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.