Saturday, July 23, 2011

Summer DVR Dump: The Walking Dead 1.05: "Wildfire"

“Do not enter the city.  It belongs to the dead now.”

I know it’s kind of superficial, but I really like the title of this episode of “The Walking Dead.”  It reminds me of “The Andromeda Strain,” which is a really good (albeit also really creepy) book and movie.  When I say the movie was good, I’m referring to the original, by the way, not the TV movie remake from a few years ago.  In that story, “Wildfire” is the name of a secret base that was developed to study the most dangerous diseases and possibly weaponize them.  In “The Walking Dead,” it appears that the term is used to mean some apocalyptic disease pandemic.  Could it also mean a pandemic that was man-made?  I guess we’ll find out eventually.  While the beginning of the episode was a bit tedious because the characters were sort of marking time and arguing in circles about what to do next following the big zombie attack, I think it picked up once the decision was made to go to the CDC.  A highlight of the episode to me was a great performance by Noah Emmerich (aka evil FBI agent Fowler from “White Collar”) as Dr. Edwin Jenner, who appears to be the last researcher left at the CDC.

The episode opens on a pretty impressive visual.  Rick is sitting at the edge of the survivors’ camp, talking on the CB radio.  He’s talking to Morgan (the man who rescued him back in the first episode), but there’s no indication that Morgan is listening.  Rick is, understandably, trying to warn Morgan away from Atlanta.  Meanwhile, at the camp, Andrea refuses to leave Amy’s body.  This is upsetting the rest of the group because Amy needs to be de-zombified (by decapitation, I guess) and buried like the rest of the victims to avoid her becoming a zombie and attacking people.  Rick offers to “tell her how it’s going to be,” but Andrea doesn’t want to hear it and pulls a gun on Rick.

The rest of the survivors not dealing with the Andrea situation are cleaning up the dead.  People who lived at the camp are buried and people who were zombies are burned.  While working, Jaqui notices fresh blood on Jim.  Jim tries to deny he’s been hurt- he says it’s just blood from someone he was trying to help, but Jaqui knows that’s not true.  Pretty quickly, she gets Jim to admit that he’s been bitten.  This causes a bit of an uproar, and there’s a lot of disagreement among the survivors about what to do with Jim and what to do next in general, since the camp doesn’t seem safe anymore  Daryl, naturally, thinks they should kill Jim before he has the chance to become a zombie.  Rick thinks they should all take Jim to the CDC, because that’s probably his best hope for a cure.  Shane thinks everyone should go to an Army base 100 miles in the opposite direction from the CDC.

Besides the alpha-males all arguing, there are actually some emotional character moment in this part of the episode as well.  Dale and Amanda have a nice chat about how it is Amy’s birthday
Dale and Amanda chat- Amy’s birthday, and Carol takes a pickaxe to the corpse of Ed, her late, abusive husband.  After Dale leaves, Andrea starts saying goodbye to Amy, and as she’s doing so, Amy’s eyes open.  They’re clouded over, and it’s obvious that she’s now a zombie.  Andrea keeps saying what she needs to say as long as Amy is still pretty docile, but once Amy is fully with it and looks like she’s going to try to bite Andrea, Andrea pulls out her gun and blows Amy’s brains out.  So it wasn’t that she didn’t want Amy to be taken care of like the rest of the dead, it was that she needed to say goodbye, and after saying goodbye, she wanted to do the job herself.

On the outskirts of camp, there’s a big argument between Daryl, Rick, and Lori about whether any of the dead should be buried or if they all should be burned, former camp member or not.  I’ll let you guess which side of the argument all those characters were on- it’s pretty obvious.  On the way back to camp, Lori and Rick have a discussion about getting on the same page.  Lori doesn’t love Rick’s idea of going to the CDC.  It seems like she prefers Shane’s idea of going to the Army base.  There is one thing Lori and Rick claim to agree upon, though, and that is that they love each other.  So they say.  Lori does seem to back up her words later, though, even if it is just out of guilt.  Shane tries to convince Lori to tell Rick to abandon the CDC plan, but Lori actually backs Rick despite her misgivings.

Rick spends some time sitting by Jim’s sick bed inside Dale’s RV, and it’s really just awful.  Jim is burning up from the fever, and he’s hallucinating and is just generally in bad shape.  Later, Shane and Rick go out hunting or patrolling, and they resume their argument about where the group should go next.  They really get into it, and when Rick makes a comment about how if Shane had family there, he might think differently, it’s the final straw for Shane (I guess because he had been considering Lori and Carl his family before Rick so inconveniently returned).  There’s a noise in the woods, and Rick starts to walk towards it.  As Rick is looking for the source of the noise, Shane trains his shot gun on him.  Then he takes a breath and thinks better of shooting his friend.  Dale arrives on the scene and realizes that something really bad almost went down.  I guess because he’s feeling guilty (sensing a theme here?), Shane finally backs Rick’s CDC plan to the rest of the group.

Next day, the survivors are all getting ready to leave in a big caravan to the CDC.  Morales and his family are the only survivors who won’t be joining them.  They’ve deciding to go to Birmingham to try and find their family instead.  The caravan finally gets going, it sort of has the feel of the big scene in “Exodus,” the first season finale of “Lost,” where some of the Losties leave the Island on the raft.  It’s got the big, sweeping music and all that, although there was no boy being separated from his dog.  They totally should have given Carl a dog.  The caravan doesn’t get very far before a hose on Dale’s Winnebago blows and brings the whole thing to a halt.  Jim can’t take the travel anymore, and he asks to be left by the side of the road when the caravan moves on.  There’s a bit of a debate over whether the group should honor Jim’s wishes, given the consequences, but they do eventually agree and set him up in the shade of a tree.

There’s then a bit of an abrupt cut to a sort of video diary by CDC researcher Dr. Edwin Jenner.  I was quite proud of myself for recognizing him from “White Collar.”  Anyway, Jenner says it’s been a month since “Wildfire,” but there is no cure.  We see him try to do an experiment with what is presumably some zombie flesh, but he’s exhausted and he spills a chemical.  The chemical is corrosive, and it triggers a rather extreme decontamination experience.  A big explosion happens inside the lab, basically.  The consequence of the spill is that the best samples he had to work with for his research have now all been destroyed.  He tells the video diary that he thinks he’s going to blow his brains out before the day ends.

The survivors finally arrive at the CDC, and the grounds surrounding the building are just littered with bodies.  The group approaches the building and Rick bangs on the door, but there is no answer.  Everyone wants to leave ASAP, but Rick is being stubborn.  As he finally turns to leave, he notices a surveillance camera moving.  This gives Rick hope, and he starts screaming at the camera, demanding that whoever is watching open the door.  Jenner has been watching this whole scene from his control-area inside the building, begging the survivors to just leave already.  Rick’s pleading eventually changes his mind, though, and reluctantly, he finally opens the door to the survivors’ shock.  Here’s hoping that the upcoming CDC visit will provide some answers about what has been going on.

No comments:

Post a Comment