Hey, so, what really went on with those plucky survivors during the months we didn't see them? It's understandable that a few months spent in a zombie apocalypse may cause a shift in priorities. But let's just say it: Rick has gone off the deep end, albeit in a very entertaining fashion. When we last left everyone at the end of the season premiere, one of our zombie-fighting friends suffered a bit of a flesh wound, and we met five more possible friends... or living human obstacles.
Spoilers after the jump, so consider yourself warned!
If there was one reigning theme throughout this episode, which was entitled "Sick" (or, as I liked to refer to it, "I Shit a Rick"), it was this: alpha dogs vs. alpha puppies. When we start talking to these five prisoners, they're preciously asking to use a cell phone to call their loved ones. Apparently, the prison guards shoved these gentlemen into the cafeteria and locked the door, and they never conjured up the wherewithal to leave the room for a full ten months. These guys have no clue that the world has been overtaken by a zombie apocalypse. That's adorable! The prisoners are now the most innocent people in the story, even whimsically making a reference to He-Man.
Speaking of He-Man, one of these prisoners, Tomas, has suddenly decided, by the power of Grayskull, that he is in charge of this prison and will defend his turf. This means that Rick will come face-to-face with something he doesn't like: a person who probably won't listen to him. Alpha Dog Rick, meet Alpha Puppy Tomas. At least Rick has Lori's blessing to kill whomever he wishes if it means safety for their group. Lori, I really hope you're serious about that. Though by the end of the episode, he won't really care what you think anyway.
Another person who doesn't care what Lori thinks is her own son, Carl, who believes he has successfully audited puberty, college, and war in the past couple of months and doesn't have to listen to his mom anymore. He doesn't get a whole lot of screen time in this one, except to show that he's got 99 problems and Mom ain't one.
Meanwhile, Hershel is getting everyone seriously upset over maybe turning into a zombie, maybe surviving, but still being short one leg. His older surviving daughter Maggie is ready to let him go and weeps for her father, telling him he can "stop fighting" if he wants. Younger daughter Beth is in another room altering single pant legs. Carol has taken initiative while everyone else frets, doing her best to apply the medical knowledge Hershel provided her up until the point when he stupidly went zombie hunting and ended up one-legged. Because it will be up to her to help Lori deliver her baby, she has stepped up -- big, huge steps -- and taken it upon herself to find zombies on which to practice a C-section, noting "We have tons of cadavers around here." They just have to kill them first, something which she probably chuckled about right before crying in private.
After spending some time in Zombie Killing 101 with Daryl -- which must be so fun! -- the prisoners are taught how to kill zombies by destroying their brains. They must not have realized that brains are found in heads, because Tomas & Crew just pointlessly beat the zombies about the torso. Amateurs.
Rick eventually comes to an agreement with the prisoners, allowing them to claim their own cell block, away from everyone else, but they need to clear the zombies out of it first. Rick, T-Dog, and Daryl accompany them. But then, Big Tiny gets scratched by a walker. On his shoulder, which cannot easily be cut off like a leg. Do they lock him up? Do they take their chances? Tomas steps in, and the Alpha Puppy beats Big Tiny's head to a pulp, establishing that he is on the same callously violent page as Rick. Rick is probably thinking, "Man, that was crazy. I'd never just kill a living person by inflicting a gruesome and sudden head injury. At least I'm better than that."
Later, in another zomb-frontation, Alpha Puppy actually tries to get away with nearly beheading Alpha Dog Rick, then throwing a chompy zombie on him. Rick responds thusly -- by inserting a machete into Tomas' skull. Andrew, another prisoner, runs away to... tell... someone? That Rick killed a guy? Pssssssht, that's, like, Rick's thing now. Rick then chases Andrew through the prison because... he's a witness? Rather than apply swift justice to Andrew, Rick locks him in a pen with zombies, letting them do the dirty work.
Tomas was clearly a direct threat. But Andrew? What the hell did Andrew do to deserve a death sentence? Tattle? To whom? Rick Grimes, I don't even know you anymore! But it's going to be a trip watching your continued descent into madness and murder!
Completely absent from this episode were Andrea and Michonne, but we will be catching up with them next week -- when we also meet the Governor. Shudder.
Photo credit: AMC