Warning: This Walking Dead Season 1 post contains spoilers. If you haven’t seen this episode, please wait until after watching, before reading further.
Summary: After being shot, Sheriff Deputy Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), wakes up in an abandoned hospital, shocked to find his loved ones missing and his town overrun by flesh-eating zombies. A Good Samaritan Morgan Jones (Lennie James) and his son Duane (Adrian Kali Turner) fill Rick in on what’s happening and help him get back on his feet. Rick then sets out to find his wife and son in Atlanta, Georgia, where he believes they’ve found safe haven.
Even though AMC’s The Walking Dead is based on Robert Kirkman’s zombie comics, the creators establish in the very first episode that blood and guts aren’t the main objective. There’s gore and a very tense survival tale at its core, but ultimately the series is about human beings trying to hold onto sanity in a screwed up world. I think that’s why the show appeals to people who haven’t read Robert Kirkman’s Walking Dead comics and normally might not watch zombie movies. The characters live in a post-apocalyptic setting, where they consistently have to make hard choices they wouldn’t have faced in their previous lives, and that creates some gripping drama.
Right in the opening scene of Days Gone By, you’re drawn in. The solitary Rick wanders through a barren, eerily quiet landscape. With almost no ambient sounds, the tension slowly becomes greater as your pulse quickens and you experience immense dread. You know something bad is about to happen, and the payoff comes when he discovers a zombie girl. Reacting quickly, Rick makes the difficult decision to put her down. After this opening, I knew I was going to have fun with the series.
From there, you’re taken through a flashback where you meet Rick’s partner Shane (Jon Bernthal), and discover the circumstances of how he got shot. In Rick’s conversation with Shane about women, you can already get a sense that Shane’s not the greatest guy based on his sexist comments. I could tell that although he is Rick’s friend, and he’s loyal, he’s definitely someone to keep an eye on.
The remainder of the episode is a really intense emotional roller coaster, as you watch Rick cope with the loss of his family and to accept his new-found circumstances. You also experience Morgan’s suffering over the loss of his wife. In his brief role, actor Lennie James gives a heartfelt, pained performance when his character tries to finally take care of his zombified wife. This whole act really fleshes out the human part of the show nicely.
Before the show goes right back to scary peril, you at least find out that Rick’s wife and son are safe under Shane’s care. The problem is that they aren’t in Atlanta, and the city is a death trap. So once Rick arrives there, he’s overrun by a herd of zombies, forcing him to hide inside a tank. Episode 1 ends as superbly as it began, with an aerial shot of the horde of zombies swarming the tank. Ominous music plays as the screen fades to black and the credits roll. With this, they almost imply the question “What will happen to our hero next week? Tune in to find out.”
When you saw the first episode of Walking Dead did you like it immediately? Or did it take you a few weeks to get into it? What was your favorite scene/part from the first episode? Were you surprised how quickly they showed you that Rick’s wife and son were okay?