Sunday, 5 December 2010

THE WALKING DEAD episode five

This week saw the penultimate episode of the zombie epic's first season. More after the jump...

And so to the aftermath of the last episode's attack on camp. Andrea is clearly distraught over the death of her sister Amy during the attack, guarding her body and refusing to let her be taken away by the camp's clean-up crew. To ensure none of the corpses come back as zombies, Daryl is keeping himself busy with a pick-axe, hurling it into their skulls to destroy the brain. As is proved a couple of times this episode, death isn't necessarily the end. Carol decides she wants to deal with the remains of her abusive husband Ed personally, swinging the pick-axe partially out of duty, but then maybe out of revenge too. Her grief over his death doesn't seem to run too deep.


This episode gave us a closer look at what the infection can do to those who get bitten. For Amy it may have been over instantaneously, but Jim also sustained a bite during the attack and has to suffer a cruel fever whilst his fate is decided for him. The decision is finally made to abandon the camp and head for the Center for Disease Control (CDC) that Morgan Jones had mentioned to Rick back in the first episode. The aim is to find shelter and hopefully a cure for Jim's bite, but he's too weak to make the journey.


The only thing Jim has left is the opportunity to be master of his own fate. It may appear that decision has been made for him, but he's lucid enough to demand being left at the side of the road. Yes, he's going to turn into a zombie, but he doesn't have to suffer the indignity of letting everyone watch him do it. As is the common theme of this series, it was the most humane thing to do.


This episode offered little in the way of zombies, and except for a smattering of corpses around the CDC building, was pretty much confined to the rebirth of Amy. This is the first time anyone so close to the camp has turned, but it perhaps offered Andrea a short moment to say goodbye to her sister before she put a gun to her head. Remember, no-one is safe in this world.


We didn't see the expected return of Michael Rooker's Merle Dixon, but the fact that he's out there somewhere and angry is just going to build that looming threat. Merle and his brother Daryl might not be original characters from the books, but if they're going to stray away from that plot outline (as is becoming more and more apparent), I wouldn't mind seeing Daryl becoming a regular member of the cast. He's abrasive and bull-headed; a nice counter point to the rational thinking of Dale, Rick and Shane.


Or at least, to how Shane was. As expected, there's some conflict between Rick and Shane over who's to blame for the camp's unreadiness for the attack. There's a butting of heads between the two alpha males that is clearly headed towards a major fallout, only exacerbated by Lori choosing to side with Rick just to spite Shane. Shane's obviously still angry about the loss of his relationship with Lori, and when the situation heats up between him and Rick, can't help but take aim with his rifle and imagine what his life would be like without Rick in it. His conscience may have stopped him this time, but who knows?


I'm slightly apprehensive about the introduction of the CDC. So far the series has placed the characters in lonely, desolate places; alone in the woods against the elements and the unknown. There's something cold and clinical about the grand research facility that's going to be a big change for the season finale. I suppose that although the CDC may look like a fortress, the fact that the population consists of one man (The Truman Show's Noah Emmerich) speaks volumes about the stability and safety of the complex.


I've seen the step towards militarisation in post apocalyptic worlds done before (for example, Day Of The Dead), and it's a tricky scenario to get right. I'd hate to see them shift the focus away from the survivors and onto the search for a cure. The only thing these people should be searching for is hope.


Next week is going to be the last episode of the first season, and as the tension is steadily rising between the survivors to a palpable level, the final shot of this episode offers us one hell of a cliffhanger to take us there.


Verdict

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