So I’m two days late but well, those are the breaks some times. Episode five, titled “Wildfire”, is the penultimate episode in the first season of the show and what a wildfire it is. Written by series creator, Robert Kirkman, this episode steers the television adaptation in a completely different direction than the comic book and honestly it has made me even more excited about the continuation of this show.
Up until this episode the liberties taken with the series have been marginal, branching storylines that could have happened inside the main story arc. “Wildfire” changes all that, it takes the existing storyline from the source material and veers wildly off the road making the series something completely different. Yes, there are still zombies and characters bearing the names of those in the comic book are still present and accounted for but there is also something new and unknown now to explore and for someone who has read the books, it is fantastic.
Most of the episode was spent bouncing between characters dealing with their losses from the recent attack on the camp. For the first time in the series the focus shifted more prominently to people not named Rick and Shane as the episode mostly revolves around two secondary characters, Andrea and Jim.
The scenes involving Andrea, as she watches over the body of her deceased sister are gut wrenching. At first it isn’t clear what her intentions are and she seems to have cracked but once those intentions are determined her emotional vigil is near tear inducing. On the other end of the spectrum we have Jim who was bitten by a walker in the last attack and we watch as he become ostracized and then pitied after it is revealed he is infected. Rick vows to save him but there is only so much a body can take and Jim knows it. The decision Jim ultimately makes is fitting for his character, although the execution of it all came off a bit hokey.
However, where Andrea and Jim were the major stories for the episode, it is the tension between Rick and Shane that is fueling these last few episodes and it will be interesting to see how it all resolves itself. If you’ve read the book, you know how it was done there but the ending of this episode really shows that Kirkman and series producer, Frank Darabont, are forging a new path for the series, so at this point I think just about anything could happen.
There is one episode left now. That kind of saddens me a bit but I’ll be there with bells and whistles next week to send it off on its long hiatus.
4 out of 5.