Last night was the premiere of the season finale of The Walking Dead. Does AMC use the same wording for the finales of Mad Men and Breaking Bad? That's just...awkward. At any rate, here's the premiere of my final recap of the premiere of the first season finale of AMC's The Walking Dead.
The two shows I've been watching on Sunday nights of late, this show and HBO's Boardwalk Empire, finished their first season runs last night. And if the shows would just switch problems, I think we'd have two pretty great shows on our hands.
Boardwalk Empire eschews action and story momentum for character and setting. The Walking Dead does the opposite. In one six-episode season, we've gone from rural Georgia to Atlanta to a refugee camp back to Atlanta back to the camp and finally to the CDC. And we really haven't gotten to know any of the characters beyond Rick Grimes. We kind of know Shane, though I'm still holding out hope that there's more to him than just the wife banging, near-rapist hothead we've seen of late.
As far as action goes, the audience is never really given a chance to breathe. This show moves faster than 24 on speed. The RV caravan arrived at the CDC only to find that they arrived just in time to see the whole building blown to smithereens. I would've liked to have spent more time down in the labs of the CDC, watching the refugees assist Dr. Edmond Jenner in his quest to find a cure for Zombie-itis. It would've been interesting to see them get lulled into a false sense of security over time (and really, I'm just talking about a couple of episodes) before -- Whoops! -- discovering that the building was about to self-destruct and the humans had to choose between instant death and the zombies. Plus, I liked the Jenner character and would've liked to have seen him live beyond and episode and a half.
But, I know, this season was only six episodes long. They had to cram all kinds of stuff in, and cram they did.
This episode started with Jenner letting all of the 'fugees into the CDC building. He warned them that once the doors were closed, there was no going back outside. They were all, like, yeah, yeah, whatever, guy from The Truman Show.
So they entered and in the CDC they found a blissful wonderland of couches to sleep on and hot showers to take. And wine! Lots of wine! Everyone got trashed on the wine and ended up either trying to bone Rick's wife or playing "I Never" with Jenner. It was pathetic, and especially after just watching the last episode of Community, it was evident that alcohol just makes sad people sadder. The more you know...
The 'fugees were allowed to spend one restful night in the CDC and were awoken in the morning by T-Dog's special recipe powdered eggs. Everyone was happy. Hungover, but happy. Until buzz-kill Shane (who had conspicuous fresh new claw marks on his neck) had to go and start questioning the status quo. Why is Jenner alone? Who else is out there? How close has he come to that promised Zombie-itis cure?
So Jenner took him down to his lab and asked Vi, his HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey computer girlfriend, to show the video of the brain. The brain belonged to TS (Test Subject): 19 AKA the smartest person ever to live AKA Jenner's dead zombie wife. The MRI showed what happened to a brain when it made the switch from living person to dead person to zombie to dead zombie. In the zombie brain, only the brain stem is active, so the zombies are basically walking instinct. One can't help but wonder if maybe the next level of zombie evolution will include zombies that act on ego instead of just id. Hmmm...
After movie time, Rick had one more question for Jenner: What is that clock on the wall, and why is it counting down? Jenner hemmed and hawed and then was like, "Oh, yeah, that. Well, the building is out of fuel and is going to implode with the heat of a million suns in about an hour. Did I not mention that before?"
The 'fugee men (always the 'fugee men, where's the badass Kate Austin in this group) ran around trying to find more fuel or a secret forgotten generator or something. They couldn't. So they begged Jenner to let them out, but Jenner was all, "Remember when I let you in here? Yeah. I said you couldn't leave. Man, you people don't read the fine print, do you?" So he locked them all in the lab until eventually Jenner caved to the pure animal magnetism of Shane and let them try to blast their way out of the bullet proof glass in the front of the building.
City planner lady opted to stay with Jenner, because basically her character was never given anything to do ever. And Andrea thought she'd stay behind, too, because she's a drama queen. What were the writers going to do? Kill off Andrea and leave us with only two women: Rick's wife and Jamie Lee Curtis? Ich don't think so.
So JLC pulled a grenade out of her purse (She had been saving it to kill her jackass husband, but now that he's dead...), and Rick used it to blast the windows. All the 'fugees got to safety just in time to see the near-nuclear blast envelop the CDC. Luckily the flames and debris stopped just short of the bags of rice Andrea and Dale were hiding behind. Phew!
The 'fugees watched the flames for a few minutes before taking off in their five-vehicle caravan. Where will they go now? France?
A few more notes:
1. I liked the final imagery of the smoldering flames in the CDC under the giant black cloud of smoke rising above the building. It looked eerily like the MRI of the zombie brain.
2. In the rec room of the CDC, Rick's wife pulled the book Reasonable Doubts off the book shelf. Should we read something into this? Should we go all Lost Geek on this show and read this book during the off season to prep for Season 2?
3. Was anyone else disappointed that this episode didn't end with Vi the Computer taking over the CDC?
4. What did you think of the season finale? How about the season overall?