I felt pretty good about last week’s post on the premiere episode of season 3 of The Walking Dead, so I decided I’d try another one to see if it would take. Here goes.
Just to get this out of the way, this episode does not feature Andrea or Michonne, so it has about 3 fewer minutes of those two characters than last week’s episode. Also, for as lukewarm as I was on certain parts of last week’s premiere, I really enjoyed this episode. There were some odd moments of head scratching, but after my initial viewing, I felt like this was actually one of the series’ best hours. Hopefully it’s a good sign of the wonderful, dark things to come.
When we last left the gang, Herschel was minus a leg below the knee and a group of prisoners had appeared. No time has passed since then and really, not much happens beyond the gang loading up Herschel and running straight back to the “safe” cell block. Oh, a riot zombie returns, but T-Dog passes the test this time, remembering that a knife (or fireplace poker, or whatever) can’t penetrate a helmet. The crew gets back to the cell block, but the prisoners follow. Rick takes them all out in the yard to chat things over.
It turns out, the gang released these guys when they broke into the cafeteria. Apparently they had no idea that the zombie apocalypse was upon them, or at least, they didn’t know the extent of it. Now that they’ve been freed, they want their cell block back from Rick and the gang. Rick cuts them a deal: he, T-Dog and Daryl will help them clear a new cell block in return for half of the food in the cafeteria. When Rick mentions that they must have a bunch of food for five men to survive for ten months, the greasy, long-haired leader (apparently his name is Tomas) of the group gives a shifty look. At first I thought that these guys were eating other prisoners, but later we see that they do have a bunch of food, so there’s something else going on. The prisoners take the deal.
Back in the cell block, everyone is concerned about Herschel. How will he keep up with all of the running the gang usually does? Who will deliver Lori’s baby? Will he look good in cutoffs? Someone mentions the need to find the infirmary, not realizing they should just ask Lori because she knows all about prison medical care. Rick pulls Glenn aside and tells him that he (Glenn) needs to be there if Herschel dies. I must admit, I didn’t get it at first, thinking that Glenn just needed to be there for Maggie’s sake. Actually, it’s a really nice little moment of Rick telling Glenn that he needs to blow away Maggie’s dad should he zombify. After all, a Herschel Walker is notoriously hard to tackle (there it is). Glenn later handcuffs Herschel to the bed as a precaution.
Lori and Rick share a couple of nice moments in this episode. Lori pulls Rick aside to talk to him about them and about what he plans to do with the five prisoners they’ve set free. She brings up their relationship problems, noting that she’s not going win any mother of the year awards. At this point, I’m sure the majority of long-time Walking Dead viewers loudly vocalized their agreement. The first step is admitting that you have a problem, Lori. When she asks about the prisoners, Rick basically says that they’ll probably have to kill them. Lori backs him up, saying that she knows he has no malice in him and that he’s not a killer, therefore, he should feel free to kill anyone he wants without feeling guilty. Yikes.
In a really nice scene that doesn’t feel as forced as the song in the last episode, Maggie takes a moment to talk to her unconscious father. She tells him that if he needs to let go, he should. She just wants him to be at peace. Shortly after, Carl shows up with a bag of supplies from the infirmary. What an episode for great revelations! Carl finally does something that is not only helpful and logical, but it also isn’t entirely stupid. Of course, Lori immediately goes off on him, yelling at him as she usually does instead of praising his self-motivation.
Then something weird happens. Carol takes Glenn away from Herschel’s bedside and out into the yard. Suddenly she has decided that it’s time for her to practice her medical skills since it will likely fall to her to deliver Lori’s baby. She wants to try to perform a Cesarean section on a dead (re-dead?) female walker. Glenn doesn’t ask the obvious question, why are we doing this now when we’ve got a man dying/zombifying inside the prison? Instead, he helps her retrieve a cadaver. It all seems a little nonsensical, but then again, it’s Carol, and I should probably know better. I guess this is just setup so we can get a POV shot of someone (something?) watching Carol from the woods outside of the prison.
Back to the newly expanded cell-block-clearing party. Rick takes a moment to explain to the prisoners how important it is that they attack only the head when fighting walkers. Apparently seeing no reason to trust that Rick knows what he’s talking about, the prisoners proceed to charge into the first wave of walkers, stabbing, punching and kicking them everywhere but their heads. Rick, Daryl and T-Dog look on in disbelief. The prisoners finally get the hang of it and the walkers start falling. My favorite zombie moment occurs when a handcuffed zombie decides it’s time to break loose, ripping the handcuff off of one hand and taking all of his fingers along with it. Fun stuff. The guy I hoped was Tone Lōc in last week’s episode (his name is actually Big Tiny), gets scratched by a walker. As everyone debates on whether to quarantine him, Tomas smashes his head in. So much for Tone Lōc.
Rick is a bit wary of Tomas now and Daryl tells Rick “just give me a signal” if Rick wants him to put Tomas down. Another wave of walkers is unleashed and Tomas decides to throw one right at Rick. Daryl comes to the rescue and after the mayhem dies down, Rick decides that the best way to deal with Tomas is to plant a machete between his eyes. It’s a wonderfully dark surprise and reminds me of the time Michael Raymond-James took a detour from hanging out with Donal Logue in Ocean Beach to antagonize Rick in a bar in season 2. It didn’t end well for him either. Apparently there was a plan to kill Rick. Axel, one of the three remaining prisoners claims that he had nothing to do with it. Oscar, another prisoner tells him to “stop talking.” That makes me think there’s something more going on that we’re not aware of. The third prisoner, Andrew, takes off running and Rick chases him down. Andrew finds himself in a courtyard full of walkers and Rick locks Andrew outside, leaving him to make new friends. Stone cold, man.
Rick and the boys release Axel and Oscar into a new cell block that appears to be populated only by handcuffed corpses who were executed on the floor outside their cells. We never see them close enough to figure out if they were walkers when they were shot. We get another great-looking shot of the new cell block. I’m continuing to enjoy the camerawork on these master shots, both interior and exterior.
We get a short scene of Herschel dying with Maggie by his side. She starts yelling for help and, presumably because Glenn and Carol are still on their nonsensical cadaver hunt, Lori comes in and starts doing mouth-to-soon-to-possibly-be-undead-mouth. We get a scare as Herschel reaches his arm around Lori. Turns out he just hasn’t had a good kiss in a while and he was just trying to put the moves on Lori à la Squints. He slides back into unconsciousness until Rick arrives, then he wakes up and reaches out for Rick. Rick takes Herschel’s hand and gives him a look as if to say: “I know a man with a wooden leg named Smith.” Clearly, everything is going to be okay…
…except if you’re Rick and Lori. They meet on a catwalk to talk. Rick tells Lori that she saved Herschel’s life by giving him mouth-to-mouth. Lori tells Rick that he saved Herschel by cutting his future shoe expenses in half. She then says “I thought maybe you were coming out here to talk about us. Maybe there’s nothing to talk about anymore.” Rick replies by awkwardly putting a hand on her shoulder and telling her “we’re awful grateful for what you did.” Then he leaves. For better or worse indeed! The best part about this scene is that Rick never once looks at his wife. Maybe he won’t, or maybe he can’t. Whatever it is, it’s a really nice touch and a depressing way to end a pretty dark episode of the show.
Next week on The Walking Dead: Carl makes friends with Herschel’s severed leg.