Spoilers for the episode
Rick wakes up in a hospital after the zombie apocalypse and manages to survive long enough to get back to his house where his family is missing. He gets saved by a father and son and decides to head to Atlanta to find a refugee camp.
The show opens on Rick stopping to get petrol where at some point a lot of people were camped out. There’s a lot of dead people in cars and loads of abandoned tents. Basically every thing’s abandoned and rotting.
Then Rick comes across a little girl walker who picks up a teddy. She might be the only walker to do something human in the show just to trick a character into thinking she’s human. Rick has to shoot her in the head. That sets the tone for the rest of the series. Doing things you don’t want to do in order to survive and every thing is miserable.
It’s weird seeing Rick back in the uniform, clean, with short hair and without a beard. I haven’t seen these episodes in a while and I’m used to a Rick who hasn’t had a shower or cut his hair in a long time.
Then we get the title sequence which is one of the few of all the TV shows I watch that I actually like to watch. The music and the images are a great combination to show the lives that have been destroyed.
The momentum gets ruined by the next scene being a flashback to before the outbreak with Rick and Shane in their police car.
All this scene does is show they’re best friends and are both sexist. They could have easily cut this. It’s shown later that they’re friends when Shane won’t leave Rick’s bedside in the hospital. We don’t need to be told he’s got problems with his wife that can be shown later when we actually meet her and they get to interact. This way she’s made to be the bad guy before we even meet her. No wonder I never liked Lori.
So Rick gets shot doing cop business and wakes up from a coma in hospital with no one around. Just like in ‘28 Days Later’ but he’s not naked.
The flowers are dead which I’m sure is meant to be symbolic and the clock’s stopped so it must be linked to the Internet to keep the exact time because the batteries wouldn’t run out that quickly.
Rick manages to get to the hallway which is wrecked. The lights flicker ominously and there’s blood splattered every where.
He finds a half eaten corpse and whoever was shooting couldn’t have been aiming for the head because there aren’t any dead walkers on the floor.
I love when he finds the room with the walkers barricaded inside. The noise they make and their long fingers trying to stretch through the gap in the door. Even though I’ve seen it before I’m still waiting for something to get him from behind as he stares at the door in horror.
Then it’s on to the pitch black stairway with only matches to light the way. This so freaked me out when I first saw it. The one thing this show does well is horror.
Every loud noise he makes is cringe inducing. The emergency door clanging as it opens and closes. It seems louder because there’s no music. They only play music when they want you to be sad.
The mass of bodies outside and the helicopter gives you an idea of the scale of the disaster.
Then Rick steals a half eaten walker’s bike. She’s got webisodes dedicated to how she got there. It’s a little mini story of the first days of the outbreak.
He gets to his house and starts shouting for Lori and Carl before he breaks down sobbing on the floor. The only reason he hasn’t been eaten yet is that he’s the main character and it’s early days for the show so everything is a bit easier. He then goes outside and tries to make friends with a walker but the plot intervenes and he gets hit by a shovel and saved before he can die.
His saviours are Morgan and his son Duane. Morgan shoots the walker and then interrogates Rick about his injuries to see if he’s been bitten.
Rick, who’s probably got a concussion now, looses consciousness and wakes up tied to a bed. Morgan sets the rules which involves staying away from the walkers.
This father and son are so much better than Rick and Carl. I’d rather follow these guys instead. Morgan makes sure his son has manners and talks properly even though it’s a zombie apocalypse.
Turns out that Morgan’s wife is a walker and she keeps returning to the house they stayed in when she died like the zombies in ‘Dawn of the Dead’ returned to the mall. She also still knows how to turn a door handle. I can’t think of any other walkers doing that so she’s another one that still acts a bit human. It’s creepy as Rick looks through the peephole and it’s like she’s looking right back.
Rick takes them to the police station where there’s running water and they clear out the weapons.
They each take a radio and Rick promises to turn it on at a certain time each day so if they come to Atlanta they can find each other.
So Rick goes back to the park with the half eaten walker to waste time killing it then he drives off to where the episode started.
Morgan sets his gun up on the second floor and starts shooting walkers to draw his wife out so he can deal with her. We don’t see him shoot her because he breaks down crying when he aims at her and that’s the last we see. I think he doesn’t do it but I can’t remember what’s said in later episodes.
Rick’s going to Atlanta because Morgan heard they were setting up a refugee camp and that’s where they were going before his wife got bitten.
Rick tries to radio ahead to anyone who might be listening. He gets through to survivors but he can’t hear them.
They say he doesn’t know what he’s getting himself into. Combine this with Morgan telling him to stay away from large groups of walkers and that’s a good incentive to stay out of the city.
The camp of survivors have an argument about what to do about him and if they should warn him. This includes Lori, Shane and Carl. Shane and Lori argue over putting warning signs up on the road. So the first time we see Lori it’s her nagging Shane and then storming off. Not a great introduction for any character unless you want to make them the bad guy. I think they want to villanise her.
Then Shane follows and calms her down. Turns out they’re having sex making her the bad guy in her marriage because the shot goes from her kissing Shane to a shot of Rick gazing longingly at a picture of his family. The devoted husband trying to find his family while his wife cheats on him.
Rick runs out of petrol before he gets to Atlanta and finds a horse instead. The next scene where he says he’s rusty and the horse takes off at a gallop is always funny to me.
So he decides to ride the horse into Atlanta despite Morgan telling him to avoid large groups of walkers.
The music disappears again so the noise of the hooves stands out and you know something bad is about to happen.
The horse at least gets nervous even if Rick is too stupid to. He says ‘it’s just a few, nothing we can’t out run’. Where did he think most of the population of that city had gone?
Then he sees a helicopter and charges off after it right into a herd of walkers. He tries to evade them but they come from all directions and the horse goes down.
The poor horse gets eaten while Rick looses the guns but makes it under a tank and we get a moment when you think he’s got no where to go as walkers approach from both ends. He puts the gun to his head as he sees a hatch up into the tank.
He gets in safely but there’s a body that he doesn’t check is actually dead and sure enough it comes alive and he has to shoot it. Deafening himself in the process. He opens the top hatch but has to close it quickly as walkers start climbing the tank. Now he’s stuck.
He might have also learned the number one rule always check the bodies are truly dead. The other rule is that if something nice happens or you feel a bit happy something bad will happen to crush that feeling. In this case make a horse friend, have fun riding said horse. Horse gets eaten graphically in front of you.
So he thinks he’s trapped and we get Glenn’s voice on the radio calling him ‘the dumb-ass in the tank’. I love Glenn.
This is one of the best episodes they ever did. The horror parts are really good and while there is gore it doesn’t feel like that’s the focus. There’s not a lot of talking either. Conversation and moralising isn’t this shows strong point.
The bad parts are Shane and Lori who I hate equally but we don’t see a lot of this episode. Rick isn’t annoying yet but I think that’s because he hasn’t said a lot yet.
My favourite things about post apocalyptic worlds is the story in the set dressing which they do well. All the wreckage and things in odd places making you wonder how they got there. I also love the random tank Rick gets stuck in. It makes me want to know what happened to the people in it.
Next The Walking Dead: Guts