THE WALKING DEAD Recap – “Infected”

     October 20, 2013


Last week, the fourth season of AMC’s The Walking Dead debuted to a record number of viewers.  Some 16.1 million people caught up with Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his group of survivors occupying the prison, and were introduced to this season’s “Big Bad”.  Rather than a mustache-twirling villain like last year’s Governor (David Morrissey), this year’s challenge is an even bigger threat despite its microscopic size.  If the title of the episode didn’t already give it away, the survivors are now facing a disease of unknown origin.  Hit the jump to see why I’ve got you under my skin.

the-walking-dead-infected-melissa-ponzioIn our recap of the fourth season premiere, I remarked at the attention the writers and new shorwunner Scott Gimple gave to the characters’ relationships.  While the main cast got their fair share of screentime in the last go-round, Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) was only glimpsed.  The follow-up episode features a bit more of Tyreese and his love interest Karen (Melissa Ponzio), with their scenes providing the bookends to “Infected”.  Since their arc in this episode perfectly encapsulated what The Walking Dead is all about, we’ll tackle that first.

After a creepy intro that featured a shadowy figure (one guess on just who that might be) feeding rats to the Walkers at the fence, we got to see Tyreese and Karen in a brief romantic interlude in which Tyreese “sings” the portentous lyrics of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”, made famous by Frank Sinatra.  Ol’ Blue Eyes probably never envisioned that song being a direct metaphor for a deadly infection, but such are the times of the post-apocalypse.  Tyreese waxes poetic about how the world has changed and how now there are so few people that anyone can get close to.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that things are not going to end well for them.  Tyreese attempts to further their relationship throughout the episode even as all Hell breaks loose around them, but his good intentions are all for naught as Karen succumbs to the new disease and Tyreese finds her burned corpse at the end of a bloody dragging trail as a result.  In this new and terrible world, there’s little room for romance, even if it’s the only thing that will allow them to survive beyond famine, war, death and pestilence.

Speaking of the disease, the writers really didn’t waste any time in letting the characters figure it out.  ”Infected” felt like one of those episodes of The Walking Dead in which it remembers that it has its roots in the horror genre.  Karen’s wandering through the bowels of the prison with a flashlight on the fritz and Reanimated Patrick’s (Vincent Martella) shambling quest for flesh were nods to familiar horror tropes.  The disease itself has been a hallmark of zombie films since George Romero’s days, but the protagonists usually don’t suss out all the details quite so fast.  It’s a good thing they have Hershel (Scott Wilson) around, along with newcomer Dr. Subramanian (Sunkrish Bala), whose medical expertise quickly leads them to the conclusion that some sort of flu-like disease is offing the survivors, who then succumb to the reanimation of the Walker virus.  In a rare bit of science that sneaks onto this show, Hershel correctly mentions that human diseases historically start as infections among livestock, such as pigs and chickens, then eventually make the jump across the species barrier.  The council also tries to take steps to quarantine the infected individuals and prevent further spread of the disease, but they’re working with fewer resources than the CDC on furlough.

the-walking-dead-infected-chandler-riggsEnough science, let’s stick with the horror.  Tonight’s scene of the Walkers ravaging survivors in the D block was truly horrific.  It was panic-inducing, gruesome and truly terrifying, because it felt like any one of our cast of heroes could have become a victim at any moment.  It was a nice moment to give Rick’s crew a stage to show off their maturity and resolve; it also gave Carol (Melissa McBride) a chance to teach some tough lessons in survival training to the next generation.

The Walking Dead has been turning in high numbers of Walker kills because hordes of the shambling corpses have been lining up along the prison fence just waiting to be impaled.  That plot point was worked in nicely with the horde providing a threat to the prison’s security, while also allowing Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) to notice the pile of dead rats (a mystery is afoot!).  Rick’s plan of luring the Walkers away with bleeding pigs was a bit hokey, but it allowed for an interesting crossroads of plot points: the pigs, likely infected, had to be disposed of in some manner so why not sacrifice them to the Walkers; it served as another chance for Carl (Chandler Riggs) to show his maturity as he reacts to the loss of pigs that he’d began to see as pets (as seen by him giving them names); and it showed the weight of decisions Rick and others have to make in this future in order to survive, as the pigs were one of the group’s main food sources that unfortunately had to be sacrificed.

There were quite a few nice character moments in this episode, as well.  The relationship between Rick and Carl seems to be smoothing over, as evidenced by the duo re-arming themselves and taking their places of authority back in the group once again.  We also gained an interesting insight into Michonne’s (Danai Gurira) past as seen in her interactions with baby Judith; I’m assuming she once lost a child, which has been hinted at in past episodes, I believe.  Carol shows just how strong she’s become since the first season and takes advantage of a tragedy by using it as an opportunity to pass harsh life lessons on to the kids.  Rick and Daryl (Norman Reedus) even share a brief moment of mutual respect after the chaos in the prison afforded them the opportunity to work together again.  Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) remains useless.

Rating: A-  Everything you could want in an episode of The Walking Dead, but it’s docked a few points for silly things like Rick allowing potentially infected pig blood to spray him in the face after the rest of the group tried to take precautions like quarantines and masks.  I like the direction the season is taking right out of the gates, but time will tell if this conflict stalls out and/or if anyone of real consequence will lose their lives anytime soon.

the-walking-dead-infected-steven-yeunZombie Kills: ~40, probably more since most of the Walker kills now take place at the fence. (One was probably already dead but Daryl put a bolt through her forehead for good measure; another is dealt with off camera by Rick and his knife.)

Human Enemy Kills: None

Casualties: Prison newcomer #1 (via a reanimated Patrick), Sleepwalkin’ Charlie (who was just barbecuing yesterday), Ryan Samuels (aka Lizzie and Mika’s father), Karen, David from the Decatur Group, and at least 4-5 others

Best Kill: Crawling zombie stomp by Sasha ()

Best Effect: Fence slicing the Walker’s face with his eye squirting through.

Odds & Entrails:

Fun fact: Zombies love rats.

Tyreese: “I got you under my skin. I got you deep in the heart of me. So deep in the heart that you are really a part of me. I got you…”

Rick: “I got other plans involving dirt and cucumbers.”

Rick: “No bites, no wounds. I think they just died.”

Hershel: “All of us in here … we’ve all been exposed.”

Rick to Carl: “You might want to stay back…” ::Carl runs up and hugs him::

Carol: “We can use cell block A.”  Glenn: “Death row? Not much of an upgrade.”

Carol: “You okay?” Daryl: “Gotta be.”

Mika, on Lizzie: “She’s messed up, she’s not weak.”


Beth: “When you care about people, hurt is part of the package.”

Beth: “All these widows and orphans … what do you call someone who lost a child? You’d think someone would have given that a name.”

Michonne holding the baby like a sack of flour was funny as hell for a second, until it got real, real sad.

I’m happy to see that Rick has apparently regained his sanity once again and is stepping up to be a leader once more.

Be sure to tells us what you thought of this episode by posting in the comments below!  The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights at 9pm ET on AMC.

  • Alex Hajna

    Who is your guess on who’s feeding the walkers. I have a few theories, but I know they’re all wrong.

    • Dan

      The blonde girl.

    • Norrtron

      I was thinking it was the little girl who has some weird attachment to the walkers, her sister did say she was “messed up”.

    • Trollhunter

      little girl, she seems fascinated by them, almost strangely obsessed.

      • LEM

        Was it her crayon picture that Karen saw that showed them at the fence with the walkers? I forget whose name was on it.

    • Grayden

      Unless the little girl got a ladder, it wasn’t her. The flashlight was too high and whoever was feeding the walkers was feeding them at average adult height meaning the walker wasn’t bent down or on its knees. Personally, I’m not sure who it is, but the prison looks to be a lot bigger than anyone knew. They weren’t even aware the other side had a huge hole in it that the Woodbury crew used to get in. Could really be anyone; and yes, even the Governor.

      • LEM

        Maybe it’s both girls and the one stood on the others shoulders.

      • Alex Hajna

        I think it’s either Beth or Carol, or someone from Woodbury that we don’t know yet.

      • LEM

        I think it’s someone purposely planted by the Governor and my guess is Stookey.

    • LEM

      What are your theories?

    • Kevin

      The obvious answer would be The Governor, but he would have to be feeding them from the inside, which raises other questions.

    • Ch

      The black guy whose leg got stuck at the first episode of season 4.

  • Daniel O’Reilly

    I liked how quickly the group figured out there was a bug going around.
    We’ve had two straight weeks of (mostly) smart writing. Practically every character has benefited from it. The show still isn’t Mad Men or Breaking Bad necessarily, but so far it’s been great.

    A widower, a farmer, and a father of two children. RIck’s been going all Will Munny on us so far this season. A comparison in no way diminished when he strapped on his gun belt.

    Judith crying that way had me worried she was infected with the bug. Beth’s speech about there not being a term for parents who have lost children makes me wonder if she might yet get a chance to think of one.

    I would not be surprised in Tyrese went on a zombie killing spree outside the prison similar to (**comic spoilers**) what he does in the gymnasium in the comic.

    The mystery guest lurking around the prison was mostly forgotten in the back half of season three. Whoever it is, is probably who is feeding zombies.

    • JD Darnes

      Wasn’t the “mystery guest” in season 3 already resolved? I mean they didn’t come out and say it, but I thought it was pretty clear that it was the prisoner that later let the walkers in, leading to Lori’s death. Personally, I don’t think the rat king that’s feeding the walkers in season 4 is related to that, especially since this person was clearly on the inside of the prison, not watching from outside.

      • LEM

        Do people really need everything said specifically to pick up on things?

      • Daniel O’Reilly

        You could be right. Season three started out so well and ended so badly I haven’t wanted to go back and look.

    • Brad Hallston

      Great writing? This show has taken a nosedive faster than any show, save Heroes season 4.

  • trollhunter

    “luring the Walkers away with bleeding pigs was a bit hokey”…behave, what are you talking about :D
    Not only was it logical in place of the situation they tried to resolve but mostly it served as almost symbolising Rick losing everything he had worked hard for, not just literarily farming but getting away from the responsibilities he once had to create the best way of living he could while not being involved in leading and protecting but focusing on his children. Yet for everything he has done to try and get this normality back for him and his family, however hard he tries, it will end up going back to bad ways and he will keep falling back in to the real harsh world of survival, its inevitable.
    I thought it was actually a great scene if you look at it deeper than face value ;)
    “hokey” pshhh

    • Dave Trumbore

      Perhaps you missed my points after the word “hokey” which explored why this was a worthwhile scene, but I’ll overlook it because: Internet.

  • Grayden

    Oh man, the sneak peak for next week shown on ‘Talking Dead’ was awesome. I won’t spoil it, but I’ll just say the “herd” from the season 2 finale is now officially dwarfed.

    • LEM

      People see sneak peeks as spoilers?

      • Grayden

        The internet is serious business. Can’t be too careful.

    • Vivien

      I agree. It will totally change the whole show. They will have to move on. Awesome

  • LEM

    The little girl is feeding the zombies and Bob is the one who killed and burned the people who were sick.

  • Oolie zool

    I’m liking the direction of things for the season. The illness and mystery feeder are, IIRC, the first real deviation from the comic story, apart from character moves. It certainly seems like something real and interesting for them to deal with in between walker related incidents. I wish Tyreese wasn’t boring…, but maybe they’ll use what has happened as a launching point to get him up to comic form. I’d like to see him clean out a cell lock by himself! :)

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