Season 4, Episode 9 prepost, “What Happens ‘After?'”

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So, what happens “After?”

Welcome back, gang….It’s been a nice couple of months since we watched the Governor implode in a hero-brother-hating self-sabotage and basically fuck it all up for everybody, including himself, by making an ill-fated play for the prison.  

The Walking Dead’s Season 4 mid-season finale, Too Far Gone, left everybody either dead or broken and bleeding, running for their lives in ragtag bands (or alone) as the prison is overrun with walkers… and then, after the finale,  we shaken WD fans all took a well-earned break from the mayhem and went on holiday.

And it’s the day we’ve been waiting for, Feb. 9th, 2014. Tonight, my friends, WD is back with its mid-season premiere, “After,” and the blood and guts are gonna hit the proverbial fan.

After a couple of moons, many questions, predictions, and about a million social media freakouts later, the question stands:  We are back, but are we ready?

I, for one, do not know… but here I am.  So, armed with two Stellas for self-medication (and bravery), I rewatched Too Far Gone… and yes, it was even more brutal and heartbreaking this time around.

I did notice a couple of things in the episode that I guess I had missed before, like Rick’s getting shot in the leg…I did not remember that Rick had gotten shot in the thigh.

That is so not good, and his poor, beautiful face is looking like raw hamburger meat after the Gov beat the total crap out of him and almost strangled him to death (btw, that fight scene between Rick and the Gov is one of the burliest onscreen punchouts, ever).

Rick’s not looking too good in the previews, either, and then there’s that scene in the preview where Carl’s terrified face is above an unconscious Rick, screaming for him to “Wake up! Wake up!”

Oh, god…Rick…I cannot.  I just cannot.

(Stella!   At this point, I took a writing break and went to the neighborhood bodega get another twelver of Stella…I am learning that when writing, one must choose their beverages wisely and stick with the chosen kinds during the writing process. Bukowski would agree, I think.)

One of the main questions I wanted to get clear on while rewatching Too Far Gone was:  Who ended up with whom as the surviving prison peeps scattered?  

From what I saw, Glenn ended up on the bus, Maggie ended up with Sasha and Bob, Tyrese ended up chasing after Lizzy and Mika, yelling, “Hey! We go that way!”  (I sense the potential for a kooky sitcom here, NewDad and the girls braving the pitfalls and funny shenanigans of zombie apocalypse and impending puberty).

Daryl and Beth ended up together, and I have this creepy feeling they are going to hook up at some point. While I do feel a little jealous and shitty about that possibly happening, I really couldn’t blame them…they are both smokin’ hot and pumped full of adrenaline. And, I suppose you gotta get it while you can in these dire times.

I don’t hate the players, people…at times, however, I do hate the game.

When I suggested the Daryl Fucks Beth Postulate to my WD buddy (by texting, God, is Daryl going to fuck Beth?), she immediately texted back, No, Daryl is not!  

Hmmm….I wish I could be that confident. I do not relish the mental picture that comes up in my head when I think of Daryl and Beth getting it on… but the way I see it, while Daryl may not, Beth definitely would, and will.

I remember that long-ass hug she gave him in “30 Days Without an Accident.”  That Beth is a little Lolita, and despite his best efforts, Daryl may just give in to a “what the hell” moment late one night, when all they’ve got is each other, and Beth’s looking real cute tidying up their squatter house and singing a Tom Waits song to herself.

Whatever happens, let’s just hope that when it does happen, they don’t get walked in on by Crazy Carol. That would not go over well.

Oh, you didn’t hear? Carol’s coming back… at least, that’s what the buzz is about on social media these days.

Norman Reedus posted pictures on Instagram of Melissa McBride getting made up backstage at the Conan show, and all the comments were about how two characters from before are returning to WD.  No surprise here. I knew Carol was coming back.(Refer to the ongoing Crazy Carol Theory in previous posts)  

Nobody puts Carol in the corner!

As for the second WD alum returning to the show, my work buddy Jeff and I have been predicting Morgan’s return into the forefront of the storyline for some time now…Jeff is the maverick who offered the Carl Theory in the first part of Season 4, and I respect his WD insights (even though you still haven’t put a “Like” on my Barnfullawalkers FB page, Jeff, you cagey bastard!). https://www.facebook.com/barnfullawalkers

Ahem…sorry…where was I?

Oh yes, anyway, at the end of Season 3, Jeff and I both agreed that we thought it was Morgan who poured gasoline on the Gov’s pit of walkers and set them on fire (thus spawning The Morgan Theory. )  But, of course, at the  time, the Gov blamed poor Milton for torching his pit walkers.

Remember when the Gov asked Milton, “Where did you get the gasoline?” to set the fire, and Milt looked like he didn’t know what the Gov was talking about? Then, in a total dick move, the Gov killed Milt and left him to zombify, chomp Andrea, and, ostemsibly, zombify her… earning my vote for the Governor as the Worst Boyfriend Ever.

Anyway, Jeff and I have discussed The Morgan Theory at length during lulls at work… we’ve always said that he’s coming back to be a major game changer and fuck some shit up.

So, my pick for characters returning are (drumroll, please):  Morgan and Crazy Carol, WD’s Homecoming King and Queen!  I mean, who else is left as far as characters from before? Everyone else is all dead, right?

Three characters, however, remain a question: Tara, Lilly, and Baby Judith.  Are they alive or dead, and will we see any of them again?

Baby Judith.  Sigh…  Man, I don’t know.  Many of my friends are talking about how Baby Judith could have been scooped up and taken on the bus…yeah, yeah.  I would love that, I really would.

That last shot of her, strapped into the baby carrier and being jostled by Mika and the other cute girl as they tried to carry her to the bus, is burned into my memory…I mean, she was the most beautiful baby in the world.  We all love Baby Judith! Even Daryl named her Lil Asskicker.  I am so pro-Baby Judith being alive, I really am.  

I love Baby Judith!

But….I also know that back in Season 3, when Glenn Mazzarra was still at the WD writing helm, the other writers were pretty much wanting to kill off Baby Judith…and Glenn Mazzarra held them back…for a while.

Now, Glenn Mazzarra is out, and Scott M. Gimple’s at the helm. And, after Too Far Gone aired on AMC, Talking Dead’s Chris Hardwick asked Robert Kirkman about the possibility of Baby Judith being alive still.  In response to that question, Robert Kirkman got this look on his face, this scoff, like he was so sure that he was so doubtful about that one.

After the scoff, Kirkman kind of shook his head, and said, with a laugh,  “There was a lot of blood in that car seat!”

That, straight from The Mouth of Kirkman, people, the creator of both The Walking Dead comic series and the television series… I would say that Kirkman pretty much has the final say on Baby Judith’s fate, or anything to do with The Walking Dead.

So, unless Kirkman is totally fucking with us and playing with our emotions (and we know how he, and Gimple, and Nicotero and the rest of the gang at WD, Inc. love to play with our emotions)…

…Baby Judith is probably not one of the returning characters…I really want to be wrong about this, people.  Let’s hope I am.

I will say that with this most recent and painful viewing of Too Far Gone, I did see the possibility of Judith being scooped up by someone from the prison who had been wounded and who, perhaps, bled on her while freeing her from the car seat and carrying her to safety.

I tried to see if the car seat straps were torn or gnawed away when I watched the wrenching scene of Carl and Rick’s discovery of the bloodied and empty seat.  It was really hard to tell.

I am not sure what happened to Tara, or her sister Lilly, after Lilly pulled the trigger on her shitty boyfriend, the Gov.  It would not be hard to imagine Lilly turning the gun on herself and pulling the trigger after she did the deed on the Gov, after losing her daughter, Meghan and everything going to shit. I guess we will see if either of the ill-fated sisters shows up in the second installment of Season 4… I liked them both, so I would hope so.

I am also not sure what happened to Michonne, if she ended up with any of the other prison peeps…my WD buddy thought she had ended up with Rick and Carl, but in that final scene, when Rick tells Carl not to look back, to just keep going, it is just them, no Michonne.

I know that Michonne can take care of herself, but she was just starting to open up to the others, and to get thrust back into that bleak solitary survival mode would just suck so bad…maybe she’ll find Tara and they will travel together and be hot asskicking girlfriends!

I can’t stop thinking about that crazy scene in the “After” preview, when Carl is luring the walkers away from the front door of the house, and down the street… I have been watching it over and over and thinking about Carl a lot.

Apparently, that scene is straight from the comic series. I think this time together, with Carl and his father, is going to be really significant in the development of their relationship, as they only have each other.  And it looks in the preview that Rick is pretty messed up, and Carl has to take care of him, even screaming down at Rick in terror that Rick is slipping away… I am so freaking scared for them, for all of them, but I am especially bonded to Rick and Carl.

Ok, so this brings us to the hard hitting question that is in, I think, everyone’s hearts: How is this all going to go down? What is going to  happen to our most beloved WD characters?  

The long term prognosis is not good here, people.  While I do not pretend to be an expert on the comic series, I do know enough to know that the end isn’t exactly chocolates and roses.

At this point in the zombie apocalypse, even if a group of people establish a foothold somewhere, set up a dwelling, and find a way to feed themselves and defend themselves to whatever degree from walkers, it seems that other surviving groups and individuals may prey upon them merely to get what they have.

Resources are dwindling, and the world is becoming more and more predatory, competitive, brutal to try to navigate and survive in.

And is it just me, or does it seem that the world of WD that Mother Nature herself is dying, or sick?  In the Camp Martinez episode, the lake next to the Gov’s camp was a dead lake, and the hunting expedition in the forest only yielded a dismal haul of a couple of squirrels… Rick’s attempt to raise hogs ended in a highly lethal swine flu… it all leaves me wondering if the pestilence and decay of the walkers is infecting the world and poisoning its resources even further.

We have to steel ourselves, people.  It’s balls-to-the-wall time. Some fucked-up mean characters from the comic series are coming.

Remember the radio promise of the Sanctuary? Remember how the little camp the Gov,  Martinez, and Sweet Pete happened upon was ransacked, the people massacred? And we never found out who was feeding the walkers rat-snacks and creating gruesome rabbit-art with entrails…

Many questions remain to be answered.

Now, I must say the thing that I do not want to say, but we are all thinking it.  I have read, and commented in, many exchanges on social media about the what if scenario: What if one (or more) of my favorite characters die?

Norman Reedus’s Instagram account is a classic example of the social media panic, as is AMC’s The Walking Dead live chat page.  People are really starting to freak the fuck out…they are posting comments like, NORMAN!!  IF DARYL DIES I WILL QUIT WATCHING THE SHOW!!!! 

Now, let’s all just take a deep, cleansing breath, shall we? That level of distress at the thought of losing a beloved WD character is totally understandable.  I did try to post, in response, what I thought was a placating, soothing thought, something like, Daryl Dixon is a warrior and does not fear going into the void…and Norman Reedus is alive, well, and here to stay!   That’s nice, right?

Trying to be reassuring, and the response I got to that was like the social media equivalent to being chased by an angry mob brandishing sticks and torches…never again!

But for all my brave words, I too am freaking about this.  I called my WD buddy and asked her, point blank, “Dude, what are we going to do if Daryl dies?”

I won’t go into all the details of what happened next… let’s just say there were tears,…and more tears…and some shaky laughter, and sharing memories, thoughts, feelings…it was raw, it was real.

We needed to get it out, and we were kind of moving through it, getting a grip on it….and then, my friend spoke the unspeakable sentence.

Her voice breaking, she said, “But…I don’t know what I would do…if Rick…”

Oh, God, say no more, SAY NO MORE!  Now it is time for my shouty caps and thousand exclamation points…. STELLA!!!!!

Ok, here is what I propose…we cannot control The Mind of Kirkman … The Law of Kirkman basically states (I think) something like:  Kirkman will do as Kirman wants, and Kirkman and Co. can (and will)  play with our emotions. It’s nothing personal…it’s how he do!

We have to stay strong, people.  I advise that you all set up a Daryl Plan with a designated Daryl Partner.

Here is how a Daryl Plan works:  

You pick a close friend and similarly obsessed WD buddy to be Daryl Partners with you, so if one of your very favorite characters dies in the show, you are there for one another.

In the Daryl Plan,  you and your Daryl Partner would check in with each other…Being a Daryl Partner may entail little, supportive gestures, like sending little encouraging texts throughout the day, such as, Thinking of u! Hope your day is going well! 🙂  Load on the emoticons.

Or, perhaps you can share some uplifting links to your Daryl Partner’s Facebook timeline, like, Onward and Upward! (or basically anything that involves a photo of a kitten, puppy, or baby, preferably with an upended bowl of spaghetti on their heads).

As a Daryl Partner, you may need to go check on your designated buddy’s place, unannounced, especially if you cannot get a hold of him or her by phone, text, or computer after repeated attempts…

You may need to go to their front door and knock loudly, calling their name.You may need to go around their house or apartment, looking in the windows… and if you see your buddy, face down, sobbing in a pool of tears and vomit, you may need to break in through one of the windows to get to them.  You may need to help lift your buddy up from their prostrate grief, gently wipe away the tears and vomit, and say something to snap them out of it, like, “You have to get it together…think of the children!”

A Daryl Plan is a serious pact, and the way I see it, key to our survival as WDO’s (Walking Dead Obsessed).  

The key tenant of the Daryl Plan is:  Do for your Daryl Partner as you would have your Daryl Partner do for you.

Pop-culture histrionics aside, the second installment of TheWalking Dead’s  Season 4 is sure to be a wild, fun ride, chock full of suspense, plot twists and turns like shiny, bloody innards, and super gnarly walker kills.

Nicotero will once again outdo himself, and Kirkman, Gimple, and the writing crew will be sure to infuse dark humor and moments of respite and renewal to keep us all hanging on through these dark times.

And there is sure to be amazing music, both by the inimitable Bear McCreary and an array of musical artists, as the addition of an ongoing playlist/soundtrack is one of the new offerings of Season 4. So stock up on Stellas (or whatever your beverage of choice) and strap on your strap-on’s, people.

We are in for a wild, bumpy ride.

To kick off the music, here is my humble offering…the prepost playlist for the upcoming mid-season premiere episode, “After.” Enjoy, and cheers!

Playlist:

Iron Maiden, Aces High

Soundgarden,  The Day I Tried to Live 

Foo Fighters,  Alone + Easy Target

(Oh, and p.s., if you haven’t already done so, find my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/barnfullawalkers and show the love…will be full of fun posts, updates, media, and wacky antics!)

Season 4, Episode 8, “Too Far Gone”

“Too Far Gone”

(All images used in this post are screen caps from AMC’s The Walking Dead, unless otherwise specified.)

Well, people, here we are already…the mid-season finale…I am not sure who, where, or whence the ol’ mid-season finale concept came, but I, for one, am grateful for the idea.  I am too busy in a million different ways to be able keep a boner going for any show, no matter how awesome, for 16 weeks in a row…especially through the holiday season. The Walking Dead would have had pretty much one of the best shots at keeping me going for a straight 16-weekerbut it would have cost me.

I would have rallied, but it might not have been pretty at the end.

So, thank you,  genius of television who came up with the mid-season break idea…for saving our collective sanity, and giving us something to look forward to in the last part of dreary winter, the January/February slump, where the weather is cold and grey, and there are no real breaks or holidays except Presidents’ Day and Valentine’s Day…and sorry, but in my experience, those two “holidays” are never really as fun as they could be.

However, Season 4, for me, as been a pretty epic one, more fun than I could have imagined.  For one, it’s been the “coming out” season of barnfullawalkers, and despite the long hours of writing, rewriting, sleep deprivation, and technical difficulties that have come with this endeavor, it’s been a super rewarding adventure to start this blog and write about The Walking Dead. My WD buddy and I agree that Season 4 has been one of our favorites so far, on many levels.

I personally have enjoyed where Robert Kirkman, Scott Gimple, Greg Nicotero, and the entire gang of WD have taken us in the story line of this season, and I like how dark elements and characters of the comic series have been woven back into the television series. For me, the writing team has done a masterful job of maneuvering the scope of these dark times while still keeping love, hope, and humanity alive in key characters…and it seems the actors have been inspired by such a high level of writing by the haunting performances that all of the key actors have delivered so far in Season 4.  For some actors, these performances were their final ones for the series, and mad props need to be given to:  David Morrissey, Scott Wilson, and Jose Pablo Cantillo for wrenching our hearts and guts all over the floor…and to the actor that played Red Shirt Walker, who rolled over from his prison cot and spilled his guts all over the floor…mad props to that guy.

I also must give mad props to Melissa McBride, who plays Carol, gone but not forgotten…I will add another level to the ongoing Carol Theory, and say the I feel that we will definitely be seeing Carol again, perhaps in some leadership capacity elsewhere, where the bounds of morality are based more on brute survival than human compassion…but we shall see, won’t we?

I have also enjoyed, in Season 4, the addition of music from different musical artists, blending with the ongoing genius of Bear McCreary, to create a soundtrack for each episode.  I have read and heard various interviews with the actors of The Walking Dead where they said that they used music to prepare for, inspire, and come down from key scenes and performances throughout the series. For me, it just makes sense…music and The Walking Dead just go together.

Ok, enough preamble…let’s get to it, shall we? I’m not really going to get all recappy with this one…if you are reading this, you know what the fuck happened.  But we have definitely got some shit to hash out here, tears to cry…memories to share.

“Too Far Gone”

I was pretty curious how the Gov was going to spring his evil plan to the RV gang, and so I enjoyed listening to the Gov’s rallying speech at the beginning of Episode 8.  And, true to form for Season 4, the beginning was double-layered, with two scenes interposed, serving to turn the plot gears at double speed and getting the viewers right in there, and I, for one, am loving it.

In this episode, the Gov’s speech scene was interposed with the scene of him ambushing Hershel and Michonne in the woods… For me, it was super-pimp the way the Gov popped Michonne with the butt of his gun, dropping her, then with a single turn of the wrist, pointed the gun straight and true at Hershel, who knew he was bested…so poor Hershel just set down his gun and put his hands up, like, “Dude, sucks to see you, but that shit was pretty Bruce Lee, right there…why the fuck can’t you be on our side, again?” (Don’t get me wrong…I am Team Prison all the way, but I just have to throw some admiration at the Gov’s style of kung-fu.)

And then, in inimitable Gov fashion, we see how “Brian Heriot” turns on his unique charm to sell the RV gang on the hostile prison takeover, twisting their emotions and the facts to achieve his nefarious scheme. “I want you to survive,” he tells them…calls the peeps of the prison the ones that destroyed Woodbury, took his eye, killed his daughter. Damn, what a storyteller…he’s good, that Gov.

And I love how he just throws in there, at the end of his initial pitch:  Oh, and btw, I just happened to capture two hostages…not that I’ve ever TAKEN hostages before, because, you know, that would be weird…I just was thinking that a couple of hostages would be a good bargaining chip for my peaceful hostile takeover plan, you know, the one where nobody gets hurt, and they leave gladly, and we live in peace and harmony at the prison for ever after…and we need to do this, like now, or we’ll lose the element of surprise and they’ll notice that their buddies are gone…not that I’ve ever done this before!

The Gov plays their emotions and fears, and before they know it, the group is nodding and agreeing to his plan…all except Lilly, who has overheard the Gov’s pitch and is not having it…girlfriend’s got her arms crossed and looks pretty pissed.  When Lilly calls him out, the Gov throw out all the stops, telling her the only judgement he cares about is that she and Megan are alive and breathing…then, the Gov throws in a, “I love you,” for a good measure Hail Mary pass.  

Lilly replies, “I don’t know who you are.”  Get used to it, girlfriend…that’s life with the Governor!

The scene with Hershel, Michonne, and the Gov in the RV, with Hard Pass Mitch standing guard outside, is pretty crazy.  I love how Hershel calls the Gov out when the Gov tells them that nobody is going to hurt them…”I don’t believe that” says Hershel.

In response to this, the Gov avoids looking at Hershel and Michonne by pretending to pack up some battle snacks for later. “Well, I don’t care,” he replies.  When pressed by Hershel to please explain what is going on, the Gov tells them that he needs the prison, nothing personal, and that he needs them to help him get it as peacefully as possible, without anyone getting hurt if it can be avoided.

It’s hard for me to know if the Governor is actually believing any of this story he’s telling at this point…is he just sugar-coating it, rationalizing it, to those around him to make them do what he wants them to do, or is he really telling himself this story, over and over, so he can believe that he really is the good guy in this “peaceful hostile takeover” scenario he’s cooked up?

When Hershel proposes that the two groups can find a way to coexist at the prison, peacefully, the Governor resists, acknowledging that Hershel is a “good man, better than Rick.” Hershel points out that it seems the Governor has changed, and tells him that Rick has changed as well…the Governor stops him right there, tells him there is no way that Rick and he, or he and Michonne, can live together in the same community.

When Hershel presses, the Governor snaps, then recovers his poise, telling them there’s many ways he can do this, and this way, “You get to live, and I get to be…” 

The Gov never finishes that thought, seeming to get lost in the question of it.  Who could he really be, when it’s all said and done? Could he do it differently this time, or would things progress the way they did with Woodbury?  Things are already getting pretty fucked up as it stands.

Hershel asks the Governor, “If you understand what it’s like to have a daughter, then how can you be willing to kill someone else’s?”  The Gov replies, “Because they aren’t mine,” and exits the RV.

The Governor has the RV’s moved to the water’s edge, assuring Lilly that they will be safe there, as the walkers cannot cross the river…he doesn’t really focus on teaching Lilly, Megan or those who stay behind at the camp the basics for defending themselves while he and his Makeshift Army 2.0 go to battle “peacefully” for the prison…instead, he makes a show of giving Megan, who is making mud pies, unsupervised, by the water’s edge (and the bushes’ edge…how is that a good idea?) a big goodbye hug, and that proves to be a fatal lapse in judgement for the Governor…and little Megan.

Back at the prison, poor Glenn is still looking pretty green, not quite recovered from the Explodey Flu…but he manages to laugh with Maggie and joke about needing a vacation…meanwhile, Rick is having the dreaded Daryl Conversation, and Daryl takes it as well as can be expected, which is not very well, at first…he’s pissed, he’s pacing, he doesn’t believe that Carol would kill those people…Rick seems to convince him, because when Rick tells Daryl he still needs to tell Tyrese all of this, and that he’s not sure how Tyrese is going to take it, Daryl says right away, “Let’s go find out.”

Like I said before, Daryl understands dude code better than anyone else…he isn’t happy with Rick’s decision, but he will not let Rick go have The Tyrese Conversation without a second to back him up if Tyrese goes apeshit at Rick’s news.

They find Tyrese down in a darkened hallway…and he’s got some news for them…he shows them the creepy mutilated rabbit and brain art that some fucked up person is making…he thinks that whoever killed Karen and David is the same “psychopath” who made the rabbit and brain painting and who was feeding rats to the walkers…Rick begins to tell Tyrese that he doesn’t think it’s the same person, and when Tyrese asks why, they are (saved by?) interrupted by a huge explosion.

Cue the pulsing Bear McCreary music…and here he is, ambassador for peace, standing atop a tank: the Governor, flanked by his Makeshift Army 2.0, calling for Rick to come down and “talk.”

God, Rick is so hot when he bellows back that it’s not up to him, there’s a council now….the way Rick handles himself in this crisis just ups his hotness index by like a thousand degrees, if that is even possible.  The Gov is all silky and slithery as he asks, “Is Hershel on the council? What about Michonne?” and his minions trot out the hostages and force them onto their knees, for Team Prison to see.

When Rick asserts that he doesn’t make all the decisions any more, the Governor tells him that he, Rick, will be making the decisions today…”So come down here, and let’s have that talk.”

Rick quietly nods to Daryl, checks in with Carl, before going to face the Governor, the Gov’s tank, and his army, armed with only a pistol…like the lone hero in a cowboy movie…so freaking hot…Daryl’s making plans with Sasha and Tyrese to get everyone on the bus, to make their escape.

Rick tries to reason with the Governor, telling them there are sick children at the prison who would not survive leaving…to no avail…the Governor is being the dick with the tank and giving them until nightfall to leave.

Back at the RV camp, Lilly sees a walker making its way pretty easily so far across the water…then he goes down…Megan pulls up a flash flood area sign from the mud, and unearths a walker who was buried under the sticky mud and sign…it grabs for her, and before Lilly can get to her, poor Megan gets chomped:

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Poor Megan!

Poor Megan! My WD buddy texted me, The Gov sucks at protecting his girls…he’s gonna go batshit now..

Back at the not-so-peaceful takeover, Rick delivers his epic speech: “We can all…we can all live together. There’s enough room for all of us.” The Gov pipes in that he doesn’t think “his family” would sleep very well with Rick and the prison gang under the same roof, as they (mistakenly) believe that Rick and the gang are the bad guys, not the Gov.  Rick counters that the two groups could live in different cell blocks, that they wouldn’t even need to see each other.  Hershel turns and backs Rick up by telling the Governor, “It could work…you know it could.”

The Gov is being a big baby about it, and the camera focuses on Michonne’s face as he says he can’t, not after Woodbury, not after Andrea.

Michonne is so hating him, and right now, so am I. The Governor tortured and killed Andrea, deliberately and maliciously, and Rick and the gang were just rescuing their people.  Rick is too gracious to bring this up, saying instead that it would be hard, a lot harder to make it work than to go to battle, but that there is no other choice. Rick says they will not leave without a battle, a battle that would draw the walkers and tear down the fences, making the prison worthless.

The Governor then jumps down from the tank and seizes Michonne’s katana, holds it to Hershel’s neck.  Hershel looks unafraid.  Rick points to Tara, asks her if this is what she wants, if this is what any of them want. Hard Pass informs him that what they want is what he’s got, and it’s “time to leave, asshole.”  Nice, Hard Pass. Way to turn on the charm and the diplomacy.

Rick counters that he has fought the Governor before, and after the fight, former residents of Woodbury and compatriots of the Governor were welcomed into the prison community, where they became leaders.  Rick invites them to put down their weapons, to walk through the gates of the prison, and become “one of us.”

Rick looks right at the Governor, who is still holding the sword to Hershel’s neck, but who seems uncertain now.

“We can let go of all of it,” Rick tells the Gov, swiping the air with his arm as if wiping a slate clean, “and nobody dies…everyone’s alive right now…everyone’s made it this far…we’ve all done worse kinds of things, just to stay alive…but we can still come back…we’re not too far gone…we get to come back…I know we all can change.”

The Gov lets the sword down for a moment…Hershel smiles at Rick, proud and happy to hear Rick speak of love and forgiveness instead of dwelling in fear and uncertainty, as he had before.

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The Governor, no doubt overcome with hatred for yet another Hero Brother, whispers, “Liar,” and slices Michonne’s katana into poor Hershel’s neck. Maggie and Beth scream, and Rick screams, “No!” and fires…and Battle Royale has begun.

As Battle Royale begins to rage, Michonne manages to sneak away, cutting ropes that bind her wrists after tripping an enemy soldier and stomping his face.

The Governor catches up with Hershel and finishes the job, badly, hacking away at Hershel’s neck until his head is severed.  He then looks up to see Lilly, bearing her daughter, Megan’s, body.  The Governor takes Megan’s body and rekills Megan with a shot to the head. Tara cannot bear to fight, dropping her gun and covering her ears, despite Hard Pass’s orders to pick up her weapon and fight.  Alisha tells Tara to run somewhere safe, and after the battle is over, Alisha will come and find her.

The Governor is in full kill mode, ordering the tank and trucks to run the fence down. “Kill them all,” he orders.  “Roger that!” yells Hard Pass, waving his shitty hat in circles above his head… it’s his big dick moment. He puts throws tank in gear and proceeds to mow down the prison fences. Tyrese orders Sasha and Bob back, and Maggie orders Beth to get the others in the bus.

“We all have a job to do,” Maggie reminds Beth. (Hershel! 😦 We love you!)

Maggie runs into the prison to get Glenn, brings him to the bus, then runs to find Beth, who has disappeared. Rick tackles the Governor, and they commence with a western saloon-style beatdown, which the Gov almost wins, until:

Enter Michonne, saving Rick and finally getting to kill the Gov's ass

Enter Michonne, saving Rick and finally getting to kill the Gov’s ass, katana-style!

Lizzy proves that she is Carol’s daughter when she saves Tyrese by killing some unnamed minion, then killing a shocked Alisha, putting a bullet right between her eyes:

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Daryl pulls off a sweet maneuver, deftly slipping a grenade into the gun barrel of the tank (while using a dead walker as a shield). He kills Hard Pass with an arrow to the chest before grabbing Beth and hauling ass away from the prison, which is becoming overrun with walkers.

Unfortunately, Lizzy and Mika forgot about poor baby Judith…after Rick and Carl find each other, they make the horrible discovery of Baby Judith’s car seat, soaked in blood, with Judith nowhere to be found.  Anguished, Rick and Carl run for the hills, with Rick advising Carl not to look back.

As walkers overrun the prison grounds, the group is splintered into factions as they flee the prison for their lives.  As the Governor lay gasping, we see Lilly come to take her revenge:

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And we see a familiar face from the past:

Creepy Clara Walker...I knew we would see her again!

Creepy Clara Walker... I knew we would see her again!

So, there we have it…the prison is gone, the gang is gone, and some beloved characters have gone. So, here’s a little something to help cheer you up…enjoy!

(After this mid-season finale post, I plan to expand to social media with barnfullawalkers, and to keep posting, starting with the Episodes Gone Bye  where we rewatch and revisit the entire WD journey thus far, starting with Season 1, Episode 1, “Days Gone Bye.”  In addition, I will watch and post on all the Walking Dead webisodes, which, if you haven’t seen them, are like creepy little vignettes that are essential to getting the full  scope of the Walking Dead story….so stay tuned, and thanks for reading!)

Playlist:

Weezer, “Say it Ain’t So”

Nirvana, “Oh Me” (for Rick)

Nirvana, “Lake of Fire” (for the Gov)

The Dexateens, “Still Gone” (for Judith, Carol, Megan, Alisha)

The Queens of the Stone Age, “Mexicola” 

Radical Face, “Welcome Home, Son” (for Hershel <3)

Walking Dead, Season 4, Episode 3 “Isolation”

“Isolation”

(All images used in this post are screen caps from AMC’s The Walking Dead, unless otherwise specified.)

When we left off last week, the prison was under quarantine after an outbreak of the explodey flu, and, subsequently, walkers, in Cell Block D. In explodey flu, the infected person’s lungs reach max pressure and he/she dies from a surge of blood exploding out of all mucous membranes …totally gnarly, and btw, this is my name for it…not Hershel’s. All persons exhibiting the signs of explodey flu are quarantined in Cell Block D, which pretty much stands for Cell Block Die unless somebody gets some antibiotics in this joint.

Digging graves…the prison’s latest pasttime…Glenn and Maggie exchanging smoldering sex looks while doing the gloomy work. Maggie’s shooting Glenn a look like, “Mmmm, sweetie, your hair’s looking good, all long and shit, and you’re working that shovel…why don’t we sneak off and knock one out real quick?” and Glenn gives this cute regretful look back, like, “Girl, I wish we could, but, you know…we gotta dig these graves…” Back inside, Hershel and Caleb, the young med, are checking on a sick patient…Caleb checks the vitals, looks at Hershel, and they share a shake of the head, Goner. Caleb pulls out his knife for the rekill. On to number next in Cell Block Die.

Outside the entrance to the D block, Tyrese is boiling mad.  He’s not going to need any encouragement to exact his style of justice on whomever killed Karen and David. This scene is amazing, with Chad Coleman playing Tyrese as truly menacing and unpredictable in his fury and grief.  Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus kill it once again, as Rick and Daryl both bob and weave, light on their toes, keeping an eye on, and a step away from, Tyrese in serpentine unison. Daryl stays behind Tyrese, ready to jump in if needed, and Rick is face to face with Tyrese, trying to reason with a man who is not to be reasoned with. When Tyrese steps to Rick, Daryl reaches out a arm to try to restrain him, and quick as a whip, Tyrese shoves Daryl across the concrete and jacks him up on the bars. Tyrese is fast and crazy strong!

Even in Tyrese’s chokehold, Daryl puts his hand up to signal Rick back, letting Tyrese have his moment and get it worked out. (That is majorly cool of Daryl, who understands dude code pretty much more than anyone, ever.) Rick is behind Tyrese, giving him some weak sauce about how “We’ve all lost someone” and how Tyrese needs to “calm down.” This badly timed (and badly put) advice sends Tyrese right up, and he shoves Rick. There’s a great shot of Rick, looking kind of pissed and majorly sexy, then he says something stupid, and totally unsexy, like, “Karen wouldn’t want you acting like this.”

In the next instant, Tyrese is beating Rick down…Daryl jumps on Tyrese and pulls him back as Rick puts a shaky hand up to his bloody mouth. With one taste of his own blood, Rick leaps up and begins pounding Tyrese down berserker-style while Daryl tries to restrain him. Rick screams at Daryl to let him go, ready for more…he stops only when he hears Tyrese break down into sobs, lying on the concrete. The scene ends with a shot of Rick’s face, dazed, as he looks down at his bloody hand and realizes that he just totally lost his shit.

I got it DIY-style on my phone from the TV screen…prison-yard beat-down, Rick, Daryl, and Tyrese-style, while Carol looks on in horror…ummm, what did you think was going to happen if you kill sick peeps, drag them outside and burn their bodies, and then leave the whole mess for a bereaved man to find, Carol, you sloppy bitch?

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Later, in the prison, Hershel is fixing up Rick’s hand. He says it’s strained and basically tells Rick that he can’t play piano or punch anyone out for about a week or so. Hershel then tries to invite Rick to the next council meeting…they need him there. They are in super-crisis mode. Epidemic flu, walker attack, major casualties that keep mounting. “Everything we’ve been working so hard to keep out, it’s found its way in,” Hershel says.  Rick replies, “It’s always been there.” Perfect line, perfectly delivered. Then, Hershel gives Rick the first of many epic-Hershel-pep-talks of this episode, basically telling Rick that “everyone has a job to do”, and that his job is to keep the people safe as best he can.

“Everyone has a job to do,” is one of the main themes that run throughout this episode …it is Hershel’s teaching from years back, passed to his kids, and now it is being passed along to many key characters, like a mantra to live by, to keep steady and keep going in such dark and uncertain times.

Outside, Bob comes to check on Tyrese….I actually give Bob lots of props this episode for coming through, again and again. (Sorry I was such a dick before, Bob, but I still am keeping an eye on you!) Tyrese’s eye is swollen shut, refuses treatment for his wounds until the bodies of Karen and David are buried. He looks really burly with his black eye…check it out:

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Right? What a badass. Freaking awesome.

Glenn is looking for reassurance from Hershel, which he gets, to a degree…then Glenn and Hershel see Sasha, coughing…she has it…she can barely speak, says she’s going to see Doctor S. It’s a nightmarish, crazy scene when she’s weaving through the sick ward, looking for the doctor…all the sick and decrepit people are hacking and moaning; a flu-casualty-turned-walker rushes Sasha and tries to claw at her though the locked cell door. Oh, damn, Doctor S is sick too…”It’s starting,” he tells Sasha. This flu sucks!

The council convenes. Hershel tells them that antibiotics may help save those infected with the flu, and that there is a vet school about 50 miles away. They need to send a team to go try to get the needed meds…Daryl’s in, Michonne volunteers, and after Hershel reminds her that Daryl has been exposed to the flu and may be a carrier, Michonne answers, “He’s already given me fleas!”  Ha ha, thank you Michonne, for bringing the funny, because Glenn is looking pretty sweaty over there in the corner…and that is worrisome.

Carol and Rick outside, the water’s looking brown and shitty. Carol says the line in the river is clogged with mud and someone needs to go out and clear it. Great…sounds like a job for you, Carol, you cray bitch. Then, Carol sends Rick off to talk to Tyrese and pay his respects, but declines to go herself, coming up with some excuse in the moment…yeah, Carol…we find out why you couldn’t face Tyrese…it’s because your crazy ass killed his special lady friend, and another dude,  and burned their bodies.

My buddy’s good friend, Neil, totally called it with Carol…his initial theory was that Crazy Carol was feeding rats to the walkers. I loved that theory.  I called it The Crazy Carol Theory, a.k.a., The CCT.  Now I love The CCT even more knowing just how crazy Carol can be…she’s killing the sick people and burning their bodies…she may be feeding the walkers, too! My friend at work, Jeff, thinks it’s Carl who was feeding the walkers through the fence, doing it to up the risk ante at the prison, which would force Rick to give him back his gun.  Fascinating…The Carl Theory.  I love it too.  I guess I’m kind of a ho for a good theory.

All I’ve gotta say about Carol, and then I’ll move on, is that it’s going to be a total dealbreaker for Daryl when he finds out about this shit.  My best WD buddy agrees. He’s a moral dude she texted.  Way to blow it, Carol.  You used to be with Ed, who was an abuser, and gross, and now you are, or almost are, Daryl’s girlfriend, and now this… Way to self-sabotage.  I was totally rooting for you, and now I think you are gross. Next subject.

I love the scene when Rick approaches Tyrese as he finishes up with the graves, and apologizes to him.  Rick’s apology to Tyrese is direct and humble, and Tyrese accepts both the apology and his own responsibility in the brawl. Very cool of him. But Tyrese isn’t fucking around. He presses Rick to find whoever killed and burned Karen and David.  Tyrese serves Rick the biz, straight up,  when Rick tries to assure him that the perpetrator will be found…Tyrese basically tells Rick that he isn’t exactly “feeling the urgency” from Rick to go find out who did this (ouch, truth hurts!), and that it “seems like murder is becoming more and more ok around this place.” Rick denies this, saying that the first order of business needs to be saving people’s lives…”You worry about that,” a grim-faced Tyrese replies, “I’ll worry about what’s right.”  Aw, Deputy Grimes, I believe you just got served!

Maggie comes into the cell and finds out Glenn is sick. It’s so awful to think of losing Glenn. We are not ready for that, and by we, I mean me and Maggie. Get to that vet school and get those fucking meds stat, people!

It’s a powerful scene when Maggie and Beth are sitting back to back on opposite sides of the door.  Beth is shut in with Baby Judith to protect her from contracting the flu.  Maggie tells Beth that Glenn is sick. Beth is quick to administer the pep talk that Maggie needs.  “Maggie, we don’t get to be upset. We all have jobs to do, that’s what Daddy always says…focus on what you have to do…whatever happens, we’ll deal with it…we have to.”

Carl wears his father’s sheriff’s hat as he, gun drawn, accompanies Hershel into the woods so Hershel can gather elderberries to bring back to the prison…Hershel tells Carl he’s noticed that Carl has grown up  and made positive changes in the past couple of months. Hershel acts in a very easy and grandfatherly  way to Carl, who receives it well. It’s a nice exchange between the two. They encounter two walkers, but neither is a real threat….Hershel holds Carl off from making an unecessary shot at one when Carl instinctively raises his gun. “Don’t…you don’t need to.”

Tyrese is in on the road trip. After visiting Sasha, he is motivated to assist, especially after telling Sasha about the vet school run,and she says, “We could get medicine as early as tomorrow…we’ve got a chance.” Tyrese finds Daryl and tells him he’s in on the run, and Daryl says simply, “All right.” You can tell he’s relieved.

Tyrese finds Carol and asks her to look in on Sasha…he tells Carol he can tell she cares about people. Yeah she does…she cares so much, and has lost so much, that it has made her crazy…and overly dramatic, it seems, as she kicks over the good water in the water barrels and spills it all over the ground. Awesome hissy fit, Carol.  Even though she is being really annoying right now, I do like Carol’s boots and her general style in this episode.  Maggie’s, too.  I think the women are rocking some seriously cute, tough-gal looks in zombie apocalypse: layered cute shirts, jeans or some other cool sturdy pants, boots, belts, knife tucked somewhere in the pants or belt, and some leather type makeshift bracelet or necklace. Nice.

Maggie is totally freaking out right now…of course, Glenn is sick, which is enough to send her right up, and now she’s found out Hershel wants to go into Cell Block Die and bring elderberry tea to the sick people inside. Hershel is being so good and brave and wise as he gives Rick and Maggie the biz…I copied his speech word for word:

“Listen, dammit, you step outside, you risk your life…you take a drink of water, you risk your life…and nowadays, you breathe, and you risk your life!  Every moment now, you don’t have a choice…the only thing you can choose is what you’re risking it for…I can save lives, and that’s reason enough to risk mine, and you know that..”

Poor Maggie has to let him in, and Rick is once again witness to a heartbreaking moment. He stands in the background as Hershel enters the sick ward, slumped over in his grief and hotness…sigh…nobody does tragic hot like Rick.

Beth and Maggie talking back to back through the door again…”We all got jobs to do…we deal with it, right…we don’t get to get upset…” Beth’s voice has lost some of its strength and conviction…she and Maggie are so worried about their dad.

Rick is back at the crime scene, looking for clues…sees a bloody handprint on the door…

Carol on a water run…she is clearing the hose to the river, banging it on the bridge and attracting the attention of the walkers…Rick has to save her ass when her knife gets stuck on some walker’s skull.

In the car, on the antibiotics run, Daryl is telling Michonne that he knows she wasn’t running off when she went on her solo runs…he knows she was looking for the Gov…”You know that trail went cold,” he tells her, “Otherwise, I would have been right there with you.” She stares stonily ahead without answering, then gives him one of those Michonne looks.  Daryl asks for a CD and ends up turning the radio dial on a station with voices saying something about “survive” and “sanctuary”…the entire car is in shock..so much so, that Daryl runs the car right into a walker. And then, behold…the mega-herd!  Greg Nicotero said there was 7 500 walkers in this scene…and he would know.

The back end of the car gets stuck on a pile of walkers, and the crew has to abandon it…so gnarly, with the rear wheels skidding walker guts. An amazing hand-to-hand combat scene commences, with Michonne going at the walkers ninja-style with her sword, while Daryl stabs and runs through them, bayonet style.  Bob gets out of the car and begins shooting them, yelling for Tyrese to follow. Like I said before, Bob is still being cagey as hell, but  he’s also being cool, like in this scene when he’s holding the walkers off and waiting for Tyrese to get out of the car.

Tyrese looks annoyed as hell, like, “Do I really have to fucking do this shit again?” before getting out of the car and hacking at walkers berserker style…holy fuck…the others are battling through the woods, thinking they had to leave Tyrese behind…but there he is, emerging through the woods. While Tyrese is draped in walker guts, he otherwise seems miraculously unscratched or bitten…he’s a sexy tough mother, I tell you.

Back at the prison, Caleb just spewed blood on Hershel’s face, and Hershel, being the southern gentleman that he is, barely flinched…he merely took the bandanna off that was covering his nose and mouth and wiped his face with it. That, my friends, is the epitome of old-school good manners. Later, poor Glenn’s like, “Oh, man, after all we’ve been through, now I’m getting taken down by a glorified cold…” Awww…Hershel tells him that everyone has a job to do….I love Hershel in this episode.

Rick is giving Carol the biz in such a sweet way…and then he has to ask her if she killed Karen and David.  Carol says, “Yes,” and goes inside. Well, shit.

On Talking Dead, Marilyn Manson is dragging the whole conversation down…my friend and I texted back and forth, wondering what drugs he’s on…we agreed on pills…this panel has no chemistry, I am sorry to say…I texted my WDbuddy,This panel is like being at a bad party….Poor Chris Hardwick and Jack Osbourne……she texted back that MM was totally sucking pretty bad and that,  At times you see panic in Chris’s face. 

Chris Hardwick is getting pretty sick of MM at this point, you can tell.  He’s kind of disagreeing with him and mocking him, as MM keeps going off on boring tangents and referencing other shows and movies in a string of non-sequitars…now, Chris Hardwick is pretty much openly mocking MM about his irrelevant points and nonsensical theories (“at least I could follow that one.”)  It can be such a hard job to host…you have the responsibility of keeping the pace going but can’t be too much of a dick …OMG, he just straight up lauded MM for making “a straight-up lucid point” after “not understanding anything else you’ve said tonight.”  Is Gale Ann Hurd desperately dropping spoilers to defuse the tension in the room?  I can’t wait to see what the buzz on social media is like about this TD episode.

What advice would Hershel give to Marilyn Manson if he could?

Playlist:

Soundgarden,  “Fell on Black Days”

Neil Young, “Heart of Gold” (for Hershel)

Lana Del Rey, “Radio””

Ariel Pink, “Berserker” (for Tyrese…and Rick

Season 4, Episode 2, ” Infected”

“Infected”

(All images used in this post are screen caps from AMC’s The Walking Dead, unless otherwise specified.)

I will just preface this post with this: the Season 4 premiere episode of The Walking Dead,  30 Days Without an Accident,” was watched by 16.1 million viewers, with over 10 million of those viewers being in the coveted 18-49 yr old demographic, outperforming all other programs showing at that time, including NFL football. Awesome!

“Infected”

Opening scene: it’s night, and some psycho with a flashlight is feeding the walkers rats through the prison fence. (Later on Talking Dead,  mental mastermind Greg Nicotero explained how they achieved the effect of the walker eating the rat…they used actual rats and “fed” them into an automated prosthetic robot mouth. While no rats were actually hurt during the shooting of this effect, I don’t know if any of us who watched it will ever be the same!)

Now, I know that in my last post, I was leaning pretty heavily towards Bob being the bringer of walker snacks…while Bob is still on my short list of prime suspects, I am also wondering if the walker-feeder may be Lizzy, the cute/spooky tween girl who has a penchant for naming the walkers outside of the fence. She hangs out by the fence a lot, actually, looking out towards the walkers as they hiss and snarl and bare their teeth back at her. By her own sister’s admission, Lizzy’s “messed up…not weak.”

I imagine we will learn about Lizzy, Bob, and everyone a little more as the season progresses.

While the night walkers are enjoying their midnight snack outside, inside the prison, Tyrese is making out with his hot girlfriend, Karen. He’s got the cell all cozy and shit…and then, being the male unicorn of sweetness and sexiness that he is, Tyrese actually sings to her: “got you under my skin .” Our man is busting out all the love moves.

But maybe it’s all just a little too much, too soon for Karen, because she has decided not to sleep over and is going back to her cell.

I was watching this, thinking, “Ummm, wait…whut?”   I was thinking, Girl, you should stay with that big sexy man… and now, you are in the darkest bathroom ever, and that is not great for you!

Of course, the scene is shot amazingly as Karen moves through the bathroom and showers, all dark and inky and shadowy, like a horror movie…and we know who is in there..oh God, here he is, sitting up. Yes, people, Patrick Walker is about to go nucking futs on Cell Block D.

Karen makes it out of the bathroom and retires to her cell, not knowing that Patrick Walker is lurching about a half cell-block behind her. She pulls aside her flimsy curtain and settles down for the night…alone (for some reason I still do not understand).  

Damn, I thought they had doors on those cells… I would be like, “Um, can I get one of the cells with the locking doors and bars, please? Thank you!”

Here’s what happens when you go with the curtain option in zombie prison-dorm life…Patrick Walker is gonna come knocking on your curtain (or, at least until he hears a cough a couple of cells down and goes to investigate):

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Shot of my tv…sorry for the amateur technique…I cannot seem to find the images I want to use online…I thought there was a whole world of computer-obsessed insomniacs out there posting all the pictures and clips I want to use in my blog, but apparently not!

So, I tried to shoot some video of it all going down on my phone…it took about 45 minutes of retakes and rewinds to film Patrick Walker’s first neck chomp on the Red-Shirt guy to Red-Shirt Walker’s roll-over-and-spill-his-guts-out scene.  I then finally got it so it didn’t play upside down on the computer., and then, my blog wouldn’t let me insert it into my post…damn fickle technology!  (My brilliant friend just suggested we try to download the episodes, then use images and videos from that to use for the blog..genius…and probably not legal.).

I did get one shot of Patrick Walker chewing meditatively on some of Red-Shirt guy’s innards:

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Patrick Walker is by far my favorite walker yet…maybe it’s because he is so creepy yet cuddly at the same time.  Maybe it’s because he can really bring the mayhem. Maybe it’s just because that Phineas actor kid plays a really great zombie. He was probably valedictorian in Greg Nicotero’s famed Zombie School. Check out the link about Zombie School on the AMC website:

http://www.amctv.com/the-walking-dead/videos/inside-the-walking-dead-zombie-school

I thought the whole Red-Shirt wifebeater guy getting chomped and spilling his guts on the floor was pretty believable at first, but my best WD buddy wasn’t having it. She texted me, That guy didn’t even move!  to which I texted back,  Patrick Walker chomped him good right in the front of the neck.   She replied, Yeah, but no arm reaction at all?  

Excellent point.  I answered back, Maybe he had an instant heart attack.  Pretty weak, I know, but I really didn’t have anything else. It was kind of not believable, once she pointed that out.  (Ha ha, later on Talking Dead, they refer to the red shirt dude as “Deep Sleeper” in their In Memoriam segment, when they honor the fallen, live and undead alike.)

Meanwhile, the sun’s come up and it’s time to rise and shine at the prison. Glenn wakes Maggie up taking a Polaroid of her sleeping…and who can blame him? I mean, we all have a crush on Maggie, don’t we? I am a happily married woman, and even I am a little lady-gay for Maggie.  Lauren Cohan is stupid hot.  Steven Yeun plays Glenn perfectly as the geek guy who can’t believe he landed a stone fox like Maggie.  You gotta love Glenn and Maggie. They’re so cute and flirty with each other. They manage to keep the zombie apocalypse sexy.

Out in the garden, Michonne is on her horse, ready to ride off on another weird solo adventure…Rick and Carl are seeing her off before starting work on the garden. Before she rides off, Michonne asks Carl why he doesn’t wear his (Rick’s) hat anymore…Carl answers that it’s “not a farming hat”…awww, snap! That’s gotta sting a little, but Rick plays it cool, even when Carl hints at going with Daryl on a run…and then after apologizing to Rick for his resistance to Rick’s new farmer lifestyle, Carl outright asks Rick when he can stop being gun-grounded and get his gun back. Rick doesn’t reply directly, just suggests that Carl add some worms to the slop to give the pigs more protein…I really liked the communication between Rick and Carl throughout the whole episode…by the episode’s end, you see how far they have come in their father/son relationship.

Then the gun alarm goes off, and all epidemic hell is breaking loose at the prison. It’s another wild, great scene…last week, it was raining walkers in the store, and now this week, it’s a walker prison riot.  Season 4 is not fucking around, people!  In one hot and gratifying instant, Rick drops the farmer act and becomes Rick In Charge, ordering Carl to the tower with Maggie and assessing the situation (Cell Block C is clear, Cell Block D is fucked) before running in to battle the walkers in Cell Block D.

The mayhem is so fast, with major carnage.  Rick hands off his shotgun  to someone else and turns his energies to helping get the panicked masses to safety. Glenn pulls off some major ninja-style knife kills, and Daryl saves the little curly-haired boy from Red-Shirt Walker, then saves Glenn from getting chomped by Patrick Walker by ordering Glenn down and shooting a crossbow into Patrick’s brain. “Awww, it’s Patrick,” laments Daryl as they stand over his rekilled form…yes, Daryl, your young fanboy is super dead.

The scene with Michonne and Carl at the gate is great….Two walkers on top of Michonne, and Carl blows the top walker guy’s brains in with one shot…you can see the joy in his face. My buddy texted me, Carl’s still got it ..Yes, he does, just like his dad!

Greg Nicotero said later in Talking Dead that the prison attack casualties totaled 14 civilians…men, women, and at least one child. That is a major theme in this episode, a mother losing her child in the zombie apocalypse.

In one telling scene, Beth is wrapping Michonne’s ankle in her cell while little Judith is seated on the floor, playing with red plastic kegger cups…Beth asks Michonne if there were any children killed in the attack. Michonne nods. Beth wonders aloud what someone who loses a child would be called, “We see all these widows and orphans, but what do you call someone who lost a child?” Baby Judith starts to cry at that moment, and Michonne flinches, gets a pained look on her face, like the sound of a baby crying is unbearable to her. “She always cry?” she manages, her voice tight.

Later, when Beth asks Michonne to hold Judith for a moment, Michonne hesitates before reluctantly taking the baby. She holds Judith at arm’s length at first, unable to look at Judith.

Judith begins to cry, and Danai Gurira plays it so beautifully as she slowly turns her head to look at the baby, then smiles at her and pulls Baby Judith closer to her chest. Michonne’s face lights up as she holds the baby, smiling, then dissolves into silent tears. Beth watches from a distance, realizing (as we do) that Michonne has probably lost a child herself, before walking away to leave Michonne and Judith in their moment together.

My heart felt like it had been torn from my chest watching those scenes…it’s a parent’s worst nightmare.

Daryl and Rick have to go around and rekill all the bitten people…Rick continues to show more and more edge, mixed with his beautiful look of sadness and regret…sigh….sorry, getting totally derailed by Andrew Lincoln…again.

Anyway, Rick and Daryl find a young walker teen shut in his cell…the kid that sleepwalked… Charlie…he wasn’t bitten or scratched, just the bloom of blood around the mouth and streaming from the eyes. Hershel and some young med student guy come look at the body and agree that there is a virus or aggressive flu in the works…a fast-acting flu that basically makes people’s faces explode blood out the eyes, nose, mouth and ears.

Wow, just when you think shit couldn’t get any more fucked up than it already was in zombie apocalypse. Now people can die from some Explodey Flu and turn into a walker literally overnight! Remember Ol’ Bloody Eye, the first walker featured last episode? He had the streaming blood from his eyes…Greg Nicotero said that this flu has changed the overall look for the walkers in Season 4.  Deliciously gruesome, Greg Nicotero.

Outside, digging graves, Daryl thanks Rick for his help in the prison and asks if maybe Rick is ready to come back to being in a leader role in their community…Rick hems and haws, brings up all his mistakes from before…Daryl is having none of it, reminding Rick that he is always there and always solid when the shit goes down…then Maggie comes running, yelling for Rick and Daryl to come help…the walkers are rushing the outside ring of prison fencing, and it’s starting to tip over.  Rick, Daryl, Maggie, Sasha, Tyrese, Glenn are stabbing the horde of walkers furiously (“culling the walkers,” Greg Nicotero calls it…love it!) and pushing back desperately as the fence continues to give. Maggie and Sasha see the dead rats on the ground and realize that someone from the inside has been feeding the walkers.

The fence keeps coming down…and Rick looks wistfully at his garden…he tells Daryl to get the truck…he gathers up the piglets, and they drive outside the prison gates into the mass of walkers.  This scene is so symbolic and sad, with Rick’s face a study of loss and determination as he slashes each piglet that he raised in the hind leg to draw blood and disable it before tossing it towards the walkers.  My friend had such a hard time with this scene…she texted me that the pig scene really messed her up. The music, another work of genius by Bear McCreary, was really haunting and added to the feeling of grief at the loss of Rick’s dream to rebuild a simple and peaceful life at the prison.

Honestly, I am a little on the fence about Carol right now. I totally get that after taking years of abuse by her shitty husband Ed and losing Sophia, she would feel the urgency of needing to teach the kids at the prison how to defend themselves, but I think she’s being a little weird about it,  like not telling the parents and telling Carl, “Don’t tell your father!”  All she’s gotta do is assemble a prison-PTA meeting and tell the Woodbury parents something like, “Look, I know at Woodbury you had Do-Art and Dunkin’ Donuts and shit, but around here, kids need to know how to defend themselves!”

And I’m sorry, but she was totally creepy to let Lizzy try to rekill her own dad…that girl was so not ready for that…she almost unhinged Lizzy, and then later was all like, “You’re weak, Lizzy!” I mean, I’m glad she gets to be a mom again and all, and I know she’s out of practice a little, and now it seems she and Lizzy made up, and Lizzy has a knife now…and I really don’t know how I feel about that.

Love the last scene with Rick and Carl, when Carl tells his dad about Carol teaching the kids the art of the knife kill.  Rick listens, dismantling the pig pen and pouring gasoline over it and setting it on fire.  He thanks Carl for telling him and assures him that he won’t tell on Carol.  He then opens up a tackle box, takes out Carl’s gun, wrapped in cloth.  He unwraps the gun and hands it to Carl.  Then he takes his shirt off and tosses it into the fire…yes!  Shirtless Andrew Lincoln, like a panacea for the soul after such a burly episode.

But, for poor Tyrese, the episode is not quite over. He goes with flowers to visit his sick girlfriend, and instead finds her cell splattered with blood and a big smeary blood trail meeting with another blood trail…he follows the blood trails down the hall and discovers two charred and smoking bodies, a man’s and a woman’s..sitting next to the bodies is a gas can. As he stares down at the bodies, Tyrese recognizes with horror the bracelet that Karen wore on her right wrist.

So, there it is, and here’s a playlist to wrap it all up tight like Carl’s gun.  And this last song is for you, Tyrese…so sorry about your beautiful lady friend!

Playlist:

Submarines  “1940” (Amplive remix)

Rise Against  “Death Blossoms”

Those Darlins  “Waste Away”