45 min., 2010
Written by Frank Darabont
Directed by Michelle MacLaren
My rating: ★★
It’s what’s on the inside that counts . . . According to the zombies.
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Sheriff Rick Grimes wakes from a coma and struggles to find his family and any survivors in a post-apocalyptic zombie infested world. He attempts to lead his family and survivors to the CDC in search of a cure.
The following review contains several “spoilers”. Then again, perhaps they are simply ominous views into future events by a sage oracle… Nah, it’s just me talking too much. So, on to the review.
This show is based on Robert Kirkman’s graphic novel series of the same name. At this point, for our main character Rick Grimes, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was time to be surrounded in a tank by zombies, which is where the last episode left off. Ominous voice broadcasting over the radio in the tank let Rick know that not only were there survivors in the area, but that they could see him. The voice directs him safely from the tank to an alley where after several very nice head shots he meets up with his savior. Enter Glen played by Steven Yenn. For fans of the graphic novel this is a fan boys wet dream come true. This character has been Rick’s go to guy and one of the most stable friends he’s had so far in the comics.
However, in one of the many deviations from the comic, Glen seems to have some friends waiting for him whom you meet once he leads Rick to a shopping mall nearby where they’ve decided to hold up and get supplies. Now, I know what you are thinking, this does NOT go all Dawn of the Dead once they get in the mall. Even though there are survivors inside, zombies banging on the doors, no visible means of escape…Actually, I guess it does go all Dawn of the Dead after all, but not for long.
This is where we get introduced to Andrea, another essential character from the graphic novels, who greets Rick with a pistol to his face for drawing so much attention with the shots he fired on his way to their hideout. She is played expertly by Laurie Holden who is by no means unfamiliar with the large or small screen.
For all intents and purposes, this is the expanded character introduction episode. Every show or series has one; however, in my opinion, this isn’t making for riveting television! This becomes a flexing of each person’s unique contribution to the group and a little back story which we need to know but don’t want to sit through. It’s like watching a documentary about guns when you just wanna see someone fire an M-16 into a brick wall because it’s cool. I see the point of the episode but it ain’t very impressive overall.
Anywhore, back to business. The source material is exciting by itself but isn’t getting much use this episode. The problem here is that as you are introduced to these characters you want to care about them, ultimately in shows like this you know someone is getting the axe within the next two episodes. Or, in this case, there is a gentleman that actually gets axed a few scenes from now. However, I digress.
Moments after this tense introduction, shots are fired from the roof and everyone takes off to see what’s happening. Enter the redneck. Say hello to Merle Dixon. His interests include: hunting, group activities (with the KKK), and of course, recreational drug use. This one’s a keeper, ladies. Even though this is the only episode you see him in at least this season, Michael Rooker captures the essence of a bigot with relative ease. He threatens another character, our token black guy, T-Dog, played by Iron E. Singleton, when he’s challenged about sniping zombies from the roof. After the n word gets thrown around and the fists are done flying, Rick jumps in, knocks Merle on his ass and cuffs him to a pipe on the roof. After leaving him in T-Dog’s care, everyone else returns to ground level. A discussion is had and a decision is made on how best to leave with all these zombies crowding the exits after being drawn in by all the gunfire. After some debate, Glen and friend go check the sewers for an exit point, only to find that way is not possible.
With all other options exhausted, Rick takes a plan that is so ingenious that only Wild E. Coyote himself could have thought it up before this. He decided to chop up one of the zombies and coat their clothes in it so he and Glen can grab some vehicles a block or so away to haul everyone out of there. To be honest, this next scene is some shit straight out of Fight Club. Although his name is not Robert Paulson, Rick and company examine this dude’s drivers license in a scene meant to humanize this man and his sacrifice pre-axing. Long story short, Glen and Rick get all gored up, and limp their way down the block just to have life smack them in the face with a dose of rain that returns their scent and alerts the zombies. They get the truck and after a diversion, everyone from the mall is saved at the last moment. Except Merle, of course, who is still trapped on the roof due to a slip up where T-Dog drops the handcuff key down a drain. He locks him up there so the zombies can’t get to him and makes a hasty retreat.
With everyone headed back to the survivor camp, it only seems like a matter of time before we get the pleasure of being introduced to the other characters there and the pain of Rick finding out if his woman is with another man. I would love give this episode a higher rating, but I understand that necessity came before entertainment this time around. It wasn’t a bad episode and it wasn’t a good episode, however I can say it left me informed and perhaps gave me a little perspective on who these people are. Ultimately though, in a lot of places it fell kinda flat. With the source material they are working from I think it could have been a lot better, but like with most things, television can be hit or miss. I promise you it did succeed in generating enough interest in what’s going to happen next to guarantee that I would tune in for episode 3, “Tell It To the Frogs,” which I will have a review for very soon. I hope this review filled you in enough that you can skip this episode and move on to the next one without any real sense of regret. In the meantime, may all your films bring fright.Have You Read...?