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Better to apologize to an animated corpse than to a regular corpse, and other lessons from last night’s episode of The Walking Dead, “Wildfire”

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Last night’s episode of The Walking Dead began slow, moved fitfully — with all the eschewing of common sense we’ve come to expect — and ended with a bang (bangs, actually, on a door).

We tally up the points below. (Warning: Spoilers ahead!)

+10 The episode begins with Rick trying to contact Morgan — the father from the first episode — over the CB. He warns him not to come to Atlanta. Nothing major, but it’s good the show didn’t forget about this plot line.

-100 We then see Andrea, expressionless, looking at the body of her dead sister Amy. No one can pull her away.

+200 Meanwhile, the gentleman (in the post-apocalyptic world of The Walking Dead, we revert to 19th century gender rolse in about two weeks) are doing the heavy lifting, moving the zombies into piles. Daryl’s preferred method of zombie corpse delivery is to slam a pick axe into its head, and then drag. And I must now admit that a pick axe to a zombie head has a special place in my heart, where I did not know one existed before.

-50 Jim, apparelenty, was bitten, and tries to cover it up, but fails. They lock him in the trailer, and Rick decides it’s time to go see if the CDC has any cure for zombie-ism.

For the existence of Dale. The old man is one of few truly interesting characters in the show– maybe because he’s not supposed to be anything special, and has none of the blinding alpha-maleness of the men or obsequious 19th century femaleness of the women. Certainly he’s shown more depth than anyone else. Leaning over Andrea as she continues to mourn Amy, he tells her of how his wife died of cancer. “Since she passed,” he says, “you girls were the first peopele I cared anything for.”

+100 As the body cleanup continiues, Carol tells Daryl she needs to pick-axe her own husband’s head. So she does it, and does it with enthusiasm. The awful goriness of this scene is phenomenal

-100 For the same above awful goriness. Holy shit that was gross.

-1,000 Andrea is hovering over the body of her sister because she is waiting for her to return as a zombie, we eventually find out, so that she can apologize for “not being there for her” and then also personally shoot her in the head. She’s so hell bent on doing this that she pulls a gun on Rick. Meanwhile, Daryl makes the perfectly reasonable argument that perhaps they should deal with Amy’s corpse themselves — to which Lori says, dismissively — “no, just leave her alone for Chrissakes.” This is the strange sort of internal logic that is standing out more and more as the show goes on — of characters responding to life-threatening situations in a detached and yet also, oddly emotional manner, where the rightness of behaviour doesn’t match the life-or-death-holy-shit-we’re-gonna-die reality of a zombie apocalypse. Wouldn’t the whole camp be interested in prying Andrea from the arms of her soon to be zombie sister, her feelings be damned? And, at the very least, wouldn’t they all be watching her closely? And why, why why why, does Andrea need to wait for Amy to return AS A ZOMBIE to apologize to her? Is this somehow better than apologizing to her corpse? Please educate me, dear readers, for I do not understand.

-500 The same problem continues later on when Glenn — a seemingly rational member of the group — insists, against Daryl’s wishes, that the bodies of their companions be buried, not burned. Seriously? The whole world has been destroyed by zombie hordes and you’ll risk the life of yourself and everyone you know that’s left because you’ve just got to give them a proper Christian burial? Seriously? Again, please educate me, because whatever logical circuits fire in the brain of the show’s characters do not — or rather would not — fire in my mind, and many of the decisions they make seem more of deus-ex-machina attempt at conflict creation than an even reasonable decision in a life or death situation.

-100 For losing Jim — an intriguing, quiet, and mildly crazy character (see last episode) who had a lot of promise. But even more, the show loses points because Jim’s zombie bite is inexplicably on his belly. Now, I have not been bitten by many zombies in my day — I admit — but I can say that it does seem highly improbably for the sole wound from a zombie tussle to appear on a dude’s belly. Was he doing a cartwheel or something, and a zombie managed to sneak a bite from his upturned belly?

+100 Meanwhile in the woods, Shane and Rick argue over whether the group should leave for the CDC. They hear a noise, and Rick goes off to investigate. For a moment Shane holds him within the sight of his rifle, able to kill him the flick of a finger. He hesitestes, until Dale steps in and calls him out. A tense scene — but only good if Dale brings it up later, or if at some some kind of influence on the plot later on.

+1,000 The stragglers finally ditch their quarry home, making for the CDC. A thousand points, because it was damn time they left the most illogical homebase every in any zombie media ever.

-50 The Morales family isn’t going, however. But I dont care. Why? Who the hell are the Morales family? This show is almost as bad as Lost at managing its tertiary characters.

+100 Jim does the right thing — I guess — and asks to be left along the roadside, rather than continue on to the CDC.

+500 After Jim takes his place by the side of the tree and we watch some awful commercials, the show returns to the biggest and most abrupt plot shift so far. We watch a man who calls himself Jenner give a video diary. He is apparently the only one left in the CDC. It has been 194 days since “Wildfire” was declared, and 63 days since it went global. He is having no luck discovering a cure. He makes some kind of progress, we discover, only to spill some kind of toxic chemicals that force him to flee the lab and cause a sanitizing fire blast. In the process, he’s lost his only good zombie brain tissue — the only tissue that wasn’t necrotic. As you can imagine, he isn’t very please with this turn of events. He claims he may shoot himself in the head the next day.

+100 I said I’d give a 100 for each crossbow zombie fatality, and the writers listened to me .. using their time machine, or something. Anyway, the survivors find the CDC and argue outside. Daryl has to off at least one with his weapon of choice — nice. And Rick swears he sees the camera move, and then tells it in a less-than-nice way that the camera’s operator better damn well open the door. At the last minute Jenner opens the door, and a white light comes pouring out.

+1,000 For a strong, mysterious ending, and one that gives us hope that the show will go beyond the run-and-hide-from-zombie plot devices that a much shorter zombie flick would resort to. This is a television series. We need a lot more going on.

Episode point total: +,2010
Running point total: +1,600

The series’ rebound from the dullness of episode three continues. Can it keep going next week? And will the significant negatives continue to accrue?

About the point system:

“Romero Points” is a system that awards or takes away points for certain scenes in a The Walking Dead episode. A positive score is the degree to which George Romero would approve, and a negative score indicates the number of times he would roll over in his grave — that is, if he had one, because he’s very much alive, and also who knows whether or not he even plans to be buried, as he might want to be cremated, or if there would be room in his grave to roll, or even if he will ever die.

The points may seem arbitrary, because they are, and if you complain about the point system then you automatically lose 5,000 points. Also, I cannot be held accountable for incorrect math, because I am not good at math, but I am very good at awarding points.

Finally, please note: these points are not the real George Romero’s opinion, because I have no idea what he thinks. Rather, it is the one who lives in my head and tells me every night that I’m the “best little zombie fan ever.”

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