Walking Dead Recaplet: Season One/Episode 5: Wildfire

Episode 5 started off strong but ended on an odd note with lots of plot threads left unraveled and undone, and lots of new mysteries  introduced with what seems like precious little time left in a brief first season to wrap them up.

Last week saw the remaining survivors’ ranks decimated by what started out as a pleasant family barbecue but ended with death by a zombie attack that nearly killed them all. Most of the action for the first part of this week’s show centered on the deaths of Amy and Ed and the fatal biting of Jim.

Ed: Definitely Dead (Photo: Courtesy of AMC)
Amy: Definitely Undead (Photo: Courtesy of AMC)
Jim: Uh oh (Photo: Courtesy of AMC)

The survivors had different reactions to this chain of events.  Daryl wanted to take a pick axe to every remaining undead mofo’s head. While Glenn felt strongly that the group should retain the last of their humanity and bury their dead, because, “that’s what people do.”  Rick and Shane on the other hand, responded by developing take charge action plans that left them at odds with one another.  Rick insisted they should go back to Atlanta to find the CDC while Shane insisted on going to an army base in the opposite direction.

After much consternation and a group meeting, the survivors decide to follow Rick’s plan and head to the CDC.  Along the way, Morales and his familia abandon the caravan to search for their remaining family members in another direction while Jim asks to be left to die by the side of the road.   Meanwhile, as the surviving survivors make their way to their destination, the CDC’s last remaining scientist is drowning his sorrows after a lab accident that destroyed his remaining tissue samples and, presumably, any hope for a cure to the zombie plague along with them.

When the survivors show up at the CDC, they find the usual scene of death and decayed flesh.  Rick, however, remains convinced that there’s at least one scientist left at the CDC who can give them some answers.  He is, of course, right, and after much yelling at the surveillance cameras, the space age doors to the CDC open X Files style.

Are you there, God? It's us, the last people on Earth (Photo: Courtesy of AMC)

It almost seemed like there were two different shows as this episode wrapped up.  It seemed like there was so much more in the way of intra-survivor dynamics to explore.  Merle Dixon remains lost and bleeding somewhere and the whole Lori/Shane/Rick love triangle seems sidelined by the new government response thread that was introduced last night.  Perhaps when the episode was first written, Darabont and Co. weren’t sure whether or not a second season would be greenlighted so they were trying to execute a large part of the story while they had a chance to do so.  While, I’m still looking forward to seeing how everything wraps up next week, I found myself wishing that the action wasn’t moving in this direction. What did you all think?


  1. Well, Merle cauterized the wound, so he shouldn’t be bleeding anymore. Aside from that, I am surprised that they introduced a whole new thing in the guy at the CDC this late in the season. I know it’s an ongoing show, but I would’ve thought they’d wrap at least some elements of it up with the season finale, but they seem so far from being able to in one more episode.

  2. Yeah the CDC thing seems rushed overall. Like it might not be a bad idea to have a storyline that goes off in that direction but not this early in the game. I think it’s veering too far off from Kirkman’s strong original story template.

  3. The scenes at the CDC seemed to parallel similar events on Lost, i.e. the Hatch/Swan Station. The CDC scientist’s situation had a lot of similarities to Desmond and Kelvin’s with the radiation suit, automated containment lock down, doing work of dubious consequence, reporting to superiors that may or may not be there, and contemplation of suicide. The door opening at the end was glowing like the Hatch did in Lost season one, with both Rick and Locke similarly pleading and at the end of their respective ropes.

  4. i have a feeling we’re gonna be seeing alot of folks coming and going in this series with no definitive answers when it comes to their fates. i’m figuring we’ll probably never find out what happens to jim or the family that took off in the other direction, or the father and son that helped out rick in episode one ( merle is just too juicy a character for the writers to forget about, so you know he’ll be back). it’s the end of the world, not everybody is gonna agree on what to do and more times than not, go off in different directions. i hope we don’t find out the fates of every last character. not finding out adds to the tension the show is trying to create. are these folks still alive? are they dead? the undead? will they appear again in the show? who knows? i also like the change of locale, it keeps the show moving along, creating new problems and dangers for the group and helps in introducing new characters to the mix (who will also probably come and go as some characters already have). i have a feeling these folks are gonna be nomadic for quite a while, while searching for a safe haven. should be a fun and scary ride.

  5. So… Darabont’s cribbing from LOST‘s game plan in adding new characters and extraneous “mysteries” to (pad out?) the existing plots and storylines?

    Still to be proven IF this is a good thing for fans— and viewers— of the original Kirkman source material. Esp. when there already ARE great plots and storylines from the books that’re just begging to turn up in front of the AMC cameras… *cough* Carl’s *cough* Michonne/The Governor’s *cough* *cough*

    Wonder if the CDC guy’ll reveal that the Zombiepocalypse was caused by a strain of the European Flu? ;)

  6. I kept thinking during that scene with Shane and Rick in the woods that Carl would approach them and it would turn into the Shane scene to end all Shane scenes.

  7. According to Entertainment Weekly, the show won’t be ending on a cliffhanger. It isn’t stated but my assumption is that they wanted to wrap up the biggest storyline (what happens to Rick and his family) and so a lot of the subplots will be ignored. For example, if it were only a 6 episode series, you could decide that Shane decision to not shot and go along with Rick’s plan meant the triangle was resolved. Obviously with a second season, that won’t be the case.

  8. I wish the episodes could be 90 minutes long rather than 60, because there is even more good character work that could be shown. I would have loved to see a scene in which Daryl shows some angst about leaving Merle behind (without a hand in zombie-infested Atlanta) and considers not joining the others going to CDC. I also would have loved to see a scene with Daryl and Jim in which Daryl strongly suggests that an arrow in the head might be a better way to go. Seemed a little irresponsible to me for the group to leave Jim to die and thereby become a zombie who could then attack others. I thought Daryl was going to take him out, especially with him holding the bow and arrow as they were saying their good-byes to Jim. All in all, I really enjoyed the episode,…some very memorable scenes and my favorite episode since the first one.

  9. This show is becoming more and more frustrating to watch. Not because it’s bad; far from it. I’m invested in the characters and storyline, and pleased with the production values and acting. But there seems to be something in each episode that really pulls me out of the viewing experience. Last week it was the whole “twist” that the scary gangsters were really just caring for old people. This week, it was the jarring last act where they suddenly introduced the CDC guy and ended with a bright light door opening, a la Lost or Close Encounters. Also, the bit where the RV broke down, and Shane mentioned going down the road to find parts, but when Rick comes out of the RV after a couple minutes talking to Jim, Shane’s still there and the RV is magically fixed. Maybe it was just poor editing, but it was annoying.

    In any case, I still look forward to new episodes every week, so obviously they’re doing a lot right. I thought the scene with Jim deciding to be left behind was genuinely touching. The caravan scene was also very moving, as you felt the weight of the big decision they had just made to leave relative safety for the great unknown. But then we came back from commercial break and BAM it was like we’re watching a different show w/ CDC Guy. Very incongruous. The ending of the episode almost felt like a season finale.

    By the way, here’s my guess as to when we’ll see Merle next: in the final scene of next week’s episode, Morgan and Duane (from ep. 1) have made their way to Atlanta and to the CDC, but just as Rick comes to let them in the building, Merle shows up and puts a gun to their heads, ending with a standoff as walkers approach.

  10. Leo wrote: “Seemed a little irresponsible to me for the group to leave Jim to die and thereby become a zombie who could then attack others.”

    But wasn’t that clearly a set-up for next episode? The CDC scientist needs living infected cells for his research into a cure (as opposed to dead zombie cells). His only sample is destroyed. How is he going to find someone infected but not yet zombified? Well, the people who just showed up at his door also just happened to have just abandoned someone who is infected but not yet a zombie. Next episode–go back and try to find Jim and bring him (or at least some tissue from him) back to the CDC.

  11. Dara I’m with you on the RV. How did it magically fix itself?

    If they didn’t want a scene at the gas station they simply could have a moment where Shane comes back and says “We found the part” (then proceeds to hold up the hose). That would take about a minute or two of screen time.

  12. “Look Sir! Droids!”

    I love the Glenn character; he has a lot of subtle responses in the scenes. Great acting. The only complaint I have is Rick’s hysterics. There wasn’t a build-up to that level of desperation.

    The direction is great. Introducing the CDC isn’t adding another layer of mystery. It will help establish that there is no hope of a cure and solidify the theme of the show as survival.

    Another great aspect is that the survivors Rick and the gang have encountered have been altruistic in nature. This contrasts hugely with Kirkman’s plot. It actually lightens the exposition and won’t turn it into a depressing mess. I’m hooked.