Another episode of THE WALKING DEAD, another cliff-hanger that leaves us begging for more. Can Daryl, Michonne, Bob and Tyreese outrun thousands of walkers? Will the disease claim more lives? Will Carol kill again? Will Tyreese kill Carol in revenge?
There was a palpable sense of fatalism from almost everyone in the camp, whether Carol warning Rick that they may not see another sunrise to Glenn complaining that all he’s doing lately is digging graves. Everyone seems to sense the Grim Reaper just outside the gates. And why not, with the disease inside the fence? And, as far as anyone knows, a mad killer on the loose?
Tyreese (Chad Coleman) has the expected response to finding Karen dead and charbroiled: He goes berserk and ends up in a fistfight with Rick (Andrew Lincoln), who goes berserk and gives him a black eye before they are separated. Then Tyreese is upset again when Sasha (Sonequa Martin) falls ill and checks herself in A Block with the others. When Glenn (Steven Yeun) also gets sick, Hershel (Scott Wilson) suggests a team go to the veterinary college some 50 miles away to look for antibiotics. Daryl (Norman Reedus) recruits Michonne (Danai Gurira), Bob (Larry Gilliard Jr.) and Tyreese for the mission and they take off in dead Zack’s car. While they are gone, Hershel decides to go into the woods and collect elderberries for a tea that will soothe the sick, and Carl (Chandler Riggs) appoints himself bodyguard.
Returning with his berries, Hershel decides to enter isolation to help the sick, but Maggie (Lauren Cohan) doesn’t want him to go – but he points out that he can help. Inside A block, he brings some tea to Dr. Subramanian (Sunkrish Bala), who politely coughs in his face, splattering blood all over Hershel’s kindly mug. Meanwhile, Carol (Melissa McBride) loses it when she has to send new ward Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) into isolation. When Tyreese calls Carol a good woman who cares and asks her to look after his sister, she totally flips out and turns over the water barrels, wasting more of the prisons low water reserves. She decides to go outside the fence to clear a blocked water siphon hose, and is nearly overrun by walkers before Rick shows up and guns down enough of them to let her get back through the gate.
Daryl and the gang think they might have picked up a live broadcast on the car radio when suddenly they (literally) run into a mega-herd of thousands of walkers blocking the road. They have to abandon the car, and Tyreese is in such a stupor he almost gets eaten, but catches up with the others as they flee into the woods. Back at the prison, Rick is investigating the murders from last week when he finds a bloody handprint; a woman-sized handprint. He confronts Carol, and she flatly admits to killing Karen and David.
So, Carol is the killer? It was a surprising reveal, but it does make perfect sense. As Rick pointed out his conversation with he, there’s nothing she wouldn’t do for the good of the community. (Just look at her secret battle school for children.) It’s pretty clear to me that she probably thought she was trying to contain the contagion by burning the body. There was no way Karen was going to survive that disease, and she would have become just another walker and an inside threat.
We got to see how dedicated Hershel is to the cause – I didn’t know that veterinarians are bound by the Hippocratic Oath – and it runs in the family, as Beth voluntarily went into the isolation wing for the untainted to take care of the baby. She even gets to make a couple of speeches about responsibility and having jobs to do and not letting feelings get in the way. And she cry (much) or nothin’. She’s the best babysitter ever! But Carol’s instinct to protect seems to have gone haywire, leading her to kill in order to preserve the rest of the community.
The big problem is going to be what Tyreese does when he returns from the expedition. Can Rick keep him off Carol? We can assume that Daryl will be on her side, but will he be happy about it? What will satisfy Tyreese’s bloodlust? My guess is that Sasha will be able to corral him. Perhaps it might even be her dying wish that her brother assimilate more into the group, and make peace with Carol instead of being blinded by rage.
Blinded, get it? Tyreese spent the balance of this episode with his left eye swollen shut, courtesy of Rick, and I cannot help but thinking this is a metaphor for Tyreese’s screwed-up perspective on things. He has already previously said that he can’t stand fighting and killing zombies anymore, and he’s been hesitant to go on supply runs or cull walkers at the fence. What’s his problem? Does he think he can just coast along and let others do all the work? It’s not like Tyreese has anything to offer besides his hammer. He hasn’t shown any inclination to care for Judith, like Beth (Emily Kinney) does, or the older kids, like Carol. He hasn’t been cooking, like the late Patrick did. Maybe the loss of Karen will be good for him in the sense that it will wake him up. In fact, maybe he did wake up in the backseat of that car, when he finally decided to start fighting the walkers rather than sit there and get chomped.
Perhaps Carl, too, has learned something during his enforced non-violent days; when Hershel points out that the crippled zombie is no threat and isn’t worth a bullet, he doesn’t shoot her. I did expect him to stab her, figuring she could become a threat to the prison fence, but he didn’t do that either.
Rick needs to continue to go in the opposite direction. Instead of renouncing all violence, he has to accept that this is a new world with different rules. He’s no longer an officer of the law charged with quelling violence and keeping the peace. Now he has to keep people safe by “killing” the undead. Shane’s whole thing since the first season had been trying to convince Rick that the world has changed but Rick hasn’t. In reaction, Rick went too far in one direction with his Ricktatorship, then he went too far in the other by becoming a pastoral pacifist. In the old world, violence was not an answer. But in a world where the dead walk, violence is seemingly the only answer.
One final note: Although I couldn’t make out what the voice on the car radio was saying, the closed captioning read: “find sanctuary… determined to survive… keep alive.” Makes one think of 28 Days Later, doesn’t it?
“I wouldn’t plan on much typing the next few days.” – Hershel
“You step outside, you risk your life. You take a drink of water, you risk your life. And nowadays you breathe and you risk your life. Every moment now, you don’t have a choice. The only thing you can choose is what you’re risking it for.” – Hershel
“We don’t know if we get a tomorrow.” – Carol