Last night on The Walking Dead, we got to see how “30 days without an accident” can turn sour in thirty minutes.
After the bloodbath at the end of last season (RIP Andrea, Merle, Carl’s innocence, and nearly everyone in Woodbury), Rick’s group rescued the few remaining Woodburians and brought them back to the prison. As we open this episode things look idyllic and peaceful, justifying Rick’s belief that they could make a home in these unpromising surroundings. Rick even takes a moment to wash his face before he goes out to check on the crops growing in the prison yard.
I’m not sure how (should they be using their precious electricity to charge electronics?) but Rick has an MP3 player which is playing “Precious Memories” and drowning out the racket of the zombies rattling the fence. I can see how that would get annoying. Rick gazes across at them, but instead of seeing visions of a bridal Lori as he did when he was teetering on the borderline of sanity, he sees the zombies—one in particular who apparently was crying tears of blood—but then returns to his work. Rick has gone so far in his quest to turn swords into ploughshares that he even throws out a gun he finds buried under the crops.
After the first (of many) commercial breaks, Rick runs into Carl at the pigpen, and they discuss the fact that Carl has named the pig Violet. Awww!
Violet is under the weather, perhaps suffering from, say, flu-like symptoms, but somehow it occurs neither to Rick nor Carl that they could possibly consult their resident veterinarian who used to be a farmer about what ails her. I know Herschel is now the resident physician for humans, philosopher and personal psychiatrist for Rick, but come on!!
Elsewhere at the prison, Carol is manning the outdoor kitchen when Daryl comes strolling up, embarrassed by his rockstar status. Carol exposits that Rick’s group has a new foreign policy which is to take in humans they find outside the prison before reminding Daryl that she liked him first. (Um, excuse me Carol, but I liked Daryl first, right from the moment he sauntered in with a belt full of dead squirrels.) Even Daryl seems to have cleaned up a tiny bit thanks to the apparently elevated hygiene standards of the prison.
Carol hands off the spatula to a new recruit, a boy about Carl’s age, whose name is Patrick. Patrick asks to shake Daryl’s hand. Daryl licks some food off his fingers and gives the boy his hand, which is both gross and amusing (and also, in light of what happens at the end of the episode, deeply ominous). Carol mentions to Daryl that the Walkers outside the fences seem to be massing in place, and so she can’t spare people for the supply run, because they’re needed to poke holes in the Walkers’ heads. “Sorry, Pookie!” she tells Daryl, which is either fuel for Caryl shippers or designed to make them shake their heads in disgust. I’m not really sure how I feel about it either way.
Glenn and Maggie wake up in bed, and Glenn insists that Maggie stay at the prison; I have an ominous sense of foreboding that she’s pregnant, and considering how the last pregnant lady ended up, I don’t want them to go that route at all, because I really like Maggie. Maggie agrees to stay behind at Glenn’s request.
Meanwhile, various inhabitants of the prison are poking holes in the zombies at the fence; this has now become a routine, if unpleasant, task and the workers don’t seem to be thinking about how these were all once people. Hey, I guess whatever gets them through the grim job. Tyreese shows up to talk to Karen, one of the other Woodbury survivors, who is now Tyreese’s girlfriend; unlike Karen, Tyreese is uncomfortable killing zombies at the fence and has opted to join the supply run group instead. Aww, it’s like when Cutty on The Wire (also played by Chad L. Coleman) made the difficult choice to go legit instead of getting back into the drug game.
He’s joined on the supply run by two new characters, Zach (Kyle Gallner) and Bob (Lawrence Gillard, Jr., another Wire alum - it’s good to see D’Angelo Barksdale again). Zach is in a relationship with Maggie’s sister, Beth, who declines to say goodbye to him as he leaves for the supply run. Bob, who claims to have been an Army medic, has only been with the group for a week after being rescued from the woods by Daryl.
Michonne, stylish as ever, gallops up to the prison on a horse; she’s been out hunting the Governor, but found time to return with comic books for Carl and an electric razor for Rick. Ha! She takes Rick’s place on the supply run because Rick wants to check the snares he’s left in the woods.
Herschel finds time to fill Rick in on the Council’s decision that Rick has to take a gun on his snare-clearing mission. He also fills the audience in on who belongs to the Council (Herschel, Carol, Daryl, Glenn and Sasha - what about Maggie? Did they have elections or was this by appointment? I have so many questions about this, but at least they’re operating with an oligarchy now, instead of a Ricktatorship or a Governate, so that’s an improvement, I guess.)
Rick succumbs to Herschel’s persuasion and brings a gun with him, and it’s a good thing he does, because a Walker falls on the boar that Rick has trapped. Just as Rick loudly walks away, the Walker lifts her head and starts talking. From her accent, and from the fact that Kerry Condon is listed in the credits, I deduce that Rick is being addressed by Octavia of the Julii, who does seem to have been mummified during the pre-Christian era.
Some of the children from Woodbury are waving and laughing at the zombies on the other side of the fence. Like Carl, they’ve given names to something they will have to kill, though unlike Violet the Pig, the zombies may eat them first. Carl yells at them for being kids, basically; his friend Patrick, who may be older than Carl in years, but definitely seems younger in experience, tells the kids he’ll be joining them for “story time.”
Team Supplies (Michonne, Daryl, Sasha, Glenn, Tyreese, Bob and Zach - listed in order of coolness!) arrive at the local Costco, which was previously used by the Army as a refuge for people who apparently all turned into Walkers. Sasha explains something about how they distracted the Walkers a few days ago to clear the way for the current expedition; Zach, clearly a little too comfortable with the whole danger thing, makes small talk about what Daryl used to do before the zombie apocalypse. He guesses “homicide detective” (concerned for others, but surly) which sends Michonne into a fit of laughter. A few zombies come toward the noise, but Team Supply Run disposes of them handily, unaware that above, on the rooftop there are dozens more around a crashed helicopter. Uh oh!
Team Supply Run disperses to collect various things (maybe this is where Rick’s MP3 player came from); Glenn picks up a digital camera to take pictures of his unborn child, and I am overcome by a dire sense of foreboding (and also, again, where’s the electricity coming from? Something has to power a generator!!) Meanwhile, Bob grabs a bottle of red wine, decides against it perhaps because, by now, it’s probably turned quite nasty, and replaces it on the shelf, which causes the entire shelf to topple on top of him. The zombies upstairs hear the noise and start heading for the spot on the roof from which it came, causing the damaged roof to be further damaged. Team Supply Run shows up to rescue Bob, who’s trapped under the shelf, though otherwise unhurt, just as the first zombie crashes through the ceiling. Pretty soon, it’s raining zombies, and the helicopter isn’t far behind.
Zach tries to free Bob, and a zombie takes a big bite out of his calf. Bob gets free, but Zach is eaten by the zombies, and the others run just as the helicopter crashes down too.
Meanwhile, Octavia of the Julii who appears to be wearing a wedding dress with her other clothes, Miss Havisham-style, asks for Rick’s help in getting the boar to her husband Eddie; neither of them has eaten for days. Rick kindly hands over his sandwich, but rather than tearing into it, as, I assume, a starving woman would, she holds it like some kind of radioactive fuel. If Rick’s spidey senses aren’t tingling now, I’d be very surprised. She asks if she and Eddie can join Rick’s group, and Rick says they have to answer three questions first, and let him frisk her as well.
As they walk toward Eddie, Octavia of the Julii fills Rick in on her backstory, to explain her strong Irish accent in the backwoods of Georgia. It seems she and Eddie were traveling to their honeymoon in Puerto Vallarta when the Zombie Apocalypse struck, and after being stuck in the Atlanta airport for days, Eddie saved her repeatedly from the zombies and taught her the “things” she needed to do to survive. She asks Rick if he thinks anyone can come back from the things they have to do to survive. I’m getting the intense feeling that cannibalism might have been one of those things, but she doesn’t admit to that with Rick, anyway.
There is no sign of Eddie when Octavia and Rick arrive at her camp, which features a surprisingly clean looking set of sheets (considering how filthy she is!) Rick is finally clear on the fact that this lady is full-out crazy (and he can certainly sympathize, given his phone conversations with the dead last season), just before she jumps him with her machete. Luckily, she is so emaciated that he easily evades her and pulls his gun on her. (“We told you so!” says the Council off-screen somewhere.) Eddie’s turned, and she needed something live for him to eat; it was easier to bring Rick than the wild boar. (Err, she’s also alive, if only just barely.) She stabs herself in the stomach with the machete, and begs Rick not to take her out when she turns, because she wants to be like Eddie. As she dies, she asks Rick what the three questions were. Rick asks how many zombies they killed, how many people they killed (just the one in Octavia’s case, herself!) and finally, Rick, weeping, asks “why?” “You don’t get to come back from this,” she tells him. Rick, closet romantic and perpetual maker of bad decisions, decides to honor her last wishes and doesn’t poke the machete through her skull. Dollars to donuts, she’s going to end up at the prison gnawing on someone Rick knows before the end of this season.
Carl, yielding to his inner child, decides to investigate Carol’s storytime, which turns out to be Carol’s How to Kill Zombies Before They Kill You Time. Yay, Carol! She has turned into a truly awesome character, and I love that she’s trying to get these kids up to speed to save them from ending up like her own daughter Sophia. Awww! Patrick says that he’s feeling really sick and doesn’t want to yak on anyone (good call!) so he leaves. Carl pops up, surprised, and Carol asks him not to tell his father what she’s doing; for some reason, this makes Carl run away. I guess he really wanted a story after all.
Returning from his snare clearing that so nearly ended with his own snaring, Rick notices the zombie with the bloody eyes again. He also stops by the pigpen, where there are a number of wee piglets looking very cute, but where Violet appears to be bluish and rather dead. If I were the prison group, I’d skip the bacon for a while!
Meanwhile, Team Supply Run has also returned, sadder and fewer. Tyreese tells Karen that he doesn’t like going on supply runs any more either; given the track record of this show with black male characters, it’s probably best Tyreese doesn’t put himself in dangerous or stressful situations if you ask me! Maggie tells Glenn that she’s not pregnant, but if they wanted to, they could do it. Um, I don’t think this is such a good idea. Maggie tells Glenn that they can’t live being afraid of every little thing, and when Glenn says that they survived by being afraid, Maggie tells him that breathing isn’t the same thing as living. Judging by the pig and Patrick’s fate at the end of this episode, breathing might be a problem for everyone soon. Daryl goes to tell Beth about Zach’s demise, and she’s frankly rather disturbingly calm about it all (I guess this is her second boyfriend to fall to the zombies.) She tells Daryl that she’s glad she got to know Zach at all, and gives Daryl a big hug. Here’s where I confess that I’m a little nervous about Daryl now: between the fact that the guy who shook his saliva-hand is deathly ill shortly afterwards and the fact that Beth, whose boyfriend retention rate is 0 is giving him hugs, I hope we aren’t going to lose Daryl!!
Rick seeks out Herschel, but strangely, yet again fails to mention the dead pig to the veterinarian, instead talking about his dealings with the poor crazy Irish lady. Instead of investigating the suspicious pig death, Herschel reassures Rick that he can and has come roaring back from the crazy and will not end up like the Irish lady because he has Carl and Judith (who has grown a lot and is very cute.)
Poor Patrick hacks and wheezes his way to the bathroom area, coughs into a big tub of fresh water that I hope no one uses for drinking and then collapses under the shower, only to turn into a Walker with bloody eyes. Ladies and gentleman, meet Patient X.
Zombies AND swine flu! It’s going to be a great season.
Regina Thorne is an avid reader of just about everything, an aspiring writer, a lover of old movies and current TV shows, and a hopeless romantic.