Excellent Halloween-time episode, zombie-fans! Lots of creepy undead action on The Walking Dead – a lady walker who rotted into a tree! A girl walker with her leg stuck in a bear trap! And oh-so-many zombie decapitations – and enough talk to terrify us all about how germs can take us all down no matter how hard we try to survive. Are you taking zinc and washing your hands? Because there are sniffles going around and maybe you ought to think about getting a flu shot this year. We just never know when the next superflu is going to invade our prisons.
Where we left off: Someone killed Karen and David, burning their flu-infected bodies with the hope of stopping the infection. Tyrese came to visit his girlfriend and discovered their cremains and now he is all sorts of pissed. We burn walkers but we bury humans! Not cool, anonymous sick-person-burner. Cellblock D seems to be the hotbed of the flu germs. And Rick strapped on his gun again although he’s not so sure he wants to take on a leadership role instead of being a farmer.
Where we pick up: The survivors must dig graves to put the newly dead into the ground. Although, seriously, these bodies are ravaged with the flu-germ and wouldn’t it make more sense to burn the corpses instead of burying them? I know we have a system here where we only burn walkers, but seriously – it would take you a lot less energy to just make a big corpse pile somewhere the smoke won’t blow towards the prison and light up a giant funeral pyre. Then you could save your strength for beating the flu.
Tyrese is double-plus furious that someone would murder Karen. He lashes out at Daryl and Rick and his fury leads to a full-blown fistfight. Rick ends up with a sprained hand and Tyrese has a really nasty-looking swollen eye. Boys, boys – you’re both pretty! But Tyrese demands to know why Rick isn’t using his police skills to track down the killer. Rick counters that they have an urgent crisis to deal with and once the flu is under control, he can start trying to find the killer. Tyrese is having none of this. Bob asks him to see Dr. S but Tyrese won’t stop until he gets Karen and David into the ground. (I mean. They’ve already been burnt to embers. Could you maybe just put them into an urn somewhere?) But Tyrese needs to take his anger out somewhere, and gravedigging seems to be the most nonviolent use of his rage.
Speaking of Dr. S., whose first name is Caleb and who must have a long and complicated last name so they all call him "Dr. S." instead of "Doctor Caleb," but whatever, let’s not go into the semantics of zombpocalypse nicknames – he’s not doing so well. He and Sasha were both Cellblock D denizens and the virus/germ/bacteria (I’m not an epidemiologist) is spreading rapidly through the prison. The Council of Leaders decides to continue quarantining the sick people in Cellblock A, while isolating the very young and vulnerable in an old administrative building. Beth goes into isolation because she’s Judith’s babysitter and that’s her job – everyone has a job to do.
Maggie is distraught that Glenn came down with the flu and she seeks consolation from her sister. "We don’t get to be upset," warns Beth. The prison population needs to maintain order and do their jobs, and Maggie’s job is to keep everyone safe while a brigade heads out to a veterinary hospital 50 miles away to loot their medication. Doc Hershel tells us that animal meds will work on humans, but hopefully the other pre-zombpocalypse humans didn’t know that and overlooked the animal hospital while they were looting and pillaging.
Daryl rounds up Michonne to join the mission, even though he’s wary because she keeps running off to track the Governor and we all know that trail is cold by now. Daryl invites Tyrese but he’s busy guarding the sick-ward to make sure no one murders a flu victim. So Bob joins the posseand Tyrese puts Carol in charge of looking after the sick people. Because Carol cares. She’s different. She will do anything to help the prison-crew survive. Even if that means shunting Lizzie into the Flu HQ and promising that Glenn is really good at tucking people in. Uh, even though some of the sickies have already turned into zombies. Who’s taking out the undead in there? No one seems strong enough to do anything but cough up blood. Although maybe Jeanette, a new redshirt who claims she’s just having an allergy attack, can do something to help? At least until she succumbs to the flu because you’re shoving her in with the rest of the very, very sick people.
And now, let’s talk about these jobs: Rick puts on his imaginary detective hat and gets all CSI over at the scene of the sick-person-burning crime. Carl reluctantly goes into isolation but he’s got his gun back and he knows he might need to shoot anyone who gets sick and dies. That means children – if any of those children die and turn zombie, Carl will shoot them. This poor kid and his psyche never seem to get a break. But we don’t get to be upset, that’s what Beth would say. And Carol goes to fetch water but the ingenious hose and bicycle-wheel pump system they’ve set up isn’t working because it’s all mudded up. So her job is to go outside the prison fences and de-muck the hose. All alone. Surrounded by zombies. Feeling a little guilty about something, Carol? Because it’s so hard to care so much, right? Maybe you also took it upon yourself to try to prevent more of a flu outbreak? Go take those guilty feels and exert them on the hose, you bad-ass.
But more about jobs: Hershel is the only one who feels like he’s not doing anything. He offered to go to the veterinary hospital with Daryl, but they shot him down because these missions always require running and Hershel’s only got one good leg. So he remembers that his wife used to make a tea from elderberries, and doggone it, he’s going into the woods to forage. Carl, desperate for a chance to leave isolation, insists on accompanying him into the forest for protection. It’s peaceful out there in the woods, so peaceful that they don’t even need to waste bullets on zombies who won’t be able to catch them.
When Hershel returns, he’s adamant about trying to help the invalids. Doc S. is down for the count and even though the antibiotic posse will be back in about 12 hours, that may be too late. Maggie pleads with her father but understands his Hippocratic need to help and save people. She reluctantly opens the door, sending her father into Flu HQ with his tea-making supplies. Hershel protects himself with a handkerchief over his mouth and nose, outlaw style. But as he’s tending to Doc S., the man also known as Caleb coughs blood all over his face. Hershel realizes he’s in deep and removes his mask so he can treat as many sick people as he can with his flu-symptom-abating tea. Note to self: Stock up on some elderberries, just in case.
The antibiotic brigade heads towards the hospital, 50 miles away. They take Zach’s car, which makes Bob feel a little squicky. But there’s no time to be squeamish about driving around in dead dudes' vehicles, especially when the dead dude took such great care of his car. Tyresejoins the mission, once he realizes that he needs to try to save his sister. They’re distracted by a voice on the radio – who’s transmitting? And from where? – and as they’re all focused on the radio, they slam into a herd of zombies. And, holy shit, what a throng it is! The largest herd of zombies you ever did see! Why are they congregating around the animal hospital? And why are there so very, very many of them? The posse makes a run for it, aiming for the gaps between the walkers and taking out as many of the undead as they can. Tyrese freezes, so overcome that he can’t even mobilize. It’s almost too late when he surges into action, attacking zombies with all the ferocity he wanted to use on Rick.
Daryl, Michonne and Bob flee into the woods, dispatching dozens of zombies on their way. They get to a clearing and pause as they see two lone walkers emerging from the trees. Daryl gets one, and SURPRISE, there’s Tyrese bringing up the rear. He made it! At the very last minute! He’s exhausted and covered in zombie goop, but at least he’s still alive. So these guys abandoned their car and now they’re in the woods outside of the veterinary hospital and there is a veritable sea of the undead between them and whatever medicine might still be there. Good luck, guys. I’m worried about you.
Back at the prison, Rick notices that Carol’s out there alone, trying to fix the hose. The zombies seem to be distracted by another zombie-attracting gadget they’ve set up on the fence, but Carol makes some loud noises trying to degunk the nozzle and the walkers start to lurch towards our favorite child-caretaker. Rick makes a run for it, saving Carol at the last possible second. He chides her for being stupid, going out there alone. But she insists she had to do it today – because they might not get a tomorrow. Rick pauses, realizing something. Carol takes such good care of everyone, and would do anything she can to save the survivors. "Carol, did you kill Karen and David?" he asks. "Yes," she replies.
Onwards! If Tyrese makes it back to the prison, what will he do to Carol? Will the antibiotic brigade survive? How many flu victims will die in the next several hours? How many more of them are turning into zombies? Is anyone immune? And how well do elderberries work? And are you feeling a little tickle at the back of your throat?
Death toll: At least one flu-victim has turned into a zombie. And the antibiotic brigade massacred dozens of walkers. And we saw eight graves at the top of the episode, plus two more (for Karen and David).
Pull through, Sasha and Glenn and Doc S! You are too important to die! We actually know your names so you’d better make it.
Last Week: A New Threat Infects the Prison