After last week’s season premiere of The Walking Dead I had a host of questions for how the show would progress and whether or not I would continue reviewing this show on a weekly basis. I have a few answers now… obviously, the latter question is answered by sheer virtue of you being able to read this… the former questions, although far less tangible, were also answered… how is the show progressing? I would have to say, very well… very well indeed.
This series has had a habit of giving us phenomenal premieres and finales with a host of people standing around and yelling at each other in between… so far, the second episode has retained much of the pace and sense of dread and danger that were on display last week, yet not having that feeling of “been there, done that”. The story felt fresh, it felt natural, and completely in line with both what has come before it on the show as well as lining up more and more with the source material and still managing to surprise those of us who may know more about what is to come than others. The “Mazzara effect” is in full swing.
Sick, the second episode of the third season, opens immediately following the events of the premiere… after chopping off Hershel’s leg, Rick and company look up and see five prisoners who have been trapped in the cafeteria for ten months. The convicts have no idea of what has been happening outside of their walls and are not pleased with their new companions. Tomas (Nick Gomez) is the apparent leader… or at the very least, the biggest asshole. He wields the one gun among them and sticks it in the faces of these strangers who have barged in and immediately lopped off the leg of some old Santa looking guy, which in turn gets a number of guns and a crossbow in his face.
Undeterred by some jackass with a gun, everyone rushes to get Hershel into one of the cleared out cells and do their best to staunch the flow of blood coming from Hershel’s nasty stump. That about sums up this episode and the dynamics at play in Sick… prisoners and Hershel’s leg, or lack thereof. The other element to this episode, and I believe where the title comes from, is Rick’s mental and moral descent… I would not necessarily consider him to be well… but more on that later.
Unlike previous episodes (*cough* first half of season two *cough*), Sick manages to deliver a situation and resolve the conflicts within one episode. As I mentioned in my review of Seed, Mazzara is bringing more of a television sensibility to the show as opposed to Darabont’s film sensibility. Will this strategy pan out in the long run? I believe so.
Once Tomas clams down and Hershel is somewhat stabilized, we are then introduced to the other prisoners (more on them in a little bit) and are given somewhat of a tour of the cafeteria and a few other sections of the prison. What the prisoners refer to as “a little food” is like manna from heaven for Rick and the group. They haven’t seen this much food since all of this started and immediately, after a few more bouts of yelling at each other with guns in faces and lines such as “we’ve spilled blood”, a deal is struck… both groups will split the food 50/50 and our group will help the prisoners clean out another cell block for them to live in. Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned.
We also get a few moments of levity throughout this episode. I could not help but laugh at the prisoner’s lack of understanding of what has been going on… Oscar (Vincent Ward) wondering why his lady hasn’t come to visit him and Tomas asking if her could use somebody’s cell phone to call his parents. Lori and Carol manage to crack a few jokes with one another, and the scene of the prisoners trying to take out their first undead prison style. Although Rick is very explicit and very clear about how to take out a zombie, take out the head, not a single one of these toughs takes the advice. Instead, we are given a wonderful scene of five guys shanking, kicking, and stabbing to little and no effect, and a look of “what idiots” on the faces of T-Dog, Rick, and Daryl. These are not the brightest stars in the galaxy.
Sadly, in what is another stand out zombie scene, a walker that Big Tiny (Theodus Crane) knocks down (pic above) manages to slip his hand off and out of a pair of handcuffs and attacks Big Tiny with a huge scratch on his back from the bloody bone protruding from where his hand was a few moments before. Everyone freaks out… Big Tiny doesn’t want to die… and with a name like that and the persona of gentle giant he seemed to be taking, I don’t want Big Tiny to die… but Tomas feels differently, and takes a pick axe to Mr. Tiny’s head and repeatedly pummels his noggin until there is little but Jello left. In that one moment we see all of the aggression and violence we need to know everything about Tomas… he will be a problem.
RIP Big Tiny… we hardly knew ye…
Meanwhile, Lori loses track of Carl again… but this time Carl has found the infirmary and got enough supplies to help Hershel. Lori chastises him, Carl yells back, Beth castigates Carl for talking back to his mother, and Carl runs off. Lori and Carol chat… we find out that Carol has become Hershel’s protege and will assist Hershel in the birthing of Lori’s baby (aka Little Shane) if Hershel does not survive. Rick makes an appearance at one point and pulls Glenn aside in order to give him a pair of handcuffs to secure Hershel in the event of his death and impending resurrection… and while he is there Lori manages to slip in a quick reminder that she is a crappy wife and shitty mother… at this point, Rick is not disagreeing with her.
This is where we begin to see what is going on in Rick’s head… when Lori asks him what options they have for what to do with the prisoners, he answers, “kill them”. She agrees and he responds with a rather cavalier, “well you say that now…”. Obviously a reference to her egging him on to kill Shane only to be rebuked immediately after doing exactly what it was that she said she wanted. Rick’s further slide into dark emotional territory comes as the prisoners and our group start clearing out that other cell block.
In the midst of a battle, Tomas first takes a swing at Rick with his axe (or hatchet, or knife… can’t recall which) then literally throws a zed onto Rick. As the two stand off after the battle and Rick calls him out, Tomas states very simply… “shit happens”. Rick agrees… and promptly cleaves Tomas’ head with his machete. OK… now this scene and this moment were pure television gold. Pure tension… and the tension is relieved with a quick blade to the skull. I was reminded of the showdown in S2E8, Nebraska, between Rick, Dave, and Scrawny Tony… when push come to shove, Rick doesn’t abide bullshit and will take you out.
To that point… Andrew (Markice Moore), another of the prisoners who I believe, for reasons I will go into in the spoiler section, was probably Tomas’ prison bitch, sees the writing on the wall and decides to get the hell out of Dodge and away from these new badasses… so he runs… and Rick follows. This may be the most harsh thing Rick has yet done on the show, and I’m including knifing his best friend in that assessment… when Andrew runs into a closed exercise yard full of zombies, Rick simply closes the gate on him and tells him that he better run. We can hear the screams and munching noises as Rick looks on and turns away. Damn…
Now to deal with the remaining prisoners… but before we get to that, let’s check in on Hershel… oh no, he’s stopped breathing!! Quick Lori, give mouth to mouth to a guy who you know will become a zombie once he dies!! She does… and he leaps up and goes for Lori! Honestly, this scene scared the shit out of me and caused me to yell at my TV… and that is not an easy accomplishment, so kudos to this episode for that. Fortunately, Hershel’s eyes are still nice and human and Lori actually saved his life… well done stupid lady.
While all this has been going on, Carol has talked Glenn into helping her out. She has never actually helped anyone give birth and feels that she may end up having to deliver Little Shane via C-section, so why not get a female zombie to practice on? The nice part of this scene is that Carol finally seems to have a purpose beyond mourning the death of Sophia and flirting with Daryl… she is making herself useful which is very cool. Plus… we are given another mystery for the Scooby Gang to investigate… someone was watching Carol through the fence from behind some trees. Who was that? There are many possibilities… I guess we will have to find out another time.
In the beginning of this episode we had five prisoners… by this point we are down to two. If this had been season two (*cough* Randall *cough*), this arc would have played out over four episodes or so… instead, first we had five prisoners, now we have two… and who are these remaining prisoners? First is Axel (LewTemple), a good ol’ boy in the pokey for some B & E and a love of pharmaceuticals, and Oscar, a guy who simply does not beg for his life. As a comic reader I can say I know Axel… he is a known quantity… Oscar not so much. I have no clue what he is about, and I can’t wait to find out.
Finally… Rick and Lori have another relationship conversation… or rather, Lori tries to talk to Rick and he coldly places one hand on her shoulder and tells her that “we appreciate what you did” in reference to saving Hershel’s life… and walks away. Again… damn…
So in a matter of a day, Rick has killed a host of the undead, chopped off Hershel’s leg, stuck a machete in Tomas’ head, and stood by to let Andrew become zed food. Rick is not quite the same Rick we knew in seasons one and two… this is the outcome of the Ricktatorship we were promised at the end of the second season’s finale, and it must be playing havoc on his mental stability.
Sadly, we got zero of Andrea and Michonne this week. My thought was that because of the title, Sick, we would get more Andrea since she was so damned ill last week… wrong. Instead, it looks like we will get a complete episode of Andrea, Michonne, Merle, and The Governor next week… and I could not be more thrilled. New characters, new locations, new drama…
Also, before I sign off and get into a few comic spoilers, I wanted to let you all know that I will be a guest on The Walking Dead’Cast with Jason and Karen next week discussing S3E3, Walk With Me. It should be a great deal of fun and I would suggest joining us for a live chat while we record the podcast next Monday, October 29th at 4:30 PM PST. Just follow this link and join in on the conversation. And I promise… no politics! I will, however, try to talk Karen into singing a duet with me…
Now… enjoy the promo of next week’s episode and if you are a comic reader, enjoy my thoughts on the comic vs. the show after the clip… but be forewarned, I will get into spoiler territory.
Machete don’t text,
Cornelius J. Blahg
Comic vs. Show
You are entering spoiler filled waters… it’s on you if you read something you don’t want to.
Let’s get this out of the way now… the prisoners… in the comic we had Dexter (Tomas), Andrew (Andrew), Axel (Axel), and Thomas (?). They changed the name for Dexter so as not to get it confused with the show and changed his race. Also, this whole angle of the arc is moved forward. The “get out of our prison” and confusion in the zombie fight story happens much later and after, what I’m assuming is a now defunct story line, the great murder mystery when Hershel’s non-existent (in the show) twin daughters get decapitated by the non-existent (in the show) Thomas… in addition to slicing Andrea’s face and ear, who is also not in the prison yet.
What do you think… was Andrew Tomas’ lady-man-lady friend? Why else would he have run so quickly? Not that there is anything wrong with that…
The other huge element from the comic is the amputated leg. Last week I wondered whether or not Hershel would get Allen’s arc or Dale’s… we now know… he gets Dale’s, which is very cool because that was an element of the story that I always loved and was saddened when they killed off Dale last season. Now… will Andrea and Hershel begin bumping uglies? Will they make the beast with two backs? Can I think of another phrase to describe what is a rather icky idea for the show yet makes perfectly good sense in the comic? If that does come to pass it better not be in the Hyundai… that car is tainted.
I’m sure I’m missing a number of details in this comparison… but this has gone on long enough. I want to quickly take this time to thank everyone who has been reading… especially Grace and Tom… I need the occasional kick in the rear to write something up and Tom gave me a good one yesterday. Remember… listen to me next week on The Walking Dead’Cast and keep reading the reviews… this will definitely become a weekly thing.
Oh yeah… I am so Team Carl!