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09 October, 2012

REVIEW: The Walking Dead: Season 1 - Episode 5

My previous reviews for this series can be accessed by clicking the links below:

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4

Please understand that, while some plot points are revealed in the course of these writings, my intent is to review this program from the perspective of the Doomer / Prepper / Survivalist community.  Some spoilers will be included, however, so proceed at your own risk.

Episode 5 begins with Rick on the radio, warning Morgan (the Dad from episode 1 played by Lennie James) not to enter Atlanta, because "it belongs to the dead now."  He tells him how to find their camp on a map and that he and his son should join them there instead, all the while not knowing if they could be listening or are already dead.  He also admonishes them to be careful, explaining about the attack on their camp, and that they have lost people.  Apparently, he does this broadcast every day at dawn.

Next, we see the aftermath of attack, including body disposal and one character refusing to give up the body of a dead relative.  Needless to say, this is a problem, because they have to "deal with it" before the victim rises as a Walker herself.  The result a few scenes later is heart-wrenching to watch.  For our part, being able to manage grief and help others to do the same, so that everyone can continue moving forward an doing the things that need done will be very important when TSHTF.

Glenn is becoming emotional and insisting on the bodies of their comrades from camp being buried, not burned as they have apparently agreed upon beforehand and are doing to those of the attackers.  In this, I can see where he is coming from, but I can't help but think burning is a far better option here.  Even if you put aside the extra work it takes to dig multiple graves at a time when people are already having to work hard just to survive and food is scarce, we're also talking about a scenario where disease is an issue.  Granted, they are using a pickaxe to mush everybody's brains (gruesome!), so they don't rise, but how do they know at this point that they might not get it just by handling the bodies, touching blood, et cetera?

It turns-out that Jim (the guy who lost his $h!t in episode 4 and had to be restrained) was scratched or otherwise wounded during the attack, meaning he is now infected.  H's trying to hide it, but one of the others sees that he's bleeding from a fresh wound.  Now, the others have to decide how to deal with him; some want to kill him outright, but Rick argues they should make for the CDC, as they were looking for a cure the last time anyone heard.  Shane, on the other hand, pushes for them to make, instead, for Fort Benning military base about a hundred miles distant.

A bit later, we witness Shane and Rick argue their points while conducting an armed sweep of the camp perimeter.  Armed sweeps or patrols, I believe, will represent a vital part of keeping any area secure in a protracted collapse scenario, where law and order no longer exist.  So, that is just one more thing this show gets right, as far as I'm concerned.

Here, we see some of the first signs of true dissension and hostility between Shane and Rick with Shane actually going so far as to target Rick briefly when they get separated in the forest checking-out a noise.  Remember, Shane had stepped-in as the man in Lori and Carl's lives when they thought Rick was dead, but now he's been pushed-out, and Rick has no idea.  Shaken (perhaps because of what he just considered doing), Shane eases-off on his argument, addressing the group to say that, wherever they go, everyone should stay together and they will be leaving in the morning.

The next morning, Rick radios Morgan again to tell him where they're headed, while Shane explains caravan procedures to everyone.  They're to stay on CB channel 40, but keep the chatter down, and those without a CB are told to honk their horn once if they have trouble and the whole caravan will stop together.  All in all, a pretty solid plan, in my opinion.  In the end, some decide to go their own way to look for family in Birmingham, and they all part ways.

Soon, though, they have vehicle trouble with RV, and Shane and T-Dog volunteer to drive ahead to find a gas station and look for something to help fix it.  Jim is in bad shape in the back of the RV, the ride too rough on him, and he asks Rick to leave him.  He wants to be left to die so he can be with his family.  Rick is worried Jim might not be in his right mind, but he swears he's lucid.  In the end, they vote that it's his choice to go out the way he wishes and leave him by the side of the road.

Here again, the show portrays what will, without a doubt, be an unpleasant reality in a post-collapse world.  Just as some will simply commit suicide out of a sense of hopelessness and desperation (we're already seeing evidence of that now with the current economic downturn), other will do the same or otherwise opt not to be treated for injuries, et cetera.  The idea of letting someone die may seem repugnant to many of you reading this, and I definitely would never just let someone I love kill themselves on a whim.  Suicide is often an impulsive, permanent solution to temporary problems, but there are instances when I support euthanasia.  If a person is fully rationale and lucid and wants to end their own pain, who are we to dare stand in their way?  I believe in personal freedoms, and I won't be electing myself as the tyrant who makes them suffer needlessly to satisfy my own morality.  My morality says each person should make their own choices, and -- as long as they aren't infringing on the liberties of anyone else -- no one else has the right to impede their wishes.

At this point in the show, the screen flashes to a Dr. Jenner at the CDC, creating a computer video log.  He tells us that it's been 194 days since "Project Wildfire" was declared and 63 days since the disease suddenly went global.  This is the first mention, I believe, of how much time has passed since TEOTWAWKI.  He is then shown testing brain tissue samples in full hazmat decontamination gear, before he loses all his viable research samples in a laboratory accident.

The others arrive outside the CDC facility and there are bodies everywhere.  It looks like the whole place has been overrun and they have put themselves in grave danger for nothing.  Rick, however, sees a surveillance camera move as Jenner is watching them on a video terminal.  Rick pleads to be let inside as the others want to flee approaching Walkers.  The episode ends with Jenner opening the doors.

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