So the show picks up after zombies have started appearing; the opening scene isn’t a flash-forward. Dialog with the ‘paranoid’ kid at Madison’s school says there are ‘reports’ from five states about strange things happening. We get a ‘traffic stop’ where the driver converts and bites a paramedic, then starts attacking the first responders; it gets picked up on LA’s legendary tv coverage of all things freeway. And we end with the viewpoint characters (well, three of them; the daughter’s still at home) seeing first hand that something really damn strange is going on.
I thought the first half of the episode was a little too slow in pacing, but it picked up a bit in the second half. And I’m not talking about there being no “zombie action”; I just feel like there was too much mood music, long establishing shots of the school and the hospital interior and so forth, and not enough characterization. All we really learned about the characters is the son’s a junkie, both parents (actually, parent and step-parent) are teachers (well, guidance counselor and teacher), the daughter’s headed for Berkley, and the step-dad is divorced. If they were going to go so slow with the show, I’d’ve liked more information about the characters so we could know them better prior to the inevitable outbreak uprising of the zombies. I might have missed it (going to rewatch), but I don’t remember anything covering why the mom, Madison, or the kids, Nick and Alicia, don’t have the bio-dad around.
Now, going off what we know from the silliness back at the end of Season One of The Walking Dead, anyone who dies becomes a zombie. So, however TWD’s zombification was spread, it’s already been established that everyone has it. They’re all just waiting to die before they get hungry for humans. So, outbreak vectors, big cities with their share of people who die on a daily basis from all the usual causes (including ‘dramatic’ things like traffic accidents) will be hit hard first. Hospitals will be the natural ground zeroes, since most of the dying and rising will occur there. Plus a lot of first responders and front-line medical staff will be getting bit, which we also already know leads to death; TWD zombie bites kill humans.
So, unless the show does some time-skipping, I’d bet by the end of episode two, or somewhere in three at the latest, we’ll start seeing the medical system breaking down as zombies begin overloading all the facilities. That’ll draw in first responders, and maybe even the military, and more bites will occur, which will just continue to steepen the infection curve. The societal breakdown will start to really swing into gear as a result of this. Not only will there be the inevitable cellphone videos of hospitals being torn apart by zombies, but people will begin to seriously panic when they realize a pretty big safety net (medical care) has actually become where you get killed.
Though, as I look over the Wiki, I see a cast list that that’s got several apparently main characters that didn’t appear yet. So that might easily throw my predicted time scale off, if episode two flips the focus over to them and catches us up with their viewpoints of LA. Not entirely sure how I feel about that; with only six in this ‘season’, we could easily get into not having enough connection with who we’re watching because we keep moving from viewpoint to viewpoint so fast. Depends on how well the writers and director do the work of establishing everyone. Based on episode one, I kinda feel like there could have been more effort, more successful effort, in connecting us with the MCs.
Problems. No one who’s gut shot dies instantly, or does so without bleeding quite a bit. Yet there was not a drop of blood on either Nick’s clothing (strange since they were pressed against each other during the struggle), or the pavement next to the car. The bloodstain would’ve indicated to the parents Nick wasn’t crazy. Also, the passage from the street to canal looked to be a straight concrete corridor; were there any side places? If not, how did Zombie-Calvin manage to end up behind them, on the street side, so he could block their attempt to leave after deciding Nick’s just having a drug-induced delusion?
At the hospital when Madison first arrives, she mouths off quite a bit at the cops. Maybe in TV land that can happen, but in the real world American cops are generally extremely impressed with their own authority and importance. They would’ve gotten in her face, at a minimum, when she talked to them like that. Never mind that she was legally right to demand they charge him or leave; cops cruise through America insisting everyone defer to them at all times. In real life, it would’ve provoke a messy argument when she had that exchange with them; and it could have easily spun out into her being arrested for something on the spot. Something weak and thin that would’ve required some fabrication, but that wouldn’t change how they would have done it anyway.
But, over all, a fine way to kick off the fall 2015 AMC zombie season. One down, five more to come, and there’s still eight of TWD’s season six.
Until next time, eat more brains!