Picking up from the last moments of the premier, this episode opens as chaos abounds. The group's plans have gone awry, as Hershel's severed leg bleeds out, and a small gang of survivor inmates clamor to be released from the cafeteria they've been left locked in for months.
Scrambling to keep Hershel from dying, the group have still succeeded in clearing out a section of the penitentiary for themselves to make base at. Now with the new potential danger of the small band of five inmates being let out, we get a Mexican stand-off of sorts, with the defacto leader of the cons pulling a gun after hearing Hershel was bitten, and Darryl raising his bow as the group back out of the area into the newly fortified prison area.
This all goes down in the minute and forty-two seconds before the titles roll.
As the women tend to the physical crises, the men consign the prisoners to a section of the pen away from the group, after they attempt to push their way into cell block C where Rick and the others are setting up digs. Darryl is there, trusty crossbow in hand, to keep things on an even keel. This is when Rick breaks it to the convicts about what has transpired outside in the world. Forming a tenuous perestroika, the survivors band together and decide to sweep out to another section of the prison collectively. But not before Rick lays down the law about who is running the game now, namely himself.
Characters are further developed as we see Carol rise to the occasion, and employ some of the skills Hershel supposedly taught her during the show's hiatus, to deal with the oncoming birth of Lori and Rick's(or Shane's) baby, using a cadaver to practice her Cesarian section technique.
In one of of the episodes two confessional moments, Rick and Lori have a heart to heart discussion about the situation, which finds her admitting her guilt in things concerning their deteriorating marriage , but pledging her loyalty to Rick and releasing him from the moral shackles he wears when it comes to keeping them, and their group, their new family really, safe from harm, whatever it takes. And in this installment? It's going to take a lot.
The other confessional comes when Maggie sits down beside her injured and catatonic father, to tearfully tell him he can let go and drift off, his fight can be over and he is free to find eternal peace. Glen helps stand vigil over her ailing father, waiting for the very real possibility of him not waking up...but rising.
Even Carl is becoming a determined and driven bad ass. At one point he returns with medical supplies for Hershel, and tells of making his way alone to the infirmary in the prison by himself, possibly having brought back what is needed to save Hershel's life, and taking out two walkers along the way.
All this touchy feely stuff is tossed aside for more action when Rick, Darryl, T-Dog, and the cons head in to kick some zombie ass. After a primer from Rick on how to go about taking out a walker, the cons betray their own ignorance when they break ranks and attempt to take down the undead with shanks to the chest and tire irons to the rib cage. We can see the "This isn't going to work" look on the faces of Rick and the others. Demonstrating to the ignorant and unlistening cons once more how to properly dispose of a zombie, the firm order of "No more prison riot crap" is given. This makes the self-proclaimed cons leader bristle, and when the opportunity strikes, he attempts to throw Rick in harm's way. Bad idea, especially given Rick's new found sense of liberty in the name of survival, and before you can say "Monroeville Mall" that uppity prisoner finds himself with a hatchet firmly buried in his not-too-smart brain.
Crowd. Goes. Wild.
As the episode wraps up, the two remaining prisoners are given their own section, and left alone. Hershel stirs awake, free of the fever sickness, and for all intents and purposes safe, after Lori saves his life with some mouth to mouth resuscitation. Rick and Lori start on the road to repairing their dysfunctional and broken relationship. Their son Carl truly begins to become his own Little Man. Carol exhibits a pragmatic inner strength. Darryl pretty much just waves a crossbow around a fucks shit up. Ditto T-Dog. Maggie and Glen keep on keepin' on with the young lovers thing, and Maggie's sister Beth waits for the writers to do something with her character. She's been more underused than even T-Dog.
Andrea and Michonne were nowhere to be seen this episode, but that looks to be changing in a big way with next week's installment. The proverbial shit looks set to hit the fan, as we finally meet The Governor and get a taste of the twisted utopian town he seems intent on putting together and ruling with an iron fist.
And woah. Was that Merle Dixon (Darryl's brother, missing since season one) we see smoking a cigar?
This season really has kicked off with a lot of guts and gusto, and the characters themselves are all becoming stronger, both in the story itself, and on the script's pages. The definition is finally kicking in, and while the soapy aspects that are inherent to The Walking Dead as a story itself remain, they are amplified by big giant doses of plain ole' "bad assness". With the sprawling number of stories to tell between these many people, the series' writers are also handling the juggling act of round-housing the attention quite well. I'm very curious to see where the relationship of Darryl and Carol goes, I'm enjoying the burgeoning reunion of the heart between Rick and Lori, as well as Rick's growing aggressive nature. It's a blast watching little Carl wield a gun and become one of the most level headed members of the group. And boy oh boy I sure am glad they're keeping ole' Hershel around.
Now with the expanding circle getting ready to include The Governor, Michonne, and the return of Andrea (and Merle?) in a big way...Sunday nights have become something to really look forward to for this horror fan.
But all that broadcast TV gore making it through the censors, with crushed heads, torn limbs, gore soaked eyeball torture, and jerks getting machetes to the head? That may be the most treasured of all within my blackened heart. This is the show I dreamed of as a Horror Kid.
And remember, if you live in the Salt Lake City area, you can come down and join me every Sunday (Zunday?) at 6:30 pm at Brewvies Cinema Pub, located at 677 South 200 West. The events are sponsored in part as well by ScreenAnarchy and Fangoria magazine, as well as Rotton Cotton t-shirts, Dr. Volts Comics, and City Of Horror, who are all kind enough to supply the prizes for our weekly trivia get-downs.
See ya next week!
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