It starts out like any other ordinary crappy day. With goldfish tragedy. And a solemn bowl-side service. “Why do things have to die?” asks poor little Billy. “Because it’s God’s plan, baby boy. Everything dies.” says mom, Hannah. Good answer. You won’t have any trouble getting him to leap out of bed on Sunday morning, put on some uncomfortable clothes, and rush to church to learn all about what sounds like a really shitty plan.
Then things take a turn for the worse. The much, much worse. Waking up to a beeping alarm clock sucks. Waking up to a bleating car horn is infinitely worse. (Holy crap! That’s the answer! Note to self: car horn alarm clock. No need for a snooze bar. Scare myself out of bed every morning. Forget the $5 Starbucks. A shot of pure adrenaline will do just as well…and it’s free!) So mom wakes up with her head on the car horn. She’s injured, confused, and then immediately panicked when she discovers that the kids are not in their seats.
She falls out of the car and starts screaming over and over, “Jamie! Billy! Jamie! Billy!” Her cell phone is completely crushed. (A sure sign that all humanity is at an end.) As she runs down a sort of demented Wisteria Lane past a front yard barbecue party that went all kinds of wrong, there’s a lingering shot of bicycle that we recognize from the very first episode of Season 1. We know what (or who) ends up next to that bike. It’s the one where our main character, Sheriff Rick Grimes, confused and almost straight from the wrecked out hospital, meets a woman with only the upper half of her body. A long, long undead woman who is still slowly snapping at him, grabbing for him, and trying to reach to him with fevered, single minded determination.
The woman is still yelling for her children, but at least she’s running. She doesn’t know yet to be quiet. And then, thank God, an authority figure! But this school crossing guard will offer no help as he’s apparently on his labor union-required lunch break of company-mandated braaaaiiiiins. But it did make me wonder, “Why is meat that’s running away screaming tastier than the meat you’re already stuffing your face with?”
Mom finally makes it to her ex’s house, but of course, he hasn’t left the key under the mat. He always was such a thoughtless prick. Suddenly the door opens and the the ex blasts the crossing-guard zombie’s rotten melon right off and saves her cowering ass. Hmmm. Maybe he wasn’t always such a prick. Strange. He never kept guns in the house before. She never wanted them around the kids, but right now she’s not really feeling like picking a fight about gun safety.
The kids rush in and mom is limp with relief, only asking them why they left the car. “We thought you were dead.” was their reply. (Well that and the undead hordes that were no doubt starting to gather around the car. Sorry mom. Sometimes it’s every man for himself.)
Mom asks, “Where’s Judy?” Her ex’s new wife. And after ALL she’s been through that day, you can still detect that what she’s really saying is, “Where’s that bitch Judy?” Andrew, the dad, is suspicious about Hannah’s head injury, but when he finds out it’s from the wreck he starts opening up a little more about the situation. He tells her, “It’s happening everywhere.” He’s recently talked to their asshole neighbor, Mike Palmer, who told them they need to get to the CDC because this is certainly the work of terrorists.
As they talk Billy comes in wanting to take Max the dog some water. Dad snaps that Max is very sleepy and needs to be left alone. Mom doesn’t like his tone. And when he comments that last time he checked, he was still Billy’s parent, he gets a vicious reply from mom that it’s true on weekends and holidays. C’mon people. How about you try to get along just long enough to survive? Even zombies don’t bring divorced couples closer together. I think Dr. Phil said that once.
Billy goes to put away Max’s water bowl, but fails to notice that there’s something really, really wrong with the dining room rug.
Meanwhile, Judy (Andrew’s new wife) has skipped out to grab a few extras for her Zombie Apocalypse Pantry. I mean, she was out of prosciutto and capers for God’s sake! The weather was nice, so why not just walk in her flirty summer frock. Judy doesn’t use recyclable shopping bags. And for this she will pay a steep price.
Judy comes upon a young woman she assumes has been in some sort of car accident and decides to render aid. But she doesn’t understand that CPR doesn’t work on the undead. It’s called the “Breath of Life.” Duh? That’s what you get for not using your own grocery bags. Your tongue gnawed off, the gift of walking death, and a constant maddening hunger for the meat of the living.
At Judy and Andrew’s house, Andrew is having an, “Out, out damn spot!” moment in the kitchen sink. We’re not sure why all the blood is there, but just then a radio service announcement. Finally! The governor is going to speak! We’re saved! “Seek shelter immediately!” Crap, I would have never thought of that on my own. Guess with Rick Perry as my governor, I can expect to be quickly consumed by the living dead. At least it’ll end fast.
Then the lights go out. Jeez! Did he forget to pay the power bill on top of everything else? Then there’s a crashing noise. A blood trail in the living room. A broken framed picture of Judy and Andrew. So you know what’s shambling around the corner next. But SCORE! One thing goes right today. He drops her with a shotgun blast to the gut right as she stands in the center of the rug for easy disposal! (Hey you still gotta find the sunshine in the little things sometimes.)
“Oh, Judy, Judy!” We weren’t even out of capers after all. Sad music and a framed shot of a more put-together Judy and her now undoubtedly not-nearly-as-cute-and-friendly dog, Max. Then again maybe Max went to live on a farm where he can run and play with lots of other animals, judging by the blood that was being washed from the Andrew’s hands at the beginning of this episode. Ah, now we get to the actual old corpse in the carpet roll cliché. Andrew always hated that rug anyway. Never really pulled the room together.
In a flashback we see Andrew looting for guns at Mike Palmer’s house (the asshole neighbor). Apparently Andrew needs to put his dog Max down, who is injured and howling in pain. (Hey, by the way, there happen to be a bunch of hatchets and axes hanging on the wall behind you. That’ll get the job done quick, too. Max won’t mind. Old Yeller was never one of his favorite movies anyway.)
Mike Palmer is a lot like that guy in “Falling Down.” You know, the one in the army surplus store who’s all excited about his canister of Zyklon B? He’s sure this is all the work of terrorists. “They’ve figured out how to blow us away without using bombs. The CDC is working on a cure, least that’s what the Asian chick on the news says.” Nice.
So Andrew and Mike get to talking. Palmer still can’t resist a couple of personal jabs at Andrew about how he may have made more money, but HE was able to hold on to his wife. You’ve got the motherfucking Zombie Apocalypse going on outside, and this guy STILL can’t stop being a douche for a few seconds. Well, Mike, since we’re sharing, wifey number two is snuggled up in a cheap rug from Target in my dining room.
Mike’s feeling the zombie coming on due to a nasty leg wound, but he wants his asshole neighbor to know it’s his birthday so he’ll feel some “gee, I didn’t get you anything.” guilt. Well happy 50th, neighbor! Sorry you’re about to die AND had to clean up the glitter and glue from your kids lovingly homemade birthday cards. Palmer says his wife Maggie made him a fudge cake, his favorite, but he shot her a while ago. Because she was a zombie? Or was the cake not quite fudgey enough this year?
“Couldn’t do the kids,” he says. Aw, what a softie. You can hear them upstairs tearing the place apart. “Pop is on his way!” he calls up to them. And then to Andrew he says something like, “I know we’ve always hated each other, but could you do me a couple of favors? I need you to shoot me in the head, and after go upstairs and kill those two kids as well. C’mon. It’s just being neighborly.” And after, Mike can keep the gun with its 4 remaining shells. Deal!
As I mentioned, today started with a goldfish funeral. Think the kids really even cared? Considering what they’ve seen in the last few hours? Mmmm. No. Flush ’em and move on to that whole trying-to-stay-alive thing. But some things never change. Jamie and Billy are arguing over whether or not dad keeps his promises. A brother and sister fighting over their divorced parents while eating straight out of the peanut butter jar, yes. This is absolutely believable in the God-damned End of Days.
And then the rug moves. Wow! Stepmom is not looking so good. And she’s really, really hungry. The kids try to hide in a closet, but famished Judy finds them. Then, before the kids can become a tasty little snack, their real mom steps in all mama bear, with an Ellen Ripley, “Stay away from her, you bitch!” deadly serious line delivered with an unhesitating axe whack to Judy’s stupid, grocery bag-wasting head.
Once again that asshole neighbor, Mike Palmer fucks everything up. Yeah. He’s got a truck that might get the more attractive family next door to a safe place, but Andrew has to go next door to get the keys. He knows where they are since he did that little favor for Mike, but he didn’t finish the job. He didn’t honor Mike’s dying birthday wish. Perhaps Mike Palmer is not the only asshole on this fucked up Wisteria Lane. He bravely goes to get the keys, but that little part of the deal he didn’t actually carry through, has now come back to bite him in the ass. And face. And legs.
So the three remaining family members are truckless. Finally mom understands that her ex isn’t coming back and takes control. It’s time to go. Move. Now. They book it down the street. Wow. They do not have attractive neighbors anymore. Everyone is looking pretty damn rough. Mom spots a car. With keys inside. SWEET! Aw, damn except for the zombified owner who gives mom a good arm chomp. She unhesitatingly shoots the undead bastard in the face, but instantly knows that it’s all over for her.
She has time to say a wrenching goodbye to her kids and arm them with a handgun. They get instructions to run as fast as they can to the CDC’s concession stand at the corner of the park for airlift to Atlanta. All this as the undead horde lurches closer and closer. Big sister tries to comfort her little brother with, “It’s okay, baby boy. Everything dies. It’s Gods plan.” (I’m sure that made him feel all better inside.)
Mom then lets herself be sacrificially swallowed up by the mass of reeking undead.
Then we see that bike again. That damn bike. The bike that we now know is where the undead woman who provoked such horror and sympathy in the first season was first encountered. And even though her transformation is wretched to watch, you understand why Sheriff Rick took the time to go back and find her to end her suffering. Even after all the carnage and brutality and monstrousness, she was still human. And so was he.