The Walking Dead Season 4, Episode 3.
Life at the prison is falling apart.
Right away we learn that Rick did not, in fact, have anything to do with Karen and the other guy’s mysterious deaths. So someone else killed them and burned the bodies, and Tyrese is on a rampage to avenge his crush. Maybe the mystery rat baiter? Meanwhile, sickness is raging through the prison, striking down everyone in cell block D, including the doctor, and Sasha and Glenn, too. So the group splits up, with the infected going into quarantine while Rick and Carol keep doing prison chores, and Daryl, Michonne, Bob (I think that’s his name?), and Tyrese go on a supply run, searching for medicine.
This episode feels a little bit like treading water in that there is still some friction about having a quarantine, who should be quarantined, and then how best to help the sick. But they’ve already seen the worst case scenario for what happens if an infected person dies while not contained, so why they’re still having a conversation about it is beyond me. This is where Rick’s leadership—or anyone’s, really—is missed. When things are going well and there’s time and enough people for activities like farming and daily lessons, the idea of a council makes sense. You have time to fart around discussing what to do and voting on things. But when the sh*t hits the fan, in this universe where zombies are a constant threat on top of whatever other stuff you’re dealing with, you want someone calling the shots with the will to back it up. I think this is what Daryl has been trying to get through to Rick—the council is all well and good, but who’s going to take charge when things go south?
So it’s good that this is the episode that sees Rick getting back on his metaphorical feet. Tyrese charges him with finding out who killed Karen, so Rick gets to go back to his cop roots and do some investigating—I kind of forgot he was a good cop because it hasn’t been relevant since like, season two, but oh yeah, remember how Rick was a good cop?—and he also has to handle business at the prison while everyone else is either in quarantine or on the supply run. He’s still unwilling to leave the compound, but you can sense we’re approaching the moment when he’ll be driven to leave the prison behind. It’s not a coincidence that the key promotional art for season four features Rick emerging from the prison’s fences. Like with Justified, Walking Dead promos usually have something to do with the events of the season.
Another character getting his sh*t together is Tyrese, who finally gets into zombie-slaying action in a truly badass moment, axing his way out of a legit horde. He’s been weirdly pacifist and, for a guy who was presumably on the move until being taken in at Woodbury (after Rick rejected him and his group), has been kind of squeamish about zombies in general. Sasha’s a stone cold badass, but Tyrese is a relative marshmallow. But in losing Karen—being faced with that personal level of human treachery—and then having to decide whether or not to fight to escape a zombie horde, Tyrese is finally swinging into gear. His fight with Rick at the beginning of the episode is shocking not only for how quickly Rick’s rage sparks off, but also literally in that it shocks both of them into action.
I wondered previously if Rick and Carol, as the de facto group leaders, would end up in conflict, and the end of this episode makes a confrontation seem inevitable. Of course she’s the one who killed and burned Karen and that guy, and it seems like, since Rick took a step back, she’s been trying to be New Rick. But she’s not really in the place to make those kinds of decisions, as evinced by murdering Karen and that guy. They may have been sick, but killing them did not prevent the spread of the flu. Carol also gets ahead of herself with the water pump situation outside the prison fence, going out alone and ending up in trouble when zombies converge on her. Rick bails her out, but also rides her for not waiting “until tomorrow” to handle the water pump. She’s not wrong that there is no guarantee that there will be a tomorrow, but doing sh*t alone is exactly the attitude Rick’s been trying to get the group to move away from.
Which is why Carl won’t let Hershel go out into the woods to look for elderberries alone. Hershel wants to help, and since he can’t go on the supply run, he goes to collect elderberries and make a drink to help manage people’s symptoms. Carl goes with, and they have a conversation about guns and responsibility that’s supposed to make us feel better about what a little psychopath Carl is. What I took away from this scene, though, is that for some reason now people aren’t killing every zombie they see. Rick left the tourist zombie in the woods in episode one, and now Carl left the lumbering zombie. I get not bothering with the moss zombie (which, HOW COOL WAS THE MOSS ZOMBIE?!), but if it can walk, and it can bite, it should be put down. Right? Aren’t we all agreed on that by now?
This episode was little slow and repetitive, but ended with a mega-horde threatening the supply run, and a mysterious broadcast on the radio. Life in the prison is falling apart, but life beyond the prison walls is still possible. And does Hershel working on Rick’s hand feel like foreshadowing to anyone else?
Officer Rick – An officer once again!
Carol – Giving Carl a run for his psychopathic money.
Tyrese – Joining the fray.
Hershel – Totally going to die soon, I’m calling it.
Mega-Horde – It’s coming.
Worst thing seen/heard this week: The moss zombie wasn’t particularly awful, but it was F*CKING AWESOME.
Zombie kill of the week: It’s a tie—Tyrese axing through a horde and Daryl backing a car over a zombie pile up.