Episode 659: Good News or Bad?

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Zombie Cliche Lookout: Reading the Signs

A good outdoorsman can tell a lot of things by just paying attention to the world around him, and those skills will be just as valuable, more so even, in a zombie apocalypse. Just like a broken branch, prints in the sand, or the ominous silence of birds can tell a story, so too can watching the indigenous undead population as they go about their daily (un)lives. I’m being funny, of course, but it’s also very true. If you can manage to remain undetected by the zombies, observing them can tell you a lot, particularly where other survivors might be sheltering.

This can be valuable information in a variety of ways. For instance, if you’re on your own and are looking for other survivors to fold in with, this might be a good way to track them down. On the other hand, if you’ve just had a run in with some nasty people, paying attention to where the zeds are mobbing will give you a few clues to help you avoid them. And then there’s Sam’s situation. Before going inside, he already knows to expect to at least one more living person inside, so he can plan accordingly.

About this Episode:

I went back and forth quite a bit on that last panel, shooting versions with Sam facing in a bunch of different directions. I ultimately settled on this one, but seeing it this morning, I’m second-guessing myself. I think I should have kept him facing away from the camera, which was my first instinct. Ah well, hindsight is twenty-twenty and all that.

Discussion Question: Learning from a Zombie

Once again, we’re going to build on the zombie cliche lookout for today’s discussion question: what can you learn from observing how the zombies around you are acting?

21 thoughts on “Episode 659: Good News or Bad?”

  1. Typo alerts:

    “Good news of bad” of–or 😀

    “I ultimately settles on this one” settles–>settled 😉

    “observing how the zombie around you” zombie–>zombies 😀

    I came down with a flu virus not long ago, it makes me feel a lot like a zombie probably would – there’s just one difference: I don’t go around eating people, zombies will! 😀

    • Oh man, a typo in the episode title and the URL of the episode. Bummer.

      Fixing them now.

      • Cool, don’t forget Episode 657’s typos! 😀 You had one hectic pre-vacation preparation there! 😉

  2. Sam’s situation is a little more complicated than outlined in the write-up – namely, is that person inside infected or, in other words, about to die and reanimate? Will Sam take what he’s learned and be prepared for the fact that the person inside might not even realize what might be about to happen to them?

    • Oh, there are loads of possibilities. That person might be infected. There might be multiple people. They might be hostile, or have an ambush set for whoever happens through the doors. They might just be afraid and panicked enough to shoot first and ask questions later.

  3. What can you find out about zeds? Probably a lot but interpreting the information can be tricky. Like all intelligence ops you need to know not just the enemy but the environment, the circumstances, the situation.
    Bet Sam finds a door banging open and close in the breeze.

    • That wouldn’t mean much by itself. However, let’s suppose there’s a pair of zombies hanging around outside the door, and every time any other zombies wander by, they make a motion to send them on as if they already know there’s no food value to the banging door. I think it is possible for zombies to communicate, probably not in ways people would understand it, but there’s got to be some primitive instinct that tells them to impart their knowledge of local activity to other zombies. Of course, being zombies, if food suddenly appears at the door, they’d probably change their behavior but for that to happen they’d probably have to develop a kind of mapping sense that tells them where food is not likely to be or what noises don’t usually mean food. Just being a zombie isn’t enough, they’ve got to have at least a smattering of curiousity, probably a leftover remnant of being human beings prior to zombification.

      • Interesting thoughts. When you say you think they could communicate, would that communication be something that they’re consciously aware of, or just something they do instinctively?

        • I’d definitely tend towards instinctively, as it’s likely a lot of higher brain function that works in a living being would be dead or rendered mostly unusable. After all, how many zombie fiction stories do you know of where the zombies are aware of their actions and unable to control them? 😀

    • Excellent points, RT. It would be very easy to make the wrong assumption based on observation. Incredibly dangerous too.

  4. I would have reversed the shot and had the camera inside the darkened store, looking out at Sam looking in through the doors. Inside, there could have been the edges of some shelves and maybe a few things on the floor (as it’s almost certain that every supermarket and pharmacy in the country would have been at least partially looted within the first week). I might also have the edge of some shadowy figure in the frame, depending on what the deal really is going to be inside there.

    • I agree with the looting or at least sold out like a hurricane was coming. But 28 Days Later and Zombieland the survivors managed to find fully stocked grocery stores

      • I absolutely loved both scenes in both movies (especially 28 Days Later, where the music complimented the scene so perfectly), but it seemed a bit unrealistic at the same time.

        • I remember reading up on disaster preparedness. Even without looting, every supermarket in the US will have empty shelves in less than two weeks. That’s simply on account of people, who by and large don’t stockpile the right things, rushing to buy up the stuff they should have had all along, and the supermarkets, relying on their supply chains to keep the shelves stocked, having their supply chains interrupted.

          No more trains and cross-country trucking? No more supermarkets in about 9 days.

          Looting would make it go faster.

    • Man, I really like that idea for a shot, BB. I might have to find a way to use that in the next few episodes.

      • It does require a fair bit of planning, as I learned the hard way. You’d get more depth and a wider angle behind Sam, meaning you’d have to construct a fair bit of convincing parking lot ruins as background. Admittedly, that would be easier than building “across the street” if it was a city supermarket without a parking lot in front.

        There’s a reason I basically have to set up my whole town model every time now, as I never know what snippet is supposed to get seen through a window or door.

  5. I want to understand how they hunt and what attracts them. Can they smell us? can they “see” body heat like a pit viper? Or is it just noise and motion? How do they tell the living form other zeds? If Sam gets in there and finds survivors then he must assume that, either the zeds followed them there by sight but were prevented from entering, or that they can somehow sense the living. If it is just a banging door then he will learn that random noise will attract them. Valuable intel either way

    • Excellent points, although I will argue that living survivors doesn’t necessarily mean they were followed by sight or through some extra-human sense. It’s quite possible that they made some noise while inside, attracting the attention of whatever zombies happened to have heard it.

  6. When the zombies start dancing to the theme of ‘Thriller’,


  7. Belated welcome back and happy thanks giving.
    Learning from a zed would be conditional, I wouldn’t want to be up close to see what they were eating to un-live!
    I also agree with Damage, what does attract the attention of the zeds would be great to learn…what if they undergo a mutation and start eating bone for the marrow, then become harder to cut? (Answering last time’s question). Also maybe the zed population would be higher at a place that was already looted, due to starvation and people not finishing the job off?

    Then off topic didn’t you have a zombie break out shot with the “wranglers” that isn’t all wrapped up yet? I would love a shot at seeing those stories combining at this point!
    Anyways keep up the good work and enjoy yourself!

  8. Here’s hoping that whatever is behind the door is something not bad.