By Kat Rosenfield
After the season premiere of “The Walking Dead” ended badly for one young member of the cast, this week promised some serious trouble behind the prison walls. Patrick, a dorky teenage newcomer to the survivors’ community, started out last week’s episode as an eager people-pleaser — and ended it as a walking people eater, after ignominiously dying during a midnight trip to the showers. Who did he sink his teeth into first? Read on for the recap!
With a freshly-minted walker in the prison, you know a bloodbath is imminent — but before that happens, this happens: somebody is feeding rodents to the zombies that lurk outside the prison fence. Who? Why?
We’ve got our guesses, but nevermind: for the time being, it’s a quite night in Survivorville. So quiet, in fact, that Tyreese and Karen can meet for some secret smooching in the library and talk about their relationship. They’re taking it slow, but they’re incredibly cute together, and Tyreese is obviously smitten — which means that it’s absolute agony to watch Karen wandering back, alone and vulnerable, through the washroom where we know the recently-undead Patrick is currently lying on the floor.
Fortunately for Karen, she makes it back to her cell without anyone jumping out of the dark to bite her. Unfortunately for everyone else, she has been followed by Zombie Patrick, who wanders into her neighbor’s cell and goes straight to town on the guy’s jugular.
And so, Beth’s accident ticker is gonna remain at zero for another day. However, it takes until morning for the episode’s inevitable killing spree to get going: Patrick, so polite even in death, has spent all night happily munching on the bowels of his first and only victim, which means that there’s time for Rick and Carl to do some father-son gardening together. Carl asks when he can get his gun back and start taking out zombies again — apparently, that cold-blooded murder last season got his killing privileges revoked — but Rick doesn’t want to talk about it. Nor does he have time to, because back in the prison, Zombie Patrick has finally decided to go in search of new people to chew on.
It’s mayhem on the cellblock as Rick, Daryl, Carol and Glenn charge in, ushering out the unbitten and dispatching the recently-turned with headshots. The good news: one man, the father of the two sanctimonious tweens from the premiere, has sustained a survivable bite to the arm. The bad news: when Carol straps him down to amputate it, she discovers a second wound on his head, i.e. the one body part you can’t lop off. Oooh, unlucky. There’s nothing left but to bring the man’s daughters in to say goodbye before he dies — and then dispatch him to a permanent grave with a nice, quick stab to the head. But things get weird when the elder daughter tries to do the stabbing herself, then weirder still when she loses her nerve, then weirdest of all when Carol later takes her aside and calls her “weak” for her poor survival instincts. Has losing Sophia turned the mild-mannered Carol into the apocalypse’s version of a tiger parent? Discuss.
Meanwhile, the prison’s medical experts have determined that Patrick died from some sort of flu-like virus — and that its rapid onset means that any one of them could be infected. All the potential sickies have to be quarantined until further notice, including Karen, who’s coughing and sweating in a way that doesn’t bode well. And Michonne, who sustained a sprained ankle during the mayhem, is hurting more than just physically: without the distraction of her mysterious horseback missions, she’s stuck inside with Beth, baby Judith, and some powerful personal demons that we’re guessing relate to her as-yet-untold backstory. Forget the zombie killings; Michonne crying while holding the baby is the most visceral, jaw-dropping image to come out of this week’s episode.
The distraction of the indoor riot has caused some problems outside, too: as has been alluded to previously, enough walkers pushing up against the prison fence could topple it. And thanks to the mysterious ministrations of the midnight mouse-killer, there’s a gigantic pack of zombies about to do just that. They can’t kill them fast enough to prevent disaster, and Rick — who’s been trying so hard to avoid a moment like this — makes the ice cold choice to lure the pack away using their poor baby piglets as bait… which is a scene so upsetting that we cannot talk about it save to say that it worked, and there was a lot of blood. Point taken, show: everyone wants Rick back in a leadership role, but just remember, when Rick takes the lead, piglets die.
And so Rick straps on his holster once more, and hands Carl back his gun, and burns the pig pen to the ground. Because despite their best efforts at pretending otherwise, there will be no bucolic happy endings here. Not for them, and not for the pigs, and not for Tyreese — who goes to bring flowers to Karen and, instead of his ladylove, finds only a giant smeary trail of blood and two charred bodies at its end. Michonne can stop her search; the enemy is inside the walls.
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