Monday, November 1, 2010

Walking Dead Episode #1 recap

The Walking Dead, AMC's new original show kicked off last night on Halloween. What better way for the channel to venture forth into the world of survival horror than on the sppokiest day of the year.

We start of the show with our hero Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) looking for gas at a gas station. We get the sense that something's not right from the abandoned cars and the decaying corpses in said cars. But suddenly he hears a shuffling footstep and sees bunny slippers and a teddy bear.

Too bad this little girl he tries to save is a full fledged brain snacking zombie which he promptly puts down with a bullet. Thus, our scene is set. Cut to the intro of spooky photo montages of empty lots and scenes. 

After that we shoot back a bit and see Rick, a Sheriff and his partner Shane, kicking back in their patrol car talking about the differences between men and women, perhaps the great dividing line in humanity (before the living and the dead). We also get a hint of Rick's marriage problems, including opening up to his wife, and his inability to understand his woman.

Suddenly, they need to intercept a runaway criminal in a hot rod, and so, set up a speed trap. As the car crashes and flips excessively into the field, leading towards a shootout, and although our hero Rick gets hit in the vest with a round, it's only after his partner makes sure he's okay, that another of the criminals tags Rick from behind.

A trippy scene of his partner talking to him at his hospital bed leads right into Rick, still wounded in his bed and everything is dead. The flowers on his nightstand, the clock on his wall, the medical equipment he's hooked up to. Stumbling through the hospital he realizes that the entire hospital is dead.

Literally. There's a door he comes upon stating 'DEAD INSIDE, DON'T OPEN', which dead fingers attempt to pry their way out of. There's corpses littering the parking lot, discarded military vehicles everywhere, and not a living soul in sight. And so, he wanders off towards home. Before he can get a good distance he come across his first zombie, a half a corpse that crawls across the grass.

When he gets home, he finds it empty, his wife, Lori, and child, Carl, missing, and kudos to Lincoln on his performance here of a man trying to come to terms with this new nightmare his life has become. He does a great job a playing a man fully in shock. And so in shock is he that he doesn't realize the man shuffling down the street is a zombie, or that the kid coming up behind him is going to smash him in the face with a shovel.

And so, Rick meets his first survivors. Lam and his son, Dwayne, who take him in and tell him the basics of zombie survival. The dead walk, they're drawn to noise, and above all, don't get bitten. They're held up in a neighbor's house, seeking refuge from the shambling zombies that set off car alarms in the street.

When spying on the dead, we get a hint at the backstory of Lam and his son, who's wife/mother is now among the brainsucking dead. The next morning the living make a quick trip out to the front yard to kill a zombie, a brutal baseball bat to the head that leaves Rick a bit sick. Once inside his own home again we get exposition that proves that his wife and child left their home as living beings.

So off to the Sheriff's office, for a quick hot shower (oh how the little things mean so much), to stock up on guns and ammo, and set off in search of Rick's family, who may be in Atlanta, where refugees were all heading before things got really bad.

Lam and Dwayne head off back to the home they were holed up in, Lam trying to finally put his zombified wife out of her misery, yet finding he can't. Rick, meanwhile, heads back to the park to find the half a corpse he first ran into, in order to end its suffering. Each zombie death really resonates in this episode, and none more so than this. Rick weeps as he destroys this creature that was once human.

Once back on his own, Rick drives out to Atlanta, and we get a glimpse of a camp outside the city where survivors are, including his partner Shane and Rick's wife and kid, who we find out are together on the sly. It's about as cringe worthy as any death scene, even if we haven't seen Rick and her together yet.

Rick trades his patrol car for a horse (presumably after he can't find gas in the intro), and heads into the city where he stumbles upon a dead end (aka a city block chock full of the walking dead), and takes refuge in an empty tank while the dead feast on the poor horse.

After taking out an undead soldier inside, and shell-shocking himself with the noise of a point blank gunshot inside a tank, Rick eventually hears a voice over the radio which taunts him, mocking him for so carelessly wandering into the city.

Who is this survivor, how does he know what's going on, and does he know about Rick's wife and kid? If Rick keeps his wits about him (and his brains intact) perhaps he'll find out.

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