Despite the lack of actual zombies, I think that this episode stands as my favorite thus far. The episode showed us time and time again that it is our empathy for our fellow man that ultimately makes us human.
Lots of difficult decisions were made this hour, and we were introduced to a serious game-changer toward the end of the episode. It kind of reminded me of Lost, when season 2 began with a peek inside the hatch, and our minds were blown with all the new possibilities the hatch introduced. More on that later, though.
Dale is certainly shaping up to be an important central character. Up until this episode, he was indispensable because of his cache of odds and ends that have proved valuable to the group. Now he emerges as a steady calming influence and a voice of reason within the group. Since he has no family members influencing his decisions, he is able to provide objective input when the group faces some of those tough choices. More and more the group seems to gravitate toward him for advice.
In this episode we saw Dale do the following:
- He helped Andrea extract herself from the grief and guilt she is wallowing in following Amy’s death.
- He saw to it that Jim died with his dignity fully intact.
- He shot Shane a serious stink-eye, conveying his disgust at Shane’s rather impure motives regarding Lori. Shane appeared ashamed, for a brief moment.
Poor Andrea is quite despondent and won’t leave Amy’s side, despite the fact that Amy will become undead at any moment. Dale helps Andrea by relaying a story about his late wife, who was ready to die after a bout with cancer. It was Dale who was not ready for her to pass.
At first it appears that Andrea hasn’t heard a word that Dale said, because she stoically refuses to leave Amy. I even thought that Andrea might be sacrificing herself to assuage her guilt about not being around for Amy enough, because she kept holding on to her even after Amy awakened in her changed state.
Just as the rest of the group begins to move toward the two, Andrea shoots Amy in the head at point blank range, effectively ending her suffering. This solidifies the fact that Andrea is no shrinking violet. She is tough as nails, and will do what is necessary. I am curious to see how that comes into play at a later date.
There is a bit of a scuffle within the camp about how to treat the dead. It is decided that they will be buried rather than burned. Even though society has crumbled, this group tries to hold onto tradition and decency.
Poor Jim has been bitten, and wrestles with the fact that his death is imminent. He is the first person I can recall being cognizant of their fate. Most of the people were quickly killed. It is so sad to watch him say, over and over again, “I’m okay, I’m okay,” as if saying it will make it so.
What a nightmare to know that you will become a zombie, no matter how hard you fight. Rick decides to try to take Jim to the CDC, hoping that they might find him some help, since he is not dead yet. Shane elects to go to the nearest Army base, believing that was their best bet for safety.
Carol gets a chance for some catharsis when it is time to take a pick-axe to her dead husband’s. Even Daryl seems a bit disturbed by her bludgeoning. It’s one of the grossest scenes yet.
Shane and Rick continue to bicker. Shane blames Rick for the bloodshed, because he took half the men with him back to the city. Rick maintains that the losses would have been much worse without the guns. Out in the forest, Shane looks like he is seriously considering shooting Rick. Shane quickly regains his composure, but realizes that Dale saw the whole thing.
Perhaps out of guilt, Shane tells the camp that he has decided to go with Rick’s plan to head to the CDC. One family opts to stay behind, hoping to find some relatives. There are some tearful goodbyes. A caravan of vehicles departs, and Rick leaves a note out for Morgan.
They have spent so much time making sure that we know that Rick is still trying to communicate with Morgan, and now this note. Surely we will see the guy resurface?
The caravan pulls over, due to the motor home having mechanical problems. Jim is not doing well, at all. He begs Rick to leave him. “My decision, not your failure.” Dale backs up Jim’s request, and they leave Jim propped against a tree. If I were Jim, I would ask someone to shoot me in the head, but hey, that’s me.
Now here comes the game changer. When we get back from a commercial break, I thought that I was watching a promo for another upcoming show on AMC. We see Dr. Jenner (character actor Noah Emmerich) in a lab, working with tissue samples on a project called ‘Wildfire.”
It ends up that he is inside the CDC building, appears to be alone, and is working on finding a cure for the zombie disease. He also seems to be at the end of his rope, after a decontamination procedure wipes out his remaining samples.
Despondent, he speaks into a video camera and records the days events, adding that tomorrow he will probably blow his brains out. Just then, the group reaches the front entrance of the CDC building, which is tightly barricaded. Rick shouts at the video recorder that is mounted outside the entrance, imploring whoever is inside to let them in, or they will have blood on their hands.
Dr. Jenner seems incredulous that there are survivors, literally on his doorstep, but he makes no attempt to let them in. The group gives up, and retreats among the bodies that litter the outside of the building, but then they hear the entrance open…
It was a nifty way to introduce a whole new plot line to the show, much like The Hatch did for Lost. I can’t wait to see what happens next week.