In this, the penultimate episode to AMC’s The Walking Dead the tone shifts to great melancholia. After the Walkers invaded the camp at the end of the last episode we are left with several losses including the loss of Amy, Andrea’s sister which in terms kicks off the whole emotional storyline. As they dispose of the members who are lost, now things have changed. The camp is longer safe and they have to up root and move out.
This episode is the one which is low on zombies, but packed with the human drama which has underpinned the show from the beginning. It is a dramatic and heartfelt episode. All the better for it, we are allowed to connect with these characters more when their desperation and sadness is at its highest. We open with Rick radioing Morgan, the character who saved him from the first episode, on the hill or his place for thinking. He informs him of his story of survival and tells him to stay clear of Atlanta. There is no response.
Meanwhile Daryl is going round, clearing up the camp. Making sure the zombies are well and truly dead by embedding a pick axe in their skull, we get a particularly gruesome death when Daryl hands over the implement to Carol to kill off her abusive pig of a husband, who through streams of tears hacks away at the skull. Andrea still holds the lifeless Amy in her arms, and threatens anyone who goes near her with a gun. By the time she turns to a Walker Andrea prepares to kill her with the gun and does so just as apologising for never being there for her when needed. It’s an incredibly powerful moment.
Glenn becomes very conscious of what to do with the dead bodies and what is right. He insists upon burying the dead instead of the groups idea of burning them. There is also growing tension between Shane and Rick who are both trying to establish their dominant position within the group, but they are getting at each other’s throats. Shane condemns Rick’s plans to move out, with Rick retorting quite insensitively: “If you had family you’d understand.”
We also soon learn that Jim has been bitten and will soon turn into a zombie, the group refuse to kill him until he finally turns. Lori being the voice of wisdom and instilling a sense of morality into the group, or as moral as you can possibly be in world overrun by zombies. He rests up in Dale’s RV as they move out with the women taking care of him, however as they move further out of camp towards an Army base he gets worse.
He begins to have hallucinations about his forthcoming zombie self, they break down and Jim instructs them to take him out into the woods and leave him. In a moment of dramatic irony, he is left by a tree as everyone says their emotional farewell before they drive off into a distance, being a show about zombies, and despite other characters such as Merle and Morgan not returning, I can see Jim coming back to haunt the group.
They arrive at the site of the Army base camp, where a lone doctor is doing experiments on pieces of fresh zombie brain. He has a serious case of cabin fever and the days of endless loneliness talking into a video log is taking its toll on him. So much so that when the group turn up he almost refuses them entry.
Outside the base there are corpses strewn across the ground, there are some very chilling images there and the grey palette makes everything all the more grim and hopeless. Rick makes an impassioned plea to the CCTV camera peering at them to let them inside, which turns out to be a fabulous piece of acting by Lincoln, the first real signs of passion shown in his character. It’s a moment where we really do feel that Lincoln has finally understood this role, being the all round do-gooder of the group his embodiment of Grimes was becoming dull but with this episode there was more passion and life breathed into him.
Every episode always ends on a sort of cliffhanger which usually foreshadows darkness, this week’s cliffhanger seems to be more hopeful. As the doors of the base open and greeted by a bright, white light we feel these characters have finally found a perfect haven. Its one of the best episodes of the series and the fact there is only one more to go is a shame, because this show has legs.