Review: The Walking Dead – Sick

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by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead is adapted from previous source material. This review is not meant to compare similarities and differences between the show and comic. It’s meant to be read purely as a take on the episode as it stands.

That being said: SPOILERS AHEAD.

“He can’t even walk. And all we do is run.”

Maggie said that about Hershel in the latest episode of The Walking Dead, appropriately titled “Sick.” She isn’t too enthusiastic about her father’s chances of survival; not just in the short term, but the long term as well. This is true, despite Carol’s best efforts to put her newfound surgical talents to great use. She knows if Hershel doesn’t survive that she’s the de facto healthcare for the group. Carol’s cadaver training provided some very ominous foreshadowing for the survivors, in that she’s being watched.

If the entire episode was about Hershel and his leg, then it wouldn’t have been a very exciting episode. Thankfully, more time was devoted to the five prisoners Rick, Daryl and T-Dog stumbled upon and have offered to clear a cell-block for. The prisoners have been locked up for 10 months and have no clue what’s going on. They’re lead by Tomas; a slightly unhinged psychopath who seems to think the survivors should be just as scared of him as presumably his enemies were outside the prison.

Rick makes a deal with Tomas. If Tomas gives Rick et al. half of the food they have, Rick, Daryl and T-Dog will help them clear out a prison block for their new residence. Tomas accepts and the group gets to it, Rick offering the prisoners friendly advice for dealing with the Walkers. Watching the prisoners fall apart from a tactics standpoint shows how practiced Rick and his group actually are. Watching the prisoners fall apart from a trust perspective was even more telling of their criminal pasts.

It was unintentionally humorous to see The Walking Dead: Prison Rules, with the prisoners breaking formation and more or less shanking a few zombies. It was less humorous to see Tomas showcase the likely reason for his incarceration, which was predicated on violence. It was also a nice touch having them keep track of time in days (294 days) as opposed to months. They feel that they have ownership of the prison, which is true to an extent.

And Lori’s streak of not knowing where Carl is continues! This time, he made his way to the infirmary (while supposedly under the guise of getting food) to get supplies to help Hershel, killing two Walkers in the process. Carl storming off still isn’t enough to impel Lori to leave Hershel to go after him; although she does express outrage at being disobeyed (more because she feels like she’s being treated as a pariah). Lori continues to be a truly maddening character. It’s hard to feel any sympathy for her, despite the fact that she’s pretty far along in her pregnancy and, at this point, serves little purpose to the group.

Her relationship with Rick is so strained that whenever the two of them are together, there’s immeasurable tension. Clearly, Rick is still reeling from the events of last season (specifically regarding Shane) and wants to nothing to do with Lori at this point. The fact that she finds some solace in him merely touching her shoulder and saying she’s not a bad mother is a very telling sign. Lori knows she’s got a long way to go to get back in Rick’s good graces, but it’s equally as likely she descends into madness. Sort of like Rick.

Speaking of Rick, he seems to have found a sadistic streak. He continues to maintain his new convictions, while not entirely sacrificing his morals. He’s willing to help the prisoners get set up in another cell-block. He’s also willing to kill any of them that get too close to his crew, a marked change from the historical, everybody love everybody Rick. This is a take no prisoners Rick, clearly still reeling from the incident in last season with the person he saved and whose life he spent most of the season agonizing over.

Watching Rick bury a machete in the skull of one of the prisoners was intense enough. Watching him chase another prisoner through the halls into an open yard—where he promptly locked him in with Walkers—was something else entirely. Rick is slowly becoming what Shane always was: someone willing to do whatever necessary to save the day. Now that Shane is gone though, Rick doesn’t have that foil to make his actions seem less reprehensible.

This certainly isn’t the first time Rick has encountered humans with a penchant for death. Season 1 had him squaring off against the gang, who, in the end, were really just trying to take care of their own. Season 2 had him squaring off against the men in the bar, which Rick dismissed with some well-placed gunshots. Rick has always had this in him; it’s just taken him being pushed to the edge one too many times to rely on it so readily.

While there was nothing this week with Michonne and Andrea, the previews next week promise to remedy that. It’s inevitable that the storylines will cross at some point, but until then we’ll have to be content with Hershel’s well-played “awakening” when Lori tried to revive him. So far this season, so good. There’s nothing to drag along like the Sophia storylines yet, as both episodes so far move along quite briskly.

Rick is starting to go to a dangerous place and it’s very clear that he has commanding control over everyone around him. If there’s anything that the title “Sick” showed viewers, it was that the title could apply to multiple characters. Rick included.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


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