In the second to last episode of the first season of AMC’s The Walking Dead, we’re treated to the least amount of zombie engagement in the series to date, mostly because the survivors are busy mopping up the mess that was last week’s nocturnal assault on the base camp.
It’s clean-up time for Rick and what remains of the crew: bodies are burned and buried, depending on if you’re a “geek” or a human, and those that need it are given what was termed in The Zombie Combat Manual as a PRW, or “Preemptive Reanimation Wound,” a coup de grâce blow to an expired human to prevent unwanted and undesired reanimation. In the episode, it’s a particularly brutal process, with a pick axe taking care of the job. It’s effective, albeit gory, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
While we’re not privy to any zombie v. human close combat in this episode, there is one scene worth mentioning for its raw brutality, and its connection to our focus on close combat. In the aforementioned PRW sequences, it’s Daryl taking care of business, swinging the pick axe like John Henry’s hammer, and having no problem with it, thank you very much. When it’s time to take care of Ed, the wife-beating husband that received his own brutal asswhupping from Shane a few episodes back, his wife Carol steps up and asks to take care of it herself. “He was my husband,” she laments.
Given her declaration, you may think that Carol is using the moment to say her goodbyes to a man who, despite his abuses, was a person that she, at one time, felt deeply for and loved. In actuality, Carol uses the opportunity as a emphatic and cathartic release to do in death what she was never able to do when Ed was alive. Not content to dispatch a single blow with the pick, she strikes again. And again. And again. There probably wasn’t enough of what remained of Ed to be reanimated before Carol’s work, but she made sure of it, and then some. Her technique is quite excellent, striking center mass with each blow. Impressive for someone who probably never wielded a pickaxe in her life, much less to target the skull of her dead husband. Even Daryl seems a bit taken aback, which is pretty impressive considering it’s Daryl.
After the cleanup work is done, the gang heads out to the Center for Disease Control, which, given that it’s in the heart of Atlanta, doesn’t seem like the brightest idea. The team sets off, and we’re met with a brand new character, one not present in Kirkman’s books – the good doctor Jenner.
We’re one episode away from the close of season one, after which I’ll provide a recap of the close combat as I’ve done for all the episodes this season, as well as some final thoughts on the series overall.