I was worried for a period during this episode of The Walking Dead. It seemed like it was settling into the groove of last season, where we’d meet a bunch of new people, have an uneasy alliance with them, and it would all end in tears and face-biting. But then Rick planted a machete in a guy’s head and my faith was restored.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. This episode was mainly about the other guys in the prison, who had been in a cafeteria for ten months. I find it a little hard to believe that, even with a crowd of the undead outside, they wouldn’t have battered their way out, or at least tried and been eaten. I find it even harder to believe that, having been freed from that, they wouldn’t have all fled immediately and taken their chances on the road. They have people coming in telling them how bad it is, sure. Maybe it’s just me, but after ten months in a cafeteria after however long they were in prison on the first place, I would have sprung out of there like a deer, zombie apocalypse or no. That’s why I was worried. I didn’t think real people would stay, so I thought they were sticking around because the plot needed them to.
So we got another sequence of clearing out a cell block, except this time hilarious. Rick and co. drill the prisoners on how to efficiently take care of zombies (pointy thing -> head), and to stay in formation. Everyone immediately runs off and starts punching stomachs and pushing zombies around. One of their number gets bitten and the leader puts him down immediately. It was (it turns out) a good fakeout, marking him out as someone to be wary of, until he pushes a zombie towards Rick in the middle of the ruckus.
Rick has turned a corner. He said so at the end of last season, no more screwing around, it’s not a democracy. It’s a Ricktatorship, as the internet is saying. I didn’t quite believe it, I thought it was going to be one of those things that’s dramatic in a season finale and then doesn’t really have any follow-up, but he’s gotten dark. Rick is all about pragmatism and necessity, from hacking off Hershel’s leg to save his life last week, to sticking a knife in the brain of someone who has just crept beyond potential threat. I can respect it. In hindsight, he did the same thing last season when those two guys were in the bar and seemed threatening. While that was a good scene, the pre-emptive murdering didn’t seem earned, as Rick was always the one trying to hold on to the shreds of decency and civilisation, while now we’ve seen enough to know the stakes.
How is everyone else doing? Lori is almost dishing out fanservice, saying “I know I’m terrible” on camera, while Rick doesn’t look her in the eyes or disagree. I can sympathise somewhat, the idea of a zombaby eating its way out of you is completely terrifying, but she was terrible long before she was pregnant. Carol is trying to learn how to perform a C-section by chopping up dead people while someone watches her from outside the fence. Michonne (who didn’t appear)? Daryl’s brother (whose name I’ve forgotten)? Carl continues to the journey towards being a remorseless killing machine, coming back with medicines from a solo scout to the infirmary, “no big deal, I killed two walkers”. Hershel is alive after a quick is-he-a-zombie that I completely fell for.
T-Dog had a couple of lines again, but still hasn’t done much. Someone pointed out to me that, last season, Dale referred to him as “Theodore Douglas”, which means his name is probably “T-Doug” and we’re all just horrible presumptive racists, but I’m not going to break from imdb and every other review out there.
There are two prisoners left alive, and they have a cell block to themselves. As I said last week, I’ve read the prison arc in the comics, but it’s already completely different. I assume we’ll see these guys again when they try get revenge or something, but I have no idea how it’ll go. I can’t foresee any other source of conflict for the immediate future, the main crew have cleared out their cell block pretty well, and legless Hershel and potential zombaby notwithstanding, they have enough food and medical supplies to hang on for a while.
Not as good as the season premiere, but that was to be expected. Still above average, I remain cautiously optimistic for next week.