Those who were less than thrilled with last week’s season opener got more than their money’s worth in this week’s installment of ‘The Walking Dead’. Not only was the population of the prison significantly thinned out, but even some of the farm’s animal life didn’t make it to the end of the episode.
The big event at the beginning of this episode is, of course, what happens now that a Walker is loose in the prison (Patrick, who died of flu-like symptoms last week). But before Patrick starts chomping down on the locals, a couple of smaller scenes are worth noting. First, a mysterious figure with a flashlight feeds rats to the Walkers on the other side of the prison fence. This causes more and more of them to gather. Later in the episode, our heroes will have to deal with that problem. Secondly, during a smaller scene in one of the prison towers, Glenn takes a Polaroid photo of Maggie while she’s sleeping. On any other show, this would be just a cute little moment between popular characters. However, since viewers should know by now that there are no pointless scenes on ‘The Walking Dead’, Maggie’s survival chances this season just took a huge plummet. I’m betting that she’s offed at some point down the road, leaving only that photograph for Glenn to cry over.
Walker Patrick begins his prison feast by chomping down on… some guy we’ve never seen before. In fact, Patrick and the Walkers he creates during his rampage in the cell block manage to kill about a dozen people, but no one of significance. So, it seems that this was just a nice way for the writers to cut down on the number of needed extras. Regardless, it provides for a pretty action-packed sequence full of some fun gore (if you’re a fan of that), as Rick, Daryl, Glenn and the others kill some zombies.
Once that threat has been taken care of, it’s noticed that Patrick doesn’t have any bite marks on his body. Herschel figures out that a flu must be going around that kills people fairly quickly. It’s decided that they need to quarantine those who are feeling sick, which includes Tyreese’s girlfriend and former Woodbury citizen Karen. However, there’s so much interaction between the characters (including a scene where Carl hugs a potentially infected Rick and then Rick sends him back out with uninfected people), that the quarantine efforts don’t seem to be very well thought out.
The second half of the episode deals with trying to stop the Walkers from knocking down part of the prison’s outer fence, where a bunch of them have gathered thanks to whomever has been feeding them rats every night. Rick, Maggie, Glenn, Daryl and a few others start killing Walkers through the fence, but they soon realize that it will come down before they kill enough. Rick grabs Daryl, and with Daryl driving, the two head outside the prison in a truck pulling a big box that Rick opens when they get close to the Walkers. One by one, Rick pulls pigs out of the large box, slashes them with a knife and throws them out to the Walkers. This manages both to lure the Walkers away from the fence, and also to tick off every PETA member in the home audience. (Between the pigs and the rats, I’m surprised we didn’t get a “No animals were harmed” disclaimer at the end of the episode.)
While the others are outside taking care of the Walkers, Michonne (who suffered an ankle injury earlier in the episode) is inside the prison with Beth, who’s watching baby Judith. When the baby throws up on her, Beth asks Michonne to hold Judith while she cleans off. Michonne is very reluctant at first, but finally takes her, and soon breaks into tears while holding her. As mentioned earlier, there are no unimportant scenes on ‘The Walking Dead’, so it appears that Michonne may have lost a child at some point in her life – and we’re likely to find out the details of that in the weeks to follow.
With two major threats taken care of, Rick burns down the pigsty. Carl tells him that Carol has been teaching the other children how to defend themselves against Walkers. Rick takes this opportunity both to give Carl back his gun, and to re-arm himself as well. In the process, Rick also (symbolically?) burns his sheriff’s shirt. So, while it’s clear that Rick won’t be the pacifist he’s tried to be lately, he no longer wants to be the law and order guy either. It will be interesting to see what new hybrid of the character we get in the episodes that follow.
This week’s fairly entertaining episode concludes with Tyreese taking some flowers to Karen, only to find a huge trail of blood leading away from the cell where she was supposed to be. Following the trail outside, Tyreese finds two dead bodies, one of which is Karen’s, that have been doused with gasoline and burnt to a crisp. Who’s burning bodies? Stay tuned!