The Walking Dead is coming to an end, and this week’s episode, “Wildfire,” is all about setting up the big finale. The theme of episode 5 revolves around making big decisions; not just decisions made by the characters, but for the direction of the show as well.
“Wildfire” picks up right where “Vatos” left off, dropping us into the aftermath of the zombie attack on the survivor camp. Many of the lesser characters were picked off, and the timing couldn’t have been better. Having so many unimportant characters moseying about camp just seemed a little too much. They served their purpose in helping us get to know our main characters( like Carol, Andrea, and Glenn), so it was definitely time for them to go. Amy, Andrea’s little sister, is one of those who were lost (though she doesn’t stay inanimate for long), but that’s no big surprise to us fans of the comic series. Our suspicions are confirmed that the man we’ve just recently become more acquainted with, Jim, has in fact been bitten during the attack. This brings us to our characters’ first big decision of the night – where should they draw the line when it comes to harboring potential zombies among them? There are those who would agree with Daryl and want to squash the situation immediately for the safety of the group. That’s not a bad idea, but unfortunately Jim’s still alive. There are those who would agree with Rick’s decision to try to help him, but with no evidence of a cure, his idea is just a little far fetched. Not only is this a huge moment for the group, but it also holds true to the overall message of The Walking Dead: how far would you go to retain your humanity in a post-apocalyptic world – and possibly at the risk of your own survival?
The rest of the episode deals with the other huge decision the survivors have to make. In the first episode, Morgan tells Rick that there is a CDC (Center for Disease Control) about 100 miles north of Atlanta. Rick wants to move the whole camp there, using Jim’s misfortune as a motivating argument. He also thinks that there could be safety in the supposed military encampment, and possibly more survivors and a cure. The main opposer to Rick’s plan is Shane. He thinks that it would be better to stay put, and that moving the camp will put them all in harm’s way. While Rick’s plan seems like a long-shot, in truth, it’s a better idea to get everyone moving. The survivors have developed a false sense of security since they have been living in the camp for some time without too much interference. Realistically, their camp is poorly fortified and they are ill prepared for their future survival. Shane reluctantly agrees to go, but only after we get another glimpse at his scary side. Shane lied to Lori about Rick’s “death,” and he nearly beat the recently deceased Ed to death himself. Since Rick’s arrival, Shane has lost his intimate relationships with Lori and Carl, as well as the vice-like grip he had on the camp as their ‘leader.’ Now he’s starting to lose his mind.
Once again, The Walking Dead reminds us that while the zombies are a formidable foe, it’s really the living that you have to worry the most about. Zombies are predictable, making them a little more manageable and easy to understand. People, however, are not. We’ve seen this over and over, from Merle, to Shane, to the newly introduced “Strange Doctor” at the CDC. We are shown who and what is left of the CDC and what the survivors will have in store for them. From where I’m sitting, it looks like they are going to have a lot on their hands in our finale next week.
As I said earlier, “Wildfire” is all about making big decisions. For the writers and producers of this TV series, their big decision has more to do with the CDC story arc itself. This is the first major step away from the comic series they have taken. Sure, there have been little differences here and there, like Andrea’s age, the new characters, and the Hispanic nursing home gang. They have said all along that they want to take liberties and explore the zombocalypse world, and here’s their first big stab at it. After seeing the sneak peak at the finale, it seems that they have decided to delve into the mystery that surrounds the infection and how the “end of the world” came about. That’s fine by me, but I am of the opinion that in this situation, those kinds of facts really don’t matter much. What matters is that our characters know how to outlast the zombies – survive, persevere, and rebuild. The Walking Dead Season 1 Finale is next Sunday, December 5th at 10/9 central, only on AMC.
I give “Wildfire” 5 “Best New Character of TWD” out of 5.