OMG. Auuuuugh. What. Huh. Whew. Whoooof.
Well then, zombiefans, that was quite the episode, eh? Nonstop, high stakes, action-packed adventure with just a touch of human sentimentality? Now that’s the Walking Dead I know and love. I was worried this whole episode was going to be a shoe-leathery analysis of Rick’s Carol-banishment, but they sort of skimmed right over that (at least until next week when Daryl confronts Rick and then sets out to find his lost lady-love, right?) (I watch screeners so I don’t get to see AMC’s "Next On." Tell me if I’m right.)
Speaking of screeners! My link was sort of janky during the beginning of this episode (I know, I know, consider my privilege checked) so I didn’t catch the name of the very important flu-victim with the prison-rigged intubation system so we’ll just call him Bagged Guy.
Onwards! What did we learn tonight? Lizzie proved to us that zombies can be treated at least a little like pets, if we say "Here, boy," and try to lure them away from our friends. Rick finally realized that Carl is grown up enough to be treated like a grown up, or at least a zombie-fighting partner when the prison is under duress. And Hershel learned that he’s a hardcore bad-ass. Right on, Doc.
Despite his best efforts keeping patients like Bagged Guy alive, the flu is taking out humans faster than Hershel can save them. Maggie’s terrified about Glenn but her father insists that she needs to stay outside the quarantine and keep the prison safe. We all have jobs to do, Maggie, and this one’s yours. You keep the perimeter intact and Lizzie will read all of Tom Sawyer by nightfall. Do your jobs, ladies. Hershel’s job, of course, is taking care of all the sickies, feeding them elderberry tea and trying to keep their spirits up. As the invalids start dying, Hershel insists on wheeling the dead bodies away from the other patients so the living won’t be scared or give up the fight when they see their fellow Cellblock A denizens turn into zombies. The good Doc visits his Hippocratic brother Caleb. Caleb fears he is endstage and he’s not going to make it. He warns that the flu is going to start killing, and fast – it’s time to make sure all the sick people are shut in their cells, because they’re going to start dying en masse and turning into zombies faster than Hershel can remove the bodies.
Rick returns to the prison alone and tells Maggie that Carol was the murderer so he sent her away with a car full of supplies. He does a quick morality check with Maggie to see if she would have done the same thing, and seems satisfied that she agrees with his actions. Rick quickly heads to the sickbay to tell Hershel about these latest developments, and catches the Doc just as he plunges a knife into a dead man’s brain. Hershel explains that he doesn’t want to terrify the other patients so he’s preventing the inevitable zombie-turn away from their eyes. As the recently-departed Mr. Jacobs shared with him just yesterday, Steinbeck wrote, "A sad soul can kill you quicker, far quicker, than a germ." Hershel is determined to prevent any more sad souls, even as he shuts his patients into their cells, alone. A man of faith, he still believes there’s a reason for everything that’s happening. And this is his test.
Hershel saves a dehydrated Sasha by hooking her up to an IV. She comes to and chides him for being so stupid and for endangering his own life to save the patients. But because he’s so stupid, he’s also a hero. Hershel grins.
Rick and Maggie try to reinforce the perimeter fence, but the zombie herd is getting too big to control. A shot rings out inside the prison, and Rick tells Maggie to go see what’s going on. She warns him that he can’t save the fence alone, and runs off. Rick fetches Carl, who finally gets the chance to prove to his dad that he should be allowed to carry his gun all the time: The zombies break down the fence and surge into the courtyard and the two Grimes men must mow the walkers down with machine guns. Conveniently, the survivors keep their weapons armory right outside by the fence, which seems like a really poor choice due to rain and rust and whatnot, but at least their location allows Rick and Carl to go all Call of Duty on the zombies.
Inside the prison, the shit’s going down. Glenn hits the endstage and starts choking on his own blood upstairs while the patients are turning into zombies on the floor below. There’s a mini zombie massacre downstairs while Lizzie leads Bagged Zombie away from Glenn. Hershel runs upstairs to help Glenn and stops to grab Caleb’s weapons. Unfortunately, Caleb is already a zombie so he takes a knife to the brain. Rest in peace, Doctor Caleb S. Hershel makes sure Lizzie and Another Little Boy are safe in their cell and then borrows Lizzie’s zombie-luring techniques to dispatch another walker away from the children’s view. He realizes the only way to save Glenn is to snag the intubation bag off of Bagged Zombie and is rescued by Maggie’s sharpshooting techniques since she busted her way into Cellblock A once she realized her father and her lover were in danger.
Hershel bags Glenn and tries to keep him alive. Rick and Carl sweep through the pile of dead, decaying zombies and make sure they’re all double-dead. It’s all going to be okay, because the antibiotics brigade finally arrives. Bob, who was once an army medic, helps Hershel administer the much-needed medicine and it looks like they’re turning a corner – Glenn makes it through the night and there haven’t been any other deaths. Hershel tries to read his bible but breaks down. When he recovers, he’s a super-optimistic bad-ass. No more sad souls. Everything’s going to be okay, even if Rick wants to be a farmer instead of telling Daryl about Carol. The former Sheriff even pauses to savor the taste of his freshly-grown beans with his son. All will be okay in Prisonville, after all, right? The worst is over. They have antibiotics and they’ll save all the sick people. They’ve been through hell but now they can get back to surviving. Easy-peesy lemon squeezy, right? Of course.
But wait! Someone’s spying on the prison from just outside the fence! The spy wears an eye-patch and the strong shoulders of a man we used to know! OH HOLY SHIT. The Governor is back. Just when Michonne decided to stop tracking him, that damn guy has returned to haunt the survivors. Go away, Governor! Go find another group of people to terrorize! Let them recover and read some trashy magazines for a little while at the very least!
Last Week: Letting Go, and Then Some