Welcome back fellow Walkers! The Walking Dead has returned! We are on showrunner #3 with Scott Gimple and from what we've seen so far, I may have to say that the third time is the charm. Under Frank Darabount, we had slow and introspective. With Glenn Mazarra, we had video game carnage with less emotional intensity. Scott may have found the right balance between both. He is responsible for some of the best episodes of previous seasons. (Last season's "Clear" with the return of Morgan being a good example) It's early to say he has righted this ship for the better, but this premiere is promising. To be clear, the show has always been entertaining, but it stands a chance to be raised to a different level. This may be the one show where it actually makes sense to bring in different perspectives and see how it pans out with a zombie apocalypse backdrop!
Please bear with me today everyone. I'm home with my 21 month old today for Columbus Day and have been intermittently writing this up with a bluetooth keyboard paired to my iPhone (finished up on computer). Could be an entertaining result! Let's dive into the recap!
Several months have passed since Rick decided to let people into the prison. Since then, a community has formed in the prison. There is a council (we assume is made up of our heroes we've been following for the past 3 seasons), there is farming, there is school for the kiddies and everyone sees to generally be in a better mood. Darryl has become the "Norm" of the prison and people call his name as he walks through the masses. There have been additional recruits since the Woodbury days. Rick was responsible for a lot of the early recruits, but the torch has sort of been passed on to Darryl and the people love him. (Loved Carol's "I liked you first" line)
Rick had a bit of an awakening of the person he had become and what happened to his son as a result. So, he has taken the approach of non-violence now. There's no telling when the last time he fired a gun is, but we would probably have to assume it's since the last time we saw him last season.
While each character is embarking on their own personal journey for this season in this episode (per Scott Gimple on Talking Dead), there are 3 major storylines going on in this episode.
The Supply Run
Michonne returned from her search for the Governor just in time to go on a supply run at a nearby store. Naturally, Darryl will again ride his motorcycle where he can store tons of supplies. We'll go with the excuse that maybe he needed to conserve room in another vehicle which was holding Glenn, Tyreese, Ty's sister, Beth's new boy toy Zach, Michonne, and new comic book character Bob Stookey (or until we know him better we'll just call him "that other guy from The Wire").
Lots of little additions of humor between characters here, like Zach trying to guess Darryl's previous life job (Undercover Cop? Good times.), routine walker dismantling at the store (knock on glass, wait, let Michonne slice them in half), and other nice touches of character moments between the action sequences. We were foreshadowed of the doom to come seeing a crashed military chopper on the roof with 100s of walkers roaming around.
Leave it to Bob Stookey, who I'm guessing we're going to assume he is a recovering alcoholic, to check out the booze and decide to put it back causing a massive shelf collapse and shattering of alcohol. Naturally, this snowballed into alerting the walkers above, and to them starting to walk on the fragile roof. And of course, how can you not paraphrase The Three Amigos in a sequence like this? "What is this, Walkers falling from the sky?" Yes El Guapo. Indeed, that is what happened. Lots of close calls here. Glenn, thankfully had some crazy armor on so could not get bit. Bob was stuck under the shelf and was ripping apart a walker's head. Ewww. Darryl was a badass as always. Michonne, even without her new horse, was still a badass. But, poor red shirt Zach. He was not long for this world. He did the big mistake of trying to say goodbye to Beth. And well, the roof collapsed on his newly bitten self. Everyone else escaped. As for getting supplies? Well, I'm not sure they got too much.
Rick checking the Walker Traps
Rick went to check the snares around their prison community with a skip in his step and a smile on his face. It was Hershel speaking for the rest of the committee that forced him to bring a gun with him. It wasn't long before Rick stumbled upon some kind of dead boar or creature of some kind. And it appeared to be a walker that dove on it and began feasting. But, then she started talking! Apparently, it wasn't just me that thought this was some new sort of hybrid walker/human creature that could talk. But, her face was seriously messed up! Maybe she just hadn't showered in a couple years. Anyway, long story short she asked if she and the man she was with (guessing husband, not sure we ever got those details) could be brought into their community. Rick gave a speech that you could tell was not the first time he was giving it. There is a new protocol to quiz newcomers with 3 questions and based on the answers, they determine if they can trust them.
The woman, Clara, agreed to bring Rick back to the man (I think his name was Eddie?). She talked about having to do bad things to stay alive and asked if Rick did the same. She asked how do you come back from that. Rick, clearly has been trying to come back from that himself.
Long story short, when they get to her camp, we find out that Eddie has already been turned and is trapped in a bag. She kept him and couldn't kill him a second time. Instead she wanted to join him. Rick had given Clara a knife as a sign of trust. Well, first she went after Rick with it and failed. And then told him that all she wants to do is join Eddie. Be like him. She kindly asked for Rick not to kill her when she turns. And then she stabbed herself in the gut. We found out what the 3 questions were in these final moments.
How many walkers have you killed? (Not sure what she said here, but I'm guessing many.)
How many people have you killed? (Clara said just herself)
Why? (She said you don't get to come back)
Our resident philosopher Hershel disagreed with Clara's conclusion and things Rick is on the right path of recovery. There certainly are challenges coming their way, so we'll see!
New Life at the Prison
While we spoke of this in broad strokes already, we followed Carl through a day in the life of the prison community a little closer. It started with a pig that he named Violet. This led to a fun exchange with Rick that the pig was food and shouldn't be named. The pig was sick which is probably something we need to be questioning WHY. The pig eventually died by the end of the episode.
Rick asked Carl to try to be a kid. Go to story time, hang out with kids. Carl didn't argue too much with this as he would have previously. So, it would seem some progress has been made there. (Some being the key word) Carl did go hang out with the kids who were naming walkers. They had been spared from the dismal reality that these things are no longer human beings. Carl decided to educate them. One of the girls adamantly disagreed with Carl. Hmmm is romance blossoming here? Then there was the kid with glasses. I know he had a name, I just don't remember it! We see him a few times. He seemed to be friends with Carl. Maybe not best buds, but they had a bit of a rapport.
Carl later decided to join story time (or at least spy on it). Carol was leading the venture and quickly turned from stories to teaching kids how to use knives. When being spotted by Carl, she begged him not to tell his father. Rick has clearly turned a corner and has gone all non-violent. He wouldn't even fire that gun to kill Clara. (I think there was more to it than just her wishes)
The episode wrapped up with glasses kid, who excused himself from storytime because he thought he was going to yak. We spot him late at night stumbling and not looking good at all. He got to the shower supply and possibly "germed" it all up prior to turning it on. He then collapsed, died and turned. Well, that's one way to get a threat inside the prison!!
OHHHH BOY!! Let's discuss what's going on there below.
Several things to discuss, and lots of side plots I couldn't fit in above.
- Okay, so we have to assume the dead pig and the dead kid are related, right? Is something airborne? Maybe it's a previously vaccinated human plague outbreaking in the prison that will cause mass deaths and in translation mass problems for the survivors. Maybe it's an extension of the Zombie virus? In any case, there is a walker in the prison and there are lots of sleeping residents. Things are about to get messy!
- Glenn and Maggie had a bit of a pregnancy scare in this episode. They avoided it this time, but it introduced differences of opinion between Glenn and Maggie. Glenn is a survivalist, Maggie wants to believe that life can go on. So, we'll see where that takes these 2!
- Beth got more lines in this episode than she ever had before (when she wasn't singing), and probably more lines in this episode than T-Dog ever got! She refused to say goodbye to Zach. And when Darryl gave her the news of his death, she accepted it with a quick "Okay". Just showing the damage to emotions this apocalypse has caused the most innocent of people. She refuses to get emotionally attached to anyone. It was nice knowing him for as long as she did. She had her fun, time to move on. Ouch!
- As mentioned before, Michonne doesn't seem to stick around for long periods of time but she certainly gets along with everyone a lot more. She seems hell bent on finding the Governor. This prison outbreak may change her plans in the short term.
- Darryl and Carol are still keeping their bond going. And hey, maybe there's more going on there. She did call him "Pookie" after all!
- Tyreese has an issue with killing walkers on fences. They are defenseless and not attacking. He'd rather face them on the battle field. He changed his mind by the end of the episode. He's also landed him a nice little Woodbury girl. (or at least a newcomer to the prison if not from Woodbury)
- I noticed in the store, Michonne stumbled upon what appeared to be a cardboard cutout of a Zombie (from a movie or video game). This would be the first time the show acknowledged that zombies existed in works of fiction within their universe. Usually in this stories, it's the opposite. Hence, why they call them WALKERS instead of Zombies. I thought this was strange. Of course, it was fun to watch Michonne slice the head off of it!
Anyway, I think that's enough for this episode. Gotta get back to my napping child after all! I'm excited about the direction and attention to little details in this new season. Looking forward to seeing what else they have in store. Hope you enjoyed my ramblings and I'll see you next week!