Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Walking Dead Season 4, Episode 2: Infected

Wow, another really good episode this week! At the risk of jinxing it, they're two for two so far this season. Let's hope they keep up the quality.

It almost seems like new show runner Scott Gimple listened to the fans and is doing his best to address the show's various problems. Suddenly the characters are being written much better (Michonne even laughed!) and are making fewer stupid decisions. Kudos to Gimple and the writing staff.

Thoughts (SPOILERS!):

• As I figured last week, the "new threat from within" is some form of flu. Possibly swine flu, considering all the pigs hanging around? Hopefully it's not something like the Spanish Flu, which killed three to five percent of the world's population in 1918 (!).

• Lots of intense gore this week. Walker Nerd Boy feasting on a snoring victim, said Victim rising up and spilling his guts (literally!) all over the floor, and best (or maybe worst) of all, the walker whose face gets Play Doh Fun Factoried through the chain link fence!

• The kids' drawings of the prison, complete with walkers outside the fence, was a nice touch. It makes sense-- the zombie apocalypse has probably been going on for four years now and these kids are probably five or six, so as far as they're concerned this is how the world has always been.

• So who's feeding rats to the walkers? The obvious answer would Lizzy and Mika, the two girls who were seen last week naming fence walkers like they were pets. Mika even tells Carol that Lizzy is "messed up."

I suppose it could also be the Governor feeding them, but that seems a bit too subtle for him.

• At the end of last season Rick invited the Woodbury refugees to live in the prison after they were abandoned by the Governor. I wondered why he'd do that-- how could he trust people who'd willingly followed the Governor? Why would he endanger his friends and family by bringing in so many unknowns? Now I know why. Then needed the Woodburyians to serve as redshirts!

• Silly Tyreese, trying to build a new life with Karen! Don't you know you can't have anything nice in this world?

By the way, you may remember Karen as the sole survivor of the Governor's army after he gunned them all down in a fit of rage at the end of last season.

• We get to see the Council this week. Probably not for the last time.

• Rick and Carl are outside in their garden when they hear what sound like explosions coming from inside the prison (which turns out to be Walker Nerd Boy attacking Cell Block D). 

What the heck was making those noises? Obviously it was supposed to be gunfire coming from within the prison, but it sounded more like distant mortar fire. 

• Carol seems to be becoming the character that Andrea should have been. The series really botched TV Andrea, so I'm glad to see she's sort of getting a second chance through Carol.

• Speaking of Carol, I don't get all the tsuris over her story time/weapons class. This is the end of civilization after all. Kids are gonna need to know how to fight and defend themselves. The age of overprotective soccer moms, helicopter parents and "think of the children!" is long gone. If she doesn't teach them how to survive, who will?

• So it looks like they have a doctor in the group now. Since Herschel apparently forgot he's a veterinarian, maybe Rick should have asked the Doc to take a look at the sick pigs last week. He might have been able to prevent the epidemic.

• Herschel seems to be getting around really well on his homemade bionic leg. I didn't even see him limp! I wonder who built that? Did they carve it out of wood? Or did Michonne pick up a leg for him from a prosthetics store while she was out hunting for the Governor?

• Last week I marveled at Carl's transformation; how he went from tween psychopath at the end of Season 3 to fairly normal at the beginning of Season 4.

It appears Rick accomplished this change by taking away Carl's gun and doing his best to involve him in "quiet" activities. You know, things like farming rather stabbing walkers in the brain. I guess it must be working.

• When Beth hands Baby Judith to Michonne, she holds the infant at arm's length like a bag of maggots before finally embracing her and breaking down in tears. It was a nicely written scene that spoke volumes about Michonne's past without nary a word of dialog.

Obviously at one point Michonne had a child who died. But did it die before or after The Fall?

By the way, Michonne's injury is obviously the writers' way to interrupt her search for the Governor and keep her in the prison for a few episodes.

• Babe, we hardly knew ye! 

As a result of someone feeding the walkers, a large mass of them begin pressing against one spot on the prison fence, threatening to collapse it. Thinking fast, Rick has Daryl drive him out of the prison as he hobbles his pigs (which probably had the flu and couldn't be eaten anyway) and throws them to the walkers to lure them away from the fence.

Again, it's a very well written scene. Without a single word of dialog we can see that Rick is genuinely disturbed by the whole pig thing, as his hopes for a peaceful life behind the prison fence have just been flushed down the crapper. He realizes, to his bitter disappointment, that there's no chance for a peaceful life in this brutal world.

• Tyreese goes to visit Karen and finds that someone has "taken care of the problem" by incinerating her and another flu sufferer. Were they burned before or after they turned? And who did it? The same person who's feeding the walkers? Or someone else? 

• I noticed an extra-prominent "No animals were harmed during the filming of this episode" disclaimer at the end. A preemptive strike no doubt, to head off complaints from boneheads who think the film crew really killed those pigs.

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