The Walking Dead 1.6 – TS-19

There’s been a lot of discussion about the similarities and differences between Robert Kirkman’s comic and Frank Darabont’s television adaptation, but for the most part, I’ve embraced the changes that have been made. For instance, Kirkman would never insert a flashback into his story, but tonight’s season finale opened with one, going back to the early days of the outbreak when Shane attempted to rescue Rick from the hospital. We all know how that turned out, but I was a little surprised to see the military acting so callously – shooting anyone they came in contact with regardless of whether they were infected or not. To be fair to Shane, he had no shot of getting Rick out of their alive with all those machines, but even though he was kind enough to block the door with a hospital bed to keep the walkers out, that doesn’t make up for his adulterous betrayal.

Back in the present, Dr. Jenner welcomes the survivors into the CDC facility, but on one condition: that everyone submits to a blood test, just to make sure no one’s infected. Once everyone checks out, Jenner takes them on a tour of Zone 5, and before long, the survivors are laughing, drinking wine, and generally just enjoying themselves for the first time in a long while. Jenner isn’t impressed, and neither is Shane, who feels like they should be getting the answers they came for instead of getting wasted. But he doesn’t like what Jenner has to tell him – that most of the scientists left to be with their families when the outbreak hit, and others just committed suicide – and so Shane decides to wash his sorrows with a little booze.

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Actually, it was probably more like a lot of booze, or he would have been smart enough to walk away after discovering Lori perusing the building’s makeshift library all alone. At first, it seemed like he was just trying to apologize for the way he’s been acting lately, but the more that Lori pushed him away, the more aggressive Shane became. He swears that he didn’t lie about Rick being dead and couldn’t do anything to save him (which is true), but forcing yourself on someone isn’t exactly the way to their heart, and Lori let him know it by scratching his neck. He definitely looked sorry about it the next day after he sobered up, but the damage was already done. Plus, it’s not like his feelings have changed any, and you can bet that Shane is going to become more of a liability the longer he’s around. Just wait until Dale tells Rick about what he saw in the woods.

Most of the survivors were nursing a hangover the next morning, but they still wanted some answers, so Jenner decided to show them what he’s been working on. TS-19 is a test subject who was bitten and then agreed to let the scientists record the infection process to better help their understanding of the virus. Oh yeah, and it just so happens to be Jenner’s wife. He’s still mostly in the dark on what the virus even is, but he does know that resurrection times vary (as quick as three minutes or as long as eight hours), and though it restarts the brain stem, the brain itself remains inactive. Apparently, the French were the closest to figuring out the cause, but they ran out of time when they started losing power in their area.

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The Walking Dead 1.5 – Wildfire

After the attack on the camp, the question of what to do with the dead was always going to be a sensitive subject. While Daryl wants to burn anyone who’s been bitten or killed, Glenn is adamant that they bury their fellow survivors. And when you think of it, they both make pretty good points. If you don’t kill them now, there’s always a chance that that decision will come back to bite you (pun very much intended) in the future. On the other hand, you need to maintain a certain bit of humanity in situations like this or there’s nothing separating you from the monsters.

Of course, before they decide what they’re going to do with the bodies, they need to figure out how they’re going to pry one of them – Amy – out of Andrea’s arms. She’s obviously still coping with the death of her little sister and feeling especially guilty that she wasn’t always there for her when they were younger. But neither Rick nor Lori can get through to Andrea, and it takes Dale’s story about losing his wife to cancer (and how the two sisters are the closest thing he’s had to family since her death) to get her to finally snap out of it. Just in time, too, as Amy begins to come back to life as a zombie and Andrea is forced to shoot her in the head.

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With all the discussion going on about how to handle the dead, you can hardly blame Jim for trying to keep his bite a secret. It was only a matter of time before someone found out, however, although everyone took it a lot better than he probably imagined they would. Only Daryl seemed willing to shoot him right there on the spot (then again, that’s pretty much his answer for everything), but Rick believes that the Center for Disease Control might have a cure, and suggests that the group heads there for refuge now that the camp is compromised. Shane disagrees, and wants to go to the military base at Fort Benning instead, even if it’s 100 miles away.

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The Walking Dead 1.4 – Vatos

Just like in the pages of Robert Kirkman’s comic, tonight’s episode (which he also wrote) picked up right where the last one left off, with Daryl not taking the discovery of Merle’s chopped-off hand particularly well. Fortunately, it appears that Merle is doing just fine on his own, as a trail of blood down the opposite staircase leads Rick and Co. to find evidence that Merle has not only taken out a few zombies, but also cauterized his stump on a hot plate before getting the hell out of Dodge. Worried about his safety all alone in the city, Daryl wants to go chasing after him, but Rick warns to keep a cool head and suggests they retrieve the guns first.

But instead of bum-rushing the bag as a group, Glenn volunteers to go alone because he can do it quickly and stealthily. Better yet, he’s even devised a fail-safe plan for protection involving the other three guys that leads Daryl to ask in disbelief, “Hey kid, what’d you do before this?” “I delivered pizzas.” Unfortunately, not even the best-laid plans always go as intended, and when Daryl gets distracted by some Mexican kid and is promptly attacked by his friends, Glenn comes running back down the alley straight into all the trouble. Daryl manages to shoot one of the Mexicans in the back of the leg, but not before they can grab Glenn and drive away.

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Of course, they also left the kid behind, and although he isn’t very cooperative at first, Daryl’s threats to cut off his feet seemed to do the trick. (If only he knew that Daryl was bluffing with his own brother’s hand.) Nevertheless, he takes them to the kidnappers’ hideout, which is run by a guy named Guillermo, who tells Rick that he wants the kid and the guns in trade for Glenn. The odds were certainly stacked against him, but good old Rick just waltzed right into their little fort and stuck a gun in Guillermo’s face, as if to say, “You want a fight? Let’s go.” Luckily, none of that was necessary, as it turns out Guillermo wasn’t such a bad guy after all, but just a custodian trying to protect the retirement where he used to work. After seeing all the sick, elderly people depending on Guillermo’s care, Rick leaves him a few of the guns and heads back with the others to the van, only to discover that someone (presumably Merle) has taken off with it.

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The Walking Dead 1.3 – Tell It to the Frogs

They say you do crazy things in the face of death, but going just plain crazy? That’s reserved for guys like Merle, who certainly wasn’t the sanest person to begin with. And now that he’s been handcuffed to the roof of a building with a horde of zombies trying to break through the padlocked door, he’s willing to do whatever it takes to ensure his safety – even if that means begging to Jesus Christ himself. Of course, Merle knows better than to rely on old JC to solve his problems and decides that he’s going to have to free himself on his own. And wouldn’t you know it, that hacksaw is just a belt-length away from his reach. It’s a good thing he’s wearing a belt.

Not that anyone would miss Merle – except, of course, for his brother Daryl, who’s currently away hunting for deer when the scavengers return to camp. But before they deal with that particular situation, the survivors welcome back the group and are introduced to Rick, who is finally reunited with his family. Lori actually looks happy that her husband is alive, but Shane isn’t quite as relieved, as he’s forced to watch from afar as they reconnect with one another. In fact, Lori doesn’t want anything to do with Shane now that Rick has returned, and that includes him spending time with Carl. So why the sudden change of heart? Well, it seems that Shane told Lori that Rick was dead, and she’s not at all happy about him taking advantage of her emotions. That pretty much confirms what I initially thought – that Lori and Shane’s romance is fairly recent – but I’m still not sure what’s worse: Lori having an affair, or the speed in which she moved on after learning that her husband was dead. Neither one is very flattering.

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Unfortunately, Rick is too busy playing the hero to realize what’s going on between his wife and best friend. After T-Dog informs him that he padlocked the door to the roof to prevent any zombies from getting through, Rick decides that he can’t leave Merle to die up there alone, and wants to go back to Atlanta to rescue him. It’s not exactly a popular decision, but when Daryl returns to learn about his brother’s fate, he agrees to join him on the mission. Daryl might just be an even bigger loose cannon than Meryl, and the scene where Shane and Rick had to restrain him was an excellent display of the show’s ability to sneak in a little humor:

Daryl: “You best let me go.”
Shane: “Nah, I think it’s better if I don’t.”
Daryl: “Choke hold is illegal.”
Shane: “Yeah, you can file a complaint.”

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The Walking Dead 1.2 – Guts

In case you were wondering whether Lori and Shane were having any regrets about their secret relationship, well, you pretty much got your answer at the top of tonight’s episode. We still don’t know whether the romance is new (like in the comics) or if it’s been going on for some time, but one thing is certain: they don’t seem too conflicted now that they think Rick is dead. Granted, Lori did look a little remorseful when Shane unbuttoned her shirt to reveal her wedding ring hanging from a necklace, but the ease in which she just tossed it aside definitely didn’t help her case. In any event, you can bet that both of them will be feeling pretty shitty about themselves when Rick comes waltzing into camp next week.

For the time being, though, he just needs to stay alive – something that’s easier said than done considering we last left him surrounded by hundreds of zombies. The voice over the radio tells him that his best bet is to make a run for it while the horde is preoccupied with their latest meal, but not before grabbing a grenade that he discovers on the dead soldier. (I can’t imagine this won’t come back into play in the future, though I was actually waiting for him to use it all episode.) And after shooting his way to safety, Rick meets Glenn (the voice on the radio) in the alley, and the pair hightails it through one of the buildings to meet up with the rest of Glenn’s group.

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Though Glenn is the go-to scavenger of the bunch, he’s agreed to bring some of the other people from the survivor camp with him on his latest trip in order to gather more supplies. And they’re not too impressed by Rick’s cowboy heroics, which have attracted every zombie in the area, making it virtually impossible for them to get out alive. Of course, they’re not saints either, and within minutes of arriving, Rick witnesses a power struggle between racist redneck Merle (the great Michael Rooker) and the rest of the group. Luckily for them, Rick steps in to take care of Merle before he can do any more damage to the unfortunately named T-Dog’s face, handcuffing him to a pipe on the roof while they devise a plan for escape.

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