In this week’s episode of The Walking Dead, the group encountered actual humans while still dealing with the aftermath of Hershel’s walker bite and leg loss, Michonne and Andrea were nowhere to be found, and I really hated one of the new characters. Thankfully, he didn’t last long. Let’s talk about “Sick” after the jump. There will be spoilers.
Two things were pointed out to me after I wrote last week’s recap: why was there so much tension between Rick and Lori, and why would this group put an older man–their only doctor–in jeopardy by having him help clear the prison of zombies? My response to the latter was “That’s the least of The Walking Dead‘s problems,” but since last week I’ve thought about it a bit more. Was it because they felt like they had to give that storyline (getting bit and having a limb chopped off) to someone, and since Dale’s not around they only had one old man to cripple? Or are the writers trying to show viewers that there is a way to survive a zombie bite, though it comes at a terrible cost? I’m not sure, but I’m glad Hershel’s still alive. I spent most of last night not really worried about his fate until the end when he stopped breathing. For a minute there during Maggie’s heartbreaking good-bye to her father, I thought they might kill him off, but that turned out to be a set-up for a cheap (and predictable) scare. That said, Hershel’s uncertain fate brought some great moments from Maggie and Beth, who responded to possibly losing their father in very different ways, both of which I could relate to.
As for Rick and Lori’s marital issues, I don’t get it and I don’t really care. The problem is that these characters became more like caricatures in the second season, so it’s hard to understand anyone’s motivations for doing anything. Thankfully, “Sick” focused less on them and more on how to deal with the prisoners they found living in their new home at the end of the season premiere. Having been stuck inside all this time, the prisoners had no idea how bad it is outside. This was really driven home after Rick tried to explain that there was no government and no hospitals, and one of the prisoners asked for a cell phone to check on his family. That was a great moment that made me think that maybe there was some hope for these new characters, but as we saw most of them didn’t make it to the end of the episode.
Naturally, one of the prisoners, Tomas, is a violent jerk who refuses to listen to Rick and shows some psychopathic tendencies, first brutally killing another prisoner who’d been possibly bitten and then blatantly tossing a walker onto Rick. Knowing the show’s history, I was afraid that this kind of behavior would repeat for episodes and episodes like Shane’s far-too-long villainous run in season two. Mercifully, Rick took a machete to his brain right after that incident, then locked another troublesome prisoner outside with the walkers. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to be worried about Rick’s willingness to kill other humans, but I’m relieved that the show can move on. At this point, Rick should be struggling between retaining his humanity in an inhumane world and protecting his family at all costs, and that’s not quite coming across, but I’ll take this Rick over the indecisive, ineffective, unwilling leader of the previous season.
Michonne and Andrea weren’t shown this week at all, but they were prominently featured in the teaser for next week’s episode. I hope it’s not going to take the rest of the season to reunite Andrea with (and introduce Michonne to) the other survivors, because we don’t need another drawn-out arc like season two’s looking for Sophia storyline. Also, against all odds, T-Dogg is still alive. He seems to be the most expendable out of the remaining original group members… so they’ll probably kill off all the people I actually like first.
I still think season three is better than season two so far, but that’s not saying a lot. “Sick” was an okay episode, but at least we saw action, walkers, and resolutions to problems, instead of endless arguments and whining. Now that the survivors are settled into their new place, and Hershel’s still alive, maybe it’s time to get back to some compelling storylines.