The third episode delivers some big emotional moments as the social hierarchy tries to sustain itself even among the carnage.
This recap of All of Us Are Dead season 1, episode 3 contains spoilers.
Kids. Many of us have them, and most of us would do anything for them, despite how often it seems like they wouldn’t appreciate it. In a way, it’s almost understandable that Mr. Lee would create a virus to try and protect his son from torment. As he continues to be interrogated in the opening of this episode, I found myself thinking the detective’s line of questioning was unreasonable. Given all the carnage that’s occurring elsewhere, it’s admittedly hard to make a case for Mr. Lee. But the point of All of Us Are Dead is that the systemic ills that resulted in Jin-su’s torment trickled from the top down; they were already rife before his virus brought them into starker relief. Perhaps many of the students at Hyosan High School deserve what they’re going to get.
All of Us Are Dead season 1, episode 3 recap
Even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, the students try to maintain their hierarchy. Na-yeon calls Gyeong-su a “welfie”, short for someone on welfare, and it isn’t a throwaway remark. These are deeply embedded social attitudes and ideas. The point is that the only way to survive is to let go of them.
Speaking of survival, Cheong-san did. He clung to the bottom of the fire hose when he fell out of the window and was helped inside by Su-hyeok, descending from the art room above. This sequence is played for comedy, and so is the one inside when the students turn on the computers, complain about how slow they are, and try to find out what’s happening in the wider world. As it turns out, more carnage, which we see from various perspectives, including those of the city council, played mostly for ridiculousness. But it’s within the school where the drama really intensifies. When another zombie comes swinging into the room on the fire hose, Gyeong-su gets scratched while fighting it off, and Na-yeon is adamant that he’s infected. He has a nosebleed too, but he claims it’s just because Su-hyeok hit him with a broom. Of course, it’s impossible to divorce Na-yeon’s position from the remark she made earlier, which is entirely the point. Ms. Park makes a diplomatic effort to make Gyeong-su wait in the recording room for ten minutes in case anything happens to him. She tries to frame it as a trust exercise, but the other students are mostly past that point already. As one of them points out, if this is the reward for trying to help, won’t they all be too scared to try and help in the future?
Outside the school, an evacuation order is given as the infection spreads rapidly through the city. Even as it widens its scope, All of Us Are Dead is just as tight in these city scenes as it is inside the narrow halls and classrooms of the high school. A horde of infected crashing against a police barricade is a nice visual; Cheong-san’s mother trying to get into the school to save him a touching note. His mother almost crashes into Hee-sun, who earlier in the episode delivered a baby while totally alone in a bathroom stall (that explains why she was feeling under the weather), and she’s chased off by the infected. It’s large-scale stuff with a narrow focus. But the focus gets narrower than ever back inside the school.
Compared to the first two episodes, which barely paused for breath, this third installment pumps the breaks a little and allows the dynamics between the students to solidify a bit more. This comes through mostly in the relationship between Na-yeon and Gyeong-su. The latter decides to wait in the recording room for a full hour just to sulkily prove a point. After half an hour, though, the others all implore Na-yeon to apologize. When she goes to do so, she cleans Gyeong-su’s scratch with a handkerchief, which obviously infects him. She tells him that she does look down on him, that he deserves to be looked down on, and then refuses to apologize. When he flips out, she smugly points out that she was right after all, that he is infected, and his death scene goes on for an agonizingly long time. As the realization dawns on him that hope is lost, he attempts to leave the room of his own volition to save his friends from him, but he doesn’t quite make it out before the virus takes hold. He imagines the other students laughing at him, as they have so many times in his life, and attacks them in a frenzy. It’s his own best friend, Cheong-san, who lures him out of the window. This is a powerful scene of stark emotion, the most effective beat the show has delivered thus far.
Another effective and deeply tragic moment comes when Hee-sun, still carrying her newborn child, recognizes the infection is taking hold of her and ties herself to a nearby door so she can’t mindlessly attack her offspring.
Back in school, Nam-ra saw Na-yeon wipe the blood from the broken mop handle on her handkerchief, and she figures out immediately what Na-yeon did and confronts her about it in front of everyone. Naturally, she interprets this as them bullying her, and is still inexplicably adamant that she’s in the right. She’s so blinkered that she can’t possibly accept a world in which she wouldn’t be automatically believed and liked over the “welfie” kid who smells bad. The realization that she’s all alone hits her hard — so hard, in fact, that she leaves the classroom herself and begins roaming the corridors, essentially committing suicide-by-zombie. Ms. Park doesn’t allow the others to follow her, explaining how causing or allowing the death of another strips life of its meaning. With the message having been received, Ms. Park dips into the corridor to drag Na-yeon back to safety.
As the episode ends, the classroom is flooded with a bright light from a helicopter outside.