Season 1, Episode 1 of The Walking Dead:
Rick, a sheriff’s deputy, upon waking up from a gunshot-induced coma of indeterminate length, discovers that Georgia (or possibly the U.S.A. or even the world) has been decimated by the inevitable zombie apocalypse, á la 28 Days Later. Rick does not take this revelation with quite as much aplomb as Jim did in 28DL, making his stupefied, stumbling way back to his home in search of his family, wife Laurie and son Carl. Luckily, he does not get eaten in his complete obliviousness to what is going on.
Also luckily, he meets a father and son who are hovering in limbo in Rick’s town, unable to move on after the recent zombification of their wife/mother. They feed him and bring him up to speed on the “walker” situation – mostly, don’t get bitten as the resulting fever will kill you … but not for long. They also tell him that apparently Atlanta is a safe haven, with military protection and the Centers for Disease Control. (Anyone who has ever read The Stand probably suspects that the zombie problem started at the CDC.) Rick takes them to the sheriff’s department where all three get a much-appreciated hot shower (thanks to the department’s stand-alone propane boiler), as well as stocking up on firearms and ammunition. Then Rick heads off to Atlanta, looking for his family, and the father and son tragically try to work up the courage to put their zombie wife/mother down.
When his car runs out of gas, Rick liberates a horse from an abandoned farm and rides off into the sunset. Atlanta is teeming with zombies, however: the horse gets eaten and Rick takes refuge in a derelict tank. About to kill himself in despair and desperation, he stops when he hears a voice over the tank’s radio: “Hey, dumbass! You in the tank – cozy in there?”
Meanwhile, a small group of survivors has set up camp a ways outside of Atlanta, running a CB radio on a battery to try to contact other survivors. The leader of this little band is Rick’s former partner, Shane, and he is determined to keep everyone together and safe. Also in this group: Laurie and Carl. And they apparently think Rick is dead, because when Shane puts a liplock on Laurie, she doesn’t fight him off - at all. Makes me wonder how long ol' Rick was in that coma.
I thought this first episode of The Walking Dead was awesome! The zombie makeup/gore is just outstanding and the story is both compelling and heart-rending (of note: Rick’s sobs in his empty house and the father trying to shoot his zombie wife). The accents are a little iffy – both Rick and Shane are clearly not true Southern boys – and I hope they don’t spend very much time on this love triangle with Rick/Laurie/Shane. But I think this is another fantastic show from AMC and a great start. And not a moment too soon: I was beginning to despair of this whole television season!
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