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Monday, October 22, 2012

The Walking Dead: Season 3, Episode 2 – ‘Sick’ Review




Thanks to the encouragement of The Walking Dead TV Podcast, I will be writing weekly episode recaps for this season of The Walking Dead.  Anyone continuing on should expect spoilers.

This second episode of the third season of AMC’s The Walking Dead not only continues where things left off from last week, but also continues in delivering on hardcore zombie violence and character development.  While not as rock solid as the premiere episode last week, it did make something very clear, the ‘Ricktatorship’ is in full effect and while it may be delivering results, it is going to be taking a toll on Rick’s character, as he continues to make some uncomfortably tough decisions.  Also, T-Dog was given a lot of chances to look angry this week, so let’s jump into things.


Last week ended with a double threat of Herschel now being a one-legged former farm owner and the sudden appearance of a new group of people, prisoners who have been surviving from within the prison’s cafeteria.  After some quick squabbling that resulted in the first of a few Mexican standoff scenes, the gang picked up Herschel and got out of there, with the prisoners following Rick’s group back to zombie free C-block.  While getting Herschel a bed to rest on, Rick lets the prisoners know what is going on and what the deal is going to be.


There is a lot of forward momentum in all of this, which is something I admire quite a bit.  This will play into another thing I really like about this episode later, but for now, while a lot of these scenes may feel like setup and explanation for things we already know, I think it is the fact that we are in such a hostile environment, both due to walkers and the presence of convicts that we know nothing about, that I was able to look past a lot of the ‘macho-ness’ on display and enjoy the quick-paced nature of these early scenes.  So I am willing to look past the bad idea of T-Dog suddenly emerging from the sides with a gun pointed, causing further strife, because Andrew Lincoln is doing such a damn solid job of holding down things.  I also don’t have anything against a character named ‘Big Tiny’.

From there, we get to the deal that Rick makes with the convicts.  After having explained that things just aren’t how they were, he agrees to clear out another cell block for the convicts to stay in, in exchange for half of the food supply that is still available in the cafeteria.  I’m going to skip ahead now, as we have all presumably seen the episode.  It is obvious from the start that the lead convict, Tomas, is going to be a threat.  When we get to a later attack in the episode, Tomas throws a walker at Rick, truly proving that point.  If this show was still being made in the style of Season 2, there would have no doubt been some filler episodes, before we got to the inevitable end of the Tomas situation, but instead; both proving that Season 3 is more confident in where it is going and that Rick is accepting his role as a leader who needs to make tough choices, he straight up murders Tomas with a machete to the noggin.

It would be hard to argue that Rick is not in the right in this situation.  Yes, killing is a horrible thing, but the world these people live in and the type of people that are still living in it lead to some pretty bad situations and clearly Rick has accepted that.  An earlier scene with Lori (which I’ll address again in a bit), establishes that Rick does have the thought of killing those who could be a threat as an immediate option that goes through his head.  It is unfortunate that those thoughts are the kind of considerations he has to make, but that is where he is and I will be very interested to see where the season takes him, as he is sure to run into these decisions again and again.  Actually, he did already, as the Tomas murder led to Rick having to deal with the other convict that decided to run away.  The solution for that one:  Lock the door and let him deal with a group of walkers.  The Ricktatorship has spoken again!


On the Herschel side of things, let me just say that I am glad that he did not die in this episode.  Would it have been a very Walking Dead kind of thing to do, perhaps, but Scott Wilson has done such a good job with Herschel’s character that it just would not be fitting to have him die without even getting a last word in.  What also helps is that this provided some nice moments for Maggie’s character and also showed a little bit of where Glenn is at, when it comes to following orders.  Maggie sees that her father is on death’s doorstep and she would rather him step inside, rather than continue to live in this world.  Glenn wants to do his best and be helpful however he can, listening to Rick and what have you.  Again, I just hope these crazy kids stay together.

Now, since the show is so devoted to writing for a new and improved Lori, I guess I need to spend time talking about her.  The first big scene between her and Rick was a bit too on the nose.  Last week saw a nice turn around for the character, who was almost aware of the general audience opinion of her.  This week sees her basically reading internet comment boards out loud, as she proclaims herself as a bad wife and mother.  While a bit clunky in the writing, this was a little harsh to hear, which continues to make Lori a character I can at least feel sorry for, despite her still not being a favorite of mine. 
 
With that said, there is a pretty cold turn at the end of the episode, when Rick says a key line of dialogue, “We’re grateful for what you did.”  Lori was previously responsible for resuscitating Herschel and the best that she can get from her husband is a fleeting, “way to help out the team” type of complement.  If I didn’t feel bad for Lori already, I certainly did in that moment, as it both gives us more of what Lori has to deal with, as she faces bringing a new child into the world, as well as continues to show the divide between Rick and how his affections factor into things.

 
Last thoughts for the episode will go to Carol.  Hey! Carol actually gets to be a character now.  Having been given some medical training from Herschel to help deal with Lori’s pregnancy and eventual birth, she is concerned about performing a C-Section and wants to have some incision practice.  A reasonable thing to be concerned about and with the help of Glenn, she gets her own dead zombie to practice on.  With all of this, we were able to have a minor character elevate her role, as well as get a tease that someone else is watching the prison.  Not quite sure who that might have been, but surely next week, when we are introduced to some new characters from another new location, possible answers may start to crop up.

Sick did not exactly feel like the second half of the premiere, as some may have thought.  The episode slowed things down a bit and settled into some familiar rhythms, but it still has a level of confidence that The Walking Dead needs in order to stay tense and compelling.  The added bonus is that the Ricktatorship is proving to be quite interesting on many levels.

4 out of 5 Busters

Zombie Kill of the Week: Can’t argue with a prisoner-zombie-shiv-attack.

Convict Corner:  Comic fans know how the convicts in the show differ from the book, but surely they are still wondering how the remaining convicts will line up with what the book presented, right?


Aaron is a writer/reviewer for WhySoBlu.com.  Follow him on Twitter @AaronsPS3.
He also co-hosts a podcast,
Out Now with Aaron and Abe, available via iTunes or at HHWLOD.com.

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