Friday, December 17, 2010

Review: The Walking Dead "Wildfire"

Non Spoiler Review:
The fallout from the survival camp attack provides many sombre moments, especially for Jim. The survivors begin to feel the strain of their situation and must make some serious decisions about the future. 

Coming off last week's action, this was a more introspective episode dealing with the daily realities of the post-apocalyptic life—namely smashing in the skulls of the recently deceased, disposing of bodies, and deciding who is in charge. There is a lot of set up for future conflict here—especially if one has read the graphic novels it's even more rewarding seeing the pieces put into place. At the same time, this episode diverges completely from book continuity, so it's equally compelling to see what may happen. This could be both good and bad depending on how this storyline resolves itself, so the jury is out on until we see what happens in the finale. 

Spoilers Now!
Rick seeks solace from the massacre by trying to reach Morgan on the walkie talkie, telling him what's transpired and not to go into Atlanta. Andrea remains at her sister's side, despite the others waiting to dispose of her body before she turns. Daryl and Jim and the others separate out the bodies, burning the walkers and—at Glen's emotional insistence—their camp members to be buried. Apparently the walkers killed all the extras on the show. Carol takes the opportunity to bash in Ed's brains herself, and Daryl watches as she does so. Several times.

Jacqui notices Jim bleeding, and it quickly turns into a witch hunt, forcing him to reveal that he has a nasty bite on his stomach. Daryl wants to kill him immediately, but Rick's calmer head prevails and they promise to keep him safe in the RV.

The group debates on what to do next—Rick wants to go back into Atlanta to the CDC, which he believes must be the last, best hope for some solution (and possibly a cure for Jim). Shane wants to go to an army base about a 100 miles away, which would promise some safety and weapons. They pull Lori into the argument, who takes Rick's side against Shane.

Dale commiserates with Andrea as she waits by Amy's side, telling her about the death of his own wife from cancer, and how the girls were the first people he allowed himself to care about. Andrea slips the necklace around Amy's neck (it's her birthday!), and soon she begins to stir and awaken as the undead. Andrea apologizes for all the times she couldn't be with her sister, and the rest of the camp begins to move in, unsure what to do as Amy reaches for her sister. But Andrea says good-bye and shoots Amy in the head.

At the funeral for their dead, Rick needs Lori's approval for his plan, as well as vindication for leaving the first time, as Shane believes they would have stood a better chance if he'd stayed at camp. She gives them both credit, which is the best she can do right now. 

Shane asks her to talk some sense into Rick, but she turns on Shane. Rick happens to walk in on the end of their conversation, but doesn't overhear anything incriminating. He and Shane and Dale go to walk the perimeter, but when they separate, Shane has Rick in his gun sights, much to Dale's horror who has witnessed the whole thing. Shane brushes off the incident, suggesting they should all wear reflective jackets. 

It's decided they're going to the CDC, but the other surviving family opts to set off on their own. After a tearful goodbye the caravan heads into Atlanta. En route, they stop to get a new hose for the RV. Jim cant' take much more of the trip as his fever has progressed so far he doesn't have much longer before he turns. In a lucid moment, he asks Rick to leave him by the road so he can, perhaps, join with his family.

Rick's inability to let him do what he wants proves torturous for him, but the group decides Jim has a right to end his life in peace, and so say their goodbyes and leave him by a tree. Jim absolves Rick and Shane of any culpability. It's his decision. The caravan leaves.

Next we get a video of a CDC scientist providing updates to whomever might be listening. It's nearly 200 days into the outbreak, and over two months since it went global. He spends his days alone testing samples of the virus, but recklessness forces an emergency decontamination where his valuable samples are destroyed. Having all his work lost, he contemplates suicide, realizing no one is listening anyway.

The survivors reach the CDC, an area littered in dead bodies and obviously the scene of a lot of battle. As the sun begins to set, they realize they can't get in and no one is there. Shane and Lori want to leave immediately as they can't be caught in Atlanta at night. Rick sees the camera on the door and begs to be let in.

Inside, the scientist watches, and then the door opens, bathing the group in light.

What Worked:
All the character moments continue to be the fulcrum around which the series turns. The survivor camp has been weened down to its core characters. Even Daryl has grown on me. I'm curious as to why the one family took off, unless there are plans to bring them back later at some point.

Rick's inner struggle to do the right thing is unfolding very nicely. As we know, one of his crucial character flaws is always trying to do right by his conscience—whether ensuring Morgan is warned away from their camp, or trying to keep Jim alive as long as possible. This makes Rick a bit of a rose-colored glasses guy at times, when more of a decisive Shane attitude is required. Additionally, his (perhaps) one-sided conversation with Morgan on the radio is as much therapy as it is communication (and a nice bit of foreshadowing for events a long ways down the road when he takes to a similar method of communication).

Jim's death was very poignant, and once again the score provides a very sombre mood as the caravan travels towards Atlanta.

Lori is still an abrasive bitch, but she does speak the truths about needing time to mourn for the dead and hold onto some aspects of their old selves. She's obviously conflicted about Shane and Rick and even seems to be using that to punish Shane. Shane's internal struggle could have done with a bit more build up before he starts lining up Rick in his sights but at least we're getting a hint of the power struggle. 

The new characters—Daryl, T-Dog and Jacqui—continue to be interesting enough that I'm hoping they are more than just cannon fodder.

The graphic novel has never given an indication of the scope of the plague beyond the immediate environment of the characters. Here we get exposition filling us in on the global nature of the apocalypse, as well as quite a bit of time in which Wildfire appears to have been spreading.

What Didn't Work:
I was hoping for some explanation why there was no lookout during the attack. One would think Rick might have asked Shane about that when he was being grilled for leaving them to go into Atlanta.

On the issue of diverting from the book continuity—I can see the rationale given there are only six episodes this season to establish the show. But there is a key component of the virus that was revealed in the storyline of the graphic novels that may or may not be affected by this move if they get into a huge explanation next week. What I don't want to see is an infodump about the zombie plague.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...