The penultimate episode of the first season of the AMC/Darabont/Hurd/Kirkman show The Walking Dead has been and gone, and blimey was it a great episode - indeed I'd say it's the best episode of the season outside of the pilot (unless the finale steals the win at the last minute - time shall tell on that matter).
The opening of the episode was superb, with Andrea swamped by her grief while everyone else in the camp knows what will have to be done - not only is this whole portion of the episode very dramatic and moving, but it's tense - "when will they turn", you wonder to yourself. Furthermore, when the expected finally occurs, it's a wonderfully played scene that plays the 'resurrecting as a zombie' angle, which we've seen so many times before, in a new and fascinating way. Similar to the dispatching of the 'bicycle zombie' from the first episode, the scene is full of pathos.
Speaking of pathos, Dale's moment with Andrea was nothing short of truly moving, and establishes the pair's relationship, which - in the comics - was already thoroughly on-the-go by the time Rick showed up at camp. So once again the television adaptation is taking things in a slightly new direction along the same path - and in a way that feels more real, and ultimately more satisfying as a viewer.
Meanwhile, dealing with the bodies left over from the night before, we're treated to yet more awesome gory treats from KNB Effects, who have continually shown throughout this season that they are (and have been for some time) the current masters of the macabre.
This adaptation has taken some significantly different turns along the already established path from the comic books, and I was wondering how this would play out (after last week's preview of this fifth episode), but I'm pleased to say that it's working really well. The intelligent group dynamic of the comics continues to be expressed in the show - a real treat in itself when you've seen countless zombie movies where idiots make even dumber decisions as a matter of course.
There was a chillingly good moment where the Rick/Shane dynamic's crumbling is illustrated in very clear terms. Again, in the comics it's much quicker to appear, and somewhat comes as a surprise, but throughout the show the key players have taken quality themes that were already established, and explored them in different ways that make for very satisfying viewing. The moment where Dale discovers Shane in a less than favourable position was pitch perfect, and further established Dale (as expertly played by Jeffrey DeMunn) as one of my favourite characters on the show.
Speaking of the characters, there are some great beats littered throughout - most notably in connection to Jim, who (in a way direct from the source material) has to come to terms with a troubling realisation. Indeed that entire portion of the show really signalled the sort of tough drama we'll be in store for when the second season rolls around.
It was good to see, or rather hear, a track from the soundtrack for Danny Boyle's Sunshine, a piece of music that has always given me chills - but considering the context in which it is used in this episode, it was doubly chilling.
Moving into the second half of the episode, the part that I was most concerned about for this episode (based on last week's preview of this episode), was all the stuff centering on the CDC (which was established in the first episode). This is a significant change of direction from the source material, but fortunately it works out very well indeed - to see the 'science of the dead' examined in very realistic terms (as further evidenced by the online preview scene from episode six, "TS-19") was very, very cool.
Finally, outside the CDC, the sight of Rick's impassioned desperation as he pleads with a CCTV camera above the sealed-off doors of the CDC complex, was absolutely fantastic - and importantly further suggests the sort of dramatic treats we'll have in store for us come season two (when you consider what takes place over the next couple of volumes of the trade paperbacks). To say that the cliffhanger ending left me wanting more - immediately - is an understatement.
Roll on episode six - the season finale!