Welcome back to a new season of the Walking Dead! I’ll be your new tour guide through the gates of hell, aka the “it’s gonna happen, so you better view this as a survival guide” show. Speaking of survival guides… You’re welcome. Fun fact about me: I grew up in an End of Times-Preparation religion, so the show reminds me of summer camp. Good times! My husband is a competitive sniper, so it’s hilarious to hear him critique their shooting. (Oh my god, Andrew Lincoln, why are you holding your guns like that?)
But let’s get to our rag-tag bunch of survivors. We last left off with Shane dead, Lori possibly preggo with his baby and not her husband Rick’s, everyone’s infected so they turn as soon as they’re dead now, Andrea was rescued by some bad-ass chick with two armless, jawless zombies on leashes, and Carl was continuing the trend of not obeying his parents. Again. God dammit, Carl, get in the house.
Peepaw’s cataracts are looking bad again, oh nope, that’s no one’s Peepaw any more. That, my friends, is the walking dead. [And I want to point out the awesome makeup effects on this show.] Peepaw and Uncle Cleetus shamble around a kitchen until Seal Team Six busts in. Rick holds his gun with a limp wrist and way up high in the air (He shoots down. Why does he do this?), T-Dog is holding the strongest arrow in the world and plunges it repeatedly through skulls and eye sockets, and Daryl Dixon continues to be my perfect Zombie Apocalypse Mate. Erm, if my husband didn’t make it, I meant.
They sweep through the house effectively, and even Carl – sporting longer “end of times” hair – makes quick work of Meemaw in her 18 Hour Bra without batting an eye. His gun has a homemade silencer on it, and that’s good thinking, folks. Zombies have excellent hearing, it seems. At the end of their sweep, Daryl comes upon Hedwig chilling out (even the owls look hungry) and a solid twang tells us the crossbow did its job.
The gang all come in, now the house is clee-uh, and boy do they look rode hard and put away wet. Even Doc Hershel has apocalypse hair. Lori is evidently taping a single shotgun shell to her very huge pregnant belly. (It’s a terribly fake looking belly. Why can they get dripping entrails and lack of jaw bones right, but they can’t make a pregnant woman look pregnant?) Daryl starts plucking the owl.
Protip: Scald that body with some boiling water – you’d be boiling water before you’d drink it – and the feathers will slip right off.
Carl finds two cans of dog food. Good work, kid! He settles in with a can opener while everyone watches as drool fills their mouths, but Rick has decided they’re better than that and knocks it out of Carl’s hand. Rick? Quick word with you: you are not above chicken feet and pig anus, okay? It is the end of days, brother, and meat is meat. Especially if it’s that Blue Mountain stuff.
T-Dog looks out the window, sees approaching walkers (so much for that silencer help) and they all high tail it out of the house (why?) and into their vehicles. Daryl has enough wits about him to keep a’hold of the owl. Just another day in the life, gang.
New intro! Millipedes are taking over the earth! Arrows are inexplicably left behind in trees! Graveyards are no longer a place of solace! And no place is left intact in post-Zombie America. And… oh, there’s a prison at the end. We have our season’s setting.
They all regroup in the middle of a country road (take me home, to the place I belong! West Virginia, mountain mama!) with a map, trying to figure out their next move. Well, you should have checked the garage for lawnmower gasoline, for starters. A little WD-40 is always handy, not to mention blankets. But what do I know? My planning is all “theoretical.” They mention a “herd” of Zeds about 150 strong, but that was last week. It may have doubled since then. That was something really cool last season, where we see that the dead are flocking together and migrating, and I hope they explore that more this season.
Protip: know your enemy and their habits, customs, and migratory paths.
They need to stop going house to house in podunk ‘Merica, because they’ve hit everywhere. And Lori is about to pop (and that shotgun shell is going to blow her tummy up); they need to settle in somewhere. Because women can’t give birth and move, don’t you know. (How did we survive as a species, guys? Come on. Man, we’re soft.)
While T-Dog and the ladies go do laundry, Daryl and Rick go hunting – one owl wasn’t enough for everyone. Hey, maybe you should have kept those cans of dog fo– You know what? They’ll figure it out, or they won’t.
They spy a prison on the wrong side of the train tracks and get excited. It’s a high security type, too, with double fences topped by razor-wire, guard towers, and a nice big enclosed yard. They all converge at the outer-most fence, where someone cuts through it. I hope you have plans to knit that back– Oh, good, they’re being smart and binding the fence closed once they’re all through it! They bludgeon their way through the double fence, getting walkers on either side by jamming crow bars into eye sockets until they get to a safe spot.
Carol and Daryl are sent up one tower with rifles, Hershel up another, and the rest of the group will make noise and eye-stab walkers through the chain link fence while Rick runs ahead to clear out the yard. And Rick is an amazing shot. Like, there has never been such an efficient shooter in the world, and he’s got that limp wristed high-overhead hold, so… But he’s our hero, so he’s going to make it. The ladies all have snub-nosed .357s and the like, and those won’t shoot 20 feet ahead, but they’ll take down a zombie at 200 yards with no kickback!
Protip: Two hands around the base of your handgun, please. Lock those wrists and elbows and widen your stance. And get a real handgun: Israeli-issue Desert Eagle, .50 cal. I’m just looking out for you, okay?
They all make quick work of the Shamblers in the yard like it’s a turkey shoot. Because it is. Carol is praised for her bad assery; she joyfully cries out, “We haven’t had this much space since we left the farm!” They all race into the cleared space, but a zombie raises its head as Glenn walks past. He provides its skull with some much needed air conditioning through its forehead, and that is some foreshadowing. Double tap, come on! Mozambique rules should still apply, folks. Someone should walk through and make sure every body is permanently immobilized.
They set up a campfire in the middle of the yard (no one’s worried about looters? Raiders?) as Rick checks the perimeter for any breaches. T-Dog plans out the sanitary disposal of the bodies (smart), lays out a plan for fresh water (smarter), and Hershel gets misty-eyed over thoughts of cukes and ‘maters, maybe some soybeans. He then grows even more misty-eyed over how wonderful Rick is, how smart and careful and gosh, aren’t his eyes just the bluest? (They are.)
Carol finds Daryl, brings him dinner, and they josh and joke, and I love those two. She mumbles about the kickback on her rifle (hers actually had some) and Daryl gives her a little shoulder massage. Oh, does he now?
Back at the fire, Hershel needs to quell his growing thoughts on how much of a savior Rick is, so he makes his daughter Beth sing a song for everyone. Maggie joins in, and Rick shoves his uneaten Hedwig at Lori for her to eat. Things…aren’t good between those two.
Rick lays out the plan for how things are going to go. The prison could be a goldmine of medical supplies, food, ammo, and most importantly, solidly thick walls to protect them from outsiders. This wasn’t one of those cushy Fed prisons, though; this looks like Oz (hoo!), so the security could just be a pipe dream – Chompers may have been securely locked inside, waiting for a bite to eat. But they’ve got to try. It looks like the place fell quickly, seeing as everyone they encountered thus far was either a guard or a prisoner.
Lori tries to wide-eye some “gosh, thank you!” to her husband Rick, because there’s a huge divide between the two of them, but Rick isn’t interested in her patronizing tone. She’s genuinely trying to reach out, but she has done enough damage by sleeping with Rick’s best friend who he then had to kill. Twice. (Well, Carl did the second killing, technically.) She wants to talk about the baby, but he doesn’t. At all. She can talk to Hershel about that, because he has “stuff” to do. Damn, Rick got cold this winter.
The next day, someone moving like smoke through a general goods store perks up a few walkers. It’s the chick that saved Andrea, and she’s wielding a katana blade (one of the best post-Apocalypse weapons there is). De-heading of one walker, double stab of two others with a bonus beheading and she is officially my new Apocalypse Mate. Sorry, Daryl. She grabs a blister pack of Aspirin and heads out. (We’ll learn her name is Michonne.)
Rick and Company [T-Dog, Glenn, Maggie, Daryl] move through the prison courtyard, and there’s an awesome shot of someone getting beheaded, and seriously: that is a lot of work the special effects team has to do. They all have hand-held weapons, because let’s face it: bullets are precious things, and that’s why Michonne has a katana blade. The group looks like a well-oiled machine, their backs to each other, one person stabbing here, another plunging through an eye socket there. The further they move in, the thicker the walkers are around them.
And oh, shit, some of them are former guards in riot gear. (Which begs the question, how did they get infected? Their faces are covered with masks, they have kevlar from head to toe, I didn’t see a bite on anyone’s neck. Hmm.) Maggie figures out that she can stab up under their chins and take them out, so the rest of the group follows suit. It’s some seriously bad ass gore we’re witnessing, and Rick pulls off one of their face masks, whoops, one of their faces, and de-tops the former SWAT’s skull via eye-duct.
(Anyone else think of KFC chicken and the skin slipping off? All herby, juicy and delicious? Did I just ruin that forever for you? Apologies.)
They pen in the rest of the walkers in a gated part of the courtyard, and I’m just saying, a grenade tossed over could do some good. Daryl notices that one of the people he killed was a civilian. Hmm, maybe this place didn’t turn fast and go undetected by survivors after all…
(Also, am I the only one worried about them all fighting with their mouths open while blood is spraying? No face masks? No one worried about nostrils and eyes with flecks of infected blood? Yes, I’m treating Walker-itis like HIV. And if you were wise, you would, too.)
The group moves inside the first level of security where Rick finds a dead guard. (Dead-dead, not un-dead dead.) He grabs the keys, they push on and find the outer cells with a few walkers still in occupancy. There’s nothing that poses a major threat; the place can be sealed off with keys, so it’s a great place to spend the night. The rest of the prison is still a crap shoot but tonight, at least, they’ll have beds. Semen and blood soaked mattress covered beds. ‘Nitey ‘nite!
(In the apocalypse that is like a gee dee Hilton.)
Glenn and Maggie bunk up, where he immediately proves he’s the sweetest by checking her for scratches and generally caring for her. Aww. Carol and Lori bunk up, and seriously: that is a totally fake looking belly. Sigh. Carl jokes around with Beth in her cell, when Hershel comes in to give him the Father Stink Eye.
Male writers? Camera three. I get it. You had a boner for your babysitter when you were little. It happens. But there isn’t a 15-16 year old girl around that is going to get all hot and bothered over a 10 year old boy. She’s probably fantasizing about Glenn and Daryl. Maybe realize we women watch these shows, too, and we’d like to be represented accurately. /End rant.
Daryl, always the canny one, bunks on a high-overhead loft area, and Rick collapses against the wall, completely spent. Again, probably shouldn’t have tossed the dog food, Bucko. (Don’t get me wrong: I love Eggs. And I love you if you know why I’m calling him that.)
Michonne returns to her hide out, which is a deer cooler (fun fact for non-hunters: you kill a deer, drain the blood, take it to a “cooler” – if you don’t have your own – where it “ages” for about three weeks at 40F. Then it’s processed into sausages, tenderloins, etc.) and I’m thinking that place must smell like a skunk’s taint by this point. She finds Andrea curled up in a sunny patch, and Andrea isn’t doing well.
Michonne gives her aspirin, cools her fevered brow with a bottle of water, and let me just say that she’s my favorite person right now. Bad ass, takes care of business, brings home the bacon, fries it up in a pan, and never (no, never! No – never!) let’s you forget the romance. Double you oh, em a en. Let me say it again.
Andrea wants to be left to die, but Michonne doesn’t play that game. What, she spends the rest of her days with the Doublemint Twins? They don’t have arms to hold her when the nights get bad, okay?
And I don’t know what’s been happening between you ladies all winter, but I like it. Female friendships for the win!
Andrea says solemnly, “They’re coming.” (Who?! A herd?) Michonne takes action. Twins on chains, Andrea stumbling behind, and they’re off on the move, because to stay there is to die there.
Back at the prison, Rick finds some riot gear. A lot of it is…sticky. Ahem. Melty brains, anyone?
Daryl: There isn’t enough cleansing fire on the earth. (He’s been doing just fine in his tank tops, okay? And thank you for not covering up his arms, Show.)
Rick points out the ammo they’ve found, including flash bangs. “I don’t know how they’ll work on Walkers, but we’ll take them.” You should probably test it out, Rick. Oh, and Rick? I bet they’ll work on raiders and looters.
Lori has her talk with Hershel. And she has a great point: if they’re all infected, who’s to say that the baby isn’t already a “walker” inside her body? She thinks that because the baby isn’t moving. At all. And she’s not having any Braxton-Hicks anymore (those are preparatory contractions. You feel those in your back. Real contractions you feel in your teeth and soul.)
Someone has watched the reboot of Dawn of the Dead. I approve. She tells Hershel that if she dies in childbirth (a real possibility), she wants them to put her down. She might hurt the baby. Or, you know, if the baby is
Shane’s infected, kill it immediately. Lori, you’re being a thinker now, and I approve of that, too.
Seal Team Six moves into the deep recesses of the prison, and damn it is dark as hale up in there. Well, no duh, but still. It’s wonderfully spooky. Raise your hand if you called out “Dead Man Walking” at any point here. There are dead bodies all over the ground, but when I say dead, I mean they are skeletons with a little clinging meat. (But the brains might still be active! Come on, guys, this isn’t your first time at the rodeo! Don’t get complacent now.)
Glenn, because he’s a comic book guy, aka prepared for what could happen, knows to spray-paint arrows on the walls to mark the way back.
Protip: Always stick with one direction. It’s the Maze Rule: stay right. Always stay right. (Then your return is always left.) Also, whenever you enter a new space: weapon should be drawn, and you should “slice the pie.” This is some basic Quantico stuff you should have gotten from the first ten minutes of Silence of the Lambs, folks.
They’re making decent progress until they hit a T junction. Left? Right? (RIGHT!) But no, they go left. And then come face to face with a group of walkers. See what happens when you don’t go right? You could have come up behind them and taken them out. Tsk, tsk.
Chaos ensues, Rick yells “Go back!” and Hershel stumbles over a hand. Which starts twitching. Uh oh. The group gets split up by walkers, and Glenn and Maggie duck into a closet to hide out. The rest push forward, Hershel starts hollering for them, and Glenn and Maggie pop back out, relieved. And just in time to see Hershel not care about anything on the floor or that twitching hand. …which grabs him, pulls his Achilles (mm, stringy goodness!) into its gaping maw and bites down.
‘Bye, ‘bye Hershel. Well…maybe not. Everyone’s screaming, they grab Hershel, drag him off, someone pulls out bolt cutters (smart) and unlocks a storage room. They barricade themselves in there, Hershel screams his head off, and Rick pulls out a hatchet and makes an executive decision. The leg needs to go.
He whacks at Hershel’s leg just below the knee, and after several attempts (oh, dear lord) properly separates the limb. (Someone has watched Evil Dead/Army of Darkness. I approve.) Then Maggie is told to tie off the leg.
Protip: Tourniquet that shit before you cut! Then tighten it more after you cut. Then make a fire, heat up the side of that blade, and cauterize that wound.
As Rick realizes that Hershel is “bleeding out” (No, you don’t say?) Daryl gives him a “duh” look and then whispers, “Duck.”
There are bodies looking back at them from behind a chain link fence! More walkers? One of them bugs his eyes out and says, “Holy shit.” Nope, actual people. But who knows if that’s worse? My guess? It will be.
Never trust another group! Ooooh, this looks like a good season, guys. Prisons make excellent hide outs – as long as you have enough ammo and people to defend it – and need I remind you that there is a chick with two armless, jawless zombies on leashes? Cannot wait!
What are you thinking? High hopes? And a reminder that we’re future episode spoiler free here. (And I have not read the graphic novels. I’ve heard the show seriously diverges, anyway, so let’s treat those as if they don’t exist.)