TV Talk: THE WALKING DEAD Episode 1.5 – Wildfire (Henri’s Take)

Jim got a hickey on his tummy! The CDC has advanced doors and shower systems, but really, really dated video camera technology! Really, though, Henri thought it was a solid episode of zombie TV.

Yeah, this one worked for me. I liked the pacing, and even though I didn’t understand how long it was going to take Amy to turn, once Andrea shot her in the brain with love I actually understood what she was doing there.

I agree though, Devin - that does beg the question of where everyone else has been and how much they’ve seen and learned in the weeks while Rick was in his coma. Did Andrea know that it was going to take hours and hours? Did she kind of want to learn about it and so was waiting there to be part of that?

I’m not sure, and I doubt the writers know at this point. But I hope it’s the kind of thing that gets revisited next season, and maybe the knowledge that she got through tragedy helps them survive something else.

As for Daryl being the only voice of reason, I’m not 100% with you. Yes, it would have been safer to shoot Amy in the head from a distance. Yeah, they could kill Jim and know that he wouldn’t bite anyone else. But the episode was about having to come to terms with death, and the need to say goodbye and to mourn is just as necessary to the group’s survival as not getting bit by zombies.

And so Andrea had to be the one there with Amy right to the real last minute. And Carol got to be the one to pick ax her husband over and over and over again. And Glenn got to ask everyone to respect the extras and at least bury them. And Jim got to pick his own fate…

Incidentally, there’s a piece of Jim’s death in the comic that I missed in the show (and at this point nothing that’ll be a spoiler to bring up). Instead of being left on the side of the road to just feel the breeze, Jim is dropped off just outside Atlanta, where his walking dead family is presumed to be. And he says something about how we don’t know what it’s actually like to be a zombie, and maybe he’ll get to be reunited with them in his shuffling, flesh-eating after life.

I like that, and I wish the show had been a little more blatant about the fact that Jim wasn’t just deciding to die - he was willfully deciding to become a zombie. So often you see the stereotype of one character saying, “If I turn, you’ll shoot me, right? I don’t want to end up as one of those - one of those… things!” The idea of a character saying, “Don’t you fucking shoot me. It’s not ideal, but those zombies are moving around, so maybe they have some cool thoughts and stuff and they just can’t talk anymore,” is fun. I’d love to see them encounter a zombie Jim later, too… maybe chain him up in the shed and play video games with him, too.

The main point seemed to be that even in a world where the dead are walking around, how you come to terms with death still defines how you live your life. It wasn’t presented in that huge The More You Know manner of some of the previous episodes, either, so it all worked for me.

Until we got to the CDC. Yes, having something so drastically different from what’s happened in the comics is great. It adds an entirely new level of tension and takes away the idea that you know what’s going on. And it does seem really, really clear that they have a completely new arc planned for ol’ Shane and Rick. That much is awesome. The sudden shift of focus to inside the CDC where we find out what it’s like to be John Connor and Claire Danes at the end of Terminator 3? GRRRR.

I won’t go off on Emmerich’s character too much in this post, because they could redeem the ending of this the way they made Merle matter again (btw, what the heck happened to him? is he out of the picture entirely now that they left the camp? did he have anything to do with the attack? weird.). But that intro, and the crummy video blog effect… that bummed me out.

But I agree, it would be nice if our band of survivors had more to do, more of an arc. And the CDC may provide that. Or take it away completely. Because also, what kind of plot can you really have in a Zombie Apocalypse TV show? The only real goal you can give the characters is getting to a certain location, where maybe, just maybe, there’s hope.

I hope they eradicate that with the CDC in the finale, and without a Journey Home, what can they do other than wait for infighting to destroy them all?

Maybe that’s enough drama to sustain a show, though.

At any rate, after next week’s episode and general TV Talk discussion I’d like to propose a follow up round where we go off on all the differences between the comic and the show, because there are some things I’d like to bring up in a forum where any spoilers from that are a-okay. In the meantime, how’d you feel, Meredith? Did you think the inside of the CDC had to look like a recently landed spaceship? Do you understand how Jim only had teeth marks on his stomach but no real bite?

And do you think burning the geeks bodies like that is how this whole infection spread in the first place? That’s how you make acid rain that burns Linnea Quigley’s naked body, after all!