harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,

Reviewed: The Walking Dead's "Wildfire" part I of II


The Walking Dead
Season 1, Episode 5


Written by: Glen Mazzara
DIR: Ernest R. Dickerson

Blurb: The survivors deal with the aftermath of the walker attack and decide to move to the C.D.C., hoping to find a cure for an infected Jim. Meanwhile, Shane - finding his leadership position challenged by Rick, succumbs to his inner demons.

Warnings for grue and spoilers.

Scene 01: We open on a hillside shortly after sun up. We join Rick as he tries to contact Morgan and tell him what's been happening since he left. He, more importantly, tells Morgan not to go to the city, as Atlanta has gone to the dead.

He tells Morgan approximately where the camp is, but warns him about the walkers in the woods who invaded the camp and cost them people.

Commentary: Okay, I have some issues with this opening: For one thing, it's obvs way after dawn, so Morgan shouldn't even be listening because it's wasting batteries. Perhaps Rick should be sticking to the schedule that he'd actually set in place, if he wants Morgan to have the information?

Second, what the hell is up with Rick's flop sweat? It looks like he's run a marathon at noon.

Third, why are we in so close - AGAIN - on somebody's face? We don't need to see their pores!

Finally, for those batteries being so valuable, Rick sure does waste a lot of their juice by not sticking to what Morgan would need to know, and having a lot of dramatic dead space between his transmitting. QUIT WASTING RESOURCES.

I do like Rick's obvs second guessing himself and the way things went down the night before, though. It'll play into his and Shane's argument later.

Scene 02: Back in camp, Andrea is holding Amy's dead hand. She can't pull her eyes from her sister's face. Lori comes up to her side, and gently as she can, points out that they need to take care of her before she turns. With Andrea not responding, except to tighten her mouth, Lori gets up and rests a hand on her back before walking away.


Scene 03: Elsewhere about the camp, others are destroying the brains of those dead for moving, as Rick returns. They've started a funeral pyre.

[In a pretty bad place. Did that need to happen right on top of the main camp for some reason?]

Scene 04: Rick joins Shane, whose sitting with a rifle at the side of their cooking fire.

As we switch perspectives, we can see Lori, Carol and Dale all looking at Andrea. Lori tells Rick that she won't even look at them.

They're at a loss over what to do, and Shane points out the obvious - they can't just leave Amy there like that. She'll have to be dealt with like the others that Daryl, Glenn and T-Dog are cleaning up.

Rick offers to go over and just tell her how it is.

Commentary: The only thing I'd question here, is why Shane would need to be in this particular scene. This line could've gone to one of the side characters, like Jacqui since Shane SHOULD be out there actually cleaning up with the other able bodied guys.

I could also see Lori having Shane's line, and give her observation about Andrea's unresponsiveness to Dale.

It was weird that they put Shane in this particular scene.

Scene 05: Rick starts to kneel next to Andrea to "tell her how it is", but she spins on him unexpectedly with her gun cocked in his face.

"I know how the safety works," she reminds him.

Rick apologizes multiple times and slowly backs away from her.

Commentary: I really liked this bit for a few reasons. First, of course it calls back to Andrea first putting her gun in his face back in Atlanta, where he taught her about the safety. But, also, I like how Rick's attempting to play the authority figure is immediately undercut by Andrea with a pistol.

The cops don't manage things anymore and Rick can't just expect everyone to do what he says just because he used to have a badge. It's a problem that Shane also has, though his response is usually to inflame the situation instead of diffusing it, as Rick does here by backing away.


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Scene 06: When we return, Daryl is pissy that they're not dealing with Andrea's refusal to turn over Amy immediately, pointing out that Amy is a timebomb. Daryl wants to take the shot at Amy from there, but Lori sides with giving Andrea her grief. Daryl looks at Rick and Shane sharing their own looks, and realizes this argument is lost. He marches away from them with disgust at the cowardice.

Scene 07: Daryl rejoins Jim, Martinez, Glenn and T-Dog for more disposal work.

[It's seriously bugging me that Rick and Shane seem to think their above this, when they should be in there getting their hands dirty.]

Daryl and Martinez start to drag one of the camp's own toward the pyre, but Glenn objects emotionally that the pyre is for the geeks. Their own dead go in another location for burial.

Daryl doesn't understand what the difference is, but Glenn insists their own people get burial. He's near tears, and Daryl relents about this, too. But, he's still pissed about... oh, the world. He shouts at the rest of the camp that they left his brother for dead, and this was retribution.

Commentary: Just for a bit of Future!Me here: It's shocking to me just how much Daryl comes into his own later in the series and how I cannot tolerate the thought that Norman will inevitably have to be written out at some point to move on. His character becomes amazing, and you can't see any of that here in the early days.

I'd argue, even, that Daryl becomes just as much a part of the heart of the show as Rick or Glenn.

Scene 08: As Daryl storms off, Jim joins Jacqui to move another. She notices Jim's shirt has fresh blood, and there are holes through his shirt. She asks him if he's bleeding. Jim tries to play it off, but Jacqui isn't having any of that. She accuses him of being bit.

Jim begs her not to tell, but Jacqui's first words are to call out that a walker got him. This immediately sets up a tense situation, where everyone [except Andrea, who is still in the background with Amy's body] surround Jim, like they may be ready to lynch him.

At first Jim tries to resist, but T-Dog comes up behind him and grabs his arms. Daryl lifts Jim's shirt, and despite his protestations that he's okay, he was clearly bit across the rib area.

Everyone is staring at Jim in horror, as he just pathetically keeps repeating that he's okay.

Obviously, this leaves everyone in a stunned state over how exactly to handle this. Jim may be okay now, but clearly he won't be. Daryl, of course, immediately goes for murder as the easiest solution.

Commentary: How much do I love this scene? Not losing Jim... he had a personality, unlike some of our extended crew, so I don't like losing him. But, it's great that they took that old cliche about the person who is infected, doesn't tell anyone, and ends up killing somebody later and has Jacqui genre-savvy enough to give a big hell-no! to that shit.

Jacqui is awesome.

Scene 09: With Jim sat down at the RV waiting, everyone else [minus Andrea, again] discuss what to do. Daryl goes with the pick ax through his brain, and then finally taking care of "the girl" as well.

Shane pissily asks if that's what Daryl would want them to do to him, but he agrees he'd thank him while he did it. Dale, surprisingly, agrees that Daryl may be right. Rick warns against starting down this path, where they begin killing one another, but Daryl insists they need to have zero tolerance for the walkers or the soon-to-be.

Rick brings up the desperate hope that Jim still has time to be helped and mentions the rumors about the CDC working on a cure. Shane points out that seems desperate, but Rick goes with the logic that if there was any form of government left [and there might be, judging by the copter that Rick saw when he entered Atlanta], they'd be protecting the CDC labs at all costs.

Shane doesn't object to that logic, but declares that if they're going to place bets, he'd go with Fort Benning.

Lori points out that they're a hundred miles away from Benning. Shane tries to tell them that they'd be highly fortified, but Rick disagrees - he states that the military were on the front lines of this thing and were overrun, already.

Daryl tells them to argue all they want, but goes to solve the problem with his pick axe all the same. Rick stops him short with his gun to Daryl's head.

"We don't kill the living," he decrees from his high horse. [Future!Me gives Rick a skeptical 'uh-huh' but doesn't tell me what that's supposed to mean.]

Shane agrees with Rick on this point [Future!Me gives another 'uh-huh' without explaining, again]. Daryl throws his axe down with a frustrated grunt and storms off... again....

Commentary: By my side comments, you may get the impression I was taking Daryl's side on this one. I wasn't. Clearly walking around killing everyone who might get sick isn't a civilized option and I'd rather think that we could still have some level of decency. But, Rick comes across as marching into this already established camp and laying down rules for them, and it rankles me. Who the hell does he think he is?

So, even though I'm taking Rick's side, I still want to get in his face about thinking he's the arbiter for what everyone else in camp decides to do. And, though Daryl's character is skirting caricature at this point, I am glad to see a serious debate about both "do we stay in a makeshift camp, or risk trying to find more organized help" and the "what do we do with survivors who've been bitten, when we know where this is going".

It was an important issue to approach here in Season One.

Scene 10: With it decided that Jim isn't going to be put down, Rick escorts him away from the camp where he can try to keep him safe from Daryl, at the least.

Dale walks over to Andrea, still sitting with her sister, who has got to be rank. [I'm sorry, but when you die, your underwear doesn't stay clean. It's just a fact of nature. And Andrea has been at this for HOURS.]

He tells Andrea that he's there to pay his respects. As he sits down, he engages Andrea in conversation about his losing his wife to cancer. His wife, at the end, accepted things as they were while Dale refused to. He goes on to say that since her passing, and his anger issues over it, she and Amy were the first people that he allowed himself to care anything for.

Andrea sadly smiles at him, and pulls out the Mermaid Necklace she'd taken from the department store. She tells Dale that Amy's birthday was always a big deal, but that she'd always managed to find excuses to miss it. Andrea regrets always making promises to be there, but never following through. Dale councils that she's going through enough without adding guilt into the mix.

Andrea places the necklace on Amy's chest. Dales leaves her to it.

Scene 11: Back over with Daryl, he's continue with the brain destroying. As he moves onto Ed, Carol stops him and states that she'll do it. With a struggle of emotions, she pick axes Ed.

[The screen cap is correct. The scene is filmed with this extreme-canted angle.]

It tears Ed's face apart, but Carol doesn't stop. With emotional grunts and tears, she continues to completely obliterate Ed's head to Daryl's "wtf" looks. One can't help but think that she's also pouring her pent up rage at Ed for his abuse into the act.


Commentary: I really like this scene, too, for how physical it is. Melissa McBride does some really nice work here with expressing the conflicting emotions of Carol in this moment. Her character is the most problematic, next to T-Dog, because it's largely spent for the first two seasons being a dishrag. So, the little moments like this one really stand out to me.

Scene 12: Back with Andrea, she's stroking Amy's hair when she finally reanimates. It starts with the sound of exhaling air which Andrea leans in to hear and then we see Amy's eyelids twitch. Andrea continues to lean over, nice and close, to Amy's face as she starts to come back. Amy's hands begin to twitch under Andrea's watch.

As Andrea strokes her face, Amy's eyes open and they're cloudy blue rimmed in red. She looks at her sister.

Andrea cradles Amy's face and apologizes for not being there, as Amy's hand fumbles against her face, seemingly remembering who she is... before we see that her hand is actually trying to grip her by the hair.

As everyone else begins noticing that Amy's back, she leans in to bite Andrea's face off. Shane draws his gun and he and Rick start toward them, but Andrea tells Amy that she loves her... and then shoots her in the side of the head.

Commentary: I really like the way this scene was filmed as well. The visuals are tense, because if you've seen more than one zombie movie, you're familiar with the "body comes back, loved ones tries the 'you know me' gambit and then gets bit with lots of blood and screaming" cliche. But also, because in this scene, you can get the feeling that Andrea is in fact aware that this isn't Amy, but may be going for a suicide-by-turned-loved-one to be with her. While this is all going on, the audio is subdued and sad, pointing out just how tragic this whole circumstance is.

And then, just as you think Andrea is either stupid or suicidal, she draws the gun up to Amy's head and shoots her point blank. It wonderfully plays with the cliche, and then subverts it in the same sort of way that Jim being bitten played momentarily with his cliche of an infected being hidden in the ranks, but then subverted it immediately with the genre-savvy action of Jacqui.

It's a very powerful scene for Laurie Holden, and she handles it almost well -- her eyes do look a bit dry, again.

Scene 13: Later, Rick and Shane are out in the field where they've been preparing more burial plots for the camp residents killed.

Rick finally tells Shane to just say it. Shane says 'okay' and lays into Rick for going off on his wild quest to Atlanta, leaving them with half of their men gone with him and causing their losses to be worse than they might have been. Rick turns it around, stating that if they hadn't brought back the gun satchel, their losses could've been worse.

The discussion on this point is interrupted by the arrival of one of the pickups with the dead for burial. Daryl still thinks they should burn all of them, but everyone else is arriving for a makeshift mass funeral. Apparently, under Shane, they'd already reached a decision to burn all bodies, until Glenn got emotional and now with Rick throwing a spanner into the works by disagreeing, Daryl thinks that things are getting chaotic. He tells them that they need to know what the rules are for the community.

Rick suggests there are no hard rules, anymore. Lori interjects that is a problem. But she also says that they've been on the run for survival for so long, they've not had the chance to grab hold of anything that they were. She tells the leading men that they all need time to mourn for their dead. She reminds them that it is what people do.

Scene 14: In the RV, which is apparently "safe" from the group despite being unlocked and unattended, Jim is having a bad case of sweats. We've heard, but not seen through Morgan's tale about his wife, what happens to a body after they survive the initial attack, and poor Jim is experiencing the fever.

He also begins experiencing flashes of either hallucinations, or group-mind of the zombies and his joints are beginning to hurt.

Scene 15: Back at the graveyard, it's come time for Amy and Andrea drags her sheet wrapped body to the hole dug for her. Dale follows, wanting to help, but Andrea struggles on her own. She does allow Dale to help her back out after she crawls into Amy's grave to complete putting her there. Everyone else watches silently, except for some sounds of grief from Lori.

Scene 16: Later, and everyone is trudging back to camp from the small hill. Andrea still looks shell-shocked. Carl asks his dad whether they're safe now that he's back and Rick promises not to run off again ["Carl however obvs doesn't give any such guarantees," Future!Me spouts off again].

After he sends Carl off to the camp, he discusses with Lori about Shane blaming him for not being there when the attack was happening. Lori can't say no, even though she's sympathetic as to his position. Lori explains that she gets that Rick wants to hear that he wasn't wrong, but all she can give him is that neither he nor Shane is entirely wrong.

Rick brings up the CDC and everyone's not being ready to go and get Jim help, but Lori tells him to look in their faces - to look in hers - everyone is terrorized. She suggests that if somebody else was suggesting heading back into the city on a vague hunch, he'd be the one saying they can't do that.

Lori asks for him to tell her something with certainty, and he replies that he loves her.

Scene 17: In the trailer, Carol is seeing to wiping Jim's feverish face with a cool rag. Carol and Lori go off to leave Rick to speak with Jim after the two enter. Jim asks if they saved a grave for him. He's obviously feeling cynical about his chances, but Rick tells him nobody wants him to die and that with God's grace, they'll get him some help.

It doesn't look like there will be much to go around though, as Jim has taken to coughing up blood. To Rick's frustration and helplessness, Jim begins to treat him as somebody from his past.

Commentary: But again... great acting and all... but can the cameraman PLEASE take one step back!

Scene 18: In the doorway of the RV, Lori closes her eyes exhausted, when Shane comes up to her. He wants her to talk 'some sense' into Rick about the CDC plan. Lori has apparently decided to back Rick, more out of duty as his wife -- or out of guilt for her affair. Shane tells her that fixing her marriage isn't worth risking people's lives, but she tells him everyone else can make up their own minds and he needs to stop right now with bringing her marriage into things -- one could also read, their affair into things going forward.

Rick steps out, but it's okay - he only caught the tale end of the conversation. Or so it appears anyway; the look on Rick's face suggests that he possibly is aware of more than he's ready to confront at the moment. It's unclear.

Rick asks what habits Shane was referring to, and he responds that he was talking about his need to always have a plan laid out. He still wants to stay where they are, but Rick is just as convinced that they can't survive without support. Lori tells them that she was just saying to Shane that they should trust Rick's gut, taking him by surprise after their conversation.

Shane says they should do a sweep of the woods; Lori is left looking guilty. She puts all of this behind her to see to Jim.

Scene 19: In the woods, Rick and Shane continue their discussion. Their argument is now about which haven to go for, Atlanta or Ft. Benning. Shane says that he just doesn't see Rick's plan for getting through the city and Rick says offhandedly that if it was his family he was trying to keep safe, he would.

Shane reacts like he's been slapped, and gets into Rick's face about just how much he's done to keep Lori and Carl safe this whole time as if they were his very own. Rick realizes how insulting the comment sounded and assures Shane he didn't mean it the way that Shane is taking it, but the damage to their partnership and friendship is plain.

Before things can be straightened out, or they escalate further, a snap of branches in the woods has both of them on sudden guard. They separate to scout.

Scene 20: We follow Shane. He starts heavy breathing and lining up a shot, only for the POV to reveal that he's lining his gunsight onto Rick's back!



It looks like Shane is working himself up to pulling the trigger. He lets the moment go, but not before Dale has seen the entire thing and confronts him with a look of shocked disgust. Shane laughs it off, and passes it off as a mistake, but it's not very convincing.


Commentary: Obvs, this is a huge clue that Shane isn't to be trusted and that he's got some major issues. It won't be the first time that I waver on whether Shane can be redeemed. I tell Future!Me that if Rick, Lori & Shane formed a threeway, everything would work out a lot more smoothly -- Future!Me rolls his eyes and gives a "That doesn't happen"... "and you're an idiot".

Scene 21: The scouts arrive back in camp, where Dale ugly-eyes Shane, but doesn't say anything. Shane does a 180, and now tells the group that he trusts Rick's gut, to Lori's now-surprise. The Morales family doesn't look too happy. Shane tells everyone that those who agree to go with them will need to be ready first thing in the morning. Lori doesn't look too happy with this.

Scene 22: Presumably, the next morning, Rick is on the hillside. Rick is reporting to Morgan on the chance that he's receiving. He tells them about the new plan. It's obvious that Rick needs the CDC thing to work out but is full of self-doubt about this plan.

Scene 23: In the RV, Jim snaps awake soaked in fever sweat. He hears Shane prepping the group to move out.

Scene 24: Shane gives last minute instructions to keep everyone together. The Morales family choose not to go. They separate to try to find extended family on their own. Rick gets a gun from the satchel for them to take for protection. In the meanwhile, it looks like Daryl may be thinking about declining.

There are sad tears and some angst from Daryl, but ultimately he sticks with the caravan.

Scene 25: As music swells, the caravan head off down the road. In the RV, Jacqui is seeing to Jim who is in a lot of pain.

Scene 26: Montage of road trip. Music.

Commentary: Weirdly, too. In the last episode, I mentioned how some of the scene cuts came as jarring, because they didn't seem to be at logical breaking points in the story. This montage with the music swell made me think we were coming to the end credits as the gang head off for their uncertain future into a place they know to be dangerous.

But, we're only 30 minutes in -- even subtracting commercials -- this isn't the end of the episode.

Scene 27: After a montage of everyone's faces, we cut to a broken down RV with smoke coming from the radiator. Dale tells Rick that he told him about the bad hose on the vehicle. As they consider the options, Jacqui comes out to tell them that Jim is doing really badly.

Scene 28: Shane tells Rick to hold the fort, and he'll scout ahead to see if he can find a hose. T-Dog goes with him for backup.

Scene 29: Rick steels himself and then goes in to see Jim's current condition.

Rick assures him that they'll be back on the road soon, but Jim tells him that his bones feel like glass and he can't take it. He wants to be left at the side of the road. They talk about what that certainly means and Rick tries to suggest delirium to ignore his request, but Jim is in a moment of clarity. He assures Rick that this is about his decision, not Rick's failure.

Tags: walking dead season 1 review

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