The second episode capably delivers fantastic action, high drama, and emotional heft.
This recap of All Of Us Are Dead season 1, episode 2 contains spoilers.
Some shows are extremely well-suited to Netflix’s signature binge-watch model, and All Of Us Are Dead is one of them. This second episode picks up from the carnage of the first as though there wasn’t even a break in-between. An impressive number of extras, one assumes heaps of blood bags and practical effects, and some clever, versatile direction all work together to create the impression of a virus spreading at lightning speed through the high-school setting. It’s intense and exciting and impressively done. You wouldn’t have wanted to wait a whole week for it.
All Of Us Are Dead season 1, episode 2 recap
While several students shelter in a classroom, Hyeon-ju is taken to hospital, and Mr. Lee is taken to the police station. Here, All Of Us Are Dead introduces a storytelling gimmick — vlogs from Mr. Lee explaining how and why he created the virus, attempting to harness his son’s fear so he could defend himself at school. While Mr. Lee records his videos Jin-su is chained to the bed, doped, and his mother is on the floor, bitten. The experiment was doomed from the start, but Mr. Lee’s grief and anger made him reckless. Now one of the products of his experimentation is loose in the hospital, and hundreds if not thousands are loose in the high school.
All Of Us Are Dead has an obvious degree of self-awareness. Train to Busan is referenced several times. But this gives the students a welcome degree of smarts. They recognize that their calls to emergency services sound like pranks, so On-jo calls the fire department to report a blaze, knowing they’ll dispatch her father. None of this makes the tropes go away but works them into the story in a new way. The high school setting and media-savvy student body freshen up a genre prone to necrotizing. When Coach Kang, one of the teachers, ducks into the classroom where the students are hiding, they immediately recognize he has a bite on his arm and demand he leaves. By then, though, it’s too late. He turns and is able to bite Min-ji, who also turns. Thanks to some wrestling by Dae-su, some sharp fighting skills from Su-hyeok, and some clever use of barricades, the gang are able to escape the classroom and begin to make their way through the corridors and take shelter in another class. This is a fantastic sequence.
This episode also begins to introduce new characters and elements. Park Sun-hwa, the English teacher, makes it to the school’s PA system and gives a too-little-too-late announcement about some students indiscriminately attacking others (the irony of this isn’t lost.) As she implores the students to hide, we see several doing that, or attempting to, as the reality of the situation becomes clear for everyone. It becomes clear in other ways, too, such as the necessity of killing former classmates and friends — popping a zombie’s head looks easy in the movies or in video games, but when it’s someone you used to have lunch with, who was hiding with you just minutes prior, it’s a tougher proposition, and All Of Us Are Dead works to get that across.
It also doesn’t swerve the high school politics or dynamics. In the few moments of downtime between massacres, these are still teenagers; boys with crushes, girls looking for a sense of belonging, now with the added complication of several students, such as I-sak, hiding the fact they’ve been bitten. And you thought your time at high school was complicated. Cheong-san ends up body-checking I-sak out of a window, and On-jo, her best friend, has to tearfully let her fall to a splattery death. If any of these kids survive, the chances of them being able to have healthy relationships in adulthood are practically nill anyway.
Thanks to the clever use of a fire hose, the kids holding out in the science lab are able to descend to the second floor, where Ms. Park is (the bit where she admonishes the students for their dangerous climb got a chuckle out of me.) On-jo, still reeling from I-sak’s death, and Cheong-san are the last two students remaining upstairs. The latter chivalrously allows her to go first, and it costs him. As the zombies break into the classroom, they knock him straight out of the window with them, presumably to his death (though we don’t see him die, so there’s still a chance.)