Five prisoners survived the zombie apocalypse – until Rick Grimes & Co. came along.
By the end of the hour, only two remained alive.
We quickly get a feel who the leader is, a Latino man in a wife beater I shall call Lead Bad Guy. At first, they think these are rescuers but their hearts certainly sink when they realize the Grimes crew are really out for themselves and rescuers are not forthcoming.
Not that we’re sympathizing with the interlopers, who are criminals. They were just lucky to even be around in non-zombie form.
A guard when the virus starting overtaking the prison locked them in the cafeteria with all the food, which enabled them to survive 10 months. But once Lead Bad Guy is out, he tries to show his feathers: “My house, my rules, I get to go where I damn well please.”
But Rick exerts his leadership and explains the bleak situation and why there are so many dead zombies strewn about. Lead Bad Guy bestows Rick’s crew a small space by the water. But nope, Rick says his team earned the right to stay at the prison because they killed so many walkers to get there – and they freed the prisoners to boot. “We took it, we spilled blood, it’s ours,” Rick says.
He isn’t unreasonable. He says if they are willing to give up half their food, the Grimes gang can help them clear out a prison cell block for themselves. But they have to stay separate. If he even sees them near his team, he will kill them.
In fact, Rick could have just killed them off immediately but tries to maintain some thread of humanity by making this rather tenuous deal.
The food pantry still looks pretty full, a bonanza for the Grimes syndicate. (Rick also gets a whiff at the bathroom. Stinkier than the zombies, obviously…)
Rick & Co. try to teach the five how to kill the walkers, noting that guns attract more walkers and gets them “riled up,” as Daryl said. “They ain’t men, they’re something else,” Rick informs them. They are pretty clumsy at first as the Grimes trio hang back, but the newbies start getting the hang of it.
Moments after Rick says, “Stay in tight formation,” the prisoner nicknamed “Big Tiny” wanders a bit too far away from the group and a walker scratches him. He is likely infected. So Lead Bad Guy hacks him in the head with a maniacal vengeance – his own guy. This definitely gives Rick pause but they keep pushing forward.
A little while later, Lead Bad Guy deliberately pushes a walker on top of Rick, who falls to the floor with a walker on top of him. Smart move if it works – except this walker isn’t all that vibrant and seconds later, Daryl hacks the walker’s head off.
“It was coming at me, bro,” Lead Bad Guy says, disingenuously.
“I get it,” Rick responds, staring at him intently.
Rick, knowing full well Lead Bad Guy is in not to be trusted, kills him in the brain. Another prisoner, after trying to hit Rick with a baseball bat and failing, runs off and gets trapped in a courtyard full of walkers. Wrong move, dude. Rick leaves him behind to be eaten but actually feels kind of bad about it.
The other two survive, the white dude Mac by begging that he’s not violent and neither is the black dude Oscar, who remains steely and ready to die. “Do what you got to do,” Oscar says. Rick shows compassion and keeps both of them alive. Per the original deal, they are left in their own cell block without their leader. But they have each other. And lots of dead walkers to burn.
Meanwhile, one-legged Hershel is unconscious but not turning into a zombie. Rick’s quick leg hacking worked. But will he survive the blood loss and shock? Carol, with only minimal medical training from Hershel, does stop the bleeding on Hershel’s knee. They place handcuffs on him just in case he dies and comes back as a zombie.
At one point, his heart stops and Lori revives him through what seems like a very tepid CPR effort. This is clearly at attempt to make Lori more sympathetic. Near the end of the episode (SPOILER ALERT), Herschel wakes up. He survives! Joy in the Grimes world.
Rick even kind of thanks Lori for saving Hershel later but clearly, a touch of the shoulder and a “we’re grateful for what you did” is not the reconciliation Lori is hoping for. “Maybe there’s nothing to talk about anymore,” she says sadly.
Most amusing moment: when Carl goes to the infirmary (out of camera range), kills two walkers and gets some bandages and meds. Lori castigates him yet again for going on his own. He gives her lip, supporting Daddy Rick. She has no real response.
Carol is later working on a dead walker to learn some medical technique. The camera implies that someone from the outside is spying on her.
Two episodes in and no Woodbury yet. I presume we’ll see the Governor, Michonne and Andrea next week.
My take: another excellent episode, balancing zombie kills, human enemies from within and a likeable character’s revival. The good, the bad and the gory.