screw right off... There wouldn't have been a debate, he'd have been put down. They said he wasn't like a rabid dog... really? Seems to me he was...

And lastly, if you've been bitten, just accept it. Don't try to hide it or weasel your way out of it. Also, don't ask me to leave you behind. I want all the zombies dead, I'm not giving them another one. Period. Nor would I understand wanting to be a zombie, which is why it'd piss me off to become one so my sister could say she's sorry... when's she gonna say she's sorry for letting me become a member of the soulless undead? Stupid.

It's amazing these folks survived as long as they have with all this stupidity and sentimentality.

November 29 2010 at 1:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
8 replies to Mike's comment

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