The Walking Dead recap: 'Infected'
Night falls on the Prison. A lone flashlight shines in the darkness. A Walker chews on a rat’s head through the chain-link fence. Someone is sabotaging the community’s defenses.
Welcome to episode 2 of the fourth season where everything is terrible and the points don’t matter! The Walkers scare me to no end, but this mysterious traitor is even more sinister. For now, he or she is faceless and unseen. (S)he acts like a dark, malevolent force as opposed to the all-consuming yet understandable drive compelling the undead. This antagonist is unknowable and surprising, making him or her all the more dangerous.
Who could the Walker Feeder be? We see a glimpse of an arm and hand. To me, the person looked to be a white adult male, but I could be wrong. Even if I am right, the show could have used a PA’s arm for the shot and will later reveal the culprit to be someone totally different.
As Walker Patrick grows into his yearnings for human flesh and brainz, Tyreese and Karen share an intimate moment in the library. Still shaken about Zach’s abrupt death, Tyreese muses over the new reality of friendships and acquaintances. Regardless of your relationships with others, each individual you know now “might as well be the only people in the world.” He then serenades her with “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” expressing his affection for her with the unfortunately titled ballad.
As they leave, Tyreese suggests that Karen “come crash” at his “place,” or hers if she prefers. Karen declines, establishing boundaries in their still growing relationship. It may be the Zombiepocalypse, but it doesn’t mean people have to shack up right at the start of a romance. (Or does it? Discuss!) They part ways heading back to their respective places a.k.a. converted prison cells.
We follow Karen, armed with an eerily similar flashlight. (This confirms that the Walker Feeder is someone with access to a flashlight in the Prison, which could be anyone thus confirming nothing. Excellent.) She stops to admire a child’s drawing. The drawing shows a child and his or her family, the prison, and the Walkers including “Nick.” (Could the dark, malevolent force that is the Walker Feeder be one of the bratty kids introduced in the premiere?!) Karen moves on to the bathroom and washes her face with a pitcher full of cesspool water. (In my paranoid mind, the Prison’s entire water supply is forever tainted by the coughs and spits of pre-zombie Patrick.)
Speaking of our favorite zombified Harry Potter lookalike, Walker Patrick arises at the sound of Karen in the bathroom. Unbeknownst to her, Walker Patrick follows her footsteps into D Block. Just as he is about to lumber into her cell, he is distracted by a loud, choking snore. He is drawn to the sound and finds the mustached man from whence the noise originated. Walker Patrick kneels down and takes a bite out of Mustached Man’s throat. Without a throat, he cannot scream, and Walker Patrick digs into an all-night feast. If a zombie literally ripping out a throat isn’t a deterrent against snoring, then I don’t know what is. (Breathe Right, I think you have your next commercial.)
A few thoughts — did Karen really fall asleep so quickly that she didn’t hear the pitter patter of Walker Patrick’s wet footsteps or the heavy breathing from his undead mouth? Would you not be able to thrash and make a noisy fuss over something like, I don’t know, a zombie eating you? Is the smell of blood and organs not distinct enough to wake nearby D Block residents?
NEXT: Glenn and Maggie make my heart hurt. Rick and Carl have issues with a capital T for teen angst.
The next morning, Walker Patrick continues to gorge on the feast that is Mustached Man’s intestines. Yum. But as he seems to grow bored with the same flavors, he follows the sound of someone coughing elsewhere in the Block — leaving Mustached Man to awake as Mustached Walker. Lovely.
At the guard tower, Glenn keeps watch over the Prison and Maggie, who is asleep in their makeshift tower bed. Overcome with the beauty of the moment, he takes a Polaroid of her. (I’m not sure if it’s a Polaroid, but it’s a really cute, blue camera that will be included on my Christmas list this year.) Glenn leaves for a perimeter check as Maggie manages the tower post. I couldn’t love Glenn and Maggie more in this short, intimate moment. Against all odds and despite differing opinions on how to approach everyday Zombiepocalyptic life, these two found true love. This moment worries me. It worries me a lot. (On this show, momentary happiness equals looming tragedy.)
In C Block, Rick readies his children for the day. He wakes Carl — no more comic book freebies, Carl, you have work to do — and hands off Judith to nanny/babysitter Beth.
Readying herself for another hunt for the Governor, Michonne greets Rick and Carl en route to farming duties. She asks Carl why he doesn’t wear his hat anymore. He replies, “It’s not a farming hat.” With Farmer Rick also comes Farmer Carl, or at least, that’s what Carl wants people to think.
One of the young Grimes’ defining traits throughout the series has been his desire to emulate his father, or more broadly, his father figure. At the start of the Zombiepocalpyse, his father figure was Shane. Soon after, however, it shifted back to Rick. Now that Sheriff Grimes has become Farmer Rick, so has Carl changed from wanting to be a post-apocalyptic gunslinger to a farmer. Nevertheless, just as Rick struggles to maintain his simpler, less gun-friendly identity, so too does Carl struggle with obeying his father’s wishes. Carl is not the bright-eyed little boy he once was. He is an angsty adolescent with more differing opinions from his father’s point of view than he wants to admit. If he had his way, he would be killing Walkers day-in and day-out with his gun at his side. Instead, Rick has put his foot down and taken away his son’s gun. His focus is on farming, not zombie-slaying.
That is, at least, before the proverbial s— hits the fan. Gun shots echo from inside the Prison. Lizzie and Mika — the spunky, bratty sisters from the premiere — run outside alerting everyone of the Walker infestation in D Block. Rick joins Sasha, Tyreese, Daryl, and others to face the crisis. Rick orders Carl to head to the guard tower with Maggie, but since Carl is Carl, he scrambles to the gates. Michonne turns back to the Prison, and Carl opens the gates for her — and a few straggler Walkers. (I swear I could hear the shouts of “Goddammit Carl!” echoing from house to house.) Michonne tries to fend them off but is unable to reach her katana before they pounce. Carl shoots one Walker and Michonne pushes the other onto a wooden spike — but not before she injures her ankle. Maggie descends from the tower, takes out the spiked Walker, and helps Michonne limp into the compound. Due to the commotion in and around the Prison, more and more Walkers group along the fence.
NEXT: We should take D Block and push it somewhere else.
D Block is in chaos: non-essential characters run and scream, Walkers attack even less essential characters, and Rick and the gang do what they do best — kill Walkers. The experienced squad soon clear out the cell block but much damage has already been done. There are many casualties, including at least one child. Tyreese reunites with Karen, who is shaken but unharmed. Carol gets to new guy Ryan and prepares to amputate his bitten arm. Yet on further inspection, she discovers he is also bitten on the neck.
Ryan begs Carol to take care of his daughters, Lizzie and Mika, as her own. She agrees but insists the girls say goodbye to him in person before he dies. Lizzie and Mika return to D Block to be by their father’s side. Ryan urges Lizzie to take care of her younger sister before he succumbs to the bites. Lizzie offers to end her father before he turns. Carol gives her the knife to do it as she taught her in their Storytime knife lesson. Lizzie hunches over her father’s face but chokes. Carol quickly steps in to do the job as Lizzie and Mika turn away, crying. (I know they’re just child actors, but the girls’ overacting puts into perspective just how nuanced Chandler Riggs’ performance is.)
As part of a final sweep, Rick kills another Walker, who we later learn was a sleepwalker named Charlie. According to Hershel and Dr. S (who is hopefully a real doctor and not a vet), Charlie died from a flu that caused him to choke on his own blood. Rick connects the same bloody appearance to a Walker outside the fence, and Daryl connects it to Patrick. With Violet’s illness as well as the sick boar from the woods, we officially have an aggressive swine flu strain on our hands. As any school teacher can attest to, Bob Stookey is right in saying bugs like to run through close quarters. The Prison certainly counts as close quarters. Hershel announces, “We’ve all been exposed.” Anyone could be infected. Anyone could die. Anyone could soon become a Walker. Is anyone freaking out as much as I am?
We get our first real look at the Council in action as they discuss what to do after the D Block infestation. The Council is comprised of Carol, Daryl, Sasha, Glenn, and Hershel. Meeting informally in the library, the Council is much smaller than I expected and much more like a group meeting from previous seasons. The only notable difference is the exception of Rick. While a council member could have died in the Walker Patrick attack, the empty chair at the Council’s table reflects the lack of Rick’s presence in the group’s decision-making process.
Any disagreements in relocating D Block residents and the potentially exposed to A Block/ Death Row are voided as the Council disbands to investigate a passerby coughing. It’s Karen, accompanied by Tyreese, on her way to his cell in C Block. Group politics are tricky but the identification of a sick person during a flu outbreak can make even the most difficult decisions easy to execute. D Block is officially in quarantine and A Block is now Flu Central, starting with Karen as the first patient.
NEXT: I do not like zombies here or there. I do not like them anywhere!
After the Council meeting, Carol finds Lizzie and Mika at their favorite spot by the fence. Carol is straight with them, calling Lizzie weak for her inability to ensure her father’s true death. But Lizzie is upset, brooding over the death of her loved one. She isn’t angry over the loss of her father but the loss of Nick the Walker. My favorite line of the night is Mika’s response to Carol after Lizzie runs off in tears: “She’s messed up. She’s not weak.” If Mika continues to bring the pint-sized sass every week, then I’ll be content with so much focus going to The Walking Dead: The Next Generation this season.
That’s not to say this storyline is not fraught with problems. I understand the need to comfort and educate these young girls after their father’s death, but doesn’t Carol notice the large group of Walkers at the fence? In this case, a cathartic Walker killing spree seems more appropriate than a contemplative walk to pick flowers and stare at already killed zombies. Less talk and more action, Carol.
Don’t even get me started on Rick and Daryl’s insistence on burying the dead over noticing the Walker threat at their door, or rather, fence.) Back from escorting Michonne to C Block, Maggie calls Rick and Daryl over to the fence (finally) where the Walkers are perilously close to breaching the compound. Maggie, Rick, Daryl, Glenn, Sasha, and Tyreese ferociously pick at the Walkers, but it may be too little, too late.
Sasha discovers the remains of the rats fed to the Walkers. The Walker Feeder only whetted the Walkers’ appetite with rat heads, not the full bodies. That’s pure evil! Before the group can speculate further, they rush to hold the fence as the force of the Walkers intensifies. One Walker even manages to shimmy himself higher on the fence. (Walkers are terrifying enough without developing the ability to climb. I don’t think Rick and friends can survive against giant hordes of fast-moving zombies like those from World War Z.)
Combining the brazenness of Sheriff Grimes and the ingenuity of Farmer Rick, Rick devises a plan to lure the Walkers away from the fence. Daryl drives a Jeep and flatbed as Rick creates a trail of bleeding pigs, spraying himself with pig’s blood each time. The plan works, allowing for Sasha and Glenn to reinforce the damaged fence as well as rid of the potentially virus-carrying pigs. Rick kills two birds with one stone, but in the process, he loses the last vestiges of a “normal” life as Farmer Rick.
Although not a significant role to the major events of the episode, the scenes featuring Michonne, Beth, and Judith had a quiet and understated brilliance. I could ramble ad nauseam on how these short character-developing scenes symbolized past, present, and future, stages of womanhood, or some existential brouhaha, but I’ll spare you. I will say, however, the image of a crying Michonne pressing her face to baby Judith is one of my favorite moments of the series.
NEXT: Rick Grimes is dead. Long live Rick Grimes.
With no more pigs to tend to, Rick dismantles the pigsty. Carl meets him to help but Rick refuses. Because Carol apparently knows Carl better than I do, Carl tattles on her to Rick about Storytime/Zombie Hunting 101. (I honestly didn’t think it was that big of a deal. Whatever, Carl, Rick doesn’t care.) Farmer Rick may have been dismayed about children learning to use weapons especially without parental consent. But Farmer Rick is dead. He was a failed project. In a world where people are susceptible to a deadly flu as well as a zombie virus, no one pretend that the threat of extinction, nay, utter annihilation isn’t ever-present.
Rick burns the sty and his pig bloodstained shirt to prevent the possible spread of the flu. Opening his tool box, he returns Carl’s gun and puts on his old holster. Sheriff Grimes isn’t back in full force but parts of him have returned. This is a new composite Rick. Time will tell if he will act as the fair leader he can be or devolve into the Ricktator once more.
Back inside the Prison, Tyreese brings flowers (technically flowering weeds but these are tough times) to Karen’s cell in A Block. The cell is empty save for an unsavory amount of blood splatter. The blood continues out from the cell and past a door to the outside. Tyreese follows the trail of smeared blood to find two bodies burnt to a crisp. He falls to his knees, devastated, as one of the corpses wears Karen’s bracelet. Someone poured gasoline on Karen and the unidentified man and set them ablaze — killing them and their viruses, zombie and otherwise. Is the person responsible the same individual as the Walker Feeder? So many questions remain unanswered!
Questions to consider:
Who is — or was — feeding Walkers and to what end?
What is the cause of the flu virus? Does it matter?
If the pigs were infected, then is Rick infected after his pig blood baptism?
What is the cure for the flu virus, if any?
Who will be infected next?
Will blaming Lizzie for everything be the new blaming Carl for everything?
When will the Governor show up again?
Will Rick return to a leadership role? Will he be good at it?
Can anyone actually survive a Zombiepocalypse? What does that even mean?
When will my heart stop hurting?