Daryl confronts an owl, action, gore, action, gore, gore, and some live people at the end. Welcome back, The Walking Dead!
Everyone’s wishing Lori’s baby eats her from the inside, but I wished it first! /sulk
No, but really, the more the merrier, we can’t possibly ever have enough people who hate her unhelpful, double standard ass. Same last season, same this time around.
It seems like quite some time has passed since Rick yelled at no one in particular and everyone’s gotten into the groove of surviving. Look at Hershel’s pure white Proof of Survival beard. And all of them are actually working great as a team! Except Lori of course, who just can’t leave Rick alone. Come on, lady. You chided him for teaching Carl to shoot a gun. Don’t bring people down when they’re trying to move forward. Someone in the costume department needs to improve her baby bump, because it looks like an overstuffed pillow every time she’s not standing.
But this opener is fresh. It feels good that everyone’s contributing and trying. Carl seems different, kind of grown up a little, actually. He scavenges, Rick trusts him with not-overtly-important-but-still-significant tasks, and he’s gotten a lot better with a gun, it appears. I guess the writers have been hearing how much of an irritant we thought of him the last season, what with muddy zombie playdates and kiddy tantrums. The new team dynamic makes me happy. Best thing about it? Coordinated zombie murder! Yeah, you clean out those yards like badasses. I’ll just sit here under my covers and cheer you on.
Rick is finally in his leader prime. The gang trusts him, and he does them too. As they enter the first house we get a sense of how understanding everyone is of their roles in the bid to make it alive. Daryl is still being the cool hunter guy, totally not giving a shit and outright murdering a (quite beautiful) owl just hanging out in one of the rooms and 10 seconds later he’s ripping the feathers from its stiff body while Carl hands Rick dog food. “NO SON! No dog food when we have the delicious and succulent beast flesh of a natural bird caught with our unwashed and bloodied man hands! OUR INTESTINES ASK FOR BETTER!”
And T-Dog. /sniff. No more moving furniture. Bless him.
This cold open is so good because so little is being said. They just go about their business. And just when we think they’re going to settle for awhile to catch a breath, maybe have a little shuteye, a new line of zombie stragglers arrive to mess up their schedule. How great is it that Maggie doesn’t even break into a frantic run when a walker shows up just a couple of feet away? Even Hershel just brisk walks to shut the boot before they calmly drive off. All in a day’s work.
We have new credits! Love how this feels like we’re stepping into new chapter. Creepy zombie eyes rolling, abandoned fields and house corners, tips of hacksaws, prison outposts; nuggets of foreshadowing and glimpses of what we’re going to see this season. Too bad there are no more broken picture frames of Lori to throw eggs at. We could really use one of those.
The group snip the fences to the prison compound and strategize their break in. Good to know that they’re conscious about their defense resources (ie ammo, unlike Hershel’s Rambo from the last finale). The team is split into distracting noisemakers/melee handlers [T-Dog, Glenn, Maggie, and Beth] and field cleaners with a vantage point [Carl, Carol, Daryl and Hershel]. Of course Rick is the guy to go to their mission point, and Lori – well, she opens and closes the gate. Yeah. So while the others are stabbing the eyes of walkers and making headshots, Lori does that. Ok, she does kill a couple of walkers on her own, I’ll give her that.
Here I have to mention that I get really uncomfortable when characters grip the fence, because I’d imagine that it would be so easy to be bitten or scratched that way. I mean, you stick your fingers in these holes while gnarly jagged toothed walkers are going “NYARGH!”. That takes a lot of balls, which these people have in spades now.
Remember how I said Carl is less annoying? Same goes for Carol. She’s grown a bit of a backbone, hasn’t she? Picked up a mean gun too. I feel all fuzzy when everyone is striding into the compound being happy, which I suppose is the Walking Dead equivalent of a grass frolic. The team then proceeds to set up their campfire and savour some roast owl for a break while doing more long-term strategizing – let’s build a farm and help Lori birth her monster spawn in prison, it’s perfect!
Also, Carol and Daryl have a little something something going on. I’m not stupid, show. I see what you’re trying to do. I’m sure that there are like a legion of Darol shippers ever since he pledged to find Sophie drooling at their special bonding time. Honestly, it icks me a little, because I find the chemistry as flat as day old unrefrigerated coke, but if it helps develop/evolve characters then more power to it happening. I’m as uncomfortable with Carol hitting on Daryl as much as he looks shy after she’s tried to make him a Vietnamese masseuse. Clearly horny older women are not my thing.
Around the bonfire, Hershel encourages Beth to sing The Parting Glass, and Maggie joins in. I know this is supposed to be really pleasant and peaceful with its eye of the storm quality, where everyone’s settled in and actually appreciating what they have, but it’s kind of a string of cheese. And the singing goes on for a real long while, so much that it makes me feel a little awkward when it’s done. It’s that moment when you think it’s over and want to clap but the person just keeps going. And going.
Rick wants to penetrate the prison so much that he talks about it immediately after Beth and Maggie shut their traps. There’s bound to be stacks and stacks of tinned food, medicine and amenities they need to keep on keeping on, he knows it. They’ll even brave waves of zombies, in hand-to-hand, he says, assuring them that they can handle it. At this point, I love how zombies have given up clawing at the fences and are just hobbling about, ignoring the fire they built. Screw those humans, man, they are so not worth hissing at.
Lori tries to convince Rick to let the group have a proper rest where they are before continuing, but he’s a realist. Yeah! Of what practically constitutes Rick’s foot in Lori’s mouth, he shuts her down immediately when she wants to talk about “things”. I know right? Cue eyeroll, because we all know that Rick’s completely over it, over her, and he couldn’t give a rat’s ass if that baby was his or Shane’s or Glenn’s or Hershel’s or T-Dog’s. If I had to be dogged by her over an entire winter’s worth of survival, begging for closure and guilt alleviation and “we need to talk”s, I’d be sick of her too. I’m surprised he hasn’t kicked her in the crotch yet.
Scene switch! We’re in an abandoned household items store and a dreadlocked lady is dicing up walkers like Martin Yan does garlic cloves. Yes, this is the same lady who probably saved Andrea when she was running for her life in the finale. She swipes Asprin sachets off the floor and leaves. Such a short scene but so cool.
Back at the prison outskirts, the gang stay in formation and start brain-stabbing walkers. I love zombie abuse so I’m going to fist pump here. Some really great camera work that makes it so exciting to watch, especially when the defensive circle is trying not to break as they clear out the place. The riot control walkers are the best! Both scary and unintentionally funny, I panicked every time someone chained up fences with two carabiners and a chain link, but was treated to a laugh when Rick ripped off the mask from a walker and its face came off with it. The whole moment was an awesome Evil Dead wink! Oh Walking Dead. You make me so feel so confused and bipolar.
The breach continues. They’re finally in the prison itself, and though its empty, it feels a lot safer than outside, especially when they reach the Block C cells. Looks cosy, even. They clean out a couple of remaining walkers and hole up. We get the sense that Carl has a huuuuuuge crush on Beth, and Hershel’s all “haw haw” about it; Maggie and Glenn share bunks; Carol sits with Lori; Daryl on the upper walkway; Rick being an insomniac on guard again.
Dreadlock lady returns to her safe haven, where two armless, jawless walker buddies look on when she passes them. She thinks she hears the ragged wet breathing of walkers but it’s really just Andrea on the floor with a bad flu. She gives Andrea some asprin, cools her down with a bottle of water, and basically makes a promise to never leave her behind. That’s when I get “lover” vibes, when Andrea’s all sly about saving the lady’s life plenty of times during winter, and she’s just all -_- in repsonse. No seriously, her face was (-_-). It could just be an army buddy level of bonding going on that I’m misreading, I’m not sure. Guess I have to find out another time. For now, we know that they’re doing ok, but they won’t be for long if they remain, so Dreadlocks saddles up her zombie mules and moves off with Andrea to better pastures.
Back in Block C, the survivors are sorting through the goodies they’ve found. Lori’s asked to talk to Hershel. Apparently, she’s terrified that she’s already lost it and it’s going to tear her apart from the inside out – not sure how that’s going to happen because structurally babies are extremely weak and they have no teeth. This freaks me out a little, not because I don’t hate Lori but because the idea of carrying around an undead baby in my uterus until I can pop it out manually is really gruesome and frightening. Lori asks the good doctor to put her and her baby down when worse comes to worst. Naww, doc, you don’t have to. Step aside, because there’s a line of viewers right behind you to get the deed done. We’re crossing fingers even. Linking arms! “Please, let it be dead!,” they chorus in unified enthusiasm. Wouldn’t it be the creepiest thing for Lori to give birth to a walker baby while she was still alive? All mottled grey flesh and milk eyeballs and gurgling horror? Now that would be traumatic.
When Lori says, “[Rick] hates me,” I’ll bet that 500 other viewers raised their hands and screamed, “ME TOO!” Too bad Hershel is awesome, so he is still kind to her.
It looks like everyone is gearing up to loot the place. Women and Carl are left behind. Maggie doesn’t count because she’s conjoined to Glenn now. Are those the remains for dead children on the floor?! Yuck. Cleverly, they mark the walls with arrows so they can find their way back to the cell blocks again. They turn a few corners and encounter a fast advancing hoard or two, which unfortunately, throws everyone into a panic and power couple Glaggie are separated. We’ve been through most of the episode with the group intact and kept together tightly so this randomly thrown monkey wrench is delightful. Chaos!! Love chaos.
While they try to find their way back to each other, Hershel gets bitten in the calf by a sneaky walker sitting against the wall. Hershel, you know better than to be so close to a zombie! Poor Hershel! Not Hershel! There is more gore and the terrified look in his eyes makes me extra sad. In a frenzy, they find a room, secure it, and in split seconds Rick doesn’t even consider offing Hershel. Instead, he uses his belt and uses a hatchet to axe the doctor’s frakking leg off. Lord. That was horrifying to watch, even when the old man’s already passed out from the shock. I may have felt worse if I had not encountered a very similar scene within the Walking Dead game a while ago. My character Lee had to lop a teacher’s leg off when it got caught in a bear trap, and it was somehow more disturbing that I had to be the one to do it. So watching Rick do it wasn’t as bad, but it was still “holy shizz” on a scale of “Bad” to “May God Save Us All”.
I really hope Hershel survives as an amputee instead of a walker. As much of a fighter he is, it’s not looking good at all. I can’t imagine how awful it would be to have someone cauterize the injury or douse it in alcohol.
A group of onlooking prisoners suddenly stand up simultaneously (and comically) and one utters, “Holy Shit” after having witnessed that clusterfrak of an operation. Those are the current tenants of prison, I suppose. And yes brother, you and me both. Hooooleeeeey sheeeeeeyet.