The Walking Dead Season 4, Episode 5 recap

After last week’s very good episode, being stuck in the prison this episode feels a little stagnant and less interesting, but a slow start builds up to a great climax as the threats inside and outside the prison coalesce at the same moment.

I’m not sure of the exact timeline of this episode, but I’m assuming it’s happening concurrently with Rick & Co. being outside the prison, scavenging supplies and medicine, at least in the beginning. Hershel is doing rounds with Glenn, trying to do triage on those people most sick with the flu. The doctor is very sick, as are a few other nameless people, and Glenn is fading fast. They need medicine, but as we learned last episode, the medicine crew is 7-8 hours out. In the meantime, Hershel is intubating people without anesthetic (yikes), and Glenn is like—why is he so awful lately? I get that he’s sick but it’s not just me, right? He’s like, super whiny. I miss the Glenn that sassed Rick and romanced Maggie and got sarcastic with Daryl. Can we have that Glenn back, please?

But, as things get worse within the quarantine, Rick returns. He encounters Maggie first, and I cannot be the only person who was disappointed that she let him off the hook about Carol right away. I actually chucked stuff at my TV when she said, “You were right about Carol. I couldn’t have done it, but you were right.” Hershel, too, seems cool with Rick’s decision, and since Daryl doesn’t return until the last five minutes, we don’t get to see his reaction, which is the one we’re all waiting for anyway. I get that they want to give the Rick/Daryl confrontation plenty of room to unfold, but given the enormity of leaving Carol behind, putting it off feels like exactly the kind of stall that nearly derailed the show in season two, when it took four episodes to hold one conversation and everyone just kept repeating themselves.

Rick insists that Carl stays in quarantine, even though he does not seem to have fallen sick, and he and Maggie work on shoring up the fence again. Do we have a working theory on the zombie pile-up at the fence? I’m going with so many people concentrated in one place is drawing the zombies, combined with the mysterious rat-baiter somehow training them to concentrate on one section of fence. Anyone else got a better theory? At any rate—that fence is dunzo.

Meanwhile, the epidemic reaches its inevitable conclusion as people start dying. Hershel has already disposed of three people, and he’s trying to keep it away from the others to keep from damaging their hope or something. Generally, Hershel has been making good decisions and getting sh*t done during the epidemic, but he makes a literally fatal error in this episode: he skips over checking on one person when he sees Sasha has collapsed. Look, I get it. He’s worried about Sasha. So are we, as she’s one of the few sick people we actually know. But given the world they live in and the consequences of death—HOW DO YOU NOT CHECK THAT A PERSON IS MERELY SLEEPING, NOT DEAD? Rookie mistake.

So the inevitable happens, and the second half of the episode kicks into high gear as a zombie breakout inside quarantine occurs just as Maggie and Rick are trying to fix the fence. Maggie goes to help Hershel because Glenn, and Rick fetches Carl to help with the zombies. I wish we could have seen more of Rick and Carl mowing down a horde on their own, but I suppose all we really needed out of that scene is that Rick is now accepting Carl’s place as a full-time zombie killer. I hope we’re now done with Rick’s increasingly patronizing attitude about Carl’s ability to kill zombies. Carl may be a budding serial killer, but they need him—you can’t be too picky in a zombie apocalypse, especially after you’ve just expelled a critical member of the group.

Inside the prison, Hershel and Maggie just manage to put down the zombie uprising, but they lose a lot more people along the way. Conveniently, it’s just the glorified extras we barely have names for, as Sasha, Glenn, Lizzie and Hershel all survive. The only real loss is Dr. S, who was toast anyway. They cut it close with Sasha and Glenn, but Daryl and his crew get back just in the nick of time with the medicine, so for now, the crisis is over. Presumably—we don’t actually see Glenn but Hershel tells us he is doing okay.

But danger is literally at the gate—the Governor is back, creeping on the prison from the woods. He appears to be alone, but their fences are failing and they’re recovering from a series of losses and grave illness. Rick & Co. are in no shape to defend against that nut job. And if you think the fact that the opening shot of the episode lingered on Rick’s hand and the last shot was of the Governor was a coincidence,  you are sorely mistaken. It’s coming, ya’ll.

Status Check:
Officer Rick—Got off surprisingly easy this episode.
Hershel—Total badass.
Carl—Eclipsed in annoyingness by Lizzie, who is awful.
Glenn—Hopefully his recovery includes a personality adjustment.
The Governor—Creeping creeper.

Worst thing seen/heard this episode: Watching Glenn hack up a lung was pretty rough, emotionally.

Zombie kill of the week: Maggie had the best shot but Rick and Carl taking down a horde was impressive. Three-way tie.