It’s official: AMC has a smash hit on their hands in “The Walking Dead”. It’s been a compelling story so far and it feels like the sky is the limit as far as what they can do on the show. If you are new to the party, here’s a recap of what’s gone on in the first three episodes.
Episode 1, “Days Gone Bye” – Like most really great pilot episodes, this one goes a bit light on developing characters. Instead, it thrusts us right into what will be the most pressing matter for the series. You know, that most people seem to be dead and now zombies.
After being critically shot during a police chase, Sheriff Deputy Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln, on his way to Emmy/Golden Globe nominations) falls into a coma. He wakes to an empty hospital and staggers outside to see hundreds of dead bodies under white sheets and his hometown abandoned. Then, a legless zombie tries to eat him. After meeting up with Morgan and Duane (father and son who have stayed behind), Rick goes to his police station, gathers some weapons, and heads off to Atlanta where he believes survivors have gathered.
His arrival in Atlanta (on horseback, which is infinitely cool) is not well received as the city is apparently abandoned and overrun with the undead. After avoiding certain doom (horse not so lucky), Rick hides in an empty tank. As zombies crawl all over the tank, Rick is greeted by a very much alive human voice on the tank’s radio…and that’s how it ended.
Episode 2, “Guts” – The voice that Rick heard over the radio in the tank belonged to Glenn. Glenn is holed up in a skyscraper with several other survivors, among those a crazed redneck named Merle Dixon. After Glenn helps Rick escape, Rick interrupts a fight between Merle and T-Dog, who was the subject of Merle’s racist rants. Rick handcuffs Merle to a pipe on the roof and then, the rest of the group attempts to formulate a plan to escape the building, which is now surrounded by zombies.
It turns out that the group of survivors in the skyscraper are also part of Rick’s former partner’s (Shane) camp. Sure enough, Rick’s wife and son, Lori and Carl, are part of said camp. It should also be noted that Lori, who believes her husband to be dead, has gotten very, very chummy with Shane. Like horizontal mambo chummy. As I said in my recap of this episode, them being together is creepier than any zombie.
In the end, the great Atlanta escape plan turns out to be one of the coolest moments I’ve seen on television in quite some time. It also made my stomach turn. Rick and Glenn put on raincoats and gloves then chop up the body of a dead zombie. In an effort to disguise their smell and look, they then smear the guts and organs of the dead zombie all over themselves. Rick and Glenn walk outside and stagger around like zombies. They manage to get a van, gather up the group, and escape the city. They do leave Merle handcuffed to the roof, only protected from the zombies by a padlocked and chained door to the roof.
Episode 3, “Tell It To The Frogs” – Rick and the gang drive into Shane’s camp and we are treated to an emotional reunion between Rick, Lori, and their son, Carl. It’s a quick reunion as Rick decides that he simply can’t let Merle die on the roof of that building and he is going to go back to save him. He also is interested in retrieving the bag full of weaponry he left in the street. Once we meet Merle’s brother Darryl, it’s apparent that redneck runs in the family and he, Rick, Glenn, and T-Dog head back to Atlanta.
After they leave, we find out that Shane told Lori that Rick was dead way back when Rick was really comatose. Naturally, Lori is not very pleased with Shane and tells him to stay away from her and Carl. Instead of being a big boy, Shane takes his anger out on another member of their camp Ed, who he interrupts right after Ed punches his wife in the face. Yeah, there are some real winners in this camp.
We are left hanging once more at the end of this episode. Once Rick and crew get back to Atlanta, they head straight to the rooftop. Turns out, Merle is nowhere to be found. His hand, cut off at the wrist, was left behind. It appears that Merle hacksawed off his own hand to escape the handcuffs.
That’s pretty much what has happened so far. While I encourage you to read this over and over, you’re best bet? Just watch the show. It’s worth your time.