Monday, November 29, 2010

The Walking Dead: Episode 1 (Days Gone Bye)

Spoiler Warning! This post contains spoilers for episode 1 of The Walking Dead.

Episode Synopsis: Sheriff Rick Grimes awakens in the hospital after being shot on-duty to discover that the world has succumbed to a zombie apocalypse while he was unconscious. He meets up with a local father/son team who teach him the basics of survival before heading to Atlanta in hopeful search of his wife and his own son.

Discussion: Please welcome my friend Scott, who is joining me for a discussion of the episode.

Q: What were some of the highlights of the episode, in your opinion?

zharth: I liked the intro, with our main character shooting a little girl in the head. Of course, she was a zombie, but it's still a horrifying image to start off the series - thus effectively setting the mood. Then, at the end, when Rick was seconds away from killing himself to avoid being taken by the zombies, before noticing the lower entrance to the tank - that was harrowing. It really seemed like he was a goner.

Scott: I didn't like it at first, but the whole fever dream sequence was a great way of putting the audience in Rick's shoes. You went from an intense police shootout on the job to the hospital, with a strange, blurry dream... and then when everything snaps to, you don't know what's going on. You have no clue how much time has passed and barely any clue about what's going on. We all know it's a zombie show, but Rick -- he's just woken up, he's weak, semi-delirious, was just dreaming and talking to someone who wasn't even there... and now he's in a busted-up hospital. As far as he knows, it could just be another terrible dream.

He wasn't being very smart for most of the first episode and it was driving me nuts, as much as I wanted to chalk it up to delirium and shock. Walking around barefoot, going into a dark stairwell, staring at a zombie corpse on the ground... these are not things that I would do at all. But really, I feel like Rick spent most of the episode in a dream and only really snapped out of it when he met Morgan and his son. He was waiting for the "kick" that would boot him out of the dream and into the real world, but it never ever came.

Q: Near the end of the episode, Morgan tries to put his zombie-wife out of her misery, but seems unable to bring himself to do it. Hypothetically, if you were in his situation, would you be able to go through with it?

zharth: I was thinking to myself during that scene, "just do it, Morgan, get it over with! The longer you put it off, the more you and her both have to suffer." I'd like to think I'd be able to do what's necessary in that situation, but short of finding myself there, it's hard to imagine just how difficult that would be. So though I dearly wanted Morgan to get it over with, I can't judge him for having a hard time with it.

Scott: It would be hard, but I would do it. I'd have to do it. I don't know how I could stand to see my (zombie) wife roaming the streets every night looking for living food. Would I be able to go on, knowing that she might be killing innocent people? Knowing that my son would have to live with that knowledge? I don't think I would ever be able to forgive myself if I passed up the chance to put her out of her misery. If I passed up that chance and she went away, she'd become my Moby Dick and that would just tear me apart.

There's no mistaking that it's a hard, cruel task that nobody should ever have to put up with... but I would try to do it. I'd cheat -- I'd try to do it when her back was turned, or when it was dark. Persuade myself that I wasn't really shooting my wife, but some shambler that I didn't know. The hard part would be waking up in the morning and having to go clean up the mess. I don't know if I could do that.

I have to admit, though: when this scene came on and Morgan was alone upstairs, his son alone downstairs... there's a quick shot where his wife is in the scope and looking down. I was 100% -- one, hundred, percent -- sure that his son had given in and tried to go outside to see his mother again. I was absolutely certain that Morgan would look through the scope and see his wife eating his son. That's when I decided that I would have to put her out of her misery; there's absolutely no way I would let there be a chance of anything like that happening. Ever.

Conclusion: Thanks for joining me, Scott! Stay tuned for our discussion of episode 2 of The Walking Dead!

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