When we last left the survivors of a zombie attack outside of Atlanta, Rick had learned a valuable and boring lesson about racial tolerance in the form of learning that not all Latinos are gangsters, Merle had disappeared, and the survivors had been attacked by a zombie swarm, with several of their number being reduced to zombie chow.  Did things get any better this week? Ha!

The Players:

  • Director: Ernest Dickerson
  • Writer: Glen Mazzara
  • Cast: Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Emma Bell, Frances Cobb, Jeffrey DeMunn, Laurie Holden, Keith Allen Hayes, Lennie James

Episode: “Wildfire”

Rick goes to the CDC.  Jim gives us an inside perspective into what dying of a zombie bite feels like.  Andrea gives Amy a headache.  Rick tries to contact Morgan.  Shane and Rick have a quiet discussion.

The Good:

  • Sister Talk: The final scene between Andrea and Amy again demonstrates just how good this show can be when it puts its mind to it.  In an episode full of great moments, this was probably one of the best.
  • Shane on You: Shane has continued to show that while he’s kind of a douche, he’s not entirely wrong about what’s needed to keep people alive in the post-apocalypse.  The show has been doing a good job contrasting Shane’s extreme practicality with Rick’s desire to maintain his principles, and it makes for a great driving conflict.
  • He’s a Dead Jim: Jim was a character we only got to know briefly, but his time in the series was really good, and the scene where he asks to be left behind to be with his family (that is, to be allowed to die) is incredibly touching.  It will, of course, probably not be without consequences, likely horrible ones, because this is just that kind of show.
  • The Gates of Hell: So, does anybody think that CDC trip is going to end well?  At all?  We’re a mite skeptical, ourselves.
  • A New Direction: This episode was helped considerably, on almost every level, by the presence of experienced director Ernest Dickerson.  Dickerson’s been working in the film game for quite a while, and it shows both in his visual choices and how some of the scenes are handled.  It’s kind of telling that the best episodes have been directed by experienced film directors, something that this show has hopefully learned from and will stick to in the future.

The Weird:

  • Robbing Peter to Pay Paul: We hate to keep harping on how inconsistent the show can be, especially with an episode that was rock solid leading into what will probably be a great finale.  Still, you can kinda tell who the writers are attached to, namely Rick, Andrea and Morgan, and who they could give a crap about; namely, the rest of their enormous cast.  Still, kudos to giving Glenn at least one moment of character development.
  • Sweet Home Alabama: So you introduce this group and their families in the previous episode, only to have an unnecessary scene later where they decide to go to Alabama?  It’s a nice scene, and we’re sure it’s a setup for something in the finale, but…really?

The Bad:

  • Rick’s Turn In the Barrel: We like that Rick is the conscience of the show; Andrew Lincoln’s centered, principled performance, combined with the obvious care the writers have taken to develop him as a principled character and to have him clash with Shane over matters both personal and political (well, as political as survival gets) is spectacular.
  • So why is he acting like such a moron in this episode?
  • Rick’s Not Slick: He knows that there are still guys like Merle out there, but to try and save Morgan, he leaves messages and sends out radio broadcasts that any scumbag can (and likely will) follow right to the camp.  He insists on dragging Jim to the CDC when it’s obvious the CDC doesn’t have any sort of a cure.  When leading a group of people to the CDC, he has a freak-out right in the middle of a zombie attack, which makes sense as he’s had a rough few days, but still, dude, zombie attack.

Overall:

Despite Rick being an idiot being the central driver, still a really good episode and arguably the best short of the pilot.  We can’t wait for the season finale to see what the CDC brings.

Rating: 8.5/10

The Walking Dead airs Sundays, 10pm, on AMC.

Agree?  Disagree?  Wish you had a scientist burning flesh in your city?  Let us know in the comments!