The Walking Dead heads into "Sick" territory in this season's second episode [SPOILERS]

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

Previously: The Walking Dead returns, now with increased moral abandon! [SPOILERS]


  1. Such a shame that they’d introduce a new staring partner for Rick and then kill him off so quickly. 

    Also, love when Daryl puts his zombie-braining-arrow in his GD mouth. Because if this show about a contagious zombie epidemic had to spend time worrying about vaguely realistic routes of contamination, there’d be no time to go looking for everyone’s favorite post-apocalyptic urchin, Ranger Carl.  

    1. I immediately noticed this as well.  There is seemingly no consistency to the method of infection.  Bites are the classic, but being scratched by a bleeding zombie?  Yes.  Putting a zombie blood covered arrow in your mouth?  No.  

      Also, is the airborne variant different than the bloodborne one?  Would a walker who was infected by the airborne variant pose the same threat to a survivor?  

      I’m really over thinking this, but going to the CDC was my favorite part of this show.  I like the answers.  

      1.  Uhm, y’all missed the memo, I guess. They show it in the flashback at the opening of every third season episode:

        There is no infection or, rather, EVERYONE is ALREADY infected. Whatever makes people into zombies is inside everyone. This is why when Shane killed that kid at the end of Season 2, he came back as a zombie despite no bite. This is why when Rick killed Shane and then had family time with his son, Shane got up as a zombie.

        EVERY dead person comes back as a zombie if their brain is intact. That’s part of the horror.

        I presume (because they say this explicitly in the comic) that the reason zombie bits are so horrible is when a rotting dead thing chews on you, it is not antiseptic and it will kill you the old fashioned way most times.

        So this whole thing of “Don’t get the blood on you, etc” is misguided. This isn’t 28 Days Later. This is the horror show where all of our dead come back every time from now on.

    2.  Yeah, and they are now killing zombies like they were potato chips.  In that scenario, why not stick the guy in a cell and see what happens.  the Scratch thing was a wrong idea the had last season after people that had not been bitten turned into zombies.  Rick then told everybody that everyone is infected so there was not reason someone would have to get bitten.

      Its like the writers didn’t reread last season before writing this one.

  2. Everybody is already infected with the zombie disease. The “infection” that they’re worried about is the fast-acting type caused by the various pathogens present in the zombie mouth. A little dried zombie blood in your mouth is fine apparently.

    Realistically zombie bites / scratches probably aren’t any more likely to cause such a bad infection than what you’re likely to get by a particularly nasty knife wound, but suspension of disbelief is already a pre requisite for a show with zombies in it.

  3. I think that’s exactly how you’re supposed to feel, compare Rick’s leadership, as an allegory, to that of a nation like the United States.
    For instance our president is doing many similar things to people around the globe that are deemed too dangerous to the safety of American citizens and troops abroad.

  4. I’m surprised Tomas lasted as long as he did; that dude was asking for an unpleasant death.  He got it!

    And I thought that chasing the running prisoner was unwise, and trapping him in with the walkers was not very nice.

    But then again, you can’t leave a potential enemy in your Green Zone: zombies are deadly, but dumb.  A dedicated human adversary could cause plenty of headaches…so he’s got to go.

    Luckily everything is working out for our plucky band. I predict smooth sailing from here on out.

  5. Yeah, I love this show but it clearly has some problems.  I think its clear that when someone acts in a stupid way that leads you to think they threaten the group you start to hope that they will be the next ones to die.  But Lori and Carl are the biggest liabilities to the group in terms of emotional weakness and sheer stupidity and yet they seem to constantly survive without much more than a scratch.  Meanwhile the most smart, reasonable, and balanced people seem to get their guts ripped out pretty often.

    All of it has lead ot this dynamic where Rick is doing stupid things to defend the weak links in the group

  6. Yeah, not sure if I’m confused or if the show’s writers are.  Once it had been established that everyone’s infected, seems to me that the threat of a zombie bite is reduced to that of any other festering wound in a world without antibiotics.  So it kind of made sense to chop off Hershel’s leg, but not to turn that huge black dude into cererbral pulp:  his scratch was certainly survivable (Hadn’t T-Dog had one like it?)

  7. It seems like the writers are asking us to come to our own conclusions as to the exact nature of how the infection spreads, which is pretty lazy. I’m going to go with it being zombie saliva which accelerates the infection, that way we don’t have to trouble ourselves with wondering why nobody cares about all the arterial spray in their mouth/eyes whenever somebody brains a walker. ‘But Blitzkrieg, in that case why would they be worried about a scratch?’ Oh Christ I don’t know, because.

    1. Also, if a zombie is metabolically active (arterial spray)  it should be killable, but if they should only be able to ignore a chest wound if they are NOTLD shufflers.

      “28 Days Later” was the worst for having a virus that was supposed to be fantastically contagious but everyone ignored the blood spatter.

      Anyway if everyone is infected, it’s easy to spin all sorts of theories about virus mutation.  It would probably be more realistic if infection from the bite was random based on what viral strain is involved.

  8. Like I keep saying, the main weapon should be .22 rifles, but that would make everything too easy. 

    Daryl’s crossbow is certainly useful for bringing the silent death, but it’s NOT a melee weapon.  And even if he were taking it into fights like he does now, he’d have a backup weapon like a long chunk of gas pipe, tomahawk, or a big chrome wrench.

    They should be collecting all the riot shields they can find and focus on the coordinated use of weapons like the pike, billhook, and Norman ax.  

  9. I guess they’re all going to Zombie up after they die but getting bitten accelerates the process. At least that’s the comic book’s explanation. 

  10. I pinged that little mean dude, Andrew, as a problem right away – he seemed to be Tomas’ flunkie, and was definitely looking for excuses to be aggressive.  He tried to make a move against Rick & Co. after Tomas was offed – he needed to go, the little sneak.  Poetic justice just leaving him to the walkers.  I think that it would have been smarter to sound out the group dynamics a bit, and get the follower guys (Tiny, the bald dude and Mr. Moustache) to join them if they were inclined to cede control to Rick and not cause trouble.  They seemed not very smart, but not inclined to power struggles and could be useful.  Oh well – I was rooting for Maggie to put Herschel down when she was doing her teary talk.  I’d certainly want to go out quickly rather than succumbing to either gangrene or walker-itis if I were Herschel.

    1.  I think also Rick had to go after him for mere practicality.  Even if he was completely innocent… he ran off, for all Rick know he’d open a door to a herdful of contained walkers, or manage to get back to the cell and do some harm to the others (even if they’re behind a locked door, one of them might have done something unexpected like try to make it to the infirmary or go visit the field to collect a walker specimen).  

  11. Am I the only one who feels the show lost all its cool somewhere during the second season? The incredibly drawn-out soapiness of all those “interpersonal relations” and “issues” killed it off for me. Such a shame, another promising HBO series bites the dust once the script committee decided that it has promise but it needs “spicing up.” (Read “Beverly Hills 22010 with zombies.” or alternatively “we’re telling a universal human story here (or rather a full spectrum of all possible human stories), it doesn’t really matter it’s got man-eating zombies it it”)
    Being a pretentious prick, I still consider Dead Set the final word on the recent zombie revival thing. The rest is exploitative dross for the great unwashed always slow to catch up. /bows and exits followed by derogatory jeers and heaps of assorted rotting vegetable matter

    1. *AMC, not HBO. I agree this show fell off sharply. It becomes more evident when I watch a new episode of Homeland (excellent) on the same night as the new Walking Dead episode.

      1. Fell off?   The lame interpersonal stuff peaked in the first season and now is way down after the death of Shane and now that there are actual Zombies in every episode and its not just an over-dramatic farm chore show.

  12. Soooo, did they give the two last convicts half the food as promised or did they take all the food?

    Did they lock them in the cell block? Or did they give them keys to get out the other side? 

    How come these moron convicts never ventured out of the cafeteria in ten months? They cannot possibly be that stupid.

    1. The remaining convicts are hiding something, that was made plain just before Rick and Daryl marched them off to their new cell block.  I suspect the moustachioed man is the real ring leader.  I also suspect the inmates were quite aware of the fact that civilization no longer exists.  As for the rations, I’m sure the amount the prisoners recieve will be commencerate to the size of their group.  For now. 

      After this last episode, I’m rather curious what happened during the time we didn’t see our intrepid travelers.  Why is Rick so detatched from Lori?  There’s few things less than productive in the zombie apocolypse than holding onto a grudge, so I’m thinking it can’t be because she had sex with Shane when she thought Rick was dead.  Even IRL, that’s just selfish stupidity to believe it’s a moral failing for your partner to move on after you’ve gone from this world.

  13. 1. Since boingboing turned me on to the comics years ago, I can’t believe so many people commenting here appear not to have read them. If you haven’t read them and have any interest at all, you need to pick them up.

     2. The airborne virus has to be the source of the infection because the first person to come back couldn’t have died from a bite. So the bites just seem to act as a catalyst. The only real consistent thing between bites vs. scratches (stabbed by a bloody stump?) is that there needs to be direct contact with the blood stream. Lots of things get into the blood via surface, eyes, mouth etc.. but whatever the catalyst is doesn’t seem to be one of them. Perhaps there is just a certain concentration needed for the victim to die.

    3. Rick isn’t holding anything against Lori. He’s dying on the inside from constant worry, the need to appear strong and having to make decisions that the group refuses to consider. He’s becoming a zombie, not a divorcee.

    1. Why don’t I read the comics? Because I’m enjoying watching the TV show. Why would I commit spoilercide on myself? I didn’t read 2 or 3 of your post because it probably contains spoilers, the biggest 1st world problem of this new century.

      1.  4. My comments contain no spoilers, including the following:

        5. The comics contain no real spoilers at all. The show has deviated that much. It actually makes watching the show more exciting for me, because you never know when they’re going to vaguely follow the comic, or kill a character on the show who’s still alive in the comics. I’d suggest reading all the comics before watching the show.

  14. Thomas established himself as a psychopath when he killed Big Tiny. Rick wasn’t thinking they were on the same page, he was summing him up and made the decision to kill him then. Thomas’ ambush on the party was planned with Andrew, thus their eye contact right before it went down. I felt that there was a really deep exploration of the Hobbesian State of Nature/State of War as well as buddhist concepts in this episode. Rick killed Thomas with ‘righteous fury’ yet unattached and without anger. This is the model of a warrior king. He also had to kill Andrew because they were in a state of war, there could never be peaceful resolution at that point. Rick had the wisdom to act on that in an instant. But unlike the slaying of Thomas, he allowed himself to get attached to the killing of Andrew and succumbed to cruelty. The killing of Thomas did not trouble him, it was the killing of Andrew. That’s what I took from it.

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