"Wildfire" is the fifth episode of the first season of AMC's The Walking Dead. It is the fifth episode of the series overall. It premiered on November 28, 2010. It was written by Glen Mazzara and directed by Ernest Dickerson.
"Morgan..." He starts "I don't know if you're out there. I don't know if you can hear me. Maybe you're listening right now. I hope so. I found others - my family, if you can believe it. My wife and son, they're alive. I wanted you to know that. There's something else you need to know. Atlanta isn't what we thought. It's not what they promised. The city is..." He pauses and then starts again. "Do not enter the city. It belongs to the dead now." He tells Morgan to come find him, but to be careful, sharing that they were attacked at camp the night before. Telling Morgan to take care of his son, Duane, Rick signs off, promising that he'll try him again tomorrow at dawn.
At the campsite, Andrea cradles Amy's body next to the RV. Lori tries to comfort her but she has no success in convincing her to let them "take" Amy, though she promises to be "as gentle as we can," as Amy has still not turned yet. Nearby, Daryl swings at dead walkers' heads with a pickaxe as Glenn and T-Dog throw bodies in a fire.
Rick, Lori, and Shane discuss how to handle Andrea, who hasn't moved from Amy's side all night. Amy needs to be dealt with, Shane says — "the same as the others." Rick tries to approach Andrea to "tell her how it is," but she pulls a gun on him. "I know how the safety works," she says flatly, referencing Rick's advice to her when they first met. Rick backs off, apologizing. Daryl tells Rick that he needs to deal with Amy, calling her a "time bomb," as she could turn at any moment, but Lori insists they leave Andrea alone.
Morales and Daryl drag the body of a dead camper toward the fire, but Glenn stops them. "We don't burn them!" Glenn yells. "We bury them!" Frustrated and sweating from the heat, Daryl lashes out, accusing the group of reaping what they sow for leaving his brother for dead. He then proceeds to storm off.
Jacqui and Jim pile up bodies. She notices blood on his shirt. He tries to convince her he just got some blood on him by moving bodies but she manages to see that he has been bit. "Please don't tell," he begs her, but Jacqui's too terrified to stay silent. "A walker bit Jim," she announces, as Jim insists that he's fine, but he grabs a shovel to press the group away from him as they demand to see his stomach. T-Dog runs up behind him and grabs his arms as Daryl runs in and lifts his shirt, revealing a bite wound on his abdomen. "I'm okay," Jim says, with far less conviction.
The group is discussing what to do with Jim, but Rick refuses to kill the living. "I say we put a pickaxe in his head," Daryl offers, stating the obvious: "The line's pretty clear: zero tolerance for walkers." Rick thinks the Center for Disease Control, roughly 25 miles away inside Atlanta, might be able to help, and he suggests relocating there. Shane thinks the army base Fort Benning — 100 miles in the opposite direction — is a safer bet. Both places would provide food and shelter if up and running. Rick believes Fort Benning got overrun like every other military cordon they've seen. He says the CDC would be Jim's best chance, and points out that in the event of a nuclear disaster or a terrorist attack, they'd protect the CDC at all costs. "If there's any form of government left, it'd be there," he states.
Daryl heads toward Jim with his pick axe and tries to take a swing, but Rick points his gun at Daryl's head. "We don't kill the living," Rick says, but Daryl snaps back, saying, "Funny, coming from a guy who just put a gun to my head." Shane steps between Daryl and Jim, agreeing with Rick, and Daryl throws down his pick axe. Rick moves Jim inside the bedroom of the RV.
Dale sits beside Andrea to pay his respects for Amy's death. He tells her about his wife's battle with cancer, how he dragged her to every specialist even though she'd accepted her fate. Her death left him feeling angry and cheated. "Since she passed," he says, "You girls were the first people that I cared anything for."
Andrea smiles and pulls out the mermaid necklace, wrapped in pink tissue paper. Today would have been Amy's birthday. She tells Dale how guilty she feels for having missed so many of Amy's birthdays. "She'd call all excited. I always said that I'd make it home, and I really always meant to. But I never made it past that phone call," she says. Dale tells her not to add guilt to how hard things are for her already. Andrea latches the mermaid necklace around Amy's neck and Dale leaves her alone again.
Nearby, Daryl continues to swing the pick in to dead walkers' skulls. He raises the axe over Ed's head, but Carol stops him. "He's my husband," she says, taking the axe from Daryl's hands. Sobbing, she swings it down on Ed's skull repeatedly, taking out years of abuse in this final act to ensure he'd never reanimate. Daryl watches in silence, cringing.
On the ground, Amy begins to stir, deep breaths growing from deep within her. Her hands and arms begin twitching on her abdomen. She opens her eyes, which, though always blue, were suddenly an icy cool grey-blue, the pupils gone. She moans and paws at the air. She reaches for Andrea, grabbing at her hair as she pulls herself up, growling. The group stands around, guns in hand. Andrea apologizes to Amy for not being there. "I'm here now, Amy. I love you," she sobs, before she shoots her sister in the head.
Rick and Shane dig graves near the campsite. "If you'd been here looking after your own," Shane accuses Rick, "our losses might not have been so great." Rick counters that without the guns he brought back, the losses would have been a lot worse, maybe the entire camp.
Daryl believes they should burn all the bodies, but Lori insists that they need time to mourn and bury their dead. "It's what people do," she says.
Jim is hallucinating inside the RV, his bite bleeding as he sees terrifying visions of the dead. The survivors stage a funeral, and Andrea resists Dale's attempts to help her drag Amy's body into one of the graves. "Are we safe now, Dad?" Carl asks Rick afterward, but he can't say that they are. "I won't leave again," he promises.
Privately, Rick asks Lori if she blames him for not being there when the camp was attacked, and to support his decision to head for the CDC. She doesn't blame him exactly — not like Shane does — but she doesn't know if she can follow him to the CDC on blind faith. "We're all terrified. Tell me something with certainty," Lori says. "I love you. That's all I got," he tells her. It's all he can promise.
In the RV, Rick tells a feverish Jim they're going to get him help as Jim starts to cough blood in to a bucket. Jim is delirious and asks Rick to watch the boat, insisting Amy is there and that Rick "said he would." Rick begins to wonder if saving Jim will be possible as he promises to watch the boat while Jim nods gratefully.
Outside, Shane asks Lori to convince Rick that the CDC is a bad decision, cautioning her about choosing her marriage over peoples' safety. "I think folks around here can make up their minds without bringing my marriage into it," Lori says. "It's a habit you need to break." Shane tells her that he'll add it to the list of habits he needs to break as Rick emerges from the RV.
Shane tries backtracking, and Lori abruptly announces that they should follow Rick's plan. Shane's reaction seems to confirm to Rick that something went on between his wife and best friend while he was gone.
Rick, Shane, and Dale depart to sweep the forest for walkers. Alone, Shane tries to convince Rick to change his mind about the CDC. "I've gotta do what's best for my family. If it was your family, you'd feel differently," Rick says. This offends Shane. "I kept them safe," he snaps at Rick. "Looked out for them like they were my own." Rick tries to calm him down. "You're hearing it wrong," he says, as they're interrupted by a sound in the bush and draw their guns and separate to investigate.
As they each scan with their guns raised, Shane's aim lands on Rick. He holds it there for just a few seconds, glaring, his breath heavy, but he hears a sound and his focus breaks. He lowers the gun and then notices Dale's been watching him. "Jesus," whispers Dale. Shane shrugs it off, musing that they need to get reflective vests for the woods. Back at camp, Shane announces that he thinks they should trust Rick's instincts, and those that agree will be leaving for the CDC in the morning.
At dawn, Rick tries to reach Morgan to advise him of their new plan, telling him he needs him to be right about the CDC. He also adds that they will be leaving a map taped to a red car with their route drawn out for him and Duane to follow.
As the group is preparing to leave, Shane is giving instructions on how to stay with the caravan when Morales announces that his family won't be joining the group. He states that they have family in Birmingham and want to be with their people. "I gotta do what's best for my family," he says.
Rick hands Morales a .357 Magnum revolver with Shane's terse assumption that the rest of them will fare no better out there, anyway, and they part ways. Carl and Sophia hug the Morales' kids, Eliza and Louis, while Lori tearfully hugs Morales' wife, Miranda. Eliza gives her doll to Sophia and runs back to her family. The group leaves the campsite behind for good, Glenn with the map and Jim's fever worsening in the bedroom of the RV.
On their way to the CDC, the RV's radiator hose bursts. While Shane and T-Dog drive ahead to find replacement parts, Rick checks on Jim, who is in agony. "My bones are like glass. Every little bump - this ride's killing me. Leave me here," Jim says. "I'm done." Rick suggests he's delirious, but Jim insists his head is clear: "I want to be with my family," he says.
Outside, Dale advocates respecting Jim's wishes. Lori agrees, and the group carries Jim to a nearby tree. Jacqui gives him a soft kiss on the cheek. "Thanks for fightin' for us," Dale tells Jim as the group departs, tearfully leaving him behind.
Elsewhere, a video monitor crackles to life. An unshaven man, Dr. Jenner, speaks in to the camera. "It's day 194 since Wildfire was declared," he says. "And 63 days since the disease abruptly went global. There is no clinical progress to report." He states that he has finally figured out how to shut down the scrubbers in the east sector of the building to save power, and he admits he's been feeling off-kilter lately, thanks to living underground and sleeping odd hours.
In a bio-hazard suit and with classical music playing, Jenner passes through an airlock into a laboratory. He opens a tissue sample labeled TS-19 and begins an experiment. He takes a nap inside his safety suit while he waits for the sample to be ready for examination.
Reaching for a beaker, he accidentally knocks a graduated cylinder of corrosive fluid on the tissue sample inside a petri dish. An alarm sounds as a voice over a loudspeaker alerts Jenner to toxic quality air, and he runs to a decontamination chamber and disrobes. From the safety of the airlock, Jenner watches helplessly as the voice announces "Full decontamination in effect." as the lab, and all of the remaining TS-19 samples, are engulfed in flames — an automatic safety protocol.
Later, a drunken Jenner speaks into the monitor: "The TS-19 samples are gone. The tragedy of their loss cannot be overstated," he laments, musing that he's sure there's no one listening on the other end of his transmission anymore, which saves him any embarrassment because he might kill himself in the morning.
Rick's caravan approaches the CDC with the sun setting, where hundreds of bodies lay dead on the ground. Another U.S. Military cordon was overrun. The group quietly approaches the building, which is locked and shuttered. Inside, the proximity alarm alerts Jenner. Stunned, he watches the group's approach via security monitor.
Outside, walkers begin to take notice of the survivors. Panicking, Shane suggests they can still turn around and head for Fort Benning. Andrea then points out that they're out of gas and they have no food, and would never make it. Lori demands a plan and Rick insists they'll figure something out as the sun sets. Jenner, quietly mumbles to himself telling them to leave.
Rick catches sight of the security camera's movement and slams his fists against the metal shutters, screaming, "If you don't let us in, you're killing us!" The group yells at Rick saying that there is nobody there, with people crying as he continues to scream. More walkers are appearing. Shane drags Rick away as he continues to scream, "You're killing us!". Suddenly a shuttered door opens, drowning the survivors in light.
- Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier
- Jeryl Prescott Sales as Jacqui
- IronE Singleton as T-Dog
- Adam Minarovich as Ed Peletier
- Madison Lintz as Sophia Peletier
- Maddie Lomax as Eliza Morales
- Viviana Chavez-Vega as Miranda Morales
- Noah Lomax as Louis Morales
- Orlando Vargas as Camp Survivor
- Andrew S. McMillan as CDC Walker
- Chance Bartels as Walker
- Lauren Henneberg as Walker
- Ryan Kightlinger, Stephen M. Phillips, Joe Hernandez, Tony Gowell, & Marty Brotzge as Walkers
- First appearance of Edwin Jenner.
- First appearance of Cox. (Zombified)
- Last appearance of Jim. (Alive)
- Last appearance of Amy. (Zombified)
- Last appearance of Miranda Morales. (Alive)
- Last appearance of Eliza Morales.
- Last appearance of Louis Morales.
- Frank Darabont said, "We're in Atlanta and the CDC is based in Atlanta. Why wouldn't they at least pop by?"
- It is established in this episode that it's been six and a half months since the zombie outbreak began.
- The title of the episode, "Wildfire", refers to the name of the virus study given by the CDC. The origins of its name could be due to the fact that in one of Dr. Edwin Jenner's video logs, he explains that the infection spreads like a wildfire.
- Wildfire is also a reference to the secret government biological lab in the Andromeda Strain.
- In "Monsters", it's revealed that after this episode, Miranda, Eliza, and Louis Morales all died before they could reach Birmingham. After this, Morales joined the Saviors.
- Rick trying to comfort Andrea as she holds Amy's body is adapted from Issue 5.
- The group discovering Jim has been bitten during the attack is adapted from Issue 5.
- Andrea putting down a zombified Amy is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 5, where she puts her down before reanimation instead.
- Rick and Shane arguing about who should be held accountable for the attack is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 6, where they fight instead.
- The group leaving the camp to find a new refuge is adapted from Issue 6.
- Jim being left to reanimate under a tree is adapted from Issue 6.
- When Andrea is sitting by her sister's body, and Rick goes over to talk to her, she draws a handgun on him. She visibly doesn't cock the gun as she draws it, but the racking of the slide is still heard.
- When Andrea is sitting by Amy's deceased body before she reanimates, you can clearly see Amy breathing.
- One of the machine guns set up to defend the CDC in Atlanta is a Soviet DShK machine gun. This weapon would not be in use by US troops in an US city.
- 'Walking Dead' writer Robert Kirkman talks about last night's episode and teases next week's season finale, Entertainment Weekly (November 29, 2010).
- Fitzpatrick, Kevin. The Walking Dead Comics-to-TV Comparison:"Vatos", Ugo (November 29, 2010).