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06 October, 2012

REVIEW: The Walking Dead: Season 1 - Episode 2

Before reading further, please see my previous review of episode 1, if you haven't already.  That post is likely to be the longest and most detailed in this series, as it quite necessarily included some background, etc. that would quickly prove repetitive if included in every subsequent post.  With that in mind, please understand that, while some plot points are revealed in these writings, my intent is to review them from the perspective of the Doomer / Prepper / Survivalist community.  Some spoilers will be included, however, so proceed at your own risk.

Episode 2 opens with the camp of survivors near the flooded quarry in the hills outside Atlanta that we briefly saw in episode 1 and that includes Rick's family and former partner/best-friend Shane.  People are taking turns gathering wild edibles in what appears to be a bucket from a playground sandbox, wondering aloud how best to tell which could be poisonous.  Apparently, they need to have watched more episodes of Survivorman when they had the chance.  One old timer name Dale stands guard with his rifle from the roof of his RV, admonishing the others not to stray too far because of the danger of Walkers in the surrounding woods.

Good perimeter security in evidence here.  There's a reason why people have been building watchtowers for thousands of years.  Hint: because they work!  An actual LP/OP trench dug-out and camouflaged high up on a nearby hillside would have been best, but, as they are surviving as nomads with no way of knowing when their camp might be located and overrun, utilizing the high-point of the flat RV roof as a force-multiplier to allow them to see approaching threats from a distance is a very good idea.

During the times that has passed, Rick's wife Lori and Shane have become lovers, ostensibly believing him long dead.  They're still keeping it secret, though, I guess mostly from Rick's son Carl.

Meanwhile, Rick is trapped inside a military tank in downtown Atlanta, surrounded by Walkers, when a voice reaches-out over the radio and guides him how best to escape.  Another group of survivors, it seems, are hold-up, sheltering in place inside a hastily-fortified office building/department store; they've been surviving, apparently, by quietly scavenging supplies from the ruined city as they hide from the hordes.  That has now officially gone out the window, however, because of all the gunfire as Rick escaped the surrounded tank.  Recall, we learned previously that the Walkers are like dogs; if they hear a loud noise, they come.  This is where we meet Glenn, the guy on the radio who guided Rick inside via a ladder fire escape.

Inside, we meet several more characters, among them a reckless redneck named Merle who has trouble written all over him from the first instant we're introduced to him.  Needless to say, Rick has to put him in his place, telling him he (Rick) will shoot him if he must because he is not a cop anymore; he's just a man looking for his family, and anybody that gets in the way of that is gonna lose.

He also makes it clear that distinctions such as race no longer exist; it's just them and the dead, and everyone has to band together to survive.  This is another good point that this show makes that we, as folks who don't discount a possible future collapse scenario as being a possibility, need to take to heart.  We won't be running from zombies in a real collapse scenario, but there will be two-legged predators about, and attitudes such as racism will have no place.   I'm a Caucasian, but you had better believe when TSHTF, I'll much sooner ally myself with people of differing race who want to work together and be productive than with other Caucasians who are troublemakers and who would exclude a person who could be useful just because of bigotry.   If you harbor White Power fantasies, you should probably stay away from my retreat during TEOTWAWKI.  Just sayin'.

The situation is ugly now for the characters: the Walkers have been attracted by all the shooting, and now the street below is crowded like its Time Square on New Year's Eve.  They need to get the heck out of Dodge, though, so a plan begins to formulate to use the sewers to escape.  Glenn, we soon discover, is a smart cookie and something of a natural leader, despite only being in what appears to be his early 20s.

Glenn and another guy (nobody goes anywhere alone, which is a good practice) scouts what they hope is an entrance to the sewers in the basement of the building, while others guard the shopping center entrance, which is all glass.  Not a good thing, obviously, which is soon evidenced by Walkers crashing through.  Double bad, since the sewer entrance is blocked.  Instead, they have to set-up an elaborate diversion that is pretty gruesome, but ultimately effective, allowing them to pass among the Walkers (who are basically like animals, responding to smell and sound); and to gain access to a truck (sort of like a furniture movers truck or a U-Haul with the enclosed cargo area) that allows them to escape.

They depart Atlanta to join the other group outside of town, who they've been communicating with via CB radio.  Turns out, they were actually one group; those in the city were there to scavenge for supplies for the others.  Here lies another point to which those of us who consider ourselves members of the Doomer / Prepper / Survivalist community need to take note.

Even a fairly well-stocked and self-sufficient retreat or homestead will occasionally need to replenish supplies.  In a true survival scenario, there is no such thing as looting; and, in a collapse, there will either be no authorities to uphold such laws anyway or those authorities will be weak, struggling to maintain a smaller area of control, while the rest of us are left to fend for ourselves.  There will be times when all of us will need to send out foraging parties to bring back needed supplies for the rest.  Count on it.

Shane, Rick's former partner (who has apparently assumed a leadership role in the group), makes the difficult decision to abandon their little foraging party when they're stuck in the department store, not knowing that they've figured out their own method of escape.  Essentially, he's saying that they're done for, and that it isn't wise to risk even more lives on a bid to save them that probably won't succeed anyway.

This is important, because it represent the first in a series of decisions from Shane that make him seem like a cold and heartless bastard and even a villain at times.  The agonizing problem that the discerning viewer will come to understand is that, most of the time, he's right.

Anyway, the episode ends with them departing the overrun city of Atlanta to return to the rest of their survival group with Rick still completely unaware that his family is waiting for him there, or that his wife and best-friend are now lovers.

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