Warning. The review contains mild spoilers.
This is it, you guys. We’re in the homestretch. Only one more episode left in the astounding first season of The Walking Dead. Coming off of the insane finale of last week, last night’s episode was noticeably slower in its pacing. But, in its favor, we got an intriguing new character, and one hell of a cliffhanger to bring us into the finale.
Andrea still mourns over Amy’s corpse, and refuses to talk to anyone (going as far as to pull a gun on Rick when he approaches her). The scene of Amy slowly moving again and her grayed over eyes opening up was definitely unsettling, but I loved how Andrea talked to her one last time, getting closure. Of course, then she blew her baby sister’s brains out. Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) also has a commendable scene with Andrea before Amy’s turn. I’ve been waiting for some sort of bonding to start between the two, knowing they start a romantic relationship in the comics. I think last night was the first real step in that direction, with Dale explaining how much Amy and Andrea meant to him after his wife’s death.
Turns out someone else got bitten, too. Jim, although his bite wasn’t immediately fatal as Amy’s was, hid the fact from the group, fearing what they would do to him. As the virus grows inside him, the survivors are faced with the decision of killing him or protecting him. This brings out the differences in personalities of the diverse group, with Daryl nearly impaling Jim with a pick axe not five minutes after he finds out he was bitten (and just when I was starting to like him…). Then we have the coolheaded Rick, backed up by Shane, proclaiming, “We don’t kill the living.”
Despite Shane’s siding with Rick on that front, we got a glimpse into Shane’s mind, and the suggestion of his malevolence seems to be getting stronger. As Rick walks away to investigate a noise in the woods, Shane’s cross-hairs glide over Rick… and stay there. The battle inside his head (killing the guy that destroyed any chance he had with Lori, but that same person being his best friend) was pretty easy to read. And best of all, Dale sees the whole thing. Despite Shane’s attempt to play it off, you can tell Dale isn’t buying any of it. We’re finally getting closer to a major plot point of the comics (and with all the changes this episode brought, I’m getting more and more doubtful it’s even going to happen).
Now about that ending. In the last ten minutes or so, we meet a guy that seems to work for the CDC (so says his coffee mug). He’s been conducting experiments, perhaps trying to find a cure for the zombie virus. And, after a disastrous explosion of all his research, he seems to be on his last legs, as seen from the offhanded comment into a video log, “I think tomorrow I’m going to blow my brains out. I haven’t decided.”
The survivors (minus one family who stupidly decide to not go along with the others) show up here after deserting their camp. I don’t really know what to say about any of this, due to the limited amount of time we got with it all, but it definitely intrigues me. None of this is in the comics, for those non-readers out there; this whole CDC thing is entirely new. I must say, from the bull-headed characters that were the new additions to the show, this non-comic inspired idea is definitely the best so far.
Speaking of bullheaded people, what ever happened to Merle? I know I don’t love the guy, but it’s kind of hard not to be intrigued by that trail of blood and gore he left behind in Atlanta. And his brother, Daryl, does he not care anymore, either? Even Rick left behind a note for the father and son he met in the pilot (who, as far as we know, might not even be trailing them), yet Daryl does nothing in case his brother shows up at the old camp? I have this image of Merle showing up in the finale and going crazy axe-murderer on everyone, one handed and all. We shall see.
I’m pretty sure my predictions of where this first season will end are completely off now, given the huge divergence its made with the comic. I’m not complaining, seeing entire new plotlines is like reading a new issue, but just a tiny, teensy part of me is wondering where the hell they plan in going with all this. And now we have just one episode left for it to be found out… until the second season. This episode seems to lead brilliantly into the finale, but we’ll have to see if it can cap and build on the amazing foundation these last couple of episodes have built.