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'Walking Dead' recap: Is this 'Lost' in translation?


Hmmm, let's see: We have a group of survivors stranded in a remote location who are forced to overcome their trust issues if they want to defeat the mysterious predatory forces surrounding them on all sides, and now there's a lone scientist manning an abandoned underground outpost conducting possibly futile experiments while struggling to retain a slippery grasp on his own sanity after "wildfire" was declared. If a character named after a philosopher or a smoke monster or maybe a randomly generated series of numbers turns up next week, J.J. Abrams might want to consider making a few well-placed phone calls.

Seriously, though, if the comparisons between "The Walking Dead" and "Lost" hadn't been heated enough before Sunday night's episode of the survival-horror series, "Wildfire" certainly should put them over the top. Tonight, we met Jenner (Noah Emmerich), who is first glimpsed speaking directly into some sort of camcorder and finally giving viewers a better idea of just how long it's been since the world fell to the walkers. To be precise, it's been 63 days since the disease went global, though "wildfire" was declared 194 days ago (the code word, naturally, isn't explained). Though Jenner admits he's made "no clinical progress," we see him conducting an experiment, one that ultimately goes awry, triggering a computerized alarm system that engulfs his lab -- and some important tissue samples -- in flames.

Alone and pondering suicide over a glass of red wine, Jenner spies Rick and Lori and Shane on the security cameras outside the Centers for Disease Control, which is home to his bunker, and he stares in disbelief at the survivors, who are desperate to find a way inside, what with it being dusk, and they're having little food or fuel to make it through the night. Just how did they turn up at the CDC? In honor of "Lost," here's a flashback.

The action picks up with Rick on his walkie-talkie, attempting to raise Morgan, warning him to stay out of Atlanta, that the city "belongs to the dead now," and trying to guide him to where the camp is located (though he mentions that last night walkers came out of the woods, so the site has been compromised). At the camp, the others are throwing corpses on a pyre made of burning tires as Andrea sits cradling the body of her sister, Amy, who was killed by the walkers. Several people, including Lori and Dale, try to coax her to step away, but she remains rooted to the spot until Amy awakens as a walker -- and then Andrea tells zombie Amy that she loves her and shoots her through the temple. 

The bigger dilemma, though, is that Jim has been bitten by a walker. Rick argues that they should all head to the CDC, that if there is any vestige of government left, that facility, which was said to be working on a cure, must still be operational and represents Jim's best chance for survival. Shane, however, argues that they should all go toward a military base, one that happens to be 100 miles in the opposite direction. (The former partners are at odds, too, over Rick's decision to go back to Atlanta to retrieve the guns and attempt to rescue Merle Dixon; Shane tells Rick that had he and the other men been at the camp, they might have helped save lives by killing more walkers, with Rick arguing that it was the fact that they had so many weapons that helped the campers fare as well as they did against the ghouls.)

With Jim becoming feverish and delusional, they ultimately decide to head to the CDC in a caravan of vehicles, though Morales opts out of the plan and instead heads to Birmingham with his family. When the RV breaks down, though, Jim, momentarily lucid, implores Rick to leave him behind, saying that his "bones are like glass" and that he wants to be with his family. The group unanimously agrees to grant Jim his wish and leaves him sitting next to a tree, the virus taking hold of his body. Rick offers to leave him a gun -- should he desire to avoid what appears to be his inevitable transformation -- but he declines and gazes up at the sky as the others pull away, still headed, it turns out, to the CDC and what certainly seems destined to be a fateful meeting with Jenner in the series season finale, set to air Dec. 5.

-- Gina McIntyre

Photo: Andrew Lincoln in "The Walking Dead." Credit: AMC

Comments () | Archives (17)

I don't see you drawing any actual comparisons. You just state an opinion without providing any support for it, then recap the episode. The Walking Dead was a graphic novel series starting about a year before Lost began airing; I think you might just be projecting onto the series something you're already familiar with. I could just as easily decide to turn it around being as the books starting coming out before Lost existed but that would be equally ridiculous. I don't think J.J. Abrams would have a case and I'm not sure you have any clue what you're writing about. It just seems like an empty-headed TV snob with a lust for Lost strung some words together.

I want to know why there are no walkers (well, that one army guy) around the CDC. The ones on the ground are all shot in the head, very systematic.

Made me think that there was a automated defense, which was why the scientist was wanting them to go away, he was afraid that it would kill him. Since there was no such defense system, I’d like to know why there are no walkers? It’s a city! Lots of other questions too, like why the scientist is all alone.

Why are military blockades so easily overrun? You’d think it wouldn’t be that hard to cordon off an area! Though I guess they wouldn’t choose a city for that…they are probably holed up in bases. It makes more sense that they retreated then the walkers overran machine gun barricades!

Also, movies and TV shows acted like we didn’t have cell phones for way too long. Now they are going to act like we don’t have smart phones? Or computer for that matter? It would help to know if this is global or if Georgia is quarantined (the chopper in the city reminded me of 28 days later!)

The code name "Wildfire" is not really that obscure. Think about the phrase "spread like wildfire". Perhaps he's alluding to the spread of the virus?

You DO know that the Walking Dead is based on a comic book that started several months before Lost, right? I mean, you DO know that, yes? So, by your logic, Lost would have ripped off Walking Dead, yeah? Or maybe popularity retroactively determines who plagiarized who.

Enough with the "Lost" comparison. "The Walking Dead" comic series, which this show is based, came out a full year BEFORE "Lost".

Considering The Walking Dead's comic series pre-dates Lost, I don't think that J.J. Abrams would be the one making that call.

Admittedly, I was not a Lost fan, but I think zombies are somehow a more believable threat than that pathetic smoke monster.

"Wildfire" was the term used for an outbreak of an alien (extraterrestrial) contagion in Michael Crichton's novel "The Andromeda Strain" and the movie and miniseries based on the novel. (When the government agents collected the specialists on the team, they used the code phrase, "There's a fire.") Where Crichton got the term, I don't know.

Wildfire was an "Andromeda Strain" reference.

An unknown biological entity breaks containment

While the writer here doesn't fully support her opinion about how "LOST" and "The Walking Dead" compare, it is also wrong to dismiss her claim because Kirkman's comic came a year before "LOST." "The Walking Dead" is based on the comic, but does not follow it religiously -- the CDC storyline does not occur during the first or second series. Even if it did, "LOST" is most certainly an influence here, as it provided a blueprint for how to create a survival-based series featuring a multi-cultural cast.

I can see the comparisons the writer is talking about, but the difference here is one of mythology. After initially being a show about survival, "LOST" became a mythological puzzle. There is little puzzling about "The Walking Dead." It is excellent drama in its own way, definitely influence by "LOST," but by no means derivative.

Remember the show Hogan's Heroes? Well - that show was 'followed' by another POW show on a rival network because it was such a blatant rip off that people refused to watch it ... only ... what they didn't know was that the original premise of Hogan's Heroes was a serious POW escape plan with weekly episodes set up to show a massive escape and included some poignant scenes along the way.

So what happened? Well, first Stalag 17 came out and it's black humor was so popular they decided to toss in some of that - even to the point of a Schultz character. What else, oh the producers and writers visiting another set of a comical POW show with a higher production value that was taking its time to film and edit deciding to come out the next season. They copied material and ideas and rushed Hogan's Heroes to production.

So bitter irony, the 'original' comical POW show was denounced for 'copying' Hogan's Heroes.

Similarly, this crap about LOST is BS ... please, give it up it's a weak comparison and the Walking Dead doesn't set-up idiotic tie-ins from week to week. At this point the only 'unknown' is what will Rick do with the grenade.

BTW, one comment was about the lack of walkers around the CDC - remember that they go after food, so once the supply is out they'll move on ... if they're too weak they sort of hibernate. The soldier was clearly one who'd protected the CDC until he was overrun too.

Mostly I'm enjoying the show, but I'm frustrated by the evident bad decision making everywhere on the show. Why were they camping rather than holed up in a defensible structure with multiple exits? For that matter, how did creatures who can be successfully held at bay by locking the door overrun the military and apparently all of civilization? And why did the military apparently try to dig in behind sandbagged barricades? The zombies aren't an enemy army, they are more like rabid wild animals. Rather than dig in and defend a building (that obviously didn't need defending since it had impenetrable security doors anyway), why didn't the soldiers do something useful like drive around Atlanta in Bradley fighting vehicles and shoot zombies? Speaking of which, how exactly did the zombies overwhelm that tank? The one with the hatches that lock, that can drive at upwards of 50 mph? I know it might be expecting too much for a show about zombies to make sense, but given the limited congnitive abilities shown by the undead so far, I would like a little more explanation about how everyone died, or where they went. As it is, it seems like if most of the population had stayed home and locked the door, and the military had cruises the streets and killed any human figures defying the curfew, that the zombie epidemic could have been contained fairly quickly. Hopefully the show will find a way to pave over these plot holes at the CDC.

I'm guessing a huge majority of the population were bit or scratched or somehow infected before they had any idea they were all about to turn into zombies. So the damage was done long before a chance at containing it all was had.

I think there will be some answers next week with regards to how easily people are infected and thus providing some answers as to how quickly military barricades. The preview for next week’s show made, Jenner makes some type of comment that some/all of the survivors are already infected and their fate is inevitable.

There is no Lost influence in The Walking Dead. These comparisons between The Walking Dead and Lost are ridiculous and baseless. While we're clutching at straws maybe I'll decide that Lost stole all its ideas from Donnie Darko. An airplane crash? Time travel? Ooooo, Mr. Gyllenhaal better get J.J. Abrams on the phone. Give me a blog and I'll peddle theories with no basis in reality all day.

The only similarities between The Walking Dead and Lost is that they're both on television and neither are comedies. Period.

At the end of this episode, there was no question in my mind that the writers of this series were taking cues from Lost. The ending scene where the door opens, from an underground bunker with a man trapped alone, and back-lights our protagonists has obvious parallels to the hatch and Desmond.

The argument that this was a comic a year before Lost is absolutely irrelevant. First off, this show has already gone astray from the comic's plot. Secondly, this show is being re-written by screenplay writers in a post-Lost world. They know cliff-hangers will get audiences to tune back in the next week and it's obvious they're taking these notes from the most popular cliffhanger series to have ever existed.

Ok. lets pretend that they are taking cues from lost. .......so ummm...Wow i guess. I don't see this as a bad thing, unless you hate the show lost.

Example: lets say i wanted to plant a tree. And i wanted the tree to grow very well and fast. I could do this two ways. 1. Grow it my self with no help and hope for the best. (or) 2. Read a book about someone that has already grew a tree and knows what there doing, maby take 'cues' from the book.

Taking cues from 'lost' seems like a good thing. Especially since both shows are about survival. But ohhh nooo, two shows about survival ! how can this be, what a disaster ! ......... Stop whining, if you don't like it then change the darn channel people.

There is no plausible explanation for a disease that is transmitted by direct contact (biting, scratching) overwhelming an entire population to the extent shown here. The only way an epidemic of these proportions is possible is if the virus had mutated and was airborn. The idea of a massively guarded military installation being overrun by gangs of zombies is ludicrous.

Secondly, when what's-her-face's sister died and she sat there by the body for hours, covered in her dead sister's blood- shouldn't she be infected?


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