Open to a scene of an abandoned gas station, surrounded by discarded vehicles, presumably the aftermath of a zombie attack. A small town Sheriff walks among the cars, looking to fill the gas canister he's carrying. He comes across a little girl in pink pajamas who is walking with her back to him.
The Sheriff: It's patently obvious this little girl will turn out to be a zombie, but, nonetheless, I'm going to go through the motions, as if tension was being built before the big reveal.
Audience: Don't worry, we get it. It's establishing the environment. Carry on.
Zombie girl: RAWR!
The Sheriff shoots Zombie Girl right in the forehead, letting us know that this series is not afraid to "go there." Roll opening credits.
After credits, cut to back in time to before the zombie apocalypse, where the only event of note is that The Sheriff gets shot and put in a coma so that he sleeps through the mayhem without knowing how it all went down, like that guy in 28 Days Later.
The Sheriff (Waking up): Marco...?
No one responds to his calls, so The Sheriff shuffles out of the room and discovers the hospital is mostly destroyed, has a mostly eaten body on the floor, and a room marked "dead inside" that contains growling people that are trying to claw their way out.
The Sheriff: (Insert quip about the failure of the US medical care system here.)
The Sheriff eventually makes his way outside, past piles of bodies in body bags, and in a nearby park encounters ½ of a zombie.
½ Zombie: RAWR!
The Sheriff makes a slightly comical getaway on a bicycle made in the 1950s, and finds his way back to his house, where he discovers his family is gone. He decides to sit out on the stoop in front of his house where he gets beaned in the head by a kid with a shovel.
Sheriff (Just before passing out): Whatcha do that for...?
Son Whose Name Is A Reference: Daddy! Daddy! I think I got one!
The Compelling Character: Son, you know they don't talk. Only main characters talk.
Audience: Wait... what do you mean "the compelling character"?
Anyway, The Sheriff wakes up tied to a bed in the house The Compelling Character and his son have taken refuge in.
The Compelling Character: Are you bit?! Are you bit?!
The Sheriff: Nope. Just shot. Is that cool?
The Compelling Character: Yeah, s'cool. Come downstairs and have some dinner and exposition with me and my boy.
They all sit down to dinner.
The Compelling Character: We call them "walkers."
The Sheriff: Not "zombies"?
The Compelling Character: I guess the writers felt the need to establish that undead are a completely unfamiliar concept in this universe. So, as I was saying, the thing about walkers is...
The Sheriff: Yeah, I got it... Shoot for the head, don't get bit... the usual zombie drill.
The Compelling Character: Okay, yeah it's all the same. Just don't say the "z" word.
Sheriff (Muttering under his breath): Classic Romero zombies...
The Compelling Character: Damn it man, get in character!
Sheriff: Okay, okay... "walkers." Sheesh.
As the group get ready to sleep for the night, the "walker" that used to be The Compelling Character's wife comes to the door and twists the doorknob, all creepy like.
The Compelling Character: She got the fever, and turned into one of them, a walker. I should shoot her, but...
Sheriff: I'm going to go look at her through the peephole so we can get a nice and creepy close up of my eyeball.
Audience: This is all going great so far. No need for snark. Why even do a "metacontextual edition" of this show?
Next day, The Sheriff seems to now be totally on board with the whole new "kill walkers / survive," post apocalypse way of life. He demonstrates this by heading out the front door and going Al Capone on a walk... Fuck it... a zombie.
The Compelling Character: Hey!
>Sorry man, but keeping that up would just be impossible.
Anyway, The Sheriff takes The Compelling Character and his son to the police station, where they get hot showers and guns.
The Compelling Character: Before all the broadcasts stopped, there was talk of a safe haven set up by the military in Atlanta.
Sheriff: Okely dokely. I'll go look for my wife and son there. You coming?
The Compelling Character: Maybe later. I'm going to go back to the house and try and kill my undead wife. But hey, before you go, though, listen up. These walkers are pretty easy to kill one on one, but in a group, they're a bitch.
Sheriff: I appreciate the foreshadowing, but I'm sure that everything will be totally fine and there's no way things can get worse.
They part ways. Before he drives off to Atlanta, The Sheriff stops in to touch base with the ½ Zombie.
Sheriff: I can see past the impressive special effects and consider the human you once were, so I'm going to shoot you in the head as an act of empathy.
Audience: Wow, that was incredible! We've never seen a show convey the killing of a zombie as an act of compassion so well before. We didn't expect to be put in a position of sympathy for a zombie. This series is going to be great!
Meanwhile, The Compelling Character, back at the house, uses a rifle with a scope to try and shoot his undead wife.
The Compelling Character: Damn, I just can't do it! Maybe it wasn't the best idea to be holding this picture of the beautiful woman she was while I do this...
Audience: Wow, usually when people in movies or TV shows are depicted as having to kill someone they love because that person has turned into a monster, the obvious necessity of the mercy killing so outweighs the residual emotional attachment that it's usually a tedious exercise of waiting for the inevitable euthanasia. But somehow this show brought us to the point where we can genuinely buy into this character's emotional conflict. Amazing! This series is going to be great!
While the Sheriff makes his way to Atlanta, he tries calling out on his CB radio to see if anyone hears him. A nearby camp of survivors picks up his faint signal. They try to warn The Sheriff not to go to Atlanta, but the reception is bad so he doesn't hear them.
The scene at the camp reveals that The Sheriff's buddy, The Deputy, is there. There is also a woman who is pretty in a Doesn't-Need-Make-Up-to-Look-Good-kind-of-like- Evangeline-Lilly-on-Lost kind of way. Her appropriate level of hotness clearly means she must be the main character's wife.
The Deputy: Hey, come into this tent with me and let's make out a bit.
Appropriately Hot Wife: You're sure my husband was dead when you left him, right? So this technically isn't cheating?
The Deputy: Er... yeah. Pretty sure.
Audience: Ooh... a source of conflict for when The Sheriff eventually catches up with these two. Nice.
They are interrupted by the Sheriff's son, Opie.
Opie: Hey, what's going on?
Appropriately Hot Wife: Nothing! Nope, nothing at all. I'm certainly not bonding with the next available alpha male in place of your father in order to ensure our survival in this Hobbesian reality.
On the way to Atlanta, The Sheriff changes his car for horse that he finds abandoned on a farm. Partly because he ran out of gas, and partly because it's cooler. There is the iconic image of riding the horse on the abandoned highway into Atlanta, and then soon the The Sheriff is in the streets of Atlanta.
Sheriff: Whoah, horse, whoah. Don't mind the zombies... fuck, sorry... "walkers." There's no way that there will be more than we can handle right here in the middle of the city. Oh, hey! Did I just see a helicopter over there?
The Sheriff rushes in the direction of the helicopter which has quickly disappeared from view, being even less careful about where he was going than he was before.
Audience: Ooh! A helicopter! The plot elements that make us want to watch more just keep coming!
The Sheriff runs straight into an whole pile of zombies. Pretty much the whole population of Atlanta.
Zombie horde: RAWR!
The Sheriff: Well, shit.
The horse is quickly made into horse sashimi, and The Sheriff ducks under a tank. In moment of what seems like certain doom, he considers taking his own life by putting his gun with its last bullet to his head.
The Sheriff: Yep, this is it for... oh, hey, this tank has an opening I can crawl into. Nice.
After securing himself in the tank, The Sheriff is surprised by a voice that comes over the radio.
Mysterious Voice On Radio: Hey you, dumbass. Yeah, you in the tank. Cozy in there?
Audience: Cool... can't wait to see who the voice turns out to be.
The camera pulls back vertically, revealing a street and a city over run with zombies.
Audience: Wow!! Usually premiere episodes are the weakest one of the show, but this was really engaging! It had a strong emotional component which really differentiated it from other zombie stories. We were expecting just a string of the usual gore and cheap scare tactics, but instead we got an actual story and a slow burn of tension. THIS SERIES IS GOING TO BE GREAT!
Audience: Aw yeah! Let's get this next episode going! We are totally psyched for this!
Episode two opens in the survivor camp seen at the end of the last episode. Appropriately Hot Wife walks alone into the woods. She becomes nervous that there might be zombies around.
The Deputy: Boo! Ha ha!
Appropriately Hot Wife: Holy fuck! That is possibly the most inappropriate behaviour I can think of in an actual post apocalyptic world full of "walkers" and the ever present threat of death. But never mind... I'm down to fuck.
They fuck as credits roll.
Audience: Ew, really? The middle of the woods, adjacent to a refugee camp, seems like a mood killer... Even though we've established they've found solace in each other, it seems weird to portray it as a heated sexual affair... Something seems off... but maybe if there was a back story here of them having had an affair since before the apocalypse, that might give some credibility to this situation, and also raise the stakes on the inevitable conflict when the The Sheriff rolls in. Yeah, that could work.
The Deputy: Hey, yeah, that would have been a good idea!
Audience: "Would have been...?"
After credits, back in Atlanta, The Sheriff is hoping the mysterious voice on the radio can help him get out of the tank, and past the zombies to some kind of safety.
Mysterious Voice On Radio: Here's whatcha gotta do. Get out the tank and run to the building to the left.
The Sheriff: I was hoping for something a little more befitting the mystery of the voice on the radio, but whatever... Let me just grab this grenade I found in the tank and I'm good to go. Now, since I can turn and shoot blindly while running at full speed ahead, and yet still hit z... pardon... "walkers" right in the head - the "one shot, one zombie" method, popular in zombie movies - I think I can pull this off.
The Sheriff runs to an alley where he meets Shortround, who was the voice on the radio, and, since the zombies can't seem to climb ladders, together they climb up a fire escape, and get to safety on the roof of the building.
Shortround: You're a dumbass, dumbass. See how I keep calling you "dumbass"? It's all about showing some sort of cavalier attitude, or something. Dumbass.
Audience: Um.. Somehow... the dialogue doesn't seem as tight as it was last episode.
Shortround takes The Sheriff to a store in the bottom of a building where they meet up with The Away Team, a group of people Shortround came into the city with to do a scavenging mission. The The Away Team, consists of Boring Sister A, Generic Black Guy, Generic Hispanic Guy, and Forgettable Woman.
Boring Sister A: There are so many walkers outside because of you running around and making noise! I'm so mad I'm going to pull a gun on you, though it completely lacks any credible threat since you're the main character!
Forgettable Woman: What are we going to do? There are "walkers" gathering just outside the glass doors of this shop we're in! They can break in any time!
The Sheriff: Hey now, just relax. I'm sure they won't break through the glass until moments before a dramatic getaway. Sounds to me, though, that someone on the roof is shooting off guns and drawing more zombies.
Generic Hispanic Guy: Drawing more what?
The Sheriff: Sorry... "walkers." Anyway, we should go up to the roof to see.
The Away Team all head up to the roof, where another member of their team, Cookie Cutter Racist is taking pot shots at zombies with his rifle. Out of nowhere he picks a fight with Generic Black Guy.
Cookie cutter racist: My dislike of your blackness exceeds my sense of self preservation!
Generic black guy: Fuck you or something!
Audience: Seriously, what the hell kind of dialogue is this? What happened to all the depth just one episode ago?
Cookie Cutter Racist intimidates all of The Away Team with his rifle, and all of them back down, even though some of them are packing.
Cookie cutter racist: I'm now the leader, or something, or whatever! This rant I'm on doesn't need to make any sense, the point is, I'm unlikeable! Are you getting this? I am an unlikeable character. I'm not sure it's clear enough, so I'll keep going. I AM UNLIKEABLE! There are no subtleties to my one dimension that can cause any confusion! Got it? Good!
The Sheriff puts his huge gun to Cookie Cutter Racist's head and takes control.
Audience: Oh... okay... this scene is redeemable. This would be an awesome moment for The Sheriff to do some rough justice and just shoot this guy. Then we'd have a morally complex relationship develop between him and the group, where...
The Sheriff: Here's my lecture about racial unity in hard times.
The Sheriff handcuffs Cookie Cutter Racist to a pipe, and hands the key to Generic Black Guy.
Cookie cutter racist: Now, as my coup de grâce, even though it has nothing to do with anything at all with this scene or anything else, I'm going to make an out of the blue sexual proposition to Boring Sister A, as if more clarification about what an unlikeable character I am was needed. Hey, honey, what say you and I get out of here and bump uglies?
Boring Sister A: I'm going to say no, mainly because that was the most painfully clunky piece of dialogue so far. And that is saying a lot.
Audience: No... no... no... Why is this all turning to shit? This is nothing like the first episode... all our hopes are crumbling around us...
The Away Team turns their attention to trying to get out of the building.
Shortround: I know! We can go out through the sewer under the building!
Rat Eating Zombie In The Sewer: RAWR!
Shortround: Okay, never mind.
The Sheriff: Don't worry, I got this. What we'll do, see, is get a body of a zom... a "waiter," no...
Boring Sister A: "Walker"?
The Sheriff: Yeah, one of them... One that we killed out back. Then we hack it up into bits, then cover ourselves in all the gunk. That way, we'll smell like one of them, and we can walk out to go get one of the trucks we saw earlier.
Shortround: Seems weird that bodies that are so decayed and damaged have a heightened sense of smell. Do we really want to put all our eggs in the "smell" basket?
The Sheriff: Don't worry, I seem to have a better handle on how these whatchamacallits operate, even though I've been asleep while you've all been out in the field. Okay, now, before I take an axe to this body we just dragged in, I just want to take out his wallet and look at his ID, so I can contemplate him as the man he was before all this...
Generic Hispanic Guy: Meh. That sentiment just isn't working as well as it did last episode.
The Sheriff: Yeah, you're right. Oh well, fuck it, let's get on with hacking this guy up.
Boring Sister A: How come you tell us all to use gloves when handling the body, but take your gloves off to take out the wallet, then you wear a face shield while we all stand around just as close to the splatter without face shields. None of this makes sense.
The Sheriff: Sorry, can't talk details. Got a body to mince.
After a brief cutaway scene at the camp where literally nothing happens that changes the story in any way, cut back to The Sheriff and Shortround heading out among the zombies, covered in zombie mash, to see if they can walk undetected among the undead.
Shortround: Just so I'm clear, we're going to test this by doing it?
The rest of The Away Team watches from the rooftop of the building.
Generic Hispanic Guy: Uh oh, looks like we're going to get a sudden rain that could wash away their camouflage. Even though you guys all live here, I'm going to explain to you that this is a cloudburst that happens frequently in Atlanta.
The sudden rain washes away the gunk off of Shortround and The Sheriff, which causes the zombies to take notice of their presence and attack.
The Sheriff: Quick! Run and jump over that fence! Since they weren't able to climb that fire escape ladder about twenty minutes ago in the episode, we should be safe if we can make it over!
Shortround: Oh no! The writers are arbitrarily making the walkers fast or slow, adept or not, depending on what they feel is the most convenient for driving action or plot!
The Sheriff: You mean they're climbing over the fence?
Shortround: That's what I said! Quick, start up a truck and let's get out of here!
After securing a truck from the lot of a construction site, The Sheriff executes part B of his master plan, which is to get Shortround to drive a loud car around and draw the zombies away from the back of the building where The Away Team is waiting. They find a red sports car and The Sheriff hotwires it because everyone in television land can hotwire cars like it's pressing a button. The car has an alarm that The Sheriff leaves running to maximize the zombie attracting noise potential.
Generic Hispanic Guy: Look! They got the truck and they've drawn away some walkers from the back of the building! The plan is working!
Boring Sister A: Let's all run down to the loading dock! But we have to hurry because the glass doors keeping out the walkers at the front of the building is giving way just now!
Cookie cutter racist: Hey, surely it's inhumane to leave even a ham fisted portrayal of bigotry like me cuffed to this pipe so that I get eaten!
Generic black guy: Um, yeah, I guess I should unlock... Oh no! I tripped on a tool box and dropped the key down a drain where it's irretrievable! This such a complicated situation because of our racial tensions and how it will look to others that I might have done it intentionally but I didn't! And the walkers are coming so I have to leave!
Cookie cutter racist: Well, yeah, but it's not really all that complicated. See, you could just hand me the tool chest right there, the one so close you tripped on it. There's the a hack saw and other things I could at least try, so I have a chance! Hell, I bet with one wrench I could open this rusted pipe...
Generic black guy: The walkers are coming! The complications of perceptions of racial tension and justice and... stuff, is too difficult to handle in this short time! Gotta go!
Cookie cutter racist: Seriously, it's just right there. You knocked over a couple of tools, but all it would even take is for you to just kick them over... would take you two seconds...
Generic black guy: No can do... too complicated somehow! Bye!
The Away Team all get into the truck just in the nick of time, and they drive back to the city as Generic Black Guy explains why Cookie Cutter Racist isn't with them.
Generic black guy: ... I dropped the key. I swear I didn't mean to...
The Sheriff: What about the tool chest...?
Generic black guy: It was complicated!
The Sheriff: Okay, okay. Don't sweat it. It's not as if there was enough dimension to that subplot to make anyone care. Oh, hey, there's Shortround driving by us in the car with the alarm going off. Hey, Shortround you want to pull over so that I can kill the alarm for you? After all, the whole point of that car was to attract walkabouts, so it seems kind of dumb to drive it like that all the way back to the camp.
Shortround: Details, schmetails!
Audience: WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED TO THIS SERIES?!
The episode picks up where the last one left, with Cookie Cutter Racist on the roof, with zombies trying to reach him through a door chained shut, bemoaning his predicament.
Cookie cutter racist: This sucks! This sucks so bad. And... uh... I don't really have a lot to say beyond that. I mean, I'll do it in a range of voices and dispositions if that's what the director wants, but... really? We're still on me? Okay... um... yeah... this sure sucks. Oh, hey, maybe I can reach that hack saw over there, if I take off my belt and use it to reach at least one tool from that tool box...
Roll credits, and we're back at the camp site where Shortround pulls up in the sports car, with its alarm blaring.
The Deputy: What's the matter with you, driving that thing all the way here like that? Are you trying to attract every walker in the state?
Gandalf: As the old guy in this camp, I'm going to take on the role of the wise man, despite not ever really convincingly displaying wisdom. For example, let me start by making some vague pronouncement about sound bouncing around the hills or whatever to turn the car alarm thing into a non-issue.
The truck with the rest of The Away Team in it soon pulls up, and The Sheriff makes his big entrance.
Opie: Mom, Deputy, look! It's dad!
Appropriately Hot Wife (While giving conflicted looks to The Deputy): Yay.
The Deputy (While giving conflicted looks to Appropriately Hot Wife): Yay.
That night over a campfire, The Sheriff tells his story.
Gandalf: Let me shoehorn in a quote from Shakespeare. People who quote Shakespeare are wise, right?
The Deputy takes a moment to harass a guy named Ed who is with his family at another campfire, away from the main group.
The Deputy: Ed, I've warned you before about having a campfire that's too big and bright that might draw walkers.
Ed: Oh yeah? Well, I may not be as loud as Cookie Cutter Racist, but I'm just as obvious and one dimensional. So I'm going to be all pouty and make it clear that I will take this out on my wife when you are gone.
The Deputy: You sure you want to do that? Seems like you're just setting yourself up to be eaten by walkers, and most likely by a woman walker, just to add a forced irony to your death.
Ed: You're not the boss of me!
That night, The Sheriff and his Appropriately Hot Wife get it on in the tent to celebrate his first night back, with Opie sleeping a yard away. Not to mention, you know, the whole apocalypse still going on and all, and having been fucking The Deputy earlier that day...
Appropriately Hot Wife: Hey, are you judging me?
No, no... It's all just... look, forget about it. Shouldn't have even brought it up. Anyway, next morning, the camp is just chilling out, when Opie comes running in from the woods.
Opie: Eek! There's a walker just over there munching on a deer!
The Deputy: Quick! Everyone hit it with sticks and things!
Generic black guy: It's still moving!
The Sheriff: The head! You gotta hit the head!
Gandalf: Here! I'll cut off the head!
Boring Sister A: Ew, the severed head is still moving!
Just then, Other Brother Daryl, brother of Cookie Cutter Racist emerges from the woods and shoots the head of the zombie with his crossbow.
Other Brother Daryl: Are you all morons? I thought we all knew the whole thing about taking out the brain.
The Sheriff: Exactly... classic Romero zombies.
Other Brother Daryl: Classic Romeo what-nows?
The Sheriff: Night of the Living Dead? No? Anyway, just so you know, we left your brother handcuffed to the roof of a building where he's probably been turned into racist sashimi by now. If the zombies got through the door, that is.
Other Brother Daryl: You left him to die? Whatcha go and do that for?
Generic black guy: Well, one, for every fucking obvious reason why your brother should have just been killed long, long before we got to that rooftop. Also, I dropped the key to the handcuffs.
Other Brother Daryl: Well, I am understandably mad, but I think we all know that I won't get mad enough to credibly attack or kill anyone, because then you'd immediately kill me and the situation would actually get kind of resolved that way. Instead, I'm gonna be super pissy for, like, ever.
The Sheriff: Fair enough. So do you want to come with us and see if he managed to survive?
Other Brother Daryl: ... Yeah, alright.
They form a new Away Team consisting of The Sheriff, Other Brother Daryl, Generic Black Guy, and shortround.
The Deputy: Hey Opie, while your dad is away, why don't you and I go catch some frogs?
Opie: So we can provide for the camp catching whatever kind of food we can?
The Deputy: Oh, I was just doing it because I don't have a sense of boundaries... but, yeah, that'd be good too!
Appropriately Hot Wife: Hey, don't hang out with Opie anymore! You're a jerk and I'm not just uncomfortable with you, I outright hate you now. I'm a woman, and I can turn on a dime like that. Or at least be written that way.
The Deputy: Hey, I never did anything bad! I thought your husband was dead. We all did. So, y'know, chill out.
Appropriately Hot Wife: I'm sure as time goes on we'll discover that you didn't really do enough to ensure my husband was alive, thus making our thing all your fault, and not at all mine. You're clearly being written that way, so leave me and Opie alone!
The Deputy: Ooh, I'm so mad now.
Meanwhile, not far away, the women-folk of the camp are doing women-folk work, and complaining about it, and also bonding over women-folk talk about vibrators.
Ed: Hey, you women-folk. Why are you laughing and having a good time while doing your gender assigned tasks? I'm such a jerk that I can't accept that, so I'm going to pull my wife out of this.
The Deputy: Damn it. Ed, are you being mean to the women?
Ed: Yeah, yeah, you already warned me about the ironic death potential...
The Deputy: No, no... This time it's about my displaced anger issues!
The Deputy totally beats the tar out of Ed. Like, holy shit, he really fucks that Ed guy up.
Meanwhile, in Atlanta, The Away Team makes their way up the building to the roof where Cookie Cutter Racist was left behind. On the way, Other Brother Daryl is awesomely wasting zombies with his awesome crossbow.
Audience: We're not sure the relative quiet of the crossbow makes up for the downsides in reloading time and stuff, but holy fuck crossbows are just plain badass.
When they get to the roof, they discover that Cookie Cutter Racist has used the Mad Max technique for hand cuff escapes.
Audience: Really? You're going with a Max Max reference instead of 127 hours?
Boring Sister A and Boring Sister B are out fishing on the lake having a thoroughly boring conversation about their boring father.
Boring Sister B: So what kind of fishing knots did dad teach you?
Boring Sister A: He taught me the kind that he didn't teach you or something like that.
It goes on like this for an agonizing 3 minutes. They bond just enough to make it clear that one of them is definitely going to die by the end of this episode. Probably the one we've seen less of so far.
Audience: Wake us when this show is about zombies again.
Meanwhile, after the credits roll, another member of the camp, Generic White Guy is doing a bunch of digging in a nearby field.
Generic White Guy: Don't mind me. Just playing a little Dig Dug in my mind.
Gandalf: Hey, Deputy, looks like Generic White Guy is kind of losing his shit over there. We should do something about it.
The Deputy: Well, I can't see how it matters, but since all the real action is happening with The Away Team, I guess we should do something with our characters.
Cut back to Atlanta, where The Away Team is contemplating the severed hand of Cookie Cutter Racist.
Other Brother Daryl: I guess I'll take the hand with us. Maybe it'll come in "handy." Right? Anyone? " Hand y"?
The Sheriff: ...
Generic black guy: ...
Other Brother Daryl: Aw, you guys suck.
The Sheriff: Now we need to go get my bag'o'guns.
Shortround: Okay, I've got a plan, and by "plan" I mean I'll just run really fast and get them.
The Sheriff: It's like you're some kind of strategic genius.
Generic black guy: Not that I want to buy into the stereotype or anything, but this being the south and all, aren't there guns and ammunition around everywhere? Heck, isn't there a ton of abandoned military equipment lying around all over the place? Is this bag'o'guns really worth the effort?
The Deputy: Hey, meanwhile, back at camp, I get into a confrontation with Generic White Guy, and it turns out he's got heat stroke, and...
There's no way of even pretending that a guy with heat stroke is interesting enough to cut to.
The Deputy: But... Aw...
Anyway, Shortround's strategically immaculate plan goes to shit when some Hispanic gang types come out of nowhere and fuck everything up.
Cholo: Hey, those are our guns!
The Sheriff: Hah! We got 'em before you! Plus I made sure to get my hat, Indiana Jones style!
Cholo: Fine, then we're going to kidnap the Asian guy!
Other Brother Daryl: Oh, yeah? Well I got one of your guys!
The gang members leave in a low rider type of car. The Away Team takes Bargaining Chip, the gang member they have kidnapped, up to some room in a building where they interrogate him.
Other Brother Daryl: See this severed hand I have right here? This is the last guy we interrogated, so tell us where to go!
Bargaining Chip: Okay, okay! But I'm warning you, the leader of my gang is the most hardcore, badass, scary motherfucker you will ever encounter. You think the walkers are bad? This guy is so much worse. You don't want to mess with him. I'm totally serious. Have I built this up enough? I'm not sure I have. You do not want to fuck with this guy!
The Sheriff: Wow, I can only imagine how dangerous this will all be. We'll have to contend both with wanderers and a brutal gang.
Bargaining Chip: "Wanderers"?
The Sheriff: "Walkers." Whatever.
The Away Team head to the gang's home base, which is an abandoned building that looks like an old warehouse.
The Sheriff: Huh. This place is surprisingly free of any undead people. That's good, because it will be easier for us to handle the whole negotiation scene the way they are always played out in every movie, and not in any new and innovative way that incorporates the reality of being in the post apocalyptic land of the undead that we're supposed to be in.
Two big wooden doors to the home base opens, and the leader of the gang, Gus comes out, backed up by guys with guns.
Bargaining Chip: Boss, you gotta help me! You know what they did to me? Well I'll tell you, with details, even though the audience just saw exactly what I'm talking about.
Gus: Go ahead and shoot him. He doesn't understand how exposition works anyway.
The Sheriff: We have a guy on the roof with a sniper rifle ready to take you out if need be, so don't get cocky.
Gus: What, that Generic Black Guy? His presence here in this scene is every bit as ineffective and meaningless as his presence in every scene.
Generic black guy: Hey! I contribute to this story! I... uh... dropped a key once...
Gus: Whatever. If you try anything we'll throw your Asian off the roof.
Shortround appears on the roof, being held precariously on the ledge by some gang members, threatening to throw him off.
Gus: Now, give us the guns, and we don't kill him.
The Sheriff: This is a difficult negotiation with many parameters. We gotta go and think about this and come back with a clever sequence of tactics that will enable us to save Shortround and keep our guns.
The Away Team makes a strategic retreat to contemplate a new plan.
The Deputy: Meanwhile, back at camp, what we did with that guy...
Dude, seriously, no one cares.
The Sheriff: I've got the perfect plan! We go back in, point our guns at them, and say "No, you do what we say!"
Generic black guy: Air tight.
Other Brother Daryl: Agreed.
Bargaining Chip: Okay, but, let me reiterate, Gus is a plot device of epic proportions, where the result of interaction with him will result in sacrifices by the main characters so as to enthral and challenge the viewing audience. It's that much of a big deal to be confronting him. I hope I've built this up enough. After all, since we've basically completely forgot that this is a show about an world over run by the undead, the drama has got to come from somewhere.
The Away Team Goes back into the gang's home base and execute on their plan exactly as intended. They find themselves trapped in an enclosed space with in a Mexican standoff with well over twenty people pointing guns at each other. The tension builds.. and then...
Grandma: Gus, are you being mean to this nice police officer?
Audience: You have got to be fucking kidding.
Gus: Oh well, the jig is up. Actually, we're not a bunch of hard core gang members. We're really a bunch of nurses and custodians who are taking care of abandoned elderly patients in a nursing home. The whole tough guy thing was just an act, and we have hearts of gold.
Sound effect: Crash!!
The Sheriff: What was that?
Audience: The last of the suspension of disbelief giving way.
Gus: To really top it off, let me toss in an off-hand didactic message about how assumptions are bad, even though we unmistakably and deliberately acted in a way to make you believe we were the stereotypes you thought we were.
The Sheriff: Well, I, for one, am totally fine with all of this, so we'll just be on our way.
The Away Team Heads back to where they parked their van and discover it missing.
Shortround: Uh oh, I bet Cookie Cutter Racist took it and he is going to do all sorts of bad things to our group back at camp!
The Sheriff: I wouldn't worry about that. If the dropped helicopter thread is anything to go by, we won't be hearing from him again.
The Away Team decide to walk all the way back to camp, despite The Sheriff's ability to hotwire cars and there being as many vehicles available as when they wanted to get a truck and a sports car two episodes ago. Meanwhile, people at camp have gathered round the camp fire to hear Gandalf go on about his watch or something.
Gandalf: "Time waits for no man," and "a stitch in time saves nine," and blah, blah, blah, time, quaint sayings, patronizing disposition...
The Deputy: I honestly can't tell if you're deliberately written to be a guy who thinks he's wiser than he is, or if the writers don't have the wisdom to pull your character off.
Boring Sister B: Not to play out any horror movie standard tropes or anything, but I have to go to the toilet, alone, in the dark.
Surprise Zombie (while biting Boring Sister B): RAWR!
The camp is attacked by zombies.
Audience: Yay! Zombies! It's been, like, forever!
Stealth Night Time Attack Zombies: RAWR!
Ed is attacked in his tent.
Embodiment of feminist justice in zombie form: RAWR!
Ed (Dying): Droll thing life is, that mysterious arrangement of merciless logic for a futile purpose. The most you can hope from it is some knowledge of yourself, that comes too late, a crop of inextinguishable regrets.
Ed gets his ironic female zombie comeuppance. A bunch of camp members without speaking roles are zombie snacks. The more important characters mostly fight them off, but are kind of doing a bad job of it.
The Sheriff: Hey, don't sweat it! We're back just in time! And we have guns, so it's "one shot, one zombie"!
Done and done.
Gandalf: Is everyone okay?
Other Brother Daryl: I think Boring Sister B might be dead, but I can't tell, because she's just as boring now as when she was alive.
Boring Sister A cradles Boring Sister B in her arms as Boring Sister A dies. Boringly. Everyone gathers around to watch. Except the audience.
The episode opens with The Sheriff alone in a small field using his walkie talkie to try and send a message to The Compelling Character.
Sheriff: Dude, we need you back. The story has gone to shit since you've been gone... none of these characters matter... every on screen moment without zombies is excruciating tedium... you gotta come back...
The Compelling Character: Your ratings make it tempting... but... no thanks. I'm kind of into acting and dialogue and shit, so I'm going to go play a pimp on Hung.
Meanwhile, back in camp, Boring Sister A has been cradling her dying sister in her arms all night.
The Deputy: Hey, Boring Sister A, we should, you know, put a bullet in your sister there, 'cause she's gonna turn into one of them...
Boring Sister A: Back off! And I have a gun, so I'm going to insist on unnecessarily and artificially inflating the drama of my intentions by being uncommunicative about what I'm doing!
Other Brother Daryl: Fuck this. She's clearly mistaking being obtuse for being mysterious, so let's just shoot the dying boring sister from over here.
The Deputy: It's too difficult a shot. They're both so boring, it's impossible to distinguish them from this distance.
Other Brother Daryl: Alright, fine. I'll just help throwing bodies onto the fire then. How about this one here?
Shortround: Hey! That's one of our people! We don't burn ours, we only burn the walkers. People from our camp get buried because of some really vague notion of respect for who they were!
Other Brother Daryl: Isn't that kind of hypocritical? The walkers who attacked the camp were once regular people too...
Forgettable Woman: Hey, Generic White Guy, are you bit?
Generic White Guy: Me? No. Not at all. Well... maybe a little...
Other Brother Daryl (Aiming his crossbow at Generic White Guy): That's it for you then!
Sheriff: Hey, we can't do that. We should let him slowly turn over a long time and maximize our exposure to whatever virus he has and risk him turning undead and biting someone.
Other Brother Daryl: Am I the only one here who doesn't want to die of stupidity?
Boring Sister B finally starts... wait, is it Boring Sister A...? No, we were right the first time. Boring Sister B finally starts to re-animate.
Boring Sister A: I waited until you were an undead monster who is every bit as incapable of understanding me as a simple cadaver, and risked you biting me, so that I could tell you my really boring regrets about something or other. Now that's out of the way, I'm going to shoot you in the head. It's all about still seeing you as a person, and not just a monster...
Sheriff: I think we've run that message into the ground by now.
They bury some bodies and say some last words and... hey!
Audience: Huh? Sorry... nodded off there a bit. Is anything actually happening yet?
Well, The Sheriff and The Deputy have gone into the woods to do some hunting.
The Deputy: I'm going to hold The Sheriff in my gun sights and contemplate shooting him. I mean, for a whole episode I was regulated to a completely pointless B plot of taking care of a completely harmless sick guy while The Sheriff got to actually go do stuff with gangs and shit. Maybe if I shoot him, the lead role will fall to me...
Gandalf: Hey, are you aiming your gun at The Sheriff?
The Deputy: What? Me? No...
Gandalf: I think you were!
The Deputy: Okay, fine. You got me. But I won't do it if you promise to stop tying to impress us with your quotations all the time.
Sheriff: Hey, whatcha guys talkin' 'bout?
The Deputy: Nothing. I was just saying we should go to this military base I heard of.
Sheriff: Nah, I'm going to veto that since I've somehow assumed control of the group. I think we should all go to the CDC. Maybe they have some kind of help there.
Generic Hispanic Guy: Me and my family are going to wander off in some other direction for no clear reason. I hope that won't affect the story too much.
Sheriff: I'm sure we'll be fine.
All remaining cast at this point form a convoy to head to the CDC. Generic White Guy gets more sick as they go.
Generic White Guy: Tell you what, before I turn completely and cause any danger, or anything interesting, to happen to anyone, you can just leave me by the side of the road.
Sheriff: Yeah, that would be better than anything actually happening.
Commercial break, and then open on a guy in a hazmat suit doing experiments on zombie flesh. It takes a minute, but it becomes clear that he is presumably at the CDC centre that the convoy is heading to. He records a video diary.
Dr Downer: So far all I've learned is that zombie cells are spikey and mean looking when you see them under a microscope. Other than that, everyone is dead, I'm running out of fuel for the generator, every time I try and run an experiment the computer lights everything on fire as a safety precaution, Community is on hiatus, I hate my life, and everything sucks.
Outside, the convoy of survivors shows up. Lots of dead bodies everywhere, but... no zombies.
Sheriff (Banging on door): Hey! Let us in!
Dr Downer: ...
Sheriff: Come on! It's dangerous out here, despite the lack of anything having happened in so long!
Dr Downer: ...
Audience: Just do it already! It's not like we don't know already that you will!
Finally the door opens, bathing the characters in white light. Roll credits.
Audience: Did we seriously have a whole episode without any zombies? What is the point of this show without zombies?
Cold open with a flashback to the time of the zombie apocalypse, in the hospital where The Sheriff was in a coma. It is mayhem, as not only are zombies eating everyone, but soldiers are shooting indiscriminately.
The Deputy: Shit, I can't move The Sheriff without these machines that seem to be keeping him alive...
A bomb goes off nearby, rattling the room and making the machines go off. The Deputy puts his ear to the chest of The Sheriff to listen for a heartbeat.
The Deputy: Fuck, I can't tell if this guy is alive or dead. And I neither want to be eaten or shot, so I'm getting the fuck outta here. Hmmm... before I go, though, I'll at least block the door to The Sheriff's room with a gurney.
Audience: Huh. That all seems perfectly reasonable. And we were so sure that you were being written with a strong implication of having been negligent taking care of The Sheriff. Now it's just unclear what your deal is.
Roll credits, and we're back in the present, where the cast gets into the CDC and meets Dr Downer.
Dr Downer: First, I want to spend time getting some blood tests for no reason that will ever become part of the story. But after that, let's have dinner with wine!
After dinner, most of the characters do things that have an equivalent narrative weight as doing nothing. Meanwhile, The Deputy corners Appropriately Hot Wife in the games room to confront her about their issues.
The Deputy: How can you still be a bitch to me? Even the audience now knows that I really did think The Sheriff was dead, and so it was perfectly reasonable for you and I to hook up.
Appropriately Hot Wife: Nyah nyah nyah! I can't hear you!
Audience: We don't get why Appropriately Hot Wife is being so hostile... The fog of war reality that we opened this episode with seemed like perfectly reasonable justification for The Deputy's actions.
The Deputy: Well, I'm clearly not making my case, so instead, I'm going to rape you!
Audience: Whoah! What the fuck? Okay, okay, we get it... The Deputy is supposed to be a bad guy. Fucking hell...
Appropriately Hot Wife: Don't worry, I scratched his face before he did something this story can't come back from.
Audience: So confused...
The next morning, everyone goes into the main computer room with big screens and a computer that you can talk to like the one on Star Trek.
Dr Downer: First, let me wax poetic about how amazingly amazing the human brain is. Anyway, as you can see on the big screen there, I scanned a person as they came back from the dead. It's sad, because the subject was my wife, but that's just a side bar. The point is, when a person dies, their brain goes all black and little evil looking red sparkly things start bouncing around in their heads. Then they get all bitey, and you have to destroy the brain.
The Sheriff: Just so I'm clear: After all that high tech graphics and explanation, we now know absolutely nothing that we didn't know before. Nothing that helps us kill them any better, or helps us cure people, or changes our objectives as characters, or impacts the plot.
Dr Downer: Pretty much. It probably would have been much more worth everyone's time if I explained about how this whole building is rigged up with a fuel-air bomb. It's a security precaution in case we can't contain all the Ebola and small pox we have here. When the power generators run out of fuel, it blows up real good.
The Deputy: How long do we have?
Dr Downer: Three minutes.
Other Brother Daryl: Actually three minutes, or will it be in that vague sense of television time where the clock that is counting down doesn't sync with all the actions seen on screen?
Dr Downer: Vague television time. But it's still not very much, and you guys can't get out because the place is all locked down.
The cast all try desperately to get out of the CDC building.
Forgettable Woman: Except me. I'm going to stay here and die with Dr Downer.
The Deputy: Sure, whatever.
Forgettable Woman: Hey! Suicide is sad!
Other Brother Daryl: For characters who have done stuff, yeah.
Forgettable Woman: Well... I... uh... I was the one who pointed out Generic White Guy was bit that one time.
The Deputy: Leave her! Her absence won't change anything! We gotta go!
Dr Downer takes The Sheriff aside and whispers into his ear...
Audience: Oh, no you don't! Do you honestly think we're going to be led along by secret plot elements after we got so seriously fucked over by Lost? No fucking way. Never again.
Most of the team run out to the foyer, but can't get out because the doors are locked and the bullet proof glass is too strong to break.
The Sheriff: Hey! I just remembered! Here's a thread that didn't get dropped!
The Deputy: The grenade you picked up in episode two? Quick! Use it!
Using the grenade to break out of the CDC centre, the cast escapes, just in time before the building explodes.
The Sheriff: Good thing there haven't ever been any zombies around to complicate situations that we see all the time in other shows, like ticking time bombs, otherwise this could have been much more complicated. And interesting.
A few zombies show up just at the end there, but not enough to affect the getaway or anything. The main cast drives away. Roll credits.
Audience: Even though there isn't a single character we are rooting for, and the dialogue is like listening to nails on a chalkboard... you had us at "zombie." See you next season.
Walking Dead Writers: RAWR!