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Posted at 2:15 PM ET, 11/22/2010

'The Walking Dead': Plot points to consider after episode four

By Liz Kelly

"Walking Dead" has shuffled past George Romero, right into Bizarro World territory. Assuming that a drama about a world teeming with zombies and the plucky few who manage to avoid becoming dinner isn't already bizarro enough, the four elements below are adding to this author's incredulity and, possibly, affecting the show's overall believability. Again, this assumes that a show about oozing putrescent creatures who want nothing so much as to chomp off your shoulder can have its believability measured.

Before we get started, I do need to hand out (perhaps not the best terminology if you watched Sunday's episode) kudos for the show's first truly thrilling surprise zombie attack.

Now, on to four plot points that kept me from fully enjoying Sunday's episode. And, yes, there are massive spoilers ahead, so if you haven't watched, bookmark this link for later:

1. In Atlanta, a city absolutely infested with walkers (the show's term for zombies), the equivalent of an MS-13 cell has barricaded itself inside an old age home and now the vatos spend their days caring for their abuelas. I actually like the idea, but -- again -- it was hard to digest the premise that what appeared to be at least 100 people were able to live unmolested while surrounded by a city full of dead things that can smell a living human miles away.

2. Jim (Andrew Rothenberg) has dreams, dreams he conveniently forgets, about an impending zombie attack and starts digging holes for the soon-to-be-dead. Though neither Jim nor anyone else realize that's what he was doing until the big finale. So now we've got an element of the supernatural, which is fine and a perfectly logical place for this show to go. Jim can see the future -- or one possible future -- in his dreams. But wouldn't it have been more effective for Jim to maybe start insisting that zombies were headed towards camp, only to be ignored by the over-confident, over-punchy Shane (John Bernthal) and the ever-watchful RV dweller Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn)?

3. Granted, Sheriff Rick (Andrew Lincoln) was on a business trip for most of this episode, but this applies to last week's show, too. Why has no one yet clued him in to the fact that until his surprise arrival in camp last week, his wife was sharing a tent with his former partner and supposed best friend, Shane? You’d think that at least Daryl, who is feeling spiteful about his brother being left handcuffed to a roof in Hotlanta, would be feeling spiteful enough to make a comment. Or that, knowing it is bound to come out, his wife (Sarah Wayne Callies) would fess up, explaining that Shane had told her Rick had died in the hospital.

4. Maybe it was meant to be a cliffhanger, but the show ended with Andrea (Laurie Holden) collapsed in a heap over her dying, then dead, sister Amy (Emma Bell) who had been chomped on by at least two zombies. As Amy dies and Andrea cries, the rest of the survivors look on, clearly feeling Andrea's keen loss. But, umm, doesn't zombie logic dictate that as soon as Amy died as a human being she would be reborn as a zombie? If so, shouldn't Daryl (Norman Reedus) have been standing by ready to fire his crossbow directly between Amy's eyes?

If you watched, set me straight below in the comments section.

Previous coverage:
'The Walking Dead': Why, Rick Grimes? Why?

'Walking Dead' episode two: Five questions about 'Guts'

AMC's 'Walking Dead': Have we found our next 'Lost'?

By Liz Kelly  | November 22, 2010; 2:15 PM ET
Categories:  TV  | Tags:  Walking Dead  
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I agree that it was hard to believe that the vatos were taking care of their elderly but it was nice to see. Plus, I liked that they added a little social commentary in the show about the weak/old being the first group to be left behind or preyed upon in times of crisis.
Also, what drew sooo many zombies to the camp at once? Was it the smell of the fish? I remember for some reason they did a slow shot of one last piece of fish in the pan. I guess if the zombies eat raw horse, they'd also be drawn to fire-roasted tilapia?

Posted by: lizettegrpb | November 22, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I don't think anyone else in camp knew about Shane and the wife. In the scene in the woods where they get it on, it's clear that he snuck away to meet her while she was supposedly looking for food. And in another scene in her tent, they kiss and then quickly pull apart when Carl walked up, then Shane hightails it out of there. I think that means that they managed to keep it a secret. The bigger question, to me anyway, is whether the affair started before Rick was shot. I'm guessing it did.

Posted by: Wikijen | November 22, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I don't think anyone else in camp knew about Shane and the wife. In the scene in the woods where they get it on, it's clear that he snuck away to meet her while she was supposedly looking for food. And in another scene in her tent, they kiss and then quickly pull apart when Carl walks up, then Shane hightails it out of there. I think that means that they managed to keep it a secret. The bigger question, to me anyway, is whether the affair started before Rick was shot. I'm guessing it did.

Posted by: Wikijen | November 22, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Ack, sorry for the double post. The comment software freaked out on me.

Posted by: Wikijen | November 22, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

1. Good point.

2. I don't think Jim's dream was meant to bring in the supernatural -- I think it was just meant to be a clever little element, which he could "put a button on" with his line at the end of the episode, that would make us go "ooh ah." I didn't think the dream was terribly sophisticated writing -- but his erratic behavior did provide an opportunity to learn a little of Jim's backstory.

3. I'm not 100% sure, but I don't think Shane and Lori were sleeping in the same tent prior to Rick's arrival -- I feel like there was a brief shot showing a different tent for Shane. And my impression was that they were trying to keep their trysts secret from the group. (Or maybe their goal was mainly to keep the secret from Carl -- surely no one else would have looked askance if Rick was supposed to be dead.)

4. I vote cliffhanger.

lizettegrpb, I'm wondering if they'll blame the zombie attack on Glenn's loud car. That was an element in the previous episode that drove me crazy -- he knows the loud car alarm is meant to draw zombies, but later he drives the thing right into the camp? Mind-boggling.

Posted by: JelliaJamb | November 22, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps a show could be made starring Bristol Palin. It would be called "Dead But Still Dancing."

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | November 22, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Good points, especially #4. I kept wondering why Amy wasn't zombie-fying after she died, and thought "You'd better put a bullet in her brain before you bury her, or she'll be coming back for dessert."

Another thing that bugs me: You've got Shane, an experienced cop, with this group of survivors. But neither he nor anyone else seems concerned about setting up a secure perimeter, watched over in shifts. Everybody's just sitting around the campfire, their backs to the darkness, getting ready to have a sing-along. Nobody's keeping a lookout for the Walkers.

The same thing happened in Episode 2, where Lori goes off by herself, unarmed, into the woods. No sensible person would do that, and anybody with a brain would have told her not to go anywhere alone!

As to the affair, I'm guessing it was going on before Rick was shot. And agree with the other commenters: I don't think the others in the camp were aware.

Finally, as to the dreams: Eh. I'm not sure they have any significance. The guy had a dream, and dug some holes. But I'm guessing it will end up being a significant plot point down the road.

All that said, I've been enjoying the hell out of this series, and I'm glad they're doing at least one more season.

Posted by: GardenStater | November 22, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

1.-I really liked this plot, even if it is kinda far fetched.

4.-I'm pretty sure the first shot next week is Amy getting it between the eyes.

lizettegrpb-I think Merle brought them back in the van as his revenge for being left handcuffed on the roof. Merle was (is?) pretty nuts.

Posted by: talleyl | November 22, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

The attack - Daryl said that zombies might be drifting away from the city as food started becoming scarce. It was a casual comment that was easily overlooked. I agree with GardenStater that someone should have taken that risk more seriously, especially Shane. With all of the tension in camp, a big fish fry may have seemed like a welcome release. I wouldn't blame them but it brought zombies.

Jim - Tension in the camp may have triggered a (recurring?) nightmare that zombies will attack and everyone will die but me. Until he has a prophetic dream that doesn't involve "zombies attack, everyone dies," I'm betting that he isn't psychic.

Amy - The attack was agonizing to watch. I'm glad that they ended the episode with Andie mourning her sister and not shooting her in the head. Maybe they'll take care of the corpses at the start of next week's episode.

Posted by: NickNaigm | November 22, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

1. I don't remember ever hearing that the walkers can smell a living human miles away. They're not sharks they're zombies.

2. I hope they don't go the supernatural route.

3. I don't think the camp knows anything about their relationship.

4. I may be wrong but I didn't hear anyone say how long it takes to turn. It could take 24 hours or more for all we know. Maybe if you bleed to death before the fever takes hold you don't turn at all. You're making an assumption based on other zombie movies.

Here's something to ponder. Do you think that Merle could have stolen the van and brought some walkers back to camp with him. If so I bet blondie takes him out preferably with a pick axe to the noggin.

Posted by: DrZed | November 22, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

@DrZed: "Do you think that Merle could have stolen the van and brought some walkers back to camp with him. If so I bet blondie takes him out preferably with a pick axe to the noggin."

Doubtful. The obvious silliness of him being able to get the zombies in the van without getting himself hurt makes me think that isn't the case. And of course, Merle can't get wacked so early in the series. He's already a pretty important character.

Posted by: GardenStater | November 22, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

1) Wrong analysis. If zombies could smell humans a mile away, then Glenn wouldn't be able to scavenge anything in Atlanta. Not sure where you got that.

2) Tongue in cheek. Jim didn't really dream it, he's just in shock at the bodies (that's my take). He definitely can't see the future (see comics).

3) Relationship was on the sly.

4) Immediate re-animation?? We'll find out next week how long it takes.

As for barriers/shifts, they obviously thought they were safe enough at the quarry (and that last's weeks zombie was an anomaly).


Posted by: bhuang2 | November 22, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

In the first episode, when the man described the fever that took ahold of some people (or being bitten/dying; in his case, his wife) he said that the person dies, and after a while, "comes back." Amy is sure to reanimate and be offed early in the next episode.

GardenStater and tallyl - I thought the same thing, that Merle has something to do with the zombies attcking the camp. Perhaps he took the van, it ran out of fuel at some point with some Zs nearby and they followed him within range of camp, but who knows: maybe he packed a few of them in the back for the ride.

As for the relationship between Shane and Lori: I don't think that it started prior to the apocalypse; rather, I think that they've known one another for a long time (small town) and that Shane has always been in love with Lori (and therefore unable to have his own long-lasting relationships with women - first episode). Being Rick's partner, and listening to Rick's side of their marriage troubles, Shane took notes and filed them away in the hopes of being able to be Lori's man someday.

Posted by: CentreOfNowhere1 | November 22, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

1. I don't think they were all bangers. Some of them were pretending to be tougher than they were because there's no room in a post-apocalyptic world for wusses.

2. Is the dream supernatural? In a world where zombies kill everyone, it's very logical to dream about being killed by zombies.

3. I agree, we're supposed to believe the affair was secret. I'm not sure the affair started before the shooting. In Episode 1, the Sheriff talks about how angry his wife is all the time. I'm thinking if she's having an affair perhaps she just blows off the husband, and doesn't ask him what he's thinking all the time. I think the partner was pumping him for information about his marriage because he was into the wife. Then, when the Sheriff went down, he knew how to swoop in and seduce her, since she was unhappy in her marriage.

4. Takes time to turn into a zombie.

BTW, what happened to the camp security system - the fence made of cans on a rope strung between poles. We heard it once - why not this time?

Posted by: AmyLou1 | November 22, 2010 8:48 PM | Report abuse

Can we speculate on where Merle is?

Posted by: AmyLou1 | November 22, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

All of your points have been addressed in this episode as well as previous ones.

1. After the grandmother walked out and tension melted, Rick sat down with the lead "gang banger." The fella explained to Rick that the larger fellow was a nurse and that he was the custodian at the nursing home. The elderly residents were abandoned by the staff once the severity of the outbreak was known. The young men and women that were the "gang" were actually relatives that had wandered in over time to check on their elderly relatives. The location was in a warehouse district, and they were able to set up a perimeter... one they guarded 24/7. Solid Zombie canon states that Zombies congregate in places where they did while alive. Therefore, the warehouse district might have had a small concentration of workers return,but once they were dispatched the threat would be from lone, wandering Zombies. As long as they did not draw attention to themselves, they would be relatively safe.

2. Jim has PTSD. Nothing supernatural about it. Much like a soldier who has feelings of constant dread, Jim is reliving the deaths of his wife and children on a daily basis. Dreaming of an imminent attack is logical. In fact, I bet most if not all in the camp have had similar dreams. They have just coped better than Jim.

3. The affair was not common knowledge in the camp. I have been divorced for several years but still find it difficult to introduce dates to my now teen children. Considering that the infection has been spreading for only a few months, it is more than rational to assume that Rick's wife did not want to hurt her young son even more by flaunting her sexual tryst in her son's face.

4. Learn your Zombie lore! Canon does not mandate an immediate reaction to infection. It can vary from person to person not to mention from Zombie universe to Zombie universe. In the classic "Dawn of the Dead," it took several hours. Roger, one of the main characters, is bitten but able to help finish securing the mall before making his best friend promise to kill him when he starts to turn. In "The Walking Dead" episode 1, Rick is told by the father and son survivors in his hometown that it can take several hours for someone to turn.

Not trying to pick nits, but I am the Zombie queen. lol

Posted by: TNSusieQ | November 23, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

4 - From my understanding so far, this show is following the "original" zombie mythos, in which the bodies of the dead reanimate. This is in contrast to the more recent "28 Days Later" type mythos where people are simply infected by some virus that makes them go crazy. This infection causes a quick turn, while the reanimation of a dead body takes some time.

Posted by: Neefu | November 23, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Here's the real question: Why does Rick continue to wear his police uniform? Doesn't he have any more comfortable clothes? Shane's not wearing his uniform.

And why didn't Rick pack a bag with some clean clothes before he left the house in search of Wife and Child?

Is everyone in the series going to be wearing the same costume throughout, a la Gilligan's Island?

Posted by: GardenStater | November 23, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Ok, try this one more time. What we got here is two ways of dying. 1) from the attack itself, immediatly, as was the cutie sister. 2) from being infected by the bite ifself, which requires an incubation period to fever out, then die. Either way, they immediatly "awaken" with the voracious appetite. Sis better get off her before Sunday nite.

Posted by: usap8triot | November 25, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

The most, and probably only, ridiculous thing about this episode was the importance placed on getting back a pack of guns in the middle of the street. I'm from Atlanta and I can tell you that within a five mile radius of that pack there were probably 20 gun stores.

Posted by: will_mclennan | November 26, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

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