It was a clear step down from “Vatos,” but tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead still hit a home run in several ways. What made the episode more interesting, though, were the times that it chose not to swing.
The episode, titled “Wildfire,” was actually a rather calm affair. If I remember correctly, we only met about three or four zombies (if that) the whole episode. Much like the other odd-numbered episodes this season, “Wildfire” focused more on the characters and less on the ghouls chasing them. While some of the characterization was a little cliche (Andrea’s stubbornness regarding Amy, for instance), more of the episode focused on brilliant gone-too-soon characters like Jim.
Jim met his comic-book ordained fate, but some characters surprisingly didn’t. I’m talking about Shane, who looked all geared up to be Rick’s attempted murderer before being gunned down by a defensive Carl. That’s how it went down in the books, at least, but it seems that the show has decided to go in another direction, marking the first major deviation the show has taken yet. And you know what? I like that. A lot.
And then we got what can only be described as the “Desmond in the hatch” moment — we met Jenner, the scientist in the CDC. A surprisingly large part of the episode was dedicated to the strange suicidal lone wolf drunkard scientist, and though his vlogs were a little tedious, the time spent with him in the lab (with the next episode’s titular “TS-19” sample) was well-spent. The hopeful bright light at the end of this week’s episode was a hopeful sign for our survivors as they encounter their first sign of hope since the zombie plague was declared “wildfire.” The sad twist that the audience knows going into it, though, is that it won’t all end well, because Jenner’s elbows destroyed that hope. Once again, The Walking Dead has dosed us with a strong hit of irony. B-