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The Walking Dead - Infected - Review and Discussion

Summer vacation is over for Rick and his group. We saw Rick come back in this episode, but not in the way the phrase is often used on this show. Instead of coming back from insanity or inhumanity, Rick came back to his insane world. As the new Woodbury characters our group has become closest to got picked off one by one over the past couple of episodes, Rick has been struggling with the reality that he can’t hide in Hershel’s garden forever.

We got some answers – and some new questions – on the sickness. Our prison group thinks it’s the flu, rather than a mutated version of the walker fever. Thank you Drs. Hershel and Subramanian. As the doctors explain, contagious illnesses like this often start with pigs and the birds and spread to humans. I’m wondering though if the worms that Rick was feeding the pigs are significant, and whether the fact that one of the walkers by the fence had the same symptoms as Patrick is something we should be remembering for later. Could this be something transmitted by the walkers, maybe spread to the group because they’ve been congregating close to the fences? The earlier season’s cautionary measures of making sure the blood doesn’t touch the living seems to be totally gone now, and it’s not uncommon for someone to emerge from a fight covered with walker blood.

We also now apparently have a saboteur, or at least someone causing some trouble for an unknown motivation. Perhaps it’s someone (or someones) like Clara who has been pushed too far – beyond the point of coming back?

Saboteur?

Apparently the reason walkers have stopped spreading out and have become more aggressive about pushing in at the fences is that someone has been feeding them. A possible suspect is the little girl Lizzie, but that seems a little too obvious. [Disclosure – I’m probably wrong on this as I was guilty last season of overthinking whether it was Milton burning the walkers.] The exchange between Rick and Clara, in which she tries to lure him into a trap to feed him to her walker husband, now appears to have been foreshadowing for the closer-to-home threat the group now faces.

In addition, we have an unknown person or persons who murdered the flu-infected, including Tyreese’s new love, Karen, and burned them in secret. Was it the same person? Possibly, but to me, the person feeding the walkers feels more like a Clara, someone who has lost his or her sanity and is humanizing the walkers, or bent on self-destruction. The person who killed the sick feels more like a Shane, someone who believes in doing whatever it takes to survive.

The group is now going to have to face the challenges of managing a larger community, rather than the small tribe that functioned under what Rick made clear was NOT a democracy. The last time this group’s unity fractured under the input of the many was when it was at odds over what to do with Randall, the kid from the enemy group they feared would lead danger to their door if they released him. The group is broken, Daryl had said at the time. This time around, as part of the council Daryl won’t be able to retreat to his own private space and let others deal with the issues, so this should be an interesting exploration of Daryl’s character growth.

Carol Now vs. Carol and Sophie

Carol is back in a motherly role – left caretaker for two young girls, Mika and Lizzie Samuels, after their father was killed by walkers. We see a glimpse of Carol’s new mothering style, and it’s interesting to take a look back at the Carol and Sophia was saw in the first couple of seasons and compare it to who Carol is now.

Carol in earlier seasons seemed weak. She continued on in an abusive relationship despite the effects it was having on her and her daughter. She loved Sophia, no doubt, but was passive in protecting her – letting others take charge when Sophia was in danger. In fact, we never saw Carol going out on a search team to look for her daughter. Mika said about Lizzie, “She’s messed up. She’s not weak.” That also pretty much defines Carol as she used to be.

Everything changed for Carol when she learned Sophia had died and been turned into a walker. The Carol we’re now seeing is one who cares deeply about teaching the children to protect themselves – so much so that she’s willing to deceive their parents and go against the will of Rick and the group. She’s taught Lizzie and Mika to stab people who have died in the head, and she’s willing to let Lizzie do it to her own father when Lizzie asks. I’m not sure I approve of her asking Carl not to say anything to Rick, though. She’s doing what she needs to do and believes is best for the children, but I don’t think she should have asked Carl to lie to his father.

Michonne

We saw a rare glimpse of vunerability with Michonne this episode. After months of being part of the group, she has fully acclimated and seems finally ready to face whatever trauma she had gone through before we met her.

I’m looking forward to seeing more of her story. Did she lose a child? Is that how she became so shut off? We still haven’t learned what exactly her relationship was to the two walkers she was dragging around when we first met her. The only thing we know is that she had known them previously, and she had told Andrea, “they weren’t human to begin with.”

Other Thoughts

- Tyreese lost someone he cared deeply about this episode. His character was disappointingly underdeveloped last season, but this change could lead to an interesting arc for him. One thing we learned about him last season is that he admittedly has a temper.
- How cute was Glenn taking Maggie’s picture as she was sleeping? It was a nice touch of normalcy in an otherwise very dark episode.
- One of my favorite scenes was between Daryl and Rick when Daryl tells Rick he’s earned his vacation and tries to get him to stop blaming himself. “For what it’s worth, you see mistakes. I see when the shit hits, you stand there with a shovel.”
- To me, the most suspenseful moment was when the fence was about to break. The outbreak in the prison was a strong contender, but I was prepared for that. The fence for a moment looked like it was going to lead to a tragic second act – and I cared about all of the characters standing under that fence.
- It was a heartbreaking moment when Rick was murdering the piggies and breaks down as he is once again covered in blood. He just can’t escape his fate.
- I hate seeing animals die. The rat in the opening scenes was gruesome enough, but the piggies did me in. They were so cute!

I think this was a strong episode, heavy on action, that continued to set up the season. It was suspenseful, scary and heartbreaking. So what did you think? Are you excited about this season yet?

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