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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Walking Dead 3x02: Sick


Slightly less intense than the premiere, this episode still did a good job of keeping the tension high and providing plenty of zombie-killing action. Even better, it seemed to nip the potential prisoners storyline in the bud. It wouldn't be at all surprising to see the remaining living prisoners pop up again, either as allies or antagonists, but for now, any fears of a protracted, half-season or more struggle between Rick and the prisoners for control of the prison seems to have ended with a well placed machete to the head. Compare this to last season, when a threat to the safety of the group was debated and argued and even after a decision was made, Rick still couldn't follow through, leading ultimately to his showdown with Shane (and several episodes of simmering wheel-spinning). Rick's actions in this episode are a strong sign both of how he has changed and how the show has changed as a result. Rick has become harsher, colder, more inhumane (he can't even be bothered to placate Lori), more Shane-like than ever (though still less selfish and dickish). It's a troubling turn for the character, but chronicling the transformation (along with the narrative expediency it allows) is making the show stronger.

Meanwhile, Hershel struggles for his life, and because we actually care about him (and Maggie), those scenes aren't a total letdown from the action. It also made it clear that the entire group, not just the zombie killing squad, has become more efficient when it comes to living in this world, as Carl manages to retrieve some medical supplies and Carol puts some Hershel-taught medical expertise to work. And by letting Hershel live, at least for awhile, the show does something important: it gives the characters a win, helping make things, however small, however fleetingly, seem a little less bleak and hopeless. That's as important to the show's success as preventing the narrative from stagnanting.

Other Thoughts
Dish and AMC finally reached a multi-year agreement (around 8:46 PM Sunday night, judging by my email), likely motivated by the huge ratings for Walking Dead's season premiere, so I once again have regular access to the show (and I'm very glad I held off on that iTunes season pass). So expect Walking Dead posts every Tuesday, except for the odd week when I can't catch the show right away for whatever reason.

Rick leaving the one prisoner locked in the yard with some zombies was pretty harsh, especially considering the prisoner was more scared than anything, and hadn't just tried to kill him. Yet another morally-compromising decision on his part.

Whacking that guy in the head with a machete, though? Like the guys in the bar last season, justifiable, and pure badass.

I appreciate that the show left unstated the possible bias Rick, as a former sheriff, may have against a group of convicts. Even moreso than everyone else, he might be inclined to be less trusting of them, yet the show wisely let us come to that conclusion ourselves. 

Laurie admitting she hasn't been a good wife or mother: understatement of the year. Still, kudos for the self-reflection. And Rick's awkward shoulder squeeze following  little speech at the end was just painful. Things really are bad between them.

Nice to see Carl accomplish something with a minimum of fuss and without needing to get bailed out. Beth telling him not to talkback to his mother was also a nice moment, but let's hope we're not heading into "mom and surly teen snipe at each other constantly" territory. 

We all knew Hershel was going to wake up, one way or the other, once Laurie started CPR, but it was still a good "make you jump" moment. Mrs. Teebore was fully braced for it and she still leaped off the couch.

Who do we think was watching Carol from the bushes? Michonne and/or Andrea? One of the Governor's people?

Speaking of which (spoiler if you've legitimately managed to avoid ANY pre-season publicity and casting news), I'm starting to think the only reason the show has kept T-Dog around this long is for the inevitable confrontation between him and Merle when Merle shows up again.

Nitpicks: I'll take Carol at her word that the shock of cauterizing Hershel's stump would kill him (though I'm pretty sure doctors did it in the old days all the time), but I'm also not sure that bandages and time are all that's need to stop the bleeding from a wound like that, especially with arteries involved.

Also, once again, why aren't these people killing more zombies? When Carol went out to acquire her "cadaver", why did Glen lure the other four zombies away instead of just stabbing them through the fence?

13 comments:

Anne said...

i'm thinking it was Merle in the bushes watching- it LOOKS like he might show up next episode (which looks like it might be a 100% Michonne/Andrea episode. I hope it's good because i really don't give a shit about Andrea so if her storyline is dragging i'm going to be irritated).

We, of course, liked the big prisoner the best so were bummed when he was killed. Although- i wonder if they know that a bone injury like that counts. where do they drawn the line? i assumed it had to be saliva-related to start the infection because they have to have gotten blood or other bodily fluids in their facial orrifices in the past with all the killing.
i need more info as to how the infection works since they're all already infected.
i would've just locked him in a cell- it would've placated him and his friends and then if/when he did turn it would've sent the message home to the other prisoners that this shit is for real.

Man i don't like Laurie. and Carl- it's pretty awesome that you got all the medical supplies, but still stupid as shit to go by yourself. Let's start using our head here.

Sarah Ahiers said...

What Anne said.
I did really like Carol getting the zomb to practice a c-section. That is smart thinking right there.
But we also commented on Glenn not just killing those 4 other zombies. I mean, at some point, everyone left in the world is juts going to have to kill every zombie, so might as well start where you're holing up. Especially as, since we mentioned in the last episode, using rebar while behind a chain link fence is really smart and about as safe as you're going to get

Blam said...


And by letting Hershel live, at least for awhile, the show does something important: ...

It was actually pretty savvy. We got the drama of him being near death, the poignancy of Maggie's farewell, and the jolt of him coming back — to life, ha ha gotcha, not as a walker despite the reflexive grab at Lori — but the show gets to keep his demise in its back pocket. I don't imagine that anybody watching didn't think, "Sure, Hershel could pull through, but he's old, and this is a hell of a life." The whole backdrop of the series just gets reinforced. All without it feeling cheap, too, so well done!

Lauren Cohan was great in that scene, BTW. Glen Mazzara told EW that he wrote her monologue from personal experience with loss, telling his mother that it was okay to let go, and didn't try to polish it.

Also BTW, I realize that Hershel's younger daughter was partly in shock, but they can't have many good clothes, and actually ripping pants to accommodate him rather than simply pinning some up felt supremely stupid to me.

I appreciate that the show left unstated the possible bias Rick, as a former sheriff, may have against a group of convicts.

Yeah. Carl's obviously come a long way, but I still kept thinking, "Nobody mention Rick was a sheriff now — I'm looking at you, Carl."

Rick's awkward shoulder squeeze following [his] little speech at the end was just painful.

"We're awfully grateful for what you did" is about the most distancing, non-husband thing I can imagine Rick saying to Lori. It's not as though the "we" is him and Carl; the "we" is the rest of the group, casting Lori as the other rather than being in partnership with Rick.

Until then I wasn't entirely convinced that the show wasn't going to have Lori's interpretation of Rick's attitude be a misunderstanding — like they were going to reconcile after she confronted him, with him saying that he didn't know how to be a loving husband to her and still be the dispassionate leader that the group needed, and that it was killing him to stand apart, or something.

I'm also not sure that bandages and time are all that's need to stop the bleeding from a wound like that, especially with arteries involved.

Not a doctor myself either, but it totally feels like bleeding out or not is a determination that TV shows make based entirely on the needs of the plot.

When Carol went out to acquire her "cadaver", why did Glen lure the other four zombies away instead of just stabbing them through the fence?

Maybe "no-brainer" is a poor choice of phrase, but I agree with you. In fact, I hadn't remembered that he didn't kill them — I guess I just assumed that he lured them away, then stuck as many as he could that didn't wander away from the fence.

Blam said...


@Anne: i need more info as to how the infection works since they're all already infected

Ditto. The nearest I can figure now is that they're most if not all going to turn when they die from any cause, but that a zombie bite will [a] infect anyone who hasn't already been infected (since I'm not sure we ever got an explanation as to how everybody did get the virus) and [b] simply kill somebody who's bitten faster, which I suppose is why it was necessary to amputate Hershel's lower leg.

@Sarah: I did really like Carol getting the zomb to practice a c-section. That is smart thinking right there.

Yup.

Teebore said...

@Anne: I hope it's good because i really don't give a shit about Andrea so if her storyline is dragging i'm going to be irritated

I hope it's good because I have narrative issues with the concept of the Governor, but we'll get to that soon enough.

Carl- it's pretty awesome that you got all the medical supplies, but still stupid as shit to go by yourself.

I'm fine with him being stupid so long as his stupidity doesn't risk anyone else. If he wants to go out on his own and gets munched by zombies, well, too bad. At least nobody risked their life to go looking for him or anything.

@Sarah: I mean, at some point, everyone left in the world is juts going to have to kill every zombie, so might as well start where you're holing up.

Right. I get understand why this group isn't making a concerted effort to rid the world of zombies, but if you can easily and relatively safely kill them, why wouldn't you?

@Blam: The whole backdrop of the series just gets reinforced. All without it feeling cheap, too, so well done!

Well said.

they can't have many good clothes, and actually ripping pants to accommodate him rather than simply pinning some up felt supremely stupid to me.

Good point. I should have included that in the nitpicks.

it totally feels like bleeding out or not is a determination that TV shows make based entirely on the needs of the plot.

Heh. I suspect this is more true than we'd like it to be.

@Anne/Blam re zombie bites:

Dr. Bitz and I were discussing that as well, and we figured it's a case of the bite leading to a severe infection that will then kill the person (with the zombie virus they're already infected with resurrecting them), and that cutting off Hershel's leg was a way to prevent the infection from spreading and killing him.

The question then becomes whether there's something inherently/excessively dangerous about a zombie bite that makes the infection worse, or if it's just a case of the zombie having really dirty mouths, thus making infection very likely.

Given the way the big prisoner was more or less just scratched, it stands to reason that there's something about the zombies themselves that carry a dangerous infection, such that even a minor scratch can pass it along, though how Rick or anyone else would know that well enough to know the big prisoner was a goner just from that scratch is a mystery.

(It also raises some questions about the groups interactions with zombies when fighting them - if the risk is simply that a big enough bite will cause a serious, life-threatening infection, that's one thing, but if something as simple as a surface scratch can be life-threatening, then we're back in the realm of these people being idiots for not fighting zombies with better protection/at least wearing long sleeves).

Dr. Bitz said...

Yeah, I'm unsure if the big prisoner was scratched or bit. If the zombies are have a super infection I find it weird that a scratch would do anything. Bites make sense, but a simple scratch? Although, I'm not scientition.

I agree with Anne, though. They should have locked him a cell. If he turns, kill him. That's what I'd want if I got bit. Give me what little life (and what little chance) I have left.

Also, I too don't understand why they don't just kill any zombie that they can if it's safe and easy. Beyond all the logic to it it also seems like an entertaining and cathartic way to pass the time.

I get that Rick and Lori are having difficulties but I think Rick needs to see that there aren't a lot of women in the world right now. She might be a bitch...but beggars can't be choosers!

Teebore said...

@Dr. Bitz: They should have locked him a cell. If he turns, kill him.

Good point. It isn't like they had a shortage of places to lock him up...

She might be a bitch...but beggars can't be choosers!

Between this and the whole "not killing the easy-to-kill zombies" thing, it seems like maybe the virus has destroyed everyone's pragmatism...

Anonymous said...

Interesting point about the infection vector vis a vis Herschel's bite. Maybe that's something that'll get explored further. I never liked the idea of everyone's being infected via airborne walker virus or whatever. It kind of dilutes the dramatic effect of a character's death when you know they're going to come back and have to be killed again. It worked with Shane because of the shock and the implication but repeats will have a lot less impact.

As far as Glenn's not clearing the other walkers at the fence, it does cost money to show someone killing a walker and there were already a lot of walker deaths, so maybe it was budgetary?

Teebore said...

@Anonymous: It worked with Shane because of the shock and the implication but repeats will have a lot less impact.

Good point. Though I thought they used it to good effect with Hershel in this episode, since we knew he'd be waking up either way, just not how. But it'll probably be difficult to come up with fresh scenarios like that regularly.

it does cost money to show someone killing a walker and there were already a lot of walker deaths, so maybe it was budgetary?

Yeah, I'm 95% sure the reasoning is budgetary, but I still want an in-universe answer. Besides, I don't actually need to *see* them killing all the walkers, I just want to know that they have. So if the budget is the problem, for example, when you cut to Carol, overlay a squelching sound to indicate Glenn is killing the others off-screen, or after he leads them away, at some point show him walking back with a pile of dead bodies at the other end of the fence.

Phantomas said...

I was busy and didn't get to post in last weeks thread so this will be kind of a hodge podge of thoughts and comments.

Regarding Michone and her two companions. For the record she has them in the comic as well when she first shows up. She shows up with them at the prison and kills them both as soon as she is let in if I recall correctly. I also seem to remember one of them being her abusive boyfriend but I might be remembering wrong on that.

I like the idea of them being pack mules, makes a lot of sense. I kind of thought that maybe she was using them as camouflage. If she runs into a small pack of zombies she could just put up her hood and walk slowly with them and pass through. Kind of like when Rick and Glenn smeared the guts on themselves in season one but not as messy.

In the comics they stay in the prison for quite a while so I will be curious to see if they stay for longer than just this season on the TV show. One nice thing about how they are plotting the show so far is it keeps people like me who have read the comics guessing as much as people who haven't. Heck probably more.

I seem to recall having more to say but my brain must not be fully awake yet so that will have to do for now. I just need to be more prompt about getting into these threads.

Teebore said...

@Phantomas: I kind of thought that maybe she was using them as camouflage.

I wondered about that too. Like, it wouldn't be enough to keep away a hoard or anything, but maybe the random zombie or two would smell her two companions and not bother getting closer, or something like that.

Mr. Shabadoo said...

Okay, I've been trying to post this since last Wednesday, but my iPhone and iPad refuse to allow me to post it. So here it is, a bit late:

"I might be totally off here, but I thought leaving the zombies in the yard was a great idea. Humans are more dangerous than well contained zombies. So this seems like an awesome "Beware of Dog" sign to keep others out or at least make them pause. Of course it could really bite them in the ass (so to speak) if they have to make a hasty exit."

That is what I was going to say before last night's episode. Of course it you watched the preview for next week it looks like it's going to become a problem for them real fast.

Teebore said...

@Mr. Shabadoo: Humans are more dangerous than well contained zombies. So this seems like an awesome "Beware of Dog" sign to keep others out or at least make them pause.

That's a really good answer. I'm not entirely sure that I would go down that road (I'm a "kill 'em all" type when it comes to zombies), but that's at least a defensible in-story explanation for leaving some of them alive.