I know that I’m a shitty wife and I’m not winning any Mother of the Year awards, but I need you to know that not for one second do I think there’s malice in your heart, so do whatever you gotta do to keep this crib safe, and do it with a clear conscience.
Week 2 of the Walking Dead has passed and I feel like I’ve let out a breath I’ve been holding. The premier was excellent, in my opinion, but premiers and finales are always exciting. After last year’s heart break of mediocrity, I didn’t know what to expect from the second episode.
And it was awesome. Perhaps that’s not professional reviewer speak, but I don’t care. I had two good weeks of zombie killing and, in my book, that is awesome. It was so good I didn’t even realize until I sat down to write this review that Michonne and Andrea don’t even make an appearance. It was all Camp Prison, all the time.
The episode picks up directly where the last one ended, which conveniently also introduces the two big plot pieces ““ Hershel dying from his chopped off, bleeding leg stump and the discovery of the prisoners in the cafeteria.
It’s been a long time since the gang ran into someone who didn’t know what was going on in the outside world. In fact, it was Rick who was the last confused person we came across. The prisoners have been locked inside the cafeteria for ten months, knowing there were monsters outside but thinking it was confined to the prison and shitting in the walk in freezer while they waited for the National Guard to show up. The enormity of the catastrophe is hard to swallow. No cell phones. No wives or kids waiting on the outside. No other prisoners still “alive,” though there are plenty un-alive ones wandering around the cell blocks. The guys take that part of it pretty well. It takes a bit longer to adjust to the whole head-shot or no-shot zombie killing attack.
Last year, Rick was quick to kill True Blood Rene at the first sign of danger to the group. Here, he’s willing to divide up the prison and help the criminals clear out their own cell block as long as they stay far away from each other. It’s a strange progression from a man who’s barely keeping it together.
Though in the end, Rick should have True Blood Rene’d Tomas, the gang’s leader, before they left the cafeteria. Like Shane, Tomas has a decided interest in being head bitch in charge. And like Shane, he’s willing to kill Rick to get that status, though he speeds up the time table a lot. By the point they’re ready to enter the new cell block, Tomas is taking swings at Rick and shoving zombies at him, under the pretense of being confused during the fight. And Rick ““ well, he gives it a good thirty seconds of analysis and then buries his machete in Tomas’s head.
The events on the farm have clearly left an indelible mark on Rick’s psyche. He’s less forgiving, less willing to keep the peace. He’s basically two seconds away from total cuckoo. When one of the other prisoners runs from Rick and co ““ for the entirely reasonable reason that Rick just jammed a giant knife in his friend’s skull ““ and accidentally ends up in a courtyard full of zombies, Rick shuts the door on him and walks away from the guy’s dying screams. This is not the guy who risked his own life to lift a sniper off a picket fence.
While the men are away, manly getting into fights and killing each other, most of the women (and Glenn) are staging a bedside vigil for Hershel. The chance of an old man surviving a zombie bite and a crude hatchet amputation are worse than razor slim. Some excellent scavenging on Carl’s part buys Hershel a slightly better slim chance when he shows up with the entire contents of the prison infirmary. But Maggie prepares for the worst and has her good-byes with her father while Beth, formally suicidal, is sure he’ll get up at any moment.
When Hershel stops breathing, its Lori that steps in to perform CPR as his daughters break down. We know that death causes the zombie resurrection, but no one knows what happens if someone’s heart stops, even for an instant. So when Hershel suddenly surges up and grabbed Lori by the head, I screamed. Yes, the jump scare got me. I was sure at that moment that the new direction of the show would have both Lori and Hershel dead by the end of the second episode, and that Lori was going to pull away from Zombie Hershel’s embrace with most of her face pulled off. But no, the only people who die this time around are the ill equipped prisoners.
There was only one wtf moment in the episode. Why, in the middle of Hershel dying/barely hanging on, does Carol need to leave right then to go practice zombie c-sections? Yes, like Glenn, I can see the gross logic of Carol’s plan, but nothing was accomplished by her immediately leaving the side of her patient to go play baby doctor. It’s not like Hershel was giving her pointers as he dramatically died. She just kinda.. walked off. More or less so that Lori would be the one to give Hershel mouth to mouth, but in an otherwise stellar episode, that choice was glaringly wrong.
Guesses on who is spying on them? I’m going with Merle. Merle!