The Walking Dead – Infected


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.

“I’m not asking you to lie. I’m just asking you not to say anything.”

Things in the D Block didn’t start out so well, despite the sun shining through the windows of the C Block. The “leak” of sorts was powerful reminders that despite the best efforts of the survivors to be safe that there’s still a randomness they can’t control. The entire mini-outbreak was juxtaposed against the idyllic setting of the everyday routine. It hearkened back to what life was like when the original, major outbreak took place, completely disrupting the everyday lives of everyone in the world. The prison has become a microcosm of the world at large in that a routine was being established that was still upended.

The aftermath of the outbreak led to a pretty emotionally powerful scene, where Carol offered to teach a valuable lesson to the two daughters of one of the victims on the verge of turning. The first episode showed Carol taking advantage of story time to teach the kids how to become proficient in knives (without anyone else knowing), which foreshadowed the event. It’s debatable whether or not Carol’s real life lesson was necessary, but in the world they live in it’s a guarantee that eventually you’ll be faced with making tough decisions that affect life or death. The two daughters couldn’t do it, which speaks volumes to the gravity of the prison’s situation. And that situation is lot tougher than any of the survivors could have imagined, with Carol likely channeling a deeper sense of sorrow due to the loss of Sophia a while back.

Dealing with zombies is one thing, as they offer a physical manifestation of what they’re up against. Fighting a flu outbreak is a whole other battle, considering that even in the modern world before the apocalypse there were some illnesses that we still had yet to find a cure for. Granted, the flu has never really had a cure per se, but we do have means and methods of coping with it to ensure that we can manage and it doesn’t get the best of us. It also doesn’t help when kids are involved and take a shining to certain zombies, inadvertently drawing them closer. Both the impending flu and weakening fences are not good for the business of living a safe and secure life.

Rick’s pacifism is an interesting turn of events, considering he led the group through the first three seasons of the show. He’s shown that he’s willingly taking a step back from decision making, leaving it up to the Council to make the same decisions as a group that Rick was making by himself. It also explains his newfound averseness to keeping a gun with him; even going so far as doing whatever he can to keep a gun out of Carl’s hands. Carl grew a lot faster than any parent wants to see their child do and it’s refreshing to see that Rick is taking his responsibility as a parent first instead of leading the group. Carl feels belittled by it all, but deep down he’s knows it’s right.

Michonne is really taking a shining to Rick and Carl, so much so that there’s seems to be something of a romance brewing. Rick has evened out since the death of Lori and is opening up a bit to those around him. It makes the rapport between him and Michonne feel more natural and will inevitably be more realistic if a romance does happen. It also offers the completion of their family unit in a sense, as Carl was used to having both a mom and a dad. He’s one of the few characters in the show to survive with his family largely intact for a great amount of time. It doesn’t entitle to him a family or anything, but it does make it a little harder for him to cope. Michonne showed affection for Rick’s daughter that also speaks to what was presumably a past role as a mother.

It’s probably fitting that the episode opened with a rendition of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” by Tyrese. While the lyrics were written in a much happier time, there’s something of an inherent morbidity to the lyrics when applied to a zombie apocalypse. Rick got under the skin of the pigs in a tough scene that forced them to offer up one of their primary food sources in order to lure the zombies away. It was also a precautionary move on the part of the survivors’ part, considering the pig was sick in the first episode. The best way to deal with an illness is the purity of fire and it’s an act that will hopefully clear out the source of the illness poised to ravage the population.

The fourth season of The Walking Dead is going for a much darker and grittier look at the world. In the same moment that Rick gave Carl his gun, he also pulled out his belt and Magnum, both of which return him to his former role as Sheriff and general man of calculated violence. That’s necessary in the world they live in, even if it won’t stop everything that needs to be stopped. The infection is on a path of destruction that will terrorize the survivors in a way they’re not prepared to deal with. It will test them in ways that they have not yet been tested and will fracture newly formed relationships. It’s not a good world to live in, yet they try to live in it regardless. Survival is the driving factor of The Walking Dead and getting Rick back in the mix will only help them out in the long run. Whether it’s enough though remains to be seen.

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