We're back in the zombie slaying business! The Walking Dead is finally back with a new episode. Full recap and thoughts after the jump--complete and total spoilers, so don't read if you haven't seen the episode yet.
Great opening episode with jaw dropping ending!
We open to the group dispatching a house full of zombies. They've got improvised suppressors on pistols. Rick's son, Carl, is in the mix, clearing rooms. Near friendly fire incident between Rick and Daryl...gotta watch those when hunting zombies. No hesitation from Carl as he headshots a zombie with a suppressed Beretta.
Carl is looking older...I'm wondering if they'll hand wave that away or if it they show's timeline will have advanced more than a few days...well, Lori is looking quite preggers, so there's your answer. Hershel's sporting a nice beard, too. We're about 7-8 months, give or take, after the exodus from Hershel's farm.
The survivors move into the newly cleared house. Everyone is looking downtrodden, depressed, tired. Rick's frustrated.
No sooner than they settle down than they notice a new herd of walkers encroaching on the home. And like that, they load up again and bug out. So much for that safe haven.
New opening credits roll, ending with shots of the prison before the title pops.
We're back. The group has stopped on the highway to regroup and plan. Rick puts Carl on point. Everyone's on edge. They've apparently exhausted many opportunities in the area looking for a place to settle down.
Lori is looking depressed, Hershel suggests to Rick that she can't take much more moving around.
Daryl and Rick go off hunting and come across the prison that we saw at the end of last season. It's walker infested, but you can see the gleam in Rick's eye. Fences, strong walls...there's hope.
Cut to the group making their way through the outer fence. Lori is really pregnant. Rick looks at the prison--"It's perfect."
They hatch a plan for closing the main gate, which would seal of the exercise yard area. Rick gives out orders and then gives himself the dangerous job of closing the gate.
Rick runs through the walkers, while the other survivors try to distract or provide covering fire. Rick is using one of the suppressed pistols, looks like a Ruger .22, with a suppressor made from a Maglite body.
With the other survivors providing covering fire and distraction, Rick makes it, sealing off the gate with a smart little device made from two caribiners joined by a length of chain.
With the main entrance sealed off, the group makes short work of the zombies now trapped in the yard, cutting 'em down with combined firepower. The yard secured, the survivors move in, happy to have the protection of the prison's fences and barbed wire.
We rejoin the group after dark; they've set up camp in the middle of the yard. Rick is checking the fence. Daryl and Carol off on their own, apparently not yet romantic, but getting there.
Rick wants to go into the prison for ammo, supplies--go in hand to hand, clear out the zombies and take the loot.
Lori speaks for the first time this episode, suggesting they should wait, rest a few days. Rick doesn't have much patience for her. Lori: "I'm just saying, the baby is about to be here and we need to talk about--" Rick cuts her off-- "About what?" They could use some relationship counseling...maybe the prison library will have something from Dr. Phil?
Back from a break, we're in a small town. A living woman - new cast member Michonne - enters a convenience store. We see her for the first time as she hacks up three zombies, samurai style. Picks up some aspirin...guess she's headachey? No Andrea to be seen.
Group is making their way into the prison, hand to hand. Lots of zombies, including zombies in riot gear (video games didn't lie!). The melee weapons aren't getting through the riot armor. Daryl is going to town with his Busse. Some great zombie hand to hand. Great makeup effect as Rick tears off a riot zombies' mask and skin with it. Group seals off a horde of zombies, clears out the rest and then pushes into the prison.
Prison interior is, not surprisingly, nice and creepy and atmospheric. Rick finds the keys on a dead guard. The group moves deeper into the prison. Zombie prisoners trapped in cells, trying to snack on 'em, but otherwise empty. They secure the cell block without much trouble, and the rest of the survivors move in.
There's a glimmer of hope and happiness. Lori reaches out to thank Rick, but he walks off, not interested.
Glenn and Maggie share a romantic moment checking for zombie scratches in the middle of a blood spattered cell.
Funny moment between Carl and Hershel's blond daughter...looks like Carl is planning on shacking up in her cell, 'till Hershel shows up and suggests he find somewhere else to sleep. Carl's a little young, but blondy may be the only single gal around his age left in the world, so...
Roll moody music, cut to commercial.
We rejoin Michonne. No sign of Andrea yet. Michonne enters into a hunting shop, and we see her chained up zombie buddies. No arms, no lower jaws. Great makeup effects. It's a passing shot, and you take it for granted that there are somehow people in that makeup pretending to be zombies. It's totally believable, certainly took hours of design and makeup, maybe CGI, for a passing shot. That's the kind of good stuff you get from this show.
Michonne has Andrea in a back room. She's looking horrible--sick. Michonne passes over the Tylenol. Andrea tells Michonne to leave her, that she kept her alive all winter and will do fine on her own. Andrea -- "If we stay, I'll die here." So they head out.
We rejoin the survivors in the prison, checking their loot from the prison. Some guns, tear gas, flash bangs and some gooey riot armor.
Hershel is called in to counsel Lori. Lori is worried the baby is dead...concerned about how the zombie plague will play out with child birth. Infected zombie baby, infected zombie mom...child birth is bad enough without zombie plague to deal with. Lori's opens up to Hershel, saying it might have been better if she hadn't of made it off the farm; Carl can't stand her (apparently), and we've seen how Rick feels about her these days.
Hershel moves the conversation back to the baby, moving to check it. There's no mention that the baby is dead later in the episode, so I'm guessing it was just Lori freaking out.
Next scene, T-Dogg, Hershel and the others are donning riot armor in preparation for moving into another part of the prison. It's even creepier and more atmospheric than the last. Glenn is wisely tagging directions as they move deeper.
Group rounds a corner and runs into a horde of zombies. They fall back. More zombies cut them off. Glenn and Maggie get cornered in a closet. Others stop to regroup, then moves to find Glenn and Maggie and get out.
Hershel wanders off on his own, past a sleeping walker. The walker of course wakes up and takes a big chunk out of Hershel's leg for his troubles. The group retreats deeper into the prison, comes to a pair of doors locked with a pair of handcuffs, and kicks through. The room appears to be zombie free. T-Dogg mans the door while the rest see to Hershel, who is crying out in pain.
Rick slaps a tourniquet around Hershel's leg. The wound is bad. Very gross. Rick snatches up a hatchet, says "Only one way to keep you alive!" and then, yep, begins to hack off Hershel's leg in an attempt to save him. Not for the squeamish. The look on Rick's face as he finishes the job...man, some good acting.
Just after the leg comes off, Daryl notices that they're not alone in the room--a group of prisoners is watching. He aims down his crossbow's red dot sight, grimy prisoner says what we're all thinking, and the episode closes.
An excellent, edge of your seat opener. Great ending. Poor Hershel.
The stuff with Michonne and Andrea seemed like a bit of an after thought, but I'm sure it will pick up as they meet the Governor.
Do I think Hershel will survive? Doubtful, but really, at that point, death by zombie virus is 100% certain, and amputation would be your only (slim) hope of surviving.
Great acting all around. Rick is clearly more desperate, more on edge than when we saw him last season. He's barely keeping it together.
Were the suppressors plausible? Yes, I think so. A suppressor is not all that complicated to build, and I think given a little time, Rick and Daryl could piece them together. I appreciated that one of the guns looked to be a Ruger .22lr, which suppresses quite well and gets you the closest to the the Hollywood sound effects.
As usual, the comments are open for your thoughts and observations. Have at it!