The Walking Dead has never shied away from killing off characters or intense and gross visuals, and last night's epic episode was chock full of both. After last week’s episode that entirely took place at Woodbury, this time we transitioned back and forth between both settings. I found this to be an effective device as it allowed for a break from the intense drama and action that was non-stop in the prison. I think I might have been overwhelmed having to watch and be anxious about Rick and his group in the entire episode. Last night's episode also served to show that the zombies are not the only beings to be afraid of in this terrifying world.
We had a good bait and switch moment where Rick once again proves his distrust of any humans and the fact that he realizes that to protect his group and family, he must keep the group close knit and tight. You could see the internal struggle when T-Dog asked them to allow the remaining two prisoners to join the group. I found myself wanting them to do so, because although they have to protect themselves, I can't imagine how hard it would be to just turn two people away to an almost certain death. Moments later they are reminded how precarious these situations are as they are attacked because of a man they would not help live. They have long learned that it is survival of the fittest in this post-apocalyptic world and this was once again proven to be true and that humans can be just as frightening as zombies.
The day started out to be a somewhat pleasant one in the prison as Rick and team prepared the cars for escape and make plans for where they will begin farming and creating their nice little settled life. In fact, I wondered if we were going to take a step back to season 2 where they had several episodes of harmony without any zombie attacks. Then, there was a moment that they all stopped and looked happy and Rick and Lori even smiled at each other for the first time in weeks, and I knew it was all about to go downhill. The Walking Dead does have an interesting pattern that you always know when something bad is about to happen. The shots begin to get very close-up and hide alternate views of actions, which makes your blood pressure begin to rise wondering what is lurking (literally) around the corner.
Then the herd is released and in the chaos, Rick realizes there is something more going on here. There is no way the walkers could have just escaped and the sirens could have begun blowing and all of a sudden he puts together the fact that there is another human amongst them. While we saw Rick lock the prisoner in the yard with the walkers in episode 2, we never saw him actually die and we now know to never assume something happened unless we see it ourselves. This was an interesting occurrence because when Rick locked him out, it really was a transformation in his personality that showed he would not trust any humans outside of his group. He certainly was right about that fact, as this particular one inadvertently lead to the demise of Lori. I wonder how much more this will begin to actually change Rick’s personality and if he will distrust the human race, as much as the zombies.
Meanwhile, in a place much less exciting we had to spend some in Woodbury. As I said before, I liked having a place of refuge from the gore, anxiety and fear that occurred in the prison in this episode, but I hope that they start to move the Woodbury story along fairly quickly. All I have heard is how intense it and the Governor is, but really all we have witnessed so far is Michonne being suspicious, Andrea being wishy-washy about leaving and the Governor trying to half-seduce Andrea with some weird mind control tactics and booze. Perhaps, they are trying to set up all the exposition and like I said, this was purposeful in this episode to ensure a back and forth in the type of action, but as of now it feels like a boring place to be spending so much time.
Finally, I have been resisting due to be so traumatized, but I suppose I must move on to the latter half of the episode and the deaths…oh, the bittersweet deaths. T-Dog has been an under-utilized character, but I still liked him and I very definitely did not want to see him go. However, if he had to, I’m glad it was in such a heroic manner that saved Carol’s life. The bite that was taken out of his neck was one of the most gruesome on the show recently and I found myself literally hiding behind my fingers. I am curious as to where Carol’s story is going. We saw her escape, but the group found her hair wrap and assumes that she is dead. This obviously is another device to create some sort of storyline and I wonder if it leads to her actual death? Or to her becoming a zombie? We didn’t see anything after she ran out, so the door is wide open.
Then there is Lori’s death, which was bittersweet. I have never liked Lori and I’m not sure if it is the character or the actress, but I found myself getting a little bit excited when I realized we were watching her impending doom (don’t judge me). However, the way in which it happened was horrifying and more than anything I am not happy about the implications it has for Carl and Rick. She did also have an amazing last moment saying goodbye to Carl as she realized the choice that she just made. It was heartbreaking. I can’t imagine Carl is going to handle it well when the reality and trauma of the fact he had to shoot his mother in the head sets in. I also lost it (yes, I started to cry) when Rick just drops to the ground and is reeling from her death. The fact that they have been at odds is only going to make it harder for him. Then he also now has to take care of a newborn that is probably not even his, with no mother and no food and this just adds another difficult problem in to the mix. It also was interesting that a zombie did not cause Lori’s death. It was the prisoner that made the zombies attack and separated Lori from Hershel and Carol, but in the end it actually was her own child that killed her. It was a horrifying and sad reminder that even in the zombie apocalypse, life does continue and the hardships and tragedies of normal human life can be just as much of a threat as the zombies.
I don’t know where this leaves the group now, with a prison that is overrun and with no supplies for a newborn child. I suspect they will have to go somewhere but the question is where and how many will go? All I do know is that Rick’s hope for a happy and safe place to settle down in has been completely ruined and my heart breaks for him and Carl as they figure out the next plan.