The Walking Dead 1.5 Wildfire by Joe Oesterle

Tensions were running even higher in camp this episode as the unit continues to get smaller by the week. This of course is natural. Any time I’ve been camping with a group of people for over 3 days, I start to get easily agitated by the slightest things. Someone’s not doing their fair share of the clean-up, someone else ate more than their allotted portion of bacon, or some walker wandered into camp and ate more than the allotted portion of my sister.

So as the group is all busy pitching in, burning walkers and burying people, (I loved that Glen made the distinction) Andrea continued to sit in a tunnel-visioned vigil. She ignored Lori, drew a gun on Rick, but did allow kindly ol’ Dale to pay his last respects. This scene said quite a bit about Dale. Aside from the fact he admitted to losing his wife to cancer, and he withdrew from society, what we are really seeing is Dale’s innate ability to connect to people on an emotional level. Rick may be the protector of this group, but Dale may very well become the emotional rock, a wise community elder if you will.

Not long ago, Jim was busy digging holes. Now we discover he has one himself – deep and bloody on his torso. At first he tried to pass it off as so much splatter, but it is soon discovered he has been bitten, and a bite is a certain undeath sentence. For all his half-cocked violence, Daryl may very well be ahead of the curve when it comes to dealing with the problems in this new world. No one else is ready to follow the dead shot redneck’s trigger finger philosophy, but I’m beginning think eventually others will start to fall in line with his brand of thought. Even Daryl however was not expecting the cathartic brutality in which Carol, dead Ed’s long-suffering wife, employed on the skull of her recently deceased spouse.

The biggest conflict in this episode came between cop/Lori partners, Rick and Shane. Readers of the comic book may have expected a different ending in the scene where Shane lines Rick up in his rifle sight, but this team has not shied from veering from the original script yet and I wasn’t surprised to see them go a different direction here either. Shane is too valuable a character to lose yet (if ever) so it’s nice to see we’re heading for even more uncomfortable moments between Shane and the Grimes clan.

By the way, I realize this may only be me, but I have to admit I did not know what “C.D.C.” stood for.  Luckily I’ve never needed to be familiar with the initials for the Center of Disease Control in my lifetime, so my ignorance on the abbreviation has not harmed me in any significant way thus far. I will assume Morgan does understand what C.D.C. stands for, because my girlfriend, who was watching with me, let me know in no uncertain terms that I was in the minority for having no idea what those letters stood for. My point to all of this is if I were Morgan, and I traveled a good number of miles on foot, and (maybe) with my son, by the time I arrived at camp, and discovered a note taped to a red car telling me this area is not safe, head to the C.D.C, I’d be pretty effin’ pissed off. Maybe I rely too much on Google. Note to self. Googling will be obsolete during the zombie revolution. Learn as much as I can right now. Extra note to self. Don’t believe everything you read in Wikipedia.

Not everyone felt the C.D.C. was the proper location to travel. Shane once more was more than willing to challenge Rick’s call, and his idea, it could be argued, was just as sound. The only drawback was it was 100 miles in the opposite direction, and as Rick mentioned, it is believed the military base lost its war to walker infestation. The group got even smaller when Morales and his family decided they were going to find their own kin. Normally when a show does something like this, you can count on one of two things. Either part of that clan comes back, with horrible stories of the rest of them being eaten, or we’ll see Morales return as a walker himself. I tend to think it’s entirely possible that’s the last we may see of the Morales clan. I think it’s very likely in real life that would be the last you see of a group who decides to make it on their own, and this show has done a nice job painting a realistic vision of this unrealistic zombie apocalypse.

Realism reared its head again when Jim decided he could no longer travel in the trailer. In his words, his bones were like glass. He was clear, and he wanted to be left on the side of the road. Not unlike the Jack Kevorkian right-to-die argument, the gang had to decide if this was a road they were willing to go down as a group. Wise old Dale seemed to sum it all up when he voted Jim should have the dignity to choose how he wants to end his own life, though part of that decision may have come from how much Jim was obviously funking up his Winnebago.

Finally the gang arrived at the C.D.C. (Those initials are now permanently burned into my brain in case of future zombie attacks.) Again, the sound and sight of the flies swarming around the stacks of the dead made that scene grotesquely palpable. You really could almost taste the putrid stench that hung in the air surrounding the building. Inside, Jenner has gone utterly mad, or at least he’s been drinking more red wine than usual, and that always results in a pretty bad headache. While looking at slides under a microscope that reminded me of my Itunes Visualizer, he knocked over an experiment and accidentally sealed the fate of the world. Thanks for that Jenner. As Shane, Rick and the rest approach his solitary sanctuary, Jenner is not sure he wants the company, and the walkers are making Shane and the rest suddenly very unsure of Rick’s hunch.

Of course, at the last moment, Jenner opens the door, and our survivors are bathed in a Close Encounters type of white light that promises “everyone is going to be safe from now on.” I’m betting against it.

In summation, I felt this episode, while still great, was just a tad less great than the previous efforts. No complaints. I wasn’t expecting perfection in every tale. Part of my frustration may have stemmed from the fact I found the audio to be a bit muddy, and had to rewind the TiVo a few times to understand what was said. Most likely though this chapter was just a slight deceleration on the gas, because I suspect next week’s season finale is going to put the pedal to the metal. Like LOST’s Desmond in hatch, I believe next season will take us to new places, introduce new characters, and we’ll be saying farewell to some we’ve grown to love. I can’t wait.

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