The Walking Dead 2.2 — Bloodletting

Sophia! So-feeeee-aaaa! Olly, olly, oxen free!

This episode begins in flashback with Lori and another mom waiting for their kids to get out of school. They are discussing the a fight between Lori and Sheriff Rick. Lori says, “It got ugly; hurtful. ” The other mom empathizes, “I’m sorry, hon. Men can be jerks.” Lori admits, “I guess if we’re being honest, he wasn’t the asshole.” Then she explains that while she still loves him, she wants him to get all kinds of crazy mad and call her a bitch during fights. Commiserating about how awful a sensitive man is to live with, as women do when they are together alone. Then a couple of squad cars pull up. A siren cuts the conversation short and everything goes to Hell.

(If you remember the opening scene of last season’s premier, Rick and Shane are having a heart to heart in their squad car over burgers and fries. Emoting, as men do when they are together alone. Rick tells Shane the same fight that the women are discussing in this episode. “Last thing she said this morning. Sometimes I wonder if you even care about us at all. She said that in front of our kid. Imagine going to school with that in your head. The difference between men and women? I would never say something that cruel. And certainly not in front of Carl.” Then the radio squawks and everything goes to Hell.

Poor Carl. Quarreling parents send him off with a homemade lunch sack full of worry to start the day. Crying in front of classmates, and a dying dad are not a great way to end the day.

But right now we know Carl and his parents have much, much bigger problems. That sunny day seems like a million years ago. A different life even. When everything was fantastically mundane, people showered regularly, women wore lipstick, and very few people in the world were killing and eating other people. Ah. The salad days.

Now we see Rick running across a field carrying his bleeding, unresponsive, and obviously heavy boy. He’s followed by Shane and the overweight hunter who bagged the deer and the boy in a two-for-one shot.

The panting hunter yells to Rick that the farmhouse is about another half mile and to talk to Herschel who can help his boy. Shane drags the poor, fat bastard along at a heart attack-inducing pace. Rick keeps running. He’s feeling the burn. But on the plus side, he can skip cardio at the gym today.

You know wherever they’re headed is gonna be good if they have a fat guy. At this point in the zombie apocalypse, I don’t think you’d find many.

A young woman spots Rick and Carl from the farmhouse porch and yells for her dad. A suspender-clad old guy comes out with two other women and a teenage boy who’s brandishing a baseball bat. They have a fat guy AND an old person, too. This place is looking more and more promising.

“Was he bit?” are his first words to the exhausted and panicked Sheriff Grimes. Rick tells them that Carl was shot by their man who told him to take the boy to Herschel. We learn the hunter is named Otis. Rick begs for help.

Herschel takes charge, literally rolling up his sleeves and giving orders. He calls for his full kit, pain killers, coagulants, everything. Whew! Herschel just happens to be a doctor! As he’s telling everyone what he needs, he strips a quilt off a bed and Rick lays the boy down. Yup. They’ll be throwing  that mattress away soon.

Rick sounds stunned and keeps asking if Carl is alive. The doctor doesn’t answer. He just keeps calling out orders. They use a pillowcase to compress the wound. (Clearly Herschel’s wife is no longer among the living. Now they’re going to have to get a new mattress AND all new bedding.)

The doctor finds a faint heartbeat and tells Rick that they’re going to do everything they can, but he’s going to need to give them some room.

As Rick wanders out of the room we see Shane and Otis still running toward the house at a pretty good clip. Rick meets them on the porch. “He’s alive? He’s still alive?” Otis asks Rick. You can tell by looking at Otis that he’s a nice guy and this was all a horrible accident.

Rick, who isn’t even winded at this point thanks to his daily zombie-fleeing cardio combined with a strict scavengers diet, can’t speak. He takes off his hat and wipes his forehead with the back of his bloody hand. Shane finds a surprisingly clean looking mechanic’s rag and helps Rick clean off the blood as all three men go to check on Carl.

The doctor asks if Rick knows Carl’s blood type. He does. It’s A+. Same as his. This is good news. He’s going to need to start donating.

Doc Herschel asks what happened. Otis explains that he was tracking a buck and that the bullet went clean through the animal and then hit the boy. The doctor says that the deer slowed the bullet down—which saved Carl’s life—but that it did not go through clean and broke apart. He counts six pieces that will need to be removed.

In the background Otis is telling his wife that he didn’t see the boy until he was on the ground. Rick becomes more upset when he realizes that his own wife doesn’t know that her son is gravely wounded.

The rest of the original group—minus Dale and T-Dog who have stayed with the cars—are still searching the woods for Sophia. They’ve heard the shot. Lori is concerned that they heard only one. When Daryl suggests that Rick or Shane might have taken down a walker. She snaps at him and says they wouldn’t risk the noise of a gun bringing back that pack of walkers unless something was really wrong. Then Carol adds to Lori’s worry by asking, “Shouldn’t they have caught up with us by now?”

Daryl tells the group that there’s nothing that can be done about it anyway. He’s become the leader of this little group and wants to continue the search for Sophia and work their way back to the highway.

Andrea tries to make Lori feel better by telling her that she’s sure the guys will hook up with them back at the RV. Andrea then tells Carol that she’s sorry for what she’s going through. And when she says, “I know how you feel.” it’s not just a worthless platitude. Eeyore Carol thanks her and says that she hates the idea of Sophia being lost and alone. And that it’s the not knowing that’s killing her.

And that she just keeps “hoping and praying” that Sophia won’t end up like Amy. Ouch! (If you didn’t see the first season, Amy was Andrea’s little sister. She was injured by a walker. She sickened, died, and then became undead, at which point Andrea did the sisterly thing, and shot her in the head.) Carol realizes she’s said something horrible and Andrea tries to shake it off by saying that they’re all just “hoping and praying” with Carol.

Daryl finally intervenes as the voice of reason by telling them that all this “hoping and praying” is a waste of time and they’re going to find Sophia and that she will be fine. Lori smirks. Yup. Daryl’s become a leader.

The next scene is back at the highway. A pan across a car window reveals a what I like to call a double dead. Meaning they were first alive, then dead, then undead, and finally dead again. Dale is working under the hood scavenging parts when T-Dog asks if the search party shouldn’t be back by now. Dale doesn’t want to worry yet since it’s still light.

He asks T-Dog how he’s feeling and then, when he doesn’t get an answer, he sets what he was working on down and casually picks up his rifle. He repeats his question, and T-Dog says his wound is hurting pretty bad. Dale takes a look and realizes that infection has set in and he could get blood poisoning and die.

T-Dog starts to laugh. “Yo, man. Wouldn’t that be the way. World gone to hell. The dead risen up to eat the living. And Theodore Douglas gets done in by a cut on his arm.” He keeps laughing. He has a point. Dale tells him he needs antibiotics and they need to search the cars more thoroughly.

T-Dog rummages through a glove box and finds a fresh pack of Marlboros. Ah, bliss! For once he looks relieved. Then he spots a gore splattered baby seat in the back of the car and starts to shake. He slams the car door shut.

Back at the farmhouse Rick is blaming himself for Carl’s accident. Shane is trying to shut down his pity party when one of the women comes through the door and tells Rick that Carl needs blood.

Carl is crying and squirming as the doctor roots around in his wound with a pair of surgical tongs. He has Shane help hold him down. Rick starts to really freak out and has to be yelled at by the doctor and Shane. Finally he offers up a vein and, to everyone’s alarm, Carl goes quiet. Not to worry, he’s just passed out.

The doctor finally pulls out a piece of the bullet and holds it up. “One down. Five to go.” he says, looking grim as he drops it into the obligatory metal dish with an obligatory ping.

The blood transfusion is going smoothly and Carl is stable for the moment. Rick starts to get upset again that Lori still doesn’t know what’s going on. He wants to go find her, but is too woozy from donating so much blood, and he needs to stay in case they need more.

Rick and Shane go into the living room. Otis looks a little relieved that Carl is stable for the moment. Rick is insistent that Lori know what is going on. Shane says he’ll handle it, but Rick has to handle his part. Shane explains that his part is a vigil that he will not let him out of, knowing that if the worst happened, Rick would never forgive himself. And neither would Lori.

Shane tells Rick how strong Lori was at his bedside after he was shot. It’s a good thing that Rick is so distraught, or he might be able to tell that Shane lusts for his wife and follow that line of thought back to its logical beginning.

The doctor comes into the living room and tells Rick that he needs to remove the other deeper bullet chunks. He also tells him that there is internal bleeding. He’ll need to do surgery. Carl will need to be under anesthesia and he won’t be able to breathe on his own during the operation.

Rick asks what it will take to do the surgery. Otis steps up and says, “You need a respirator. What else?” The doctor rattles off his surgical instrument wish list. Otis says that the nearest hospital burned down a month ago. Then he remembers the high school. A FEMA shelter had been set up there. That’s where they’ll find what they need. Otis says that the place was overrun the last time he saw it, but maybe it’s better now. He’s a half-full kind of guy.

Besides knowing how to get to the high school, Otis was an EMT. He volunteers to go on a supply run with Shane over his wife’s protest. You can tell Shane is relieved to have help. Otis wants Carl to be up and around before he’ll take any gratitude from Rick.

One of the women steps up to ask where Lori is.

The tired search party in the woods pauses and decides to head back to the cars because they are losing daylight. They’ll pick up the search again tomorrow. Daryl whistles a signal for them to follow him out.

At the farm Shane and Otis pack up a truck for their medical supply run. Otis’s wife hugs him and cries. Rick gives Otis his handgun. Otis promises to bring it back in good shape. Once in the cab Shane is not pleased that Otis has the the rifle Carl was shot with, but he’s going to have to deal with it. Otis has only one rifle.

Back at the RV, Dale returns from another scavenge and shows T-Dog what he’s collected, but he hasn’t found any drugs. T-Dog smokes and glowers. All he’s managed to find is some ibuprofen and the cigarettes. He starts in with his conspiracy theory about their group of survivors. He’s paranoid. He thinks the rest of the group look at him and Dale as expendable; weak links. After all Dale is what? 70? And he’s black. He’s still expecting Daryl to exact a bit of retribution on him because of last season’s little hand sawing incident à la Johnny the Boy in Mad Max. He wants the two of them to take the RV and go, not sit up on the road like live bait. Finally Dale touches T-Dogs head and realizes that he’s burning with fever. But is it zombie fever?

The search party in the woods is hot and tired. They’re still following Daryl who says they are almost back to the highway. Andrea, lost a little in exhaustion, stumbles through a spider’s web. It grosses her out just long enough for her to fall behind the group. As she goes to catch up, she (and I) take a couple of seconds too long to realize that she’s walking next to one of those pesky undead. Big scare!

Her screams bring the rest of the group, but she trips because she’s a woman being pursued, and that’s what women do in these situations. As she crabwalks away from the walker, she continues to wail. Man, her mouth is huge. Every time she starts screaming, I expect her to catch some zombie blood, or spit, or gore, or worse in there. But all the racket she’s making brings a baseball swinging hero on a swift horse to her aid. The walker gets a crack to the head and goes down.

Who is this knight on a powerful steed? It’s the woman who first spotted Rick carrying Carl to the farmhouse. She calls out for Lori Grimes and tells her that Rick sent her. That there’s been an accident. That Carl’s been shot. That he’s still alive. Lori does not hesitate to go with the woman although Daryl doesn’t trust her.

She quickly gives the rest of the group directions to the farm from the highway. As she rides off with Lori, the home run-headed zombie sits up moaning and immediately catches an arrow from an annoyed Daryl’s crossbow.

The search party reaches the RV where Glenn explains what happened to Dale. Dale has heard screams and when he learns Andrea has had another close call, he asks her if she’s alright. She huffs off to the RV blaming Dale for what has just gone down. Man, if he had just let Andrea incinerate herself like she wanted, none of this would have ever happened!

Rick and the doctor share a moment on the porch of the house. When Rick comments on how beautiful the property is, the doctor says it has been in his family for 160 years. Rick can’t believe how serene and untouched the place is. The doctor says that they weren’t completely unscathed. They lost friends, family, and yep, his wife.

He’s grateful to God that he still has his daughters. All this group has left is each other. They’re hoping to ride out the epidemic in peace until there is a cure. Rick doesn’t sugar coat what has happened to the CDC. When he tells the doctor there is no cure. The doctor smiles and refuses to believe it. Okay. There’s something off about this guy.

He tells a story about AIDS and how everyone overreacted to that, too. It was all just histrionics. Rick tells him this is different, but the old man will not be convinced. He thinks this is just another plague. That nature is correcting itself. That the human race will bounce back. Yes. There’s definitely something wrong here.

The men see a horse carrying two women from the woods. Lori embraces Rick, still in his blood-soaked shirt, but she keeps moving forward. She wants to get to her child. She lays down in bed with him calling him baby boy (extra creepy if you’ve seen the webisodes) and telling him mommy’s here and that he’s going to be okay.

Rick gives Carl the second transfusion of the day. He’s pale and weak. Lori helps him to the table. Cue the orange juice and Nutter Butters! The doctor gives him the OJ, but what? No Nutter Butters?

Say, what kind of doctor are you?

Lori has found out that Shane and Otis, who she is going to refer to as, “the idiot who shot my son” until she meets him and judges for herself that this was just an accident, have gone to get medical supplies. She wants the doctors assurances on the surgery that will be performed when they return. He says he’ll do his best. And that, yes, he’s done this procedure before…in a sense.

Say what?

Rick tries to calm her by pointing out that they don’t have the luxury of shopping for a surgeon. Lori wants to know if Herschel is a doctor. “Yes, ma’am.” he answers, “A vet.” She is momentarily relieved thinking that he means combat vet, but he corrects her with the word we knew was coming…veterinarian. Rick gets light headed and has to sit down. We need some damn Nutter Butters. STAT!

Will Snausages® do? Rick has been a very good boy! Hasn’t he? Oh yes he has!

Lori confronts the doctor with, “You’re in completely over your head, aren’t you.” “Ma’m, aren’t we all.” he counters.

Meanwhile Shane and Otis have arrived at the high school. It’s still a zombie mosh pit. They’ll have to get across a sea of the undead to reach the medical supply trailer. Shane’s mouth hangs open in disbelief.

The group on the highway starts to argue over whether to go to the farmhouse or wait for Sophia. Carol is worried that her daughter will finally make her way back only to find she’s been left alone. “It could happen.” she says, conjuring Jon Lovitz’s SNL character. Yeah. That’s the ticket, Carol.

Dale decides to send Glenn off with T-Dog because he needs antibiotics in a big way. Again it’s Daryl to the rescue. He’s pinched his brother’s pharmaceutical stash. Most of it’s recreational, but he does have antibiotics. Apparently Merle got the clap pretty frequently. T-Dog is too sick to be grateful.

Shane and Otis have hatched a brilliant plan to draw the zombies away from the medical trailer. They lure them away with road flares from the back of an abandoned squad car. Kid’s stuff! Undead people are dumb! Their plan works perfectly. Once inside, they quickly find what’s on their list and load up.

At the farm the vet says they are running out of time. Carl’s blood pressure is dropping. Rick is impatient and convinced that something has gone wrong. He wants to go find Shane and Otis and the supplies. Lori tells him in no uncertain terms, that he is to stay bedside. Then she slathers on a nice layer of guilt. It’s his turn. She’s done this before and she can’t do it again.

Now that they’re loaded down with supplies, Shane and Otis realize they have not come up with an exit strategy. So they just run. Shane IS going to explode Otis’s heart. I’m thinking maybe he should not let the slow, tired, fat guy carry any of the really vital supplies.

They race off with hundreds of the undead in hot pursuit. Many are in military fatigues. One still has his helmet on. Another is wearing a FEMA windbreaker. They just make it into the school building by shooting out the glass doors. Quickly they pull a security lattice over the door and secure it with a tiny cotter pin. As the horde presses against it, the pin is already trying to wiggle free. Shane and Otis just stand there looking at the crowd of hungry walkers. They are trapped.

NEXT WEEK: Will Shane use Otis as a meat shield? Will the veterinarian have another metal pan to drop bullet fragments in after he pulls them out of Carl’s skirt steak chest? Will the search for Sophia finally be called off? Will antibiotics strong enough to take out gonorrhea be strong enough to keep T-Dog from going zombie?