Less gore, but more surviving. Lot of snippy back and forth scenes. Turns out that zombies aren’t the only things that everyone needs to worry about.
In the first two minutes we already have the gang wheeling out an incapacitated Hershel on a gurney while freaked out prisoners go, “WOT?!”
Our guys are rational and play it cool and effective for once; T-Dog and Daryl continue to be walker-beating badasses before the credits hit. We’re jumping in!
The great thing about all of this is that the team is still a team. Excellent dynamics. Carol immediately gets down to trying to help Hershel with his injury while Daryl watches the doors. Is Hershel going to turn and eat someone’s face? This is a question that bothers me a lot throughout the ep, so great job, director and Scott Wilson.
The stunned prisoners trickle into just outside of the cells of Block C to find out what’s going on. There’s tall dude, baldie, suspicious eyes and scaredy white guy. Rick exaggerates the group’s numbers to them, and smartly so. Apparently, they’ve been in prison so long that they’re oblivious to the goings on of the world outside – their supposed leader, the angsty long-haired dude (with suspicious eyeballs) tries to make sense of what just happened and take control of their territory. He’s really called Tomas, but all I hear is some Mexicana ‘tude. I guess he’s the the vessel that blows the loudest so that makes him the automatic leader of a bunch of bumbling idiots. Plus, he looks super unstable, like he’s going to blow his lid (or blast Rick’s face) any time. The rest seem to be in prison for things like petty theft or peddling drugs because boy are they the last people I’d see as killing machines with the way they’re acting.
Everyone takes a step outside to enjoy a little sunshine. Rick uses his newfound powers of cool-headed intimidation to wrestle a reasonable deal from the original tenants – give the civvies half of whatever’s left of the food supply, and the core recon team of fighting magnificence Rick/T-Dog/Daryl will help clear out another undead-filled cell block that the prisoners can mark their territory with. All this during a John Woo style stickup (except, with 2 guns and a crossbow). I was expecting some busted kneecaps, considering how the show is showing off their crazy large gore FX budget lately, but well, we just got soaked in a testosterone jacuzzi. I’ll take what I can get, even if I only get Norman Reedus’ dirty guns on display. Cos, y’know, he’s a hot redneck.
Rick threatens Tomas and the deal is sealed. Whoohoo!
Back in Block C, Hershel’s bleeding has stopped after Carol and Lori have his blood up to their elbows. He needs crutches, painkillers, anti-biotics – things that they don’t have at the moment, but probably can retrieve from an infirmary somewhere around.
Then there’s this marvelous exchange between them:
Lori: “Look at me. Do I look worried?”
Carol: “…You look disgusting.”
Since when did Carol become such a BAMF? She shoots, she’s playing Save the Doctor, she’s joking with Lori but actually saying what viewers want to mouth off to Lori.
The Testosterone Love Bus has shifted to the cafeteria where we find impressive amounts of edibles, and a poop room, which Rick whiffs first hand. Because you don’t shit where you eat and vice versa, duh! You can’t be gross during the apocalypse!
We cut to Maggie and Glenn hugging it out. Damn, is that girl depressed. She’s expecting the worst out of everything and Glenn is trying to get her to STFU about her pessimism, but in a nice, boyfriendly way. Unfortunately she doesn’t accept a single thing he says and goes to spread her negative energy to Beth, who is making half-shorts out of Hershel’s pants, so he “won’t trip”. Aw.
Meanwhile Rick and T-Dog, who has more than 2 lines in an episode now (PROGRESS!), haul over part of the goodies from the kitchen stock. Lori reports on Hershel’s condition, to which Rick immediately tells Glenn to cuff the old man down in case he turns. Sadface. I’m very fond of that old man.
Rick and Lori talk about how they’re going to proceed next. They could live in harmony, or eliminate all possible threat, and we all know that Rick isn’t that kind of guy yet. It’s obvious that here they’re making Rick fall into a familiar pattern of wife-consulting. I don’t even know why he even bothers with her, because she’s really unhelpful in decision-making and doesn’t even try to think of alternatives or anything. He divulges that they are going to keep the prison as their own and Lori just ominously says, “Just do what you think is best and do what you gotta do to keep the group safe.” As if it was EASY! Psh. You’re just standing around being pregnant.
Rick walks off to the next bizarre challenge of survival life – training people how to kill some walkers. As expected, the prisoners are noobs and stubborn. Guns are the last resort, keep formation, aim for the head. Come on, dudes, Daryl Dixon is giving you tips and that guy survived by himself with a wonky leg and raw animal meat until he hobbled back to his team. Listen!!
Maggie wants some time alone with Hershel. Depression!Maggie is sad and bordering on annoying, but not yet. It’s probably Lauren Cohen’s effective watery doe eyes. She assures her dad that she and Beth are going to take care of each other, and thanks him for everything he’s done for them. While very fuzzy and nice, I have to admit that as long as Hershel is unconscious I am consumed with the certainty that he is going to leap up and bite someone’s nose off. I can’t concentrate when my tear duct energy is being used for high suspicion!
Still on zombie killing 101, the guys move to a random part of the prison for some practical experience. Comically, prisoners are all “CHARGE” and our trio are all ” -_-” because they learnt nothing from what they told them, still shanking midsections and punching torsos. My boyfriend was yelling, “Why are they being dumb?!” but you really can’t blame hoodlums locked up for ages to catch on change so quickly.
In the cells, Carl gets reprimanded by Lori again for bringing a crapload of much-needed medicines and surgical items. Why is she not REALISTIC in her expectations?! These things require PATS on BACKS. You could go, “Hey Carl, high five, you’re a life-saver, but next time just tell me when you’re going to bolt off so I can maybe trust in your ability to dash around and squeeze through questionable vents to get us important stuff.” But NO. Lori’s always emphasizing how dangerous it is (it’s the apocalypse, woman!) and I can’t believe that she still doesn’t blame herself for not keeping an eye on him if she’s so worried. It’s not like it’s the first time, you know? Even Carl’s attraction to Beth outweighs his respect for his mum. Too little too late, Lori!
Practice continues. Sucking (of skill) continues, but vast improvement as everyone starts aiming for the head. Ok, not bad, not bad… But then Tiny strays from the group and accidentally gets jabbed by a zombie’s freshly exposed hook-like forearm bone. Is that even sharp?! How does that even work? Or does Tiny have permeable baby skin?
He’s ‘saved’ by Tomas, who goes BANG BANG BANG with his little pistol. Great. Now ALL the zombies in the south side are going to migrate. He gives Rick the stink eye, and Rick’s all, yea, whatever, uh oh, he’s bleeding. Tiny argues that he’s fine, and the short guy mentions what they did for Hershel, saying they can save him. I laugh because what are they gonna do? Separate his torso from the rest of his body? Everyone throws in ideas and suggestions, but there’s little of what they can do, so Tomas saves Rick the trouble of getting his hands dirty and bashes the brains out of poor Tiny. Then gives Rick some crazy eyes. I know it’s supposed to be like a “I’m the boss here,” male pissing contest but this dude’s eyeball work is so comically executed. Out of context it would just look like he was trying to eye!sex Rick into something.
And I love how Rick’s response to all this is giving “what the hell’s wrong with you” looks. “You crazy, biatch!”
I guess Hershel’s close to dying now that everyone except Carl is in the room. Carol continues her badass streak by enlisting the help of Glenn to help her catch a walker so she can fake-operate on it just in case Hershel bites the dust and no one knows how to perform a C-section on Lori. You’re far too kind, girl. She picks one like it’s a puppy from the pet store and Glenn acts as a distraction to lure the rest away. Glenn can’t get over the weirdness of using a dead body as surgery practice though. “It’s sane, what you’re doing!” Brain: Eww! “I know what you’re doing, it makes sense!” Brain: Eyueghh. What I like most about this scene is Carol gathering her balls and really taking the reins to do something necessary. She is climbing up my list of Please Don’t Kill.
Daryl’s totally cautious about the prisoners and asks Rick to give him the signal if he wants them to die. Ok. They bust open the doors and find themselves in an abandoned laundry room with the creepy moaning sounds of hungry walkers behind the doors of the cell block they want to take over. Rick cleverly makes him open the door but advises him to just open one so that they can control the flow of undead rushing out.
Whaddoya know? Mexico’s trying to be funny and throws both doors open at once. Doesn’t seem like an accident. “Shit happens,” he snorts. Rubbish! While the zombies descend on them, everyone puts their undead-brawling skills to use, and you know, with amateurs in chaos, you’d expect a few accidental scrapes and cuts. But Tomas nearly takes Rick’s head off with what suspiciously looks like a deliberate swing at his neck. What a cheapshot weasel! When it doesn’t work, he literally grabs a walker throws it right onto Rick. Too bad for him, Daryl’s badass meter is at peak so no injuries there.
Nice try asshole. This is new Rick now!
Did anyone snigger when “Coming at me, bro” was used? I love this series. When the room is finally calm, Rick stares at guy. Guy stares at Rick. So intense. It’s the kind of pause that makes your large intestine twist a bit. Any longer and they might as well be kissing. No, I’m joking. No, actually, I’m not so sure, because strung out tension can get really confusing.
But we don’t have to wonder about any of that because Rick is being all cool with his, “Yeah, shit happens” remark. Then CHOP. As in, MACHETE CHOP. Tomas’s head is cleaved, inciting HELL YEAHs from around the world. Rick Grimes, BAMF extraordinaire. The rest are caught in a state of panic – the short dude with the baseball bat makes a run for it and Rick goes after him like a cheetah while the remaining two are kept in place by Daryl-Dog. T-ryl? Well, one of them chickens out pretty quickly and pulls out his white flag.
There is some very chilling violin work in the score during the chase. Not overbearingly cliche. Shorty finds himself in a dead end full of walkers – he turns back, but Rick cuts him off with iron bars. Sorry, buddy. You did want out. As Rick returns we hear Shorty’s screaming and some fleshy noises stop abruptly, but I’m skeptical. If we don’t see him get ripped apart, HE AIN’T DEAD!
While Maggie’s with Hershel again, she suddenly notices that he’s stopped breathing. The moment has come, people. Beth shouts for help and Lori comes in to check. She does the silliest thing ever: try and resuscitate him. How does it seem like a good idea to give mouth to mouth to a recently dead guy in a zombie apocalypse?! Super intense though. Viewers probably want Hershel to be a zombie just to see Lori get bit. Honestly, I would rather see Hershel alive because he’s awesome. I can bear with Lori. I know that the writers are trying to give her a redemption angle somewhat, but it takes time and they need to remove her from being utterly stupid about doing things. Anything at all. Even something as heroic as this dampens because it’s just Lori doing it.
But well, Hershel’s alive and awake. Some gladness better than none.
At gunpoint, the bearded prisoner blubbers for his and Oscar’s life. “I like my pharmaceuticals but I’m not a killer!” (Golden line.) And you know, he’s believably terrified and most likely the least malicious among everyone. Oscar on the other hand, would prefer to keep his dignity and be prepared for a quick death. Kind of liking this dude.
Rick decides to let them have the block on the condition that they don’t disturb them ever again. As both of the remaining prisoners express sadness over the loss of some of their buddies, the rest don’t give two shits and leave them behind. Here it’s clear that it isn’t their hearts that have hardened because they’re soulless, but they’re just being practical. So many times kindness has bit them in the ass, and risking the current system they have in place? Not worth it. So yeah, we understand, Rick.
Everyone is back in block C again, being informed that Lori saved Hershel’s life. It’s so magical when the doc has come around and everybody is staggeringly relieved. Really touching. The tears in Maggie’s eyes, the fondness in Rick’s face. Of course Hershel falls asleep again quickly because he’s all doped up, but hey! He’s doing good for a guy with one foot.
Outside, Carol begins her operation trial run, and she’s being watched. Personally I hate the voyeur-type camera work because it feels pervy, but yea, whatever, it gets the message across.
Final scene. Rick and Lori have a moment together; it’s really special not because it’s romantic, no, nothing like that. They’re too far gone. Something amazing happens: We got a Lori that could have been great.
She alludes to being a bad mother because she doesn’t know what the hell Carl does. And Rick tries to be honest about how he feels. He doesn’t think that she’s a bad mum. Then she further alludes to being a bad wife, and actually says something realistic and relevant to their universe. “What, we’re going to hire a lawyer and get a divorce and split their assets?” Bitter smiles all around. “We got food, Hershel’s alive – Today was a good day.” If Lori was like this much, much earlier last season, people wouldn’t be so aggravated by her now (the improvement rescinds a little when she wants to talk about “us” again. sigh). But just like Rick, we can’t turn back time and make it right. I mean, he can’t even look at her even when he’s trying to be grateful about Hershel, and he is incredibly grateful, we know that. It’s just the way it is now – things were different ever since the whirlwind of Shane and the baby. I think he even sort of feels bad that he can’t bring himself to love her anymore like he used to or that she can’t move on from her old idea of Rick the gallant sheriff.
I especially love how Rick’s actions and reactions parallel so much of what I’m feeling throughout the ep. Everything makes sense with him now. He’s filling the leader shoes really nicely, and making hard choices with conviction. I can see that it’s also deteriorating him from the inside out. Beyond this role, he really has nothing else going on for him. Maybe Carl, but from what little interactions we’ve seen so far, he works more like a lone wolf than a family man. Sure, he cares for his group, but… I feel like he’s running on empty. Something interesting I hope they’ll tackle soon.
It’s the Michonne and Andrea show next week!