We’re twelve days out from season four of The Walking Dead – not that I’m counting or anything – and AMC has graced us with another webisodes series to get us all geared up. The Oath is broken up into three parts, approximately 30 minutes total, focusing on Paul and Karina, the only two survivors of a camp overrun by a swarm of zombies. I love these webisodes, directed by Greg Nicotero, because they expand the world of The Walking Dead beyond what we see on the show, giving us a different perspective and viewpoint that is completely new to show watchers and comic book readers alike. It’s almost like they’re priming us for that companion series set to air in 2015. Don’t think I’ve forgotten about that one, Robert Kirkman.
In part one, “Alone,” we’re shown an overrun camp in the midst of an attack – a “swarm” as this group of survivors calls it, unlike our merry band of survivors under Rick’s watch (they refer to the large groups of zombies as herds). Karina is holding a young woman in her arms and crying as zombies move all around the camp. I was almost convinced the dead woman in her arms was Amy, the situation looked so similar. Paul kills a zombie and gently coaxes Karina away from the dead girl and the camp. To calm her down, he reminds her of an oath he made her swear before joining up with the now massacred group. As they collect themselves and begin to move away from the camp, it is revealed Paul has been injured.
The Hyundai Tucson is clearly advertised as Karina digs through the pockets of a mangled body for the keys. This is also about the time that Paul reveals the extent of his injuries, almost fainting from blood loss. Luckily, he was injured by a truck window and not bitten, but the situation is dire regardless. Finding a map, they visit three different hospitals before finding one that isn’t overrun by the infected. Karina has a Lori moment when she takes the car off the road and I swear I thought she’d ram into some geek and kill them both. “Alone” ends with Paul passing out in a wheelchair and Karina screaming for help as a zombie advances on her in a supply closet.
“Choice” is part two of The Oath, picking up where part one left off – nice of them to Netflix the webisodes and release them all at once. A woman comes out of nowhere and stabs the zombie in the head, saving Karina and Paul. It turns out that she’s the doctor, doing her best to keep the zombies out of the hospital, and she treats Paul to the best of her abilities (restraining him in the process). She seemed aware of how “everyone is infected” long before Rick’s group because of the restraints she put on Paul. Karina tells the doctor her story, the doctor shares with her how the hospital wasn’t overrun by zombies, but by humans. Karina refers to the zombies as, “DKs” – as in rotting or decay – another little nod at how different people have different lingo for the end of the world.
We catch a glimpse of a familiar hallway – yes that hallway – though, the timings based on what the doctor says (“a few months”) and what Morgan said (“a month maybe”) in the pilot make me unsure if Rick is there or not… After their heart to heart, the doctor determines that there is no hope for Paul and, while reassuring Karina, she wheels his gurney into the cafeteria. Still strapped to the board, he awakens to find himself surrounded by DKs.
In the final part, “Bond,” Karina laments being the last of her friends alive. She’s scared and unsure of how to proceed without them when the doctor offers her an alternative option. The doctor fills a needle with some unknown substance from a vial while Karina watches, restrained to the bed. Meanwhile, in the cafeteria, Paul finally manages to get loose from the gurney – only to be stopped by the wood holding the door closed. He tries a chair, then a fire extinguisher, and finally a gun to defend himself before breaking out of the room. Paul puts the mysteriously still-perfect piece of wood back in place to secure the doors closed behind him and goes to find Karina.
As Paul enters the room, Karina smiles up at him before dying – he’s too late to save her from our very own Doctor Kevorkian. He’s shocked and angry, accusing the surprised doctor of killing her, but she protests. The doctor gives a pretty good speech about what hope means in this new world, after which Paul points his gun at her and we never see the good doctor again. He gets his own little speech that re-enforces their motto: one lives, all live. As he awaits her return as a DK, Paul spray paints the infamous, “DON’T OPEN DEAD INSIDE” door. In the final shots, he pulls Karina’s teeth out of her mouth, puts her into a straightjacket, and takes her with him…
The acting isn’t all that great in the webisodes, but the expansion of the world of The Walking Dead is always a treat. With Greg Nicotero at the helm, the make-up for everything was fantastic. I understand what they were trying to show with the new viewpoint of the creation of the iconic scene from the pilot, but it was distracting to see the inconsistencies with the timeline – and come on! If Rick was supposed to be there in his coma, it would have been awesome to even hint at that (though I’m not convinced Doctor Gale wouldn’t have given Rick the Paul treatment, serving him up buffet style to the geeks). Definitely take thirty minutes out of your day to psych yourself up for The Walking Dead’s return in two weeks.