The Walking Dead 1.01 “Days Gone Bye” Recap

The long-awaited, painfully anticipated premiere of The Walking Dead opens with sheriff’s deputy Rick Grimes exiting his patrol car in the middle of an abandoned road with a gas can in hand. He glances at an overturned semi truck and hoofs it to a nearby gas station, revealing more destruction.

A sign that reads, “NO GAS” hangs by the pumps and Rick decides to try his luck further down the road when he hears the shuffling of feet. Rick sees a little girl and calls out to her but runs into one small problem. That thing is no longer a little girl. She’s become a zombie. The zombie begins to charge toward Rick, who has no other choice but to give her a quick 2nd death via a bullet in the head.

That’s how The Walking Dead begins.

We flash back to a few months before with Rick and his partner Shane sitting in a squad car and discussing the differences between men and women over some burgers and fries. Rick confesses to Shane that problems between him and his wife, Lori, have been growing and he worries what kind of effects they may have on their son, Carl.

The two get a call on the radio about a high speed pursuit in progress. They toss their food and floor it to the location where they lay down the spike strip.

Police are able to get the suspects to run over the strip, which flips their car. Four people are shot in the ensuing shootout, including Rick. While Rick is the only one hit who survives, he slips into a coma.

Rick wakes up in his quiet hospital room sweaty and unshaven. He sees that the flowers left for him have wilted and no one responds to his calls for help. He stumbles into a dilapidated hallway. In his search for life, he only finds death in the form of a corpse in the middle of a hallway, whose midsection is mostly missing. He also finds a set of barricaded doors with the words “DON’T OPEN, DEAD INSIDE” written in spray paint. He hears moaning and sees pale hands groping for anything on the other side.

Rick flees to an empty stairwell and the door closes behind him, leaving him in complete darkness. He slowly makes is way down to ground level and opens the doors. Once his eyes adjust to the sunlight, he’s greeted with the sight of hundreds of bodies, wrapped in sheets, littering the hospital parking lot.

He makes his way to the street where he and his family lived, hoping to be reunited with his wife and son. Instead, he finds a corpse with its lower half missing and intestines spilling out. Rick is unsettled by this, but really freaks out when the legless zombie lunges at him.

Rick runs into his house, calling out for Lori and Carl to no reply. He finally breaks down and begins sobbing, questioning whether or not his situation is reality.

He takes a seat on his lawn outside to collect his thoughts and sees a man in the distance, shuffling about as if he had a few too many. Rick squints to focus and is greeted to a shovel swing to the face courtesy of young Duane Jones. Duane’s father, Morgan, walks into frame and shoots the “walker” in the head point blank and the two take Rick inside.

Rick wakes up in a strange bed once again and is immediately interrogated by Morgan. Morgan is especially concerned with Rick’s bandages, hoping he wasn’t bitten. Rick tells Morgan that they’re for a gunshot wound. No bites.

The Joneses and Rick get to know each other over supper and Rick learns that Morgan’s wife is now a zombie who wanders the streets outside of the Jones house. There are more zombies than usual on this night. They were attracted by the sound of Morgan’s gunfire earlier in the day.

In the morning, Rick and the Jones make their way to the police station whose dedicated propane line gives them the opportunity to enjoy a hot shower. They gather weapons, ammo and supplies. Rick plots a course to Atlanta, per Duane’s advice. The Jonses have heard rumors of a large survivors’ settlement in the city.

The Jonses return home and Morgan decides to have a little target practice. He blows away several undead, but is unable to squeeze the trigger once his wife is in range.

Rick begins broadcasting on an emergency channel. His words reach a small camp just outside of Atlanta. The survivors, including Rick’s former partner Shane, attempt to respond but their radio doesn’t have the range that Rick does.

We also learn that Shane has begun a relationship with one of the other survivors. Shane started to look after Rick’s family after Rick is presumed dead and has become an item in the camp.

Rick, now out of gas, arrives at a farm house in search of fuel. He peers into the window and see that the occupants have opted to kill themselves rather than become flesh-eating monsters.

In desperate need of reliable transportation, Rick finds himself a horse and continues his trek to Atlanta.

The roads leaving the city are clogged with abandoned cars and roads leading in are virtually unobstructed. Rick enters the empty, silent city and is not greeted by any survivors or any military. He and his horse are completely alone.

As Rick continues to explore the city, he hears the familiar sound of a helicopter in mid-flight. He picks up the pace and turns the corner, only to be greeted by a large number of the walking dead. Rick shoots several zombies before he and his horse are overrun. Rick ducks underneath a military tank, leaving his Falling Down-esque bag of guns, as the dead begin to devour the horse.

Now completely surrounded and with limited ammo, Rick apologizes to Lori and Carl as he puts the gun to his temple. Just before pulling the trigger, he seems a hatch on the tank’s belly and enters the tank.

A dead soldier wakes up to lunge at Rick and his immediately shot. The sound of the gun in such an enclosed space leaves Rick temporarily deaf and disoriented. He attempts to exit the tank via the top hatch and quickly realizes that there are still hundreds of zombies outside.

Rick is trapped in the tank with no food or water and no plan for escape.

The tank’s radio begins to crackle and Rick hears a voice trying to reach him.

“Hey, you,” the voice says, “Dumbass in the tank. You cozy in there?”

To check out Twitter users’ real-time reactions, take a gander at our “Episode in Tweets” article, and don’t forget to read our review of The Walking Dead‘s premiere.

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