Would you believe that in a show about zombies the best episode so far has been one where there aren’t very many zombies?
Its true you know. I believe I said it in my review of the very first episode of The Walking Dead. The best zombie fiction is about the people living through the zombie apocalypse, not just about how cool it is to see the zombies tearing apart the stupid humans. Well this episode has people problems in spades. Most of the setup of the first two episodes gets paid off right here.
First of all, Rick finds his family. Now I have a bit of a problem with that. It just feels like it should take longer for him to find them. That’s a great journey, a man walking across the country, fighting off the living dead, searching for a family that he isn’t even sure is still alive. But to see it get paid off in episode three, it really doesn’t have the payoff it could have. Then again, I understand that this is a six episode season and they wanted to be able to wrap up all these plot lines, so I can forgive them this slight problem.
What also helps with this is that the reunion is handled really well. We the audience know that Rick’s wife has been shacking up with his best friend and partner while they thought he was dead. To see the looks on those two character’s faces when Rick walks into camp is a great moment. What’s even better is the Oh You Bastard Moment. In case you don’t know, the Oh You Bastard Moment is where one of the characters is revealed to be a scheming bastard behind the backs of everyone, including the audience. Spoilers ahead, just to warn you guys. But it turns out that Rick’s best friend Shane had told everyone, including Rick’s wife Lori that Rick was oh most certainly dead, no chance at all of coming back, uh uh, no way Jose. Yup, they could have gone to the hospital to get Rick if they had believed he was alive. Oh Shane, you bastard…
But even here The Walking Dead surprises. You’d think that Shane would become the resident bastard. Oh no, things aren’t that simple. There is an excellent scene near the end of the episode where Shane, either to make up for his past deeds or just to relieve stress, beats the crap out of the resident chauvinistic wife beater of the survivor camp. So Shane is now the bastard with the heart of gold? I dunno, and I like it that way. To be confused about a character’s role in the show means that they are a well rounded character who can’t just be pigeon holed into one role.
Speaking of easily pigeon holed one note characters, remember the racist that was handcuffed to the roof last episode? Yeah you do. So does everyone at camp. And his brother. Yeah, his brother isn’t too happy that he was just left behind to die a slow, painful death. So Rick, being the good guy that he is, leads an expedition back into Atlanta in order to rescue him. This of course leads to tension between Rick and Lori. He did just come back from the dead after all, and he is risking his life again for a known racist who almost got their group killed last episode. But Rick also has secondary motivation to sweeten the pot. When the poor horse was swarmed at the end of episode one, he lost the big bag of guns that he got from the police station. He wants the big bag of guns back. Also, speaking of episode one, remember Morgan and his son? Rick was supposed to call them on the walkie talkie in the bag when they were near Atlanta. He has to warn them that Atlanta is a very hostile place right now. And so episode three ends with the group of four rescuers on the roof, looking at…well, this I won’t spoil. Watch the damn episode.
Really, watch the damn episode. This is perhaps the best of this short series. It goes big with the character interaction, tying up old plot points while starting new ones, all the while making sure we remember that, oh yeah, these people are surrounded by zombies. When we find out that one has wandered near camp because the food supply is running low in the city, we are reminded of why these people are forced together, why a street wise black man is hanging out with two racists, why a wife beating prick is considered good company to keep. At the end of the world, survival is the name of the game. You might not get to pick who would keep you alive. It is this factor which makes this show so riveting. With only three episodes left, I can’t wait to see what else this series can get in before the end of the season.