Last week, we got a a good look at our zombie apocalypse survivors working as a team in the season three premiere of The Walking Dead on AMC. The crew stormed a prison, cleared the grounds of Walkers and prepared to hole up in the secure and defensible cell blocks. Unfortunately, one of their own took a Walker bite to the ankle in the process and the gang found out that they were not the only survivors seeking refuge in the prison. The second episode, “Sick,” picks up right where we left off. After the solid opening episode, the follow-up has managed to ratchet up the tension while satiating the audience’s appetite for Walker (and non-Walker) deaths alike. Hit the jump for my recap and review of episode two of The Walking Dead.
And speaking of spoilers, you guys hate it when we writers ruin something for you, so please have the courtesy not to ruin things for others in the comments. The show does not stick to the Robert Kirkman comics 100% (as we found out with Shane’s character arc), so don’t assume you know what’s going to happen. If you want to show off how smart you are, take it somewhere else. Now that that’s out of the way, here’s a brief recap of the events of episode two, “Sick.”
Tonight’s episode literally picks up where we left off with Rick, Daryl (Norman Reedus), T-Dog (IronE Singleton) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) trying to get the injured Hershel (Scott Wilson) to safety while facing off against the new prisoners. We’re introduced, somewhat, to Big Tiny (Theodus Crane), Tomas (Nick Gomez), Andrew (Markice Moore), Oscar (Vincent Ward) and Axel (Lew Temple). Daryl’s got them pinned back at crossbow point as Glenn gets a makeshift stretcher for Hershel. It’s clear that Tomas is the leader of this crew (and none too bright at that) with Andrew as his second. None of that matters for now as our guys get Hershel back to the safety of the cleared cell block. While the women try to stop the bleeding, the guys have another confrontation with the prisoners, who have followed them back. Rick makes a deal with Tomas that he’ll help them clear out a cell block of their own if they give up half their supplies. Sounds fair, right?
After explaining what went down in the world outside while the prisoners were safely locked up in the prison, both groups unite to take out the Walkers in another section of the prison. Upon their first Walker sighting, the prisoners go ape shit and attack the undead like it was a prison riot, shivving and shanking and stomping til their heart’s content. While fighting a larger group, Big Tiny gets bitten but pleads his case for survival. Tomas answers by smashing his head to a bloody pulp. The ruthless prisoner again shows his true colors as he attempts to get Rick killed by throwing a Walker on top of him. Rick answers his betrayal with a machete to the head. The remaining prisoners have a choice: Andrew decides to attack Rick and then run, landing himself amid a pack of Walkers (where Rick locks the door behind him), while Oscar and Axel submit and are granted leave of their own cell block.
Meanwhile, Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies), Carol (Melissa McBride), Beth (Emily Kinney) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) are trying to keep Hershel alive, but have cuffed him to the bed in case he goes Walker on them. Without a doctor, Carol knows it’s going to be tough to deliver Lori’s baby, especially if a Cesarean section is necessary. So she does what any sane person would do and kills a lady Walker to practice her surgical skills, while an unidentified someone watches from the treeline. Back in the prison cell, Hershel has stopped breathing, but lunges at Lori when she gives him CPR. Zombie Hershel? Nope, just having crazy old man dreams. He wakes briefly to wordlessly thank everyone for saving him. Finally, Rick and Lori share a nice moment on a prison walkway while zombies claw at the fence below them. Ah, romance.
I loved this episode. There was a fair amount of gore and it was dished out to undead and living alike. The tension between Rick and Tomas was so thick you had to cut it with a machete. I’m almost sad to see Tomas go because the guy was so brutal and ruthless that you almost want his end to be drawn out with suffering a bit longer. Shane (Jon Bernthal) was a great source of tension towards the end, and these new prisoners are filling in for him now. But the tension didn’t only come in the violent moments.
“Sick” had equally great character-building moments to the season premiere. Carl, who I’m really rooting for, decides to go off and clear out the infirmary on his own, casually killing two walkers and returning with much-needed medical supplies. His pride got the better of his senses and when his mother yells at him, he snaps right back. Unfortunately, the budding love interest between Carl and Beth is set back by this as Beth tells him he can’t speak to his mother that way. However, Carl was right back by the bedside, gun drawn, when it looked like Hershel might take a bite out of dear old mum.
There’s something interesting going on with Maggie, too. At the sight of her father’s injury, she more or less throws up her hands and thinks it’s all over. The assurances of the rest of the group, including an intimate conversation with Glenn and a sweet moment with her sister Beth, don’t seem to assuage her doom-and-gloom anymore. Keep an eye on her; she ain’t right in the head. Carol used to be the one with the mental stability issues, but as she’s cutting up corpses in the prison yard for the good of the group, I think she’s at least gotten over her squeamishness.
Rick is becoming the honey badger of this group: he don’t care, he don’t give a shit. “You got more food than you got choices,” he tells the prisoners while trying to make a deal that’s best for everyone. He didn’t hesitate to axe Hershel’s leg off last week and he didn’t wait too long to split Tomas’ skull (“Shit happens.”) or chase down Andrew once the prisoners had exhausted their chances. I even expected him to put Oscar and Axel down, too. Lori even said, “Do whatever you gotta do to keep this group safe and do it with a clear conscience.” But it was touching to see that Rick might still have a tenuous hold on his human side as seen during that last conversation between him and Lori, who clearly still loves him (she smelled her damn shirt where his bloody hand had been for God’s sake!). I can only imagine that Rick’s rock-solid resolve is being showcased now because it will surely be tested in upcoming episodes.
Some of you had problems with my 7/10 last week, whether you thought it was too low, or in one case, too high. Here’s the thing, the opener had great action sequences, good dialogue scenes between our key characters and great effects work, as usual. But it was all rush, rush, rush, one action sequence to the next. There were nice moments, but few real surprises and a general lack of tension until the last bit. “Sick,” however, ratchets up the tension, gets in all the gory kills and even manages to develop the characters more than the opener. And there’s some added intrigue as to the question of who was watching our crew from outside the prison walls. The only way it could have impressed me more is if they’d thrown in some big twist/surprise. That’s why I’ll give this episode:
- Theodus Crane, who played Big Tiny, is 6’8” and also ranked #1 in the International Chinese Martial Arts Competition for heavyweight sanda/sanshou. Kinda wish he hadn’t gotten bludgeoned to death.
- I’m happy that T-Dog has decided to keep the riot armor and he’s my new favorite action figure next to Crossbow Poncho Daryl.
- Carl continues to be the man, even if he is a little snot at times.
- Who the hell was watching Carol from the bushes? Merle (Michael Rooker)? The Governor (David Morrissey)? The conspicuously absent Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Andrea (Laurie Holden)? Or someone else completely?
- Explaining to the prisoners what had happened to the world was a crushing reminder of the peril our survivors face every day, but it also served to illustrate how much our heroes have learned and adapted to this world, versus the kill-happy prisoners who try to answer all of their problems with a gun and a shiv.
- Looks like 34, including the two off-screen that Carl said he killed.
- Has to go to Carol’s “rebar through the eye” kill, especially considering she killed the zombie to practice surgery on her cadaver.
- “Hand-cuff Zombie” who sloughed off his whole hand in order to get after Big Tiny.
- None of our heroes, but three of the new prisoners: Big Tiny, Tomas and Andrew, which is the toughest of prison names.
Join us next week for another recap and review of The Walking Dead! Be sure to leave your comments and suggestions below.