Season 1 Episode 1 “Days Gone Bye”
In the first episode we get to know just a handful of the cast. Main character Rick Grimes is also the first person we meet, and what he is doing sets the show off right. The setting reflects a country road with not a soul in sight and numerous abandoned vehicles. It’s not long before we get our first walker. The classic little girl who Rick has to shoot.
Queue the intro music. Good opening! I’m not going to do an entire scene by scene re-cap, but I just love that intro!
How we got to that point is then explained. Rick is a police officer who gets shot in the line of duty and winds up in a coma in the hospital. When he wakes up, it’s the full blown zombie apocalypse and Rick is completely alone trying to figure it out.
The cast of characters we meet in the first episode includes Morgan and Duane, Lori, Carl, Shane and a couple of others that went unnamed in the first episode. Morgan and Duane are the father and son duo that give Rick his first lessons about surviving the zombie apocalypse. Morgan is still struggling with his wife becoming a walker. Duane as well but the focus is really on Morgan. What I love in this episode with Morgan is that he brings us our first real experience with someone going through the loss of a loved one who is still physically there but it’s not them, which is one of the main conflicts that runs through the show over and over again. The scene of Morgan trying to shoot his walker wife from the house and he can’t bring himself to do it is just so powerful. I cry every time I re-watch it! Rick gives us a glimpse of this tragedy as well in the episode when he returns home and think his wife and son are also dead. He gives another powerful moment of real loss.
Then we have Shane, who at this time doesn’t appear to have this issue of loss going on. When we first meet Shane it’s in a pre-apocalypse moment in a cop car talking to Rick about their issues with their significant others. Shane comes off cocky and brazen. The next time we see him is with Lori and Carl after the walkers have taken over. He is definitely still cocky but a tad more pushy and controlling. And he certainly has forgotten about his dear friend and partner Rick, because he has moved in on Rick’s wife Lori and become a second father to Carl. Geez, that didn’t take long. To me it has always sort of felt like Shane might have done this even if the zombie apocalypse hadn’t happened. And my first impression of Lori is that maybe she would too. I can see it, one day Lori and Rick just have a fight that goes too far and boom, there’s Shane moving in on Lori and Lori looking for love in the wrong damn place. But who knows.
The episode ends with Rick in Atlanta in a bad spot. After riding in on his horse, he runs into what will come to be referred to as a herd. A large group of walkers roaming together. The herd eats his horse and Rick almost commits suicide when he thinks he can’t get away. But he luckily is under a tank with an open hatch that lets him get in. Good but not great. You can’t really survive in a tank. And then we get that magic voice over the radio. We don’t know who it is but they can clearly see Rick got in the tank so we know they are not far. And then we are left in suspense until episode 2.
I didn’t start watching the show the very first time it aired. I came in when the second season was happening after hearing a lot by word of mouth. So i rented it and started watching. As far as first episodes go, The Walking Dead did it right. I wasn’t immediately hooked on it based on this episode, but I was willing to keep going. It was entertaining for sure and different enough from everything else on television that it kept my attention.
Best of the Episode
The first walkers we meet are still some of the most memorable. The little girl at the gas station, the bicycle walker and Tank Walker (aka the creepy pale walker who looks like he knows whats going on). Easily recognizable to any fan. It speaks to the dedication to the show that right off the bat they can create walkers that last a lifetime.
The iconic scene of Rick heading into Atlanta. One side of a highway full of abandoned cars trying to exit Atlanta, and Rick on his horse alone on the other. This shot appears everywhere. Really gives you an idea about the scope of how bad things are.
Another iconic scene that is still media heavy is the “Don’t Open Dead Inside” from the hospital where Rick wakes up. Such a fantastically creepy image. You can’t do anything Walking Dead related without seeing this, and it’s not a bad thing, it is just classic.
Of Future Importance
“Carl, I found you” – To be explained later