Summary: Flashbacks show Shane attempting to save Rick when the apocalypse happens. Jenner lets in the group and they enjoy some luxuries. Jenner explains that all the other scientists are gone and he's alone. He also explains how the infection works. The CDC then runs out of power and is going to self destruct in 30 minutes. Jenner locks everyone inside to give them merciful deaths but eventually lets them leave. Jacqui stays behind and everyone else leaves as the CDC explodes.
The Good: The opening flashback was fantastic. I would love to get a flashback episode detailing the actual outbreak at some point and I think it would also help get me attached to more characters. I thought it really helped humanize Shane and let us know that he did what at the time was the right thing to do. He actually did seem to think that Rick was dead and with the pressure of walkers and military gunners invading the hospital, Shane really needed to get out. It made him a bit more humanized which was definitely needed.
But Shane also gets deepened even more when he drunkenly almost rapes Lori. He came off extremely creepy in that scene and while I initially sympathized with him since he did his best, I quickly turned against him as he clearly is only out for his own interests now. The apocalypse likely changed him now that there are no rules in the world. I really like that these characters are different from who they used to be ad it adds some realism to a show about zombies which I really like.
Jenner was really good throughout the episode. It was nice to see him behaving slightly awkwardly with others since he's been alone for so long. That was a really good little touch. I like that the arrival of a new group didn't change his suicidal mindset from last episode, as it would have made little sense for them to give him hope, especially with his backstory about his wife and the other scientists. His speech explaining the process of zombification (it's what I'm calling it) was very gripping and it felt really good to get some answers about how the apocalypse happened.
The ending stretch was pretty tense and exciting and served for a fun closing stretch for the season. I was very pleased to see the grenade return and have a role in the plot too. Throughout the entire ending stretch Rick really impressed me. Daryl and Shane were pretty rough and overly aggressive which was pretty annoying, but it was nice to see Rick keep a level head and logical thought process throughout the episode.
It's always nice to see the group enjoying some luxuries and relaxing for once. In a dark show like this, these little moments of levity count for a lot.
The Bad: The characters still remain a weak point in this series. They are all extremely shallow and while Shane got some development in this episode, we still don't know a great deal about him. This weakness really affected the end of the episode when Jacqui died and I literally did not care at all. If you were to ask me who Jacqui was I would not be able to answer you, and that's a problem.
The CGI in the final explosion was a little rough and definitely could have been better.
The Unknown: Are the French still alive? Are there any other places not overrun? It seems unlikely now. Is there any chance of a cure?
What did Jenner whisper to Rick?
Best Moment: The explanation of the infection was interesting and gripping television. Getting some answers feels quite good sometimes.
Character of the Episode: Jenner.
Conclusion: This was a solid and enjoyable finale, despite not being particularly special. The focus on the CDC gave the episode purpose and it leaves us on a good note as we don't know what to expect in season 2, and that's pretty exciting.
The season as a whole was really good. It had great moments and a very fun pace throughout all 6 episodes. There hasn't been a bad episode and the action has been great. The biggest flaw so far has been the weak characterization, but with season 2 being 13 episodes long, it builds some hope that we may get more insight on these characters soon. If The Walking Dead can get its characters together, it could really be a fantastic show. I'm looking forward to seeing more.
Summary: Jim reveals he is bit. Andrea waits for Amy to come back ads a walker and kills her. Rick and Shane argue about what to do next and Shane is almost tempted to kill Rick. Eventually he sides with Rick and they choose to head to the CDC. They drop off Jim on the way so he can die on his own accord. Dr. Jenner is in the CDC working alone but he loses the last test sample. He prepares to kill himself but opens his doors to let in Rick's group.
The Good: The one sequence that didn't really fit in with the rest of the episode was the Jenner sequence, so it naturally felt like a breath of fresh air and was amongst the best parts of the episode. Seeing him struggle in isolation to try to save the world was powerful stuff and it was suitably sad when his test sample was destroyed. Worse yet was seeing him talking to nobody, clearly feeling miserable in his total isolation. And it's because of this that he takes pity on our group of survivors, as he chooses to be a better man and let in the group even though he knows he plans not to stay in the world much longer.
The main group moments were pretty good too. I liked the constant focus on the humanity with many small moments. Andrea staying with Amy and wanting her to at least be sort of living so she can say goodbye is really sad but it feels like the way a real person may handle the situation, even with the risk. Glenn wanting to bury their dead was another nice moment, even though I thought Steven Yeun's acting left a little to be desired when saying that line. I enjoyed Daryl still being upset about Merle and I also loved Rick's argument that they don't kill the living. As another scene with Shane showed, the temptation to kill in this world must be high but there needs to be some sort of morality to keep us engaged with the characters.
I loved Rick and Shane's conflict in this episode. Them arguing about where to go next and what to do with Jim felt real, since it is much more likely that not everyone would agree to do the same thing, and with a lack of actual rules in this world, it's easy to understand how there are a ton of potential decisions to be made. I really loved that Shane felt for just a little bit that maybe Rick has a freak accident and doesn't make it back from the forest. After all in a world with no rules, why not? It was a fascinating little moment which really amps up the tension with Shane since he is clearly a little unstable at the moment. I also liked that Daryl got a little involved too as he entertained the most barbaric possibilities in this world.
Rick calling Morgan was excellent too. I'm glad that the writers haven't forgotten about Morgan since he was the primary reason Rick went to the city anyways. I was glad that Rick left a message for Morgan when he left as well on the off chance that he came to the quarry.
There were a couple other good scenes too. I enjoyed Carol taking out her frustrations on Ed's corpse for the short amount of time it got. I also liked Dale and Andrea's talk, as it gave us more information on both characters. Jim's scared reaction to being bit was great too and his farewell was somewhat touching though we really didn't know him well at all.
The Bad: The characterization on this show still lacks. We are seeing that they are human, but no character feels particularly distinguishable. Everyone has like one significant trait but other than that they have no depth. We need to get more depth next season at least because it's hard to get too emotionally engaged the way things stand right now.
I wish there was more urgency when Amy rose up instead of everyone passively watching. They were all so concerned when Amy was dead but there was a weirdly limited reaction from everyone when she did come back.
How long did it take them to reach the CDC? They left the quarry in the morning and barely made it by nightfall. What took so long? They must have had like 8-10 hours to get there, but they took forever. What were they doing? They clearly weren't scavenging either since they apparently had no food or fuel by convenience.
The Unknown: Is Fort Benning still fortified? Or has it been whittled down like the CDC?
What happened to all the other scientists at the CDC? Did they die? Run away?
Best Moment: While I really enjoyed the Jenner scenes, I thought the moment of Shane momentarily tempted to kill Rick was really well done.
Character of the Episode: Shane.
Conclusion: This was a pretty good episode with some great moments, though the characterization problem prevents this from being truly excellent.
Summary: Rick's group can't find Merle. Glenn is kidnapped by a group of Hispanic people. They want Rick's guns. Rick doesn't want to give the guns and both factions prepare to fight. However both come to an agreement once Rick realizes that they are good people. Jim acts funny at camp and is tied up by Shane. The camp is attacked by walkers and both Amy and Ed are killed. Rick and co. return to the camp in chaos.
The Good: This episode was pretty ordinary, but the ending was fantastic. The attack at the end was completely unexpected and provided a shocking and terrifying conclusion to the episode. The surprise worked tremendously here as the entire episode was quiet and seemed to be focused mostly on Rick's group while also providing a very positive message with both factions coming to a compromise. I had expected some drama from Merle returning, but the idea that a horde of walkers would arrive at camp and kill several important characters wasn't anywhere in my thoughts. The terror struck immediately and made for some visceral, tragic and genuinely tense television. And it also established the important point that nobody is safe in the show since death can come from any second with walkers everywhere and safezones apparently being not-so-safe.
Amy's death in particular was pretty impactful, which was a masterful mixture of sudden shock, Laurie Holden's great acting and a great scene at the beginning of the episode to help us buy a little more into Andrea and Amy's bond. By all means if a character dies after minimal screen time in just 4 episodes, I usually won't feel much (just look at Ed's death), but the execution of Amy's death was a fine example of how to create a ton of emotions after such a short time period.
The Rick storyline was pretty good too. The storyline with the Vatos group was enjoyable but pretty unspectacular. But I won't be too harsh on it because this was a very necessary storyline for the series. It helps build the world much more to learn that there will be other groups to encounter and that not all will be good. The Vatos group here were well-defined and good people, allowing for the show to explore the positive themes of working together to survive, but I'm betting that sooner or later there will be an encounter with a not-so-good group, perhaps a scavenging group.
The Bad: The characterization is still lacking. The storyline of the Vatos group would be much more acceptable if we got some actual character development, but we learn nothing new about Rick, Daryl, Glenn or T-Dog. While I thought the Amy death worked in this situation, we definitely need to care more about the other characters if any other deaths are to happen.
The Jim story really lacked in my eyes. The idea that he dreamt about what would happen and dug holes was just ridiculous and too clichéd in my eyes. Additionally all we learned about Jim was that his family died, but his story really wasn't that impactful. It was too by-the-numbers for a sad backstory and it really lacked the powerful originality of Morgan and Duane's backstory. The ending line felt too clichéd and I honestly feel like the ending would have been much more powerful if it ended off with no dialogue and just Andrea's tears without such a forced and cheesy line of dialogue.
There were a few small writing blemishes here. The use of the grandma to diffuse the tension was a little too cute for my taste. I also would have preferred if both groups could have been more decent to each other, seeing that humans are sort of rare in this post-apocalyptic world, but it's not a huge issue since it was somewhat explained afterwards with the scavengers. Lastly, it seems ridiculous that the camp would be left so undefended. Surely they must be putting somebody on watch at all times? It's life or death after all as the ending attack demonstrated.
The Unknown: Where has Merle gone? Clearly he didn't return to camp so where has he gone? Did he even take the van or was it somebody else?
Andrea and Amy were discussing if Florida was affected. That begs the question of how the rest of the world currently is. Are there any places on Earth that are spared? Could this only be an America problem by chance?
Best Moment: The ending attack was superb.
Character of the Episode: Nobody really stood out but I'll give it to Andrea for her acting at the end.
Conclusion: This was a solid episode that exceeded expectations with that tremendous final scene. There were a few small flaws but there were also moments that really impressed me making this episode above average. More content like this is exactly what I would want from The Walking Dead, just add some characterization.
Summary: Rick and the group return to the camp at the quarry. Rick reunites with Lori and Carl. Lori is mad at Shane for lying about Rick being dead. Merle's brother Daryl is mad that Merle was left behind. Rick goes with him, along with Glenn and T-Dog to get Merle and the guns in Rick's bag he left behind. They go to the rooftop but find that Merle has escaped by severing his own hand with a buzzsaw.
The Good: This was more solid stuff. I appreciate that the show slowed down the pacing a bit, which helps preserve the walker drama for use later on. This also allows for the show to start developing its characters to help us appreciate them a little more. It's good to get an instalment where all the characters just get a chance to breathe without the threat of walkers lurking around every corner.
Surprisingly, the best part about this episode was the existence of a bit of a love triangle, though thankfully the focus of the storyline doesn't appear to actually be on the love triangle part of it. The drama between Rick, Shane and Lori was very good and I am interested to see where it goes (see: The Unknown). I think it could make for some good conflict between Rick and Shane, and Rick and Lori which can be really enjoyable content if handled in a smart, non-melodramatic way. Before the love conflict though, was the reunion which I thought was well done and provided a good moment of emotion for the characters.
I was very happy with the opening scene of Merle trying to escape his handcuffs. Michael Rooker was just brilliant in that scene and brought real life and conflict to Merle in that brief scene as he struggles to deal with his fate, slowly going crazy through everything that's happening. It was very well done.
Rick going back for Merle was a very welcome development. Not only did it give this episode some drive later on, but it has also given us a chance to help understand some of our main characters (Glenn, Daryl & T-Dog) presumably in the next episode. I loved that Rick had deeper motivations to going back than just to save Merle. That would have been the clichéd "good guy" thing to do, but instead with the added depth of Rick wanting to get the walkies to help Morgan who he feels he owes a debt to, Rick feels like a deeper and more realistic character. It just so happens that Merle is also in the place where he left the bag.
I enjoyed the ending scene too. Shane destroying Ed was nice as it allowed him to take out some frustration, hinting at how he may be a little bit of a danger to the group, which is a good continuation of how he seemingly got far too caught up in playing leader in the previous episode and this one. In contrast to that though was the fantastic twist when we see that Merle has severed his own hand to escape the handcuffs. That was a great cliff-hanger to end off on and it promises a much better tension-based episode coming up as a follow-up to this one.
The Bad: This was a slower episode with limited plot movement, but it didn't do anything to make any characters not named Rick, Merle or Shane stand out. Everyone just kept to their single character trait they were given which didn't make me care for anybody any more than I did last episode. All the new characters were bland as well with very little to them. Ed is just a generic asshole, which is made especially worse since we already have Merle and Daryl playing that role. It gets annoying when like 33% of the male characters are assholes. And while on the topic of sexism, the whole women doing laundry thing did bother me a little bit, though not as much as it probably bothered some others. And of course I thought Daryl was a pretty lazy character as a younger and slightly more tolerable version of Merle.
There were a couple of weirdly written moments too. T-Dog mentioning the lock only when the group finally got back to their campsite was ridiculous in my eyes. He must have been horribly conflicted about what happened to Merle, so why not at least tell the others that he may have saved Merle's life. But perplexingly, T-Dog keeps it to himself, prolonging the amount of time Merle would be suffering alone on the rooftop. There was also Lori's decision-making process when it came to Rick leaving. She is mildly against it at first, but then suggests Rick going to save Merle anyways as if she has accepted it, but then walks away upset as if Rick said this without consulting her and then confronts him later, this time very upset. It all felt very sloppily written and just makes Lori out to be even more annoying than she already was. Also did Rick and Lori seriously have sex like 3 feet away from a sleeping Car? Seriously?
The Unknown: How will Shane deal with the Lori situation? What will that conflict come to? How will Rick get involved? Did Shane just say Rick died to start getting it on with Lori? Or was it just to get them out of the hospital? Or did Shane really think Rick died?
Where has Merle gone now? I expect he is heading back to camp to extract some vengeance.
Best Moment: I'll pick the opening scene, as it stood out more than anything else this episode.
Character of the Episode: Rick.
Conclusion: This was a solid episode, but the poor character work and occasionally weak writing does hurt the score quite a bit.
Summary: Glenn helps Rick get out of the tank. Rick shoots some zombies but that draws a horde towards them. Glenn takes Rick to his group who are trapped in a building with zombies right outside. The group looks for a way out and ultimately decide to rub guts on Rick and Glenn so that they can go through the horde and get a truck. The plan works and Rick brings the trucks so everyone can escape. One of the members, Merle, is handcuffed though and is left on the roof of the building when the key is dropped.
The Good: This was a great follow up to the series' fantastic pilot. The most impressive thing about this episode to me is how it kept the tension levels really high all the way throughout. It was a joy to sit back and watch the episode as we get introduced to the characters while they try to get themselves out of a real pickle. The actual problem of the walker horde was well done and it adds a great new sense of drama to the show, as we know that using guns will only attract more walkers. And of course one walker is threatening enough, but a horde is practically unbeatable.
The way the show handled the escape from the building was very smart. Of course Rick and Glenn's tense walk through the street was fantastic television and had some awesome moments of tension, especially as the rain started coming down. But more importantly, I really enjoyed seeing the group plot out the different phases of the escape as well, as it really shows why these radically different people need to band together to have any hopes of survival. This also explains why somebody like Merle may be allowed in the group, as they need everyone they can get. But now back to the escape for a second, I do like how there were different phases to the escape, featuring plans that failed like the sewer system. This allowed for the walker threat to slowly escalate throughout the episode before climaxing in the group's final sprint to make it to the truck. The last thing I liked regarding the escape is how we essentially had a mini-escape at the beginning to set the tone with Rick escaping from the tank, another fun scene to watch.
The character work was solid in this episode as well. I got a good idea of who most of the characters in the story are, and I'm excited to learn more about them as the show goes on. Glenn was a particularly likeable character and I think he was the standout character that was introduced, though I also got the sense of Andrea, Amy, Dale, Shane and T-Dog's characters. There wasn't any fantastic characterization here, but it was good enough, and so long as the show develops the characters more in future episodes (and I suspect that it will), I think everything will be fine.
One of the easiest traps to fall into for a show like this is to get caught up in the depressing nature of the world and to forget that these characters are human, and instead just make them killing machines which do things mindlessly. Thankfully, this show dodges the trap by providing an absolute ton of human moments. The standout to me was Rick hesitating to rip open the zombie Wayne for his guts, instead opting to learn who he is and to make a little speech to honour Wayne. It was a perfect human moment to anchor the weight of the show in its characters. Other moments were great too, like Shane deciding not to go after Rick's group to protect those that are alive. This clearly demonstrates the differing point of views that these characters will have, while also showing that hard decision will need to be made in this world. We had a great moment seeing somebody making a hard decision later in the episode (see: Best Moment), but more on that later.
I liked that the show had some humorous moments as well to keep things from being too depressing. Little things like Glenn enjoying the hell out of his sweet car go a long way to make this show easier to watch despite its gore and depressing overall theme.
The Bad: Merle was a little bit too on the nose for me. I do like the idea behind him and Michael Rooker played him very well, but I thought that some of the things he did were too excessive.
Lori is the first character in this show to piss me off. I wasn't happy with her decision making in the previous episode, but I didn't put it in my review because it was a small thing. This episode continued Lori's trend of being annoying though so I had to mention it. Lori is a crap parent to Carl, leaving him alone in this episode, and also trying to go to put up signs, which would again leave Carl alone in the previous episode. She is also extremely detestable with her sarcastic comments to Dale who is only trying to make sure she doesn't get herself killed.
There were a few small things I didn't like here. I wasn't happy with everybody dismissing the helicopter as Rick's imagination. Wouldn't everyone want to latch on to anything hopeful they could get? Also, would the rain really clear away the walker smell so quickly? I understood what the threat was with the rain, but I don't think it would work like that.
The Unknown: What are the backstories of these characters? I really want to know.
So Glenn calls the walkers "geeks". What other names do people have for them? Does the word "zombie" even exist in this world?
So now Rick is on his way to meet Lori and Shane again. How will they react to his return? What will happen with their little affair?
What is Merle's fate? Are we going to assume he died? I noticed that T-Dog knocked over a box of tools as he made his escape, so could Merle have used those to get out? Also, did Rick leave his bag? Does that mean Morgan won't be getting any messages and may end up going to Atlanta with Duane only to find the walker hordes?
Best Moment: The group runs to make their escape but Merle is left in handcuffs. T-Dog goes to let him out, unable to leave him to die, but on the way he drops the key, leaving no way to save Merle. This was a really good moment and Merle's reaction really helped put over how bad everything was. Better than that though, was T-Dog who had to make a split-second decision and leave, apologizing to Merle. But his humanity persisted and T-Dog ensured to lock the door to the roof, perhaps giving Merle something of a chance to survive, before T-Dog dashes out calling everyone not to leave him the way he just left Merle. This was such a powerful scene and put over how having humanity could very well cost you in this world, while also highlighting how terrifying it would be to have your friends all run away while leaving you for dead. Powerful stuff.
Character of the Episode: Glenn.
Conclusion: This was a really great follow up to the pilot episode. The tension kept up throughout and there were some really great moments here. There were some small flaws too, but other than that I think this episode did a great job of continuing to establish the post-apocalyptic world.
Summary: Rick and Shane are two cops and they respond to an emergency but Rick is shot and put in a coma. When he wakes up, the world has been affected by the zombie apocalypse. Rick ventures to his house but finds that his family left him. He meets Morgan and Duane who inform him of what happened and tell him to go to Atlanta where there is supposedly a refugee centre. Morgan and Duane stay behind but Rick gives them a walkie to keep in touch. Rick goes to Atlanta but finds a horde of walkers (zombies) which trap him in a tank. Rick gets a message from somebody else while in the tank.
The Good: This was one hell of a pilot. It was really long as it went over an hour but I was never bored and I was entirely engaged the entire time. This episode did such a wonderful job of leaving the viewer gripped and in suspense as we get introduced to the characters and the post-apocalyptic world. The first scene does such a fantastic job of this as we are introduced casually to Rick while he scavenges for gas as we instantly understand something is wrong. The lack of music gives the scene a real air of suspense and that first reveal of the little girl walker was really great. It was tense, creepy and the big gunshot really felt like a big moment. It was so well executed and instantly draws you in to see more.
And more did the episode show. Everything after that scene completely delivered. Thankfully, the episode chooses to establish Rick as a character before the apocalypse. We get a good scene with Rick talking to his best friend Shane about his life and his family. It was a good scene which nicely transitioned into the action sequence which led to Rick being put in a coma, causing him to miss the apocalypse. This scene did a good job of establishing the reality of the world and the nature of humans to remind us that they will be affected by the need to deal with loss and to kill walkers. This comes into play later on with several powerful scenes involving Rick and Morgan dealing with these very same things.
But on to the actual apocalypse scenes. Holy cow were they great. Those first 10-15 minutes with Rick in the hospital were fantastic. No dramatic music or much actual speech. Just silence, and that's all that is needed to convey the shocking change Rick is witnessing. The slow development of what has happened is shown fantastically as Rick goes through the discovery of time passing, nobody being around, no power and then of course dead bodies and then soon after the existence of actual zombies. Or walkers as they are called here. All of this was executed in such a fantastic silent scene which appropriately depicts the creepy atmosphere and the pure horror of what has happened.
Following this, we get scenes with Rick and Morgan which were also just as great. Morgan does a great job of showing the effect that the apocalypse has had on him while also managing to be a relatable character who we can get attached to. His story is very sad as we learn what happened to his wife and how it has affected his son. It was nice to get to know him alongside Rick as well which lets us continue to relate with Rick even while introducing us to these new characters.
Following Rick's time with Morgan, we get a great climax to the episode as Rick travels to Atlanta. Before he arrives we get a wonderful scene showing us a new take on the apocalypse as Rick ends up seeing a family who killed themselves after the apocalypse in brutal fashion. It was a suitably disturbing and chilling scene which continues to prove that there are surely many different stories to hear about the survivors in the apocalypse. Thankfully, the show doesn't revel in this darkness though as we are given a nice scene with a lighter tone as Rick tames a horse he finds at the family's house. After this the episode reaches a high point in Atlanta as Rick travels through a surprisingly barren city with some terrific shots and set design. The tension builds up slowly as some walkers wake up in the city to follow Rick. And of course this leads to a climax as Rick is surrounded in a very tense scene leading to Rick trapping himself in the tank, trapped in a horde of zombies as his horse is brutally eaten on the outside. This was a good action-packed climax which ends the episode on a high note but also with a good cliffhanger as Rick is contacted by somebody else in Atlanta, promising us some answers already about what happened in Atlanta. Very good writing.
The Bad: There were a couple weird moments in the big climax though. Rick simply entering the hatch felt a little too convenient, especially since he was readying for a suicide, making it just feel weird. Also it's a little hard to believe that Rick would get so perfectly surrounded by a horde of walkers like he did, especially since there have hardly been any other walkers seen beforehand.
The Unknown: Do walkers have something of a memory? The little girl in the beginning picks up the teddy bear. Morgan's wife goes straight to their house and tries to open the door. Do they have something of a memory because of this? Or at least some intelligence?
What caused the apocalypse? How did it breakout? Is it worldwide? Is it an infection of sorts?
Does Shane know Rick is alive? Did he just use it as an excuse to hook up with Lori? Was Lori cheating on Rick before the apocalypse? Will Rick find the group somehow?
What happened in Atlanta? Did the refugee centre get overrun? Did the military get destroyed? How about the CDC?
Who was on the radio in the tank? Will he help Rick escape?
Best Moment: Rick shooting the bicycle girl occurring while Morgan failed to kill his wife was very powerful and human stuff. It's great to see humanity remain as the primary focus during this otherworldly experience everyone is going through.
Character of the Episode: Morgan was awesome here. Rick is a very close second though since we saw everything through his eyes.
Conclusion: This was a stellar pilot. So gripping, so tense, so magnificently crafted. Expectations for this sow are immediately high because the quality was just that good. This whole episode flew by and I can't imagine not wanting to keep watching this show.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.