BY JEREMY HAAS
Ever wonder what happens after a zombie movie ends? Usually, one of these gore-fests will conclude with a rag-tag faction of survivors triumphing over the undead. Other times, the protagonists are not so lucky, but the question always remains; what happens next? Luckily, we now have an exciting television show to answer that age-old mystery. The Walking Dead is a horror TV series based on the comic book by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard. It premiered October 31st 2010 on AMC and has received both praise from critics and record ratings. The show is now midway through its second season, and has already been renewed for a third.
The Walking Dead follows a group of survivors of a zombie-apocalypse, led by ex-cop, Rick Grimes. It focuses on the difficult task of maintaining a happy, or at least survivable life in a world overrun by flesh eating “walkers.” Although this series does serve as a zombie-lover’s paradise, it also features so much more. Along with the gallons of fake blood there is romance, suspense, and betrayal. The first season features Rick Grimes waking up from a coma to a world overrun by the undead. He eventually develops his zombie-killing skills, reunites with his family and leads a group of survivors in an attempt to find a sustainable life within the madness of a zombie apocalypse.
Not only does the show have spectacular zombie make-up, heartbreaking moments, and enough blood to feed an army of vampires, but it also acts as a zombie survival guide. Since it takes place over a longer period of time than ordinary zombie-movies, it gives more detail into the complicated world of flesh-eating monsters. The survival situations featured in The Walking Dead give important tips on how to survive a world of impending doom.
ZOMBIE SURVIVAL TIP #1 – Avoid big cities!
Early in the first season, Rick Grimes travels into Atlanta on horseback looking for salvation, instead he finds himself surrounded by countless walkers. Big cities were filled with people before the end of the world, which means they are now filled with zombies. Think about it.
In the second season, the surviving group find themselves on a ranch with a family who’s been shielded from the zombie-outbreak. They are allowed to stay because of a situation involving a ranch-hand, Otis, shooting Rick’s adolescent son, Carl, by mistake. Carl needs medical attention and only Herschel (veterinarian and owner of the ranch) can help. With Carl’s survival at stake, the second season becomes all the more nail biting. It differs from the first in the way characters have been changed by their experiences. In the first season, Rick is just getting into the groove of zombie-survival, and everyone else still showed a glimpses of the pre-apocalyptic world in the way they acted. Now, the characters are hardened; after witnessing numerous deaths, they have essentially become what you’d expect them to. It’s not that their personas are predictable, but it seems as though the survivors are becoming the true soldiers they have to be for a chance of living in a harsh world.
The most significantly changed among the group is Shane, who, calloused by the gore and heartbreak he’s experienced, has made a turn for the worst. This brings us to –
ZOMBIE SURVIVAL TIP #2 Don’t let the end of the world turn you into a bad person.
The fact that Carl needs surgery brings up one risky dilemma; the necessity of surgical equipment. This forces Otis and Shane to embark into zombie infested territory. This tip is illustrated in a scene too brutally heartbreaking to fully put into words. It features an injured Shane and exhausted Otis fleeing a herd of walkers, and Shane shooting Otis in the leg, leaving him behind as zombie-bait/distraction. Shane proves himself to be a different man, nay, a deranged man, in this episode, and it contains possibly the most powerful act seen in The Walking Dead so far.
As any good show develops, a viewer starts to feel a part of the made-up reality they are watching. Between episodes, thoughts run wild; “Who is my favorite character?” “Who’s going to die next?” Well, Rick is the star of the show and the fearless leader of the pack, but within this bunch are more relatable characters, like Glenn, a dweeb who has survived not because of his gun-skills, or physical power, but because he’s a smart guy. Glenn has become one of the more lovable and dynamic characters on the show. Shane, while dynamic, is the complete opposite. When The Walking Dead first started, Shane was the center of sympathy for the audience; he was love with Rick’s wife, Lori, presuming Rick to be dead, and when Rick shows up out of the blue, it puts Shane in a very sticky situation. This, along with the whole end-of-the-world thing has turned him into the villainous bad boy that he is now. He’s been so wicked; he seems to be the one everyone is rooting for to die.
Death in this series, however, is a little pickier than that. There’s no way a leading character like Shane would die, and it’s a good thing too. There have been some unbelievable incidents of cheating death so far, which, incidentally, leads to another tip.
ZOMBIE SURVIVAL TIP #3 Watch the road.
Even if you are, possibly, the last living driver on Earth, Lori has shown us that losing focus on the road can be just as dangerous as losing focus in a herd of walkers. As she drives to town alone, Lori takes her eyes off the road to look at her map, and subsequently hits a zombie with her car. No big deal right? WRONG. Instead of just hitting the walker, she swerves, and somehow her vehicle flips, leaving the car totaled, and her unconscious self within, essentially dead in the water. The only reason Lori survives is because of her status on the show, but heed this warning, not everybody is a main character on a popular TV show.
The fact that The Walking Dead is a series, rather than a movie is significant. This cannot be emphasized enough; a zombie TV show has so much more room to grow story-wise than a movie. With a film like Dawn of the Dead or even Zombieland, an entire story line, including character development and a sensible, established ending, have to be packed into a time span of t 2 hours. The Walking Dead however, has time to make its characters intricate and multi-dimensional. This is what sets The Walking Dead apart and makes it unique, both as a zombie story and a television show. It is also what makes it must see TV for both zombie fans and non-zombies fans alike.
A few more tips; travel in numbers, survival is first priority, and no matter what, always be fearless.