‘The Walking Dead’ Recap: Wildfire

S1:E5 The reason a show about zombies continues to make waves in the television world isn’t because the undead characters are so realistic and it isn’t because the gore and violence are intense – those are just the prerequisites. The Walking Dead hit a home run when it moved beyond the expected brain-munchers and the ensuing hysterics from the living and delved into the idea that survivors are protecting more than just their lives. As The Walking Dead’s survivors continue on, they’re faced with challenges that not only threaten their lives, but their humanity as well. They struggle with the eradication of the rules and the ability to decide what is necessary and what is right in a world where your best friend could become a mindless zombie at any time. It’s these psychological journeys that take AMC’s risky show from pure gore and frivolity to something you can’t help but watch.

The fifth episode of the season brings us back to the story that was abandoned after the first episode: Morgan and his son. Rick finds his special thinking spot in a field that overlooks the Atlanta skyline and attempts to reach Morgan on his hand radio. As he speaks into the radio, he tells his story of survival, warns Morgan not to go to Atlanta, and tells him to find the camp but warns him that walkers are everywhere. It’s almost like he’s leaving a voicemail, but it’s more like his little moment of therapy – sending his thoughts out into the open air and hoping that some of them might reach his former rescuer.

Back at the camp, Andrea is still holding her dead sister, unable to let go. Lori, who’s apparently the matriarch of the camp, tells Andrea they have to “take care of” Amy and she promises they’ll be as gentle as they can. In case you weren’t sure what “take care of her” meant, the shot immediately cuts to Daryl hacking up bodies and burning them. Rick has a little insight on this sort of thing after experiencing the devastation that Morgan and his son suffered when their loved when turned grey and groaning, so he approaches her in hopes of talking her down, but she immediately points a pistol at him. There’s no manual for how to deal with the loss of your loved ones as it is, but it’s even trickier when they don’t just die, they die and come back to life as the walking dead.

Meanwhile, the survivors have reached the CDC building and the buzzing flies grazing decomposed flesh is only a fraction of what they must be encountering as they walk past piles of dead bodies in an attempt to find the entrance. They’re out of food and fuel, walkers are hot on their trail, and they’re running out of daylight. They reach a shuttered door and Rick sees a camera above it move and swears there is someone alive inside. He desperately screams at the camera as the others try to pry him away so they can run for their lives but just as Shane grabs him and drags him away as he yells “You’re killing us!” at the door, Jenner opens the shutters and the survivors are bathed in an excess of fluorescent light. There’s only one episode left this season, but this show is obviously far from running its course.