Where we left off: The remaining Still Alives managed to secure Cell Block C in a big, scary prison full of zombies. Lori is about to have a baby who may or may not be undead. While the five formation-fighting Still Alives explored the labyrinthine passages of the prison, a walker chomped down on Doc Hershel’s leg. Rick, Daryl, Maggie, T-Dog and Glenn managed to drag Hershel into the prison cafeteria. Rick performed a quickie amputation with a hatchet, taking off the good doctor’s leg below the knee. We got a very fast glimpse of some other living, breathing humans locked in the cafeteria.
Where we pick up: Daryl aims his crossbow at these new alive-people and demands to know who they are. The five prisoners slowly walk out from what appears to be the prison pantry. One of them pulls a gun and T-dog joins the stand-off. “What happened to him?” a new guy asks. “He got bit,” spits back Daryl. The prisoners seem confused about the whole biting thing. We are going to need a Very Special Episode to teach them about the realities of the zombpocalypse. Hold on to your sheriff hats, zombielovers. This episode is frakking fantastic.
Rick worries that Hershel is bleeding out and orders Maggie to put pressure on the wound. Glenn finds a rolling table to use as a makeshift gurney and they hoist Hershel onto it to get him back to Cell Block C. They rush out of the cafeteria as the prisoners look on in shock.
Let’s talk about these new dudes, shall we? They’ve been locked up in the prison for 10 months. 292 (or 294) days stuck in the prison with no sense of the outside world. They don’t introduce themselves, so let’s allow Glen Mazzara to do it – here’s an article that reveals their names. The dude with the gun and the grimy white tank top is Tomas. The giant guy is Big Tiny. The little guy is Andrew. The shaggy fellow with the mustache is Axel and the super handsome one is Oscar. Got it? Maybe? (Spoiler alert: it’s okay if you can’t remember their names).
The Still Alives scramble to haul Hershel back to their bunks, as T-Dog and Daryl remain outside the cellblock with their weapons drawn on the prisoners. Hershel is bleeding and bleeding and Lori and Carol take charge, asking for pillows and sheets to rip into bandages. Carol has some basic medical training now and she scurries into action as the resident medic.
Tomas (white tank top dude) wants back into Cell Block C because he used to live there. The Still Alives refuse to let them in. And the prisoners are pissed off to the max. Rick orders Glenn to stick by Hershel’s side no matter what, and then our local law enforcer tries to calm the prisoners down. Tomas wants to know why they don’t just bring Hershel to a hospital. Silly Tomas, you have been locked up in a cafeteria forever. Rick breaks it down: there’s no army, no hospitals, no police. It’s all gone. No cell phones, no computers. Half the population (probably more) is dead. Er, undead. They lead the prisoners outside to face the sunshine and see the truth. We could get all Simile of the Cave about this, but I don’t think these prisoners are going to end up as any sort of philosopher kings. Rick explains that everyone is infected and that when any human dies, they turn into zombies. This is probably an awful lot for these prisoners to grok.
The prisoners are less than thrilled about the Still Alives encroaching on their turf. Rick negotiates with them that the prisoners will trade half of their prison-food supply in exchange for helping secure their very own cellblock to call home.
Back inside Cell Block C, the ladies tend to Hershel. Carol needs sterile gauze and antibiotics, and she worries out loud that Lori must be freaking out about delivering the baby if Hershel doesn’t make it. Lori claims she’s all good. Uh-huh.
The Still Alives follow the prisoners to check out their food stash. Tomas tries to dick them over with a bag of corn and some tuna fish but Rick is adamant that they get half of it. T-Dog and Rick return triumphantly with canned beef and canned corn and canned cans. Yummo! Rick tells Glenn to handcuff Hershel to his bunk just in case he reanimates as zombie. Fantastically, it appears that our Still Alives are making some smart choices.
Rick and Lori discuss the prisoners. Lori knows that Rick isn’t really a killer and she feels in her heart that he is not full of malice, but she sort of implies that she’d be totally fine if Rick decides to kill those dudes. Lori bitches that she knows that she’s a shitty wife and she’s not winning any mother-of-the-year awards, but she believes that Rick will do whatever he needs to do to keep the Still Alives safe. (Ahem, ahem: kill the other dudes dead.)
Daryl, Rick and T-Dog school the prisoners on basic zombie survival tactics: don’t shoot your gun unless you have to, aim for the head, stay tight and hold formation. Just remember: go for the brain. Mmmmm, brains!
Maggie asks Carol and Glenn if she can have a minute alone with her dad. And then I basically erased the scene from my memory because it was so painful to watch, especially as she tells Hershel he can finally stop fighting. Who, me, crying? Crying while watching a teevee show about zombies? Uh, no? I’m just cutting some onions over here next to my laptop. Sniffle, sniffle. She tells him to go ahead and let go, to finally be at peace. Sniffle, sniffle, sniffle.
Just as I’m dripping snot all over my computer, the action shifts to a fucking awesome zombie battle. The Still Alives and the prisoners go into attack mode, but the prisoners forget their training and go ballistic on the zombies. It appears these dudes are pretty fucking tough. And rather violent. This is probably why they’re in prison.
Meanwhile, Carl marches triumphantly up to the ladies lugging a bag full of medical supplies. The kid found the infirmary and scavenged whatever was left. Lori snaps at him for going off on his own and he hisses back that he killed two walkers and did what needed to be done. Holy shit, Carl is totally my favorite character on this show now. I’m so sorry they kept telling you to stay in the house, Carl. You are a fucking rock star and I love the emo shag hair-do on you.
The male Still Alives and the prisoners continue to clear the hallways of zombies. Big Tiny gets spooked and breaks from the group and a zombie bites him. OH NO. He insists that he’s fine but Rick doesn’t know what to do with him. While Rick is hemming and hawing, Tomas goes totally medieval on his ass and smashes him into complete oblivion. This Tomas is BAD NEWS BEARS, you guys. I don’t think he is completely sane. In fact, perhaps he is criminally insane. And that is possibly why he is a prisoner.
Carol asks Glenn for his help. Glenn doesn’t want to leave Hershel, but Maggie insists that the ladies will be fine. Whatever could Carol want to do? Speaking of complete sanity, she has a really sane idea. Carol wants to take down a lady zombie and then practice performing a C-section on her tummy. Honestly, this idea does make a lot of sense. Almost too much sense. Good on ya, Carol. This is some good thinking. She picks her victim and stabs the young lady zombie through the eye. Glenn draws the other zombies away so Carol can grab the corpse for uterus-slicing practice.
The zombie-fighters push onwards through the prison and discover the laundry room. Tomas botches the plan to open the door to the zombies and suddenly the undead surge into the room. There’s an onslaught of walkers and in the pandemonium, Tomas shoves a bitey zombie right onto Rick. NOT COOL, BRO.
Rick faces off with crazypants Tomas and Tomas gets absolute wild eyes. Rick slams his machete straight down into Tomas’s brain. The short one (Andrew) runs off and Rick leaves him to be devoured in the prison yard. Of the five prisoners we met at the top of the episode, only two are left: Oscar (handsome!) and Axel (shaggy!). The Still Alives lead them to Cell Block B, paying off their part of the deal. The block is filled with the dead bodies of other prisoners who were (maybe?) mercy-killed in front of their cells. Oscar thinks all this is sick. (Titular line, titular line!) Daryl tells him that if he thinks this is sick, then he doesn’t want to know what it’s like outside. T-Dog warns Oscar and Axel to burn the bodies.
In Cell Block C, Hershel stops breathing. Lori gives him mouth-to-mouth and Hershel comes back to life. Is he a zombie? Is he going to bite Lori right on her mouth and infect her RIGHT THERE AND THEN? What? Oh. He seems to still be human. Carry on, then. Lori lives to mope around another day.
Rick and T-Dog and Daryl return to check on Hershel. He doesn’t have a fever so it seems safe that he’s not going to turn into a zombie, and Rick uncuffs him. Hershel opens his eyes and clutches Rick’s hand. He made it. He might only have one leg and I don’t know how he’s going to run from zombies unless they find a supply of those awesome Oscar Pistorius prosthetics, but at least he’s alive.
In the prison yard, Carol prepares her ladyparts anatomy lesson. She pulls up the girl zombie’s dress, revealing her zombie vagina. (She’s wearing underwear, it’s okay!) Carol steels herself for the task at hand. Someone (who could it be?) is watching her. Whoever that someone is, I bet they are just plumb bewildered to watch a woman perform a C-section on a zombie corpse. The things we do to survive!
Rick finds Lori standing on an observation platform over the prison yard. He tells her she’s not a bad mother, for the record. She wants to have a serious couple conversation – ha ha, they’re not about to get divorced and split up their assets and divide their book and record collections, ha ha. Lori hopes that Rick wants to talk about their relationship, but maybe there’s nothing to talk about anymore. Rick puts a hand on her shoulder, but never makes eye contact with his wife. He mutters that they’re all grateful for Lori’s heroic CPR measures, but he doesn’t give her what she wants.
And so, season three is pretty fantastic. The writers have finally sussed out how to balance the human dynamics and relationship drama with the goopy grimy zombie guts that we long to see. BRAVO, team Walking Dead. You’ve re-won me over and I am totally head over heels for you. Brains over heels. Mmmm, brains.