By Jeannie Chan
Many people, myself included, felt that the season premiere started off real slow. Nothing exciting happened. Barely anybody died. It was, more or less, boring. It reigned in character development! But action? Not so much. I mean, I didn’t even have to mute the episode at all! (This is the only way I can get through the scary parts of TWD when I watch it alone, okay? Don’t judge me.) Well, to make amends for last week’s lack of grossouts, this episode begins with the first of many lovely scenes that will surely induce fits of “AHUGH GROSS!” Also, we learn more about Michonne, which warrants a +1000 to the writers. FINALLY.
We open with a lovely nighttime scene in which a walker at the fence chomps off the head of a live rat. Someone has been luring walkers to the perimeter with rats. Maybe the Governor does have a spy in the midst…
No time to speculate further as we cut to a sweet and touching scene between Tyreese and Karen. Tyreese can’t focus on the hot make-out session because he is still too distraught by Zach’s death, and death in general. Tyreese says that people used to walk in and out of each other’s lives like it was no big deal, because it wasn’t. But now, every loss is significant. The mood gets a little too heavy so Tyreese sings to Karen and suggests that they go back to her place. Karen says that they’re not going to want to stop if they start doing that. Tyreese says he understands, but surely that stings. As if being brave enough to share your self with another human being wasn’t hard enough, nothing complicates it further than wondering whether or not your partner is going to die, like, tonight. They part ways. Karen walks the halls in total darkness and winds up in the bathroom, where we last saw Patrick. She is washing her face when she hears something behind her. She goes to investigate and pulls back one shower curtain after another during the most intense 10 seconds of the season so far. Nothing there. She walks away. We see Patrick slowly rise from the shadows. Karen gets into bed in D block. Patrick’s zombie shadow looms over her curtain but he bypasses her! YES! Love wins. For now. Instead, Zombie Patrick goes straight for the chewy, bloody vocal chords of her neighbor. Blood spurts everywhere. Yum.
We come back from the opening credits to find Zombie Patrick languidly feasting on various parts of this poor man’s body. He also becomes part of the undead population by morning. As he rolls out of bed, all of his exposed innards fall onto the floor and it makes the most sickening wet plop ever. You may pause now to dry heave.
Glenn and Maggie have spent the night guarding the tower. Glenn watches Maggie sleep and it’s totally loving and not creepy. Not even when he pulls out a Lomo Instant camera (seriously dude, where did you even find that?) to snap a picture of her face.
Rick and Carl see Michonne off and basically have the same exact conversation they did when she first came back. Writers are getting lazy already. While feeding the pigs, Carl tries to get his father’s permission to join the group on fence duty. Rick shuts it down and says they have things to do. Like more farming. It’s clear that Carl is trying to please his father and abstain from active duty but let’s be honest. If Carl is able to rationalize why he needed to be the one to kill his mother, and why he needed to kill that boy in the woods, he’s not going to be able to put down his gun. You don’t get to come back that easily. But Rick is desperately trying to keep Carl away from the dark side. And so they farm. And carry no guns.
All of a sudden, alarms sound in the prison. There are walkers in the D block. Michonne doubles back. Carl does not join Maggie in the tower as Rick requested and opens the makeshift gate for Michonne but can’t close it in time before two walkers stumble in after her. They struggle. Carl fires off a sweet kill shot to one of them. Michonne literally throws the other one off. Maggie finishes that one with a shot to the head. They look at the fence with dismay as it sags beneath the weight of all the walkers swarming there.
D block is in total chaos. I can’t even count how many walkers there are now. There’s like 5 million of them. Heads are getting cleaved, shot up with arrows, and stomped on all over the place.
One man got bit in the arm. Carol leads him to a cell and tells him she’s going to have to amputate him. Agh. But of course it’s not just the one bite on the arm. Carol spots a huge gash on the man’s neck and has a sad conversation with the man about what’s going to happen to him. Upstairs, Glenn, Daryl, and Rick go through all the cells to clear them. They find Patrick on the floor of an empty cell with an arrow through his head. Rick sees a dead body in another cell and exchanges a wordless glance with Daryl, who had been prepping his bow for the shot. Rick takes out his knife and steps inside to finish the job instead.
Rick finds another walker in a locked cell and stabs him in the head. Hershel, Bob, and a yet-to-be-named (of course) Indian guy come in to examine the body. We can only assume that Unnamed is a medical professional (dare I say a doctor?) (of course) and that he must be part of the makeshift medical team because he uses a ton of medical jargon to theorize as to how Charlie could have died. Daryl says that Charlie used to sleepwalk so he locked himself in at night for protection. They come to the conclusion that he was not bitten, that he was sick with the same flu-like thing that killed Patrick and died within a day. Everyone has been infected. They all make concerned faces at each other.
Carol brings in the two girls we met last week to say goodbye to their father. Carol tells them that they know what she must do and that they can wait outside if they would prefer not to watch their father die. Then the older one, Lizzy, grabs Carol’s arm and says that they should be the ones to do it. UH NO. You really don’t. What kind of lesson about surviving, about understanding life in this new world, about anything, can you possibly gain by being the one who kills your parent to prevent them from being the undead? Somebody please explain this logic to me. I get that these kids need to be trained. Why can’t she behead a random walker? Why does she need to do this to her own father? Why does she need to do this to herself? There is no way that this kind of emotional trauma can help them now or later in life. No way. I am so angry right now. Aghsdafjkds. And of course, the kid can’t go through with it. BECAUSE WHAT KIND OF KID COULD? Don’t even get me started on Carl. We don’t have enough time to talk about Carl. (If there’s an episode this season that’s Carl-focused, it’s going to be called “We Need to Talk About Carl.” We called it. And if it isn’t, I’m calling it that anyway.)
Late on, the council meet to talk about the best way of containing the infection. And by that I mean, where they’re going to lock up the ones who are sick. This is going to be interesting. Carol suggests they put the sick ones on death row. Ha, that’s not symbolic at all! Daryl backs Carol up and asks if “Dr. S” would be okay with the idea. (And lo, unnamed Indian doctor from the earlier scene is named!) They hear Karen coughing in the hall and scramble out to check up on her. They tell Karen and Tyreese that there’s a flu going on and encourage them to separate. Karen identifies another person in the prison who’s been coughing. This is not looking good, guys.
Carol finds Lizzy at the fence and won’t let up on her for losing her nerve. Carol calls her weak and tells her she needs to be stronger to survive. Lizzy cries about Nick the walker being dead and runs away. Carol finds her later to apologize, in a way, and tell her that she understands that Lizzy was actually sad about her father dying, not Nick. Something about this scene is weirding me out but I can’t put my finger on what…
Back in the cells, Beth is wrapping Michonne’s injured ankle. Michonne is beating herself up for falling and getting mobbed by walkers. She says she was stupid and that they should have left her there. Beth rightfully tells her that she’s being stupid for saying that. Michonne feels guilty for potentially putting Maggie, but probably mostly Carl, in danger for coming to help her. Beth says something about how getting hurt is part of the package deal when you care about someone. Michonne can’t even maintain eye contact. Beth asks Michonne if there were any kids who died in D block and reflects that there’s no name for someone who lost a child, like there is a way to define widows, or orphans. Michonne looks away in pain, I doubt from her ankle, and we get another hint into her backstory. She has a very visceral reaction to Lil Asskicker crying. It makes me wonder if this is the first time she’s been in the same space as the baby. Given the screentime she has and the little interaction she has with other people, I wouldn’t be surprised if the answer to that question is yes.
Later, when Judith spits back up her food, Beth asks Michonne to hold her while she cleans up. Michonne says NO but reluctantly takes the baby and holds her at arm’s length before finally succumbing to tears. She cradles Judith in her arms, holds her face to hers and just weeps. Before, we only had theories as to why she was so quiet, so closed off. So hard. Trauma is always a safe bet. Horrible things she has seen or done. But again, these were all guesses or extrapolations from the graphic novels because we got nothing from the show. So maybe it’s a little too forgiving to let the writers off the hook so easily for neglecting to develop Michonne’s character in any way before. But suddenly, with just one scene, everything about her seems to make so much more sense. I don’t even want to imagine how Michonne specifically lost her baby. What she went through. What she must have needed to do. I can’t. This scene suuuuucks. I mean, it was beautifully done. But it sucks.
Outside, Rick and Daryl have a meaningful conversation about something while digging graves. Maggie soon hollers for their attention as one section of the fence is just about to fall under the weight of the walkers. Even with Glenn, Tyreese, and Sasha there, they’re having a hard time holding the fence. Sasha discovers the rat bodies on the ground and realizes someone’s been feeding them. (A very stupid someone who should’ve gotten rid of the bodies, IMO.) The fence is leaning at a dangerous angle and coming off the posts. There are so many bodies on it that some walker’s face, specifically the eye area, smushes through the wires. GROSS. They are out of ideas until Rick looks back at the pigpen and realizes what he must do. Rick and Daryl drive out beyond the fence and sacrifice the pigs to get the walkers off the fence. The pigs are squealing helplessly, like they know what’s about to happen to them. Rick slumps back in the bed of the truck, defeated. This scene also sucks.
Rick returns to the other side of the fence and dismantles the pigpen. Carl comes to find him and outs Carol for teaching the kids how to use weapons, despite her asking him “not to lie, just not tell him the truth” (excellent parenting there, by the way, Carol). For what it’s worth, Carl thinks Rick should let Carol continue to do this. Rick says he won’t stop her. Rick gives Carl back his gun and puts on his own holster.
Tyreese adorably has a bunch of flowers in hand for Karen in A block. But when he gets to her cell, he finds only a blood pool on her pillow and a trail leading out. In the hall, Karen’s blood trail is joined by someone else’s. Tyreese rushes outside and discovers two burnt bodies. One of them is definitely Karen’s. I assume the other body is David’s, the other person who had been sick. It’s hard to say if they were killed by someone for the sake of containment, or just to muck things up even more after the walker feedings at the fence didn’t pan out. I guess we’ll find out sooner or later! See you next week!