The Walking Dead 4.2: “You have to become strong”
The Walking Dead, Season 4 Episode 2 recap.
Before we get into this week’s recap, we have some very important Walking Dead-adjacent news to discuss. Mainly—why did no one tell me Andrew Lincoln’s real last name is Clutterbuck?! This old clip from David Letterman showed up when I was looking for something else Walking Dead related, and in it, Andrew admits that “Lincoln” is a stage name. Because his real last name is Clutterbuck.
Somewhere, in some parallel universe, I hope there is such a place as Cumberbatch & Clutterbuck, Esqs.
Also, I love Screen Junkies’ “Honest Trailers” in general, but this one about The Walking Dead is perfect, nailing everything frustrating and annoying about the show. Dale Face!
Now. Episode two.
The key to a good bottle episode is not noticing that it’s a bottle episode. The Walking Dead doesn’t offer pure bottle episodes—there’s too much going on to be limited entirely to one set, as season two and that f*cking farm proved—but they do a kind of quasi-bottle structure in which they stick to one location and don’t go traipsing through the woods and stuff. This is one of those episodes, limiting Rick & Co. to the prison, but it also proves that when the show is clicking along the right track, you don’t notice the limited scope. The episode hits all the right beats and continues the promise that season four might not entirely suck.
First, we get two excellent zombie attacks. TWD lives and dies by its zombies, and one thing showrunner Scott Gimple is getting right early in his tenure is that TWD needs zombies. Like, a lot of them. Even if they’re just out lurking by the prison fence, the constant threat of attack is what propels the show. Take away that immediacy and we forget why everyone is so stressed and snappy—we’re left watching a bunch of assholes gardening and yelling at each other. But we start with that weedy kid (yes, that’s Phineas from Phineas & Ferb) shuffling through D Block and chowing down on his neighbors.
Sidebar: Zombies aren’t exactly quiet. They don’t yell, but they make that weird gttch-gttch noise, and kind of go kwwffrr when they’re eating—how does no one hear that? It’s the ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE. Develop some situational awareness.
But alas, Zombie Phineas is allowed to gorge himself all night long. Result? Chaos come morning. But it’s not gratuitous—well, no more gratuitous than scenes of wanton zombie annihilation ever are—because both zombie incidents serve to advance Rick’s return to group leader. He’s been occupying himself as a gentleman farmer ever since Woodbury, but the A plot is about getting Rick back as the leader.
It’s clear that everyone still thinks of him in that role. When Maggie calls for help with the second zombie incursion at the prison fences, she yells for Rick first, Daryl second. Daryl tells Rick that he’s totally cool with Rick farting around with his flowers, but he also wants Rick to resume his place as the alpha, and Carol is afraid of Rick finding out about her clandestine knife lessons because she’s afraid he’ll stop them as part of his “let’s not turn your kids into psychopaths, like I did mine” platform—she assumes Rick still has the pull to dictate life in the prison.
Rick’s prison farm is a fantasy, though, and the attack inside the prison plus the looming specter of a viral outbreak—Hershel and some new guy who is a doctor theorize Phineas died from a flu possibly transmitted by the pigs—serve to propel Rick back into action. His plan to use the sick pigs to draw the zombies away from the fence, thus preventing them from breaking through, is exactly the kind of spur-of-the-moment, badass thinking Daryl admires, but it’s also the symbolic act of Rick giving up his gentleman farmer dream in favor of being a full-time zombie slayer. The metaphor is completed by Rick burning the pig sty and giving Carl his gun back (so we’re officially giving up on trying to prevent him from becoming a serial killer?) and strapping on his own gun once again.
The B and C plots deal with character development, which is much needed in Michonne’s case. On her way back to help with the attack in D Block, Michonne twists her ankle—which ought to have real repercussions in future episodes, as she’s one of their key defensive slayers—but by putting her into proximity with Judith, we learn that Michonne lost a child. Whether she lost it before the zombie apocalypse (BZA), or after doesn’t really matter. At this point, getting any kind of insight into Michonne is a win.
And then there’s Carol, who has to put down a D Block resident before he turns and take on responsibility for his two daughters. It’s a predictable plot but a necessary one to both give Carol something to do (look after the daughters) and shore up her position as the head of all domestic concerns. I wonder if this means she’ll butt heads with Rick at some point, if his agenda ever conflicted with hers? He says he won’t get in the way of her knifing classes, but that kind of makes me think that eventually there will be a parting of the ways for them. Although he might have a more immediate problem with Tyrese, who is mad that his quasi-girlfriend, Karen, got killed and burned since she was showing signs of having the mystery flu. Hard to think that order didn’t come from Rick.
About those zombies clustering around the fence. Someone is rat-baiting them (Charlie Kelly, is that you?), encouraging them to pile up and put pressure on a specific section of the fence. Dun dun dunnn.
Officer Rick – Back in action.
Michonne – On injured reserve.
Carol – Apparently hasn’t considered any one of those kids could rat her out.
Carl – Armed and dangerous.
Piglets – RIP.
Worst thing seen/heard this week: There were a lot of zombies dining out this episode. It was all equally gross.
Zombie kill of the week: Sasha racks up her first, with a boot to the head.