It’s back!! Daryl Dixon, I have missed you. Yeah, yeah, and the rest of them (it’s true! I did! Oh, Rick!) but nobody gives good grizzled like Daryl Dixon. (See, grizzled still has a tiny bit of hope. Rick, well, I think he’s fresh out of hope, honestly. I think he’s absolutely kidding himself on that front. See how death – even just the appearance – is hanging over his shoulder? Wait, why am I talking about it in parenthetical? Let’s get to it!)
First! If you’re new, welcome! Little guide for you: we’re spoiler free and hate free here. We focus talk on the episodes that have aired and anything beyond is pure speculation. Don’t spoil the fun for the rest of us if you’ve read all the graphic novels, okay? Thankee sai!
There’s been a time jump, evidently, as there’s a full-on canteen, Garden Pavilion, a few lean to’s with accompanying animal pens and a vegetable garden. This makes me very happy to see. Someone must have found a copy of Country Wisdom & Know How. Rick gets himself out there at the crack of dawn – perfect time to weed, hoe, ignore the fevered moans of the undead wanting to eat your skull like a ripe ‘mater.
He pokes around in the soil (don’t you let me hear you call that dirt! Dirt is on your shoes. Soil is what you grow things in) and finds a Colt .45. Hot damn! Rick loves him some classic shooters, he’ll probably have that disassembled and cleaned up in– Nope, Rick pops out the magazine and tosses both it and the gun into a wheelbarrow full of clippings to be composted.
Protip: metal doesn’t compost. (Although him throwing away a perfectly good handgun is a pile a shit.)
Carl practices his Wild West mosey down to his dad for a little “How do?” and a check on Violet. Violet is their mama pig down in one of the lean to’s and she’s looking mighty poorly. SAY, DON’T THEY HAVE A VETERINARIAN ON STAFF? Rick reminds his son that pigs are food, not friends. Unless some spelling wizard spider shows up to tell us Violet is Some Humble Pig, be thinking chops and bacon.
All the ladies that have joined our group at the prison clearly have excellent breeding instincts as they all bat their eyelashes and titter out a “why, hello!” to Daryl as he walks through the camp towards Carol. She thinks it’s hilarious (and is maybe a little jealous) and can I point out the adobe stove they’ve made? I’m seriously impressed, gang. They need to have a talk, so Carol passes the tongs over to Sniffy McAllergies (Patrick, the kid whose mother tried to get him out of army duty back in Woodbury) who acts like Daryl is the god of all things. Those glasses must be doing their job, because he’s right about Daryl.
Sniffles wants to shake the hand of the man that is amazing, and Daryl makes a big show of sucking off BBQ sauce from each finger, then slapping his sticky hand in the kid’s. (Don’t worry, that’s the sort of boy that has buckets of Purell on hand.)
While Carol and Daryl walk off, we see that there’s folks on assigned fence duty, and hey! Karen! (Mama McCall!) It’s nice seeing Melissa Ponzio again, and I’m hoping she’s sticking around as a regular. We need more tough but loving women on this show. She’s efficiently eye-jabbing all the walkers through the fence, but more and more keep coming.
Which is exactly what Carol wants to talk about. Apparently Walkers are herding now, not spreading out like they used to. And if enough of them pile up against the fence, that fence ain’t gonna hold, Pookie. Speaking of the fence, an old man Walker shambles over, and I would swear that it’s the Governor. Right? Not just me?
Glenn and Maggie are still going strong, which is nice to see. She’s on call for a job Glenn’s not happy about, and we get the idea that maybe she’s in a delicate state? Aka preggo? I smell a red herring. Glenn goes all Han Solo with “I’ve got a bad feeling about this…”
Making me even happier, it seems that Karen has a not-so-secret admirer in Tyreese! Aww. So he and Sasha aren’t together? Okay, then! He needs the love of a good woman to confess that his soul is dying every time he’s on fence duty. It’s just so crushing, the step-n-stab. Fighting beyond the fence feels right. Well, how about a kiss, big fella, to get you through the day? Aww, I like this. Love! Exciting and new!
And damn, love is in the air, it seems, because Beth got herself someone way more age-appropriate than Sheriff Rick, a kid named Zack. He wants one last kiss, just in case. Beth is all, “Tchuh. Whatevs, byeeeeee!” Teenagers…. Some new dude is super insistent on joining the raiding crew. Yeah, you don’t just let newbies come along, trusting they’ll watch your back. Surely they have a stronger vetting system than, “Mm, okay.” Just because someone says the guy was an Army Medic doesn’t make that true. CREDENTIALS, PEOPLE. Now I’m all Han Solo and have a bad feeling about this.
Doc and Rick have a lesson on pinching back tomato plants (even though there was no way that the leaf the doc pointed out would be in the shade, but whatever. I’m just a Master Gardener, what the hell do I know) and rooting cuttings, but it’s really a lesson in letting your soul thrive: “things break, but they’ll still grow.” Maybe Rick’s apathy will grow, but I don’t know about much more than that. He’s still looking pretty broken.
You know what I didn’t know I needed? The image of Michonne on a horse. Hell yes, I need that. She comes riding up and we see a kick ass system of defense they’ve rigged at the gate to push Walkers out of the way. (Looks like a system Morgan would have come up with at his Raider Complex.) She has comics for Carl, a set of clippers for Rick (aww, I like the beardly majesty!) and a twitchy “need to run” look in her eye. She doesn’t like staying put, it seems. She’s on the hunt for the Governor, making ever increasing circles from their complex to root him out. (He could be keeping ahead of you, you know.)
Daryl and his group move out, Michonne heads out, and Rick wants Carl to go back to being a kid – the kind that doesn’t draw on unsuspecting children and shoot them point blank – but that horse left the barn, Rick. Carl doesn’t want to hang out with the tweens for storytime, what on earth? He’s ready for a pack of Skoal, a fresh tattoo and the love of a good woman, Dad.
There’s a system of government in place (they have been busy for the past six months!) in the form of a council. And the council wants Rick to carry a damn gun when he goes out on snare check. Rick, putting your gun down doesn’t change the past. It’s a kinder, gentler sheriff, I know, but don’t be a dummy.
He checks the snares beyond the fence and finds a still-living pig, trapped. Before he can get to it, though, he sees a body shamble up to it. A Walker? No! She says, “Wait!” Uh… That’s no Walker, that’s a lady! (If it walks like a Walker and smells like a Walker…) Is she bit? Or just the filthiest woman we’ve seen yet? She needs help, needs Rick to help her and her man get food at the very least.
She looks crazed. (An apocalypse you’re ill prepared for will do that to you.) He hands her a Chipotle burrito (hope she likes cilantro rice) and asks if he can frisk her. She’s got a knife that he takes, then gives back. Look, the lady is doing badly. If it weren’t for Eddie, she says, she’d be dead. But they need Rick. They need help. Rick has three questions for them, but only when he’s there with the both of them. She leads the way.
Back at the fence, it turns out that tweens in the apocalypse are just as bratty as they are today. They’re making up names for the different Walkers when Carl tries to pull a Violet the pig lesson on them. They’re not pets, they’re food. Wait, that’s not right… He tries again. If Templeton the rat can get a new word to Charlotte… Shoot, how did his dad put this?
“Whatever, they’re totally people,” Tiffani-with-an-I says. “Stop using shaming language, Carl,” she says, her thumbs ghosting an LOL text out of habit.
Daryl and his crew find the Super-Duper Mart and hope it’s still filled with Cram, Fancy Lads and Blamco Mac-n-Cheese. Outside in the parking lot, there’s an abandoned army camp and it’s time to go looting, says I. Get all of those cots, that tent won’t go amiss, check footlockers, take any tarps, rope, clamps… Oh, they’re not listening to me. Gah! I mean, there’s a Humvee in excellent condition! At least siphon off the gas!
Protip: Always be prepared to siphon off gasoline at a moment’s notice. That, toilet paper, condoms and tampons are freaking GOLD in the apocalypse.
In a great moment of levity, Beth’s BF tries to guess what Daryl’s job was before Shit Happened. His cool demeanor, comfort in a prison setting, hard look in his eyes… Kindergarten teacher? Wait, no, Homicide Cop? Yep, Daryl says as Michonne cracks the hell up. He was undercover, too. So undercover he lost sight of the job. A walker slams up against the glass to end this discussion. Time for a routine sweep!
As they head inside, the camera pans up to show the roof. Where a good 20 – 30 Walkers amble about, the busted remains of a helicopter in the background. (Was that a Chinook? Because that’s about the only helicopter that could feasibly hold that many Walkers.) This does not bode well for our unsuspecting pals inside.
A beautiful bit of foreshadowing: a fat spider sitting in the middle of an intricate web in the forest. That is not Charlotte. Rick and the lady (Clara) walk deeper into the woods to her camp as she tells her story of being trapped in the airport, Walkers came in, everything fell apart. Second verse, same as the first. Eddie is why she’s alive. He taught her that they’d have to….do things. Unspeakable things. Does he know about that? Oh, honey, you have no idea the things Rick Has Seen. They press on.
Michonne pushes a shopping cart (haha), Glenn sadly looks over the electronics before seeing a wall of local baby pics and we once again wonder if Maggie is preggers. They all walk past crates of beer, and if for nothing else, take that for the yeast!
Protip! Mix half a cup of craft beer with half a cup of whole grain flour (wheat, barley, rye), leave it out in a cool area, loosely covered with a cloth. Day two, remove half and add in another half cup of both. Day three and four, repeat. When it’s bubbling, you’ve just made yourself sourdough starter like a damn pioneer. Who wants delicious bread? Everyone.
Unvetted Army Medic eyes the wine (ooh, I bet that’s punky. Skip it and go for the Jim Beam) and we’re all in agreement that he’s got a drinking problem, right? He’s way too interested in the wine, to the point where he doesn’t take into account the water dripping from the ceiling over the wine rack. And of course, when he puts the bottle back (good for you! Your most likely dead sponsor is proud of you), the whole shelf collapses on top of him. Ruh roh! The noise alerts the Walkers above, who start moving around in hopes of finding food. And they start crashing through the rotten roof. It’s raining Zeds! (BOOM!) Hallelujah, it’s raining Zeds!
TEAM PRISON: GET OUT.
More foreshadowing: on the forest floor is a dead bug, huge, armored, and completely overrun by ants. Even though beetles are well protected, it just takes one wrong move to be swarmed and consumed. Rick and Clara continue moving. She wants to know if he thinks people can come back from doing Unspeakable Things. Well, that’s the constant worry in ol’ Sheriff Blue Eyes, isn’t it? He says he hopes so, but I wonder if he even believes it’s possible.
Back at Super-Duper Mart, it’s getting ugly. Walkers are popping like rotten fruit upon impact, some are making it to their feet, though, attacking Glenn, getting Daryl pinned up on some crates of beer (you know Merle would be pissed if they didn’t think to bring some back), and pinned Army Medic now has a dragger scooting to a fresh meal.
Hey, what that ominous sound is? DEATH. Well, in the form of a multi-ton Chinook ready to crash through the ceiling. GUYS. GET OUT. Zack manages to get Army Medic out of harm’s way (Daryl head stomps the Peeled Like a Grape Scooter McDead) only to get Achilles’d by another Walker. Good job, Medic. You just had to come along. Zack is de-necked, the helicopter crashes through, and our gang barely escapes.
Speaking of barely making it out, Rick and Clara make it to her camp. (Take the tent. Those are great sleeping bags, get those, too. Some good looking canisters, better take those!) She comes at him screaming after conferring to a box and a bag on the ground. He easily subdues her. Turns out that Eddie is actually Heady. She wants to keep him going by feeding him “living meat.” Barring that, she wants to “be like him.”
Um, time for Clara to be put down, me thinks. She beats Rick to it by going hari kari on herself, much to Rick’s horror. (He can still be horrified! That bodes well for him feeling a wider range of emotion than simple self-hate and despair.) She asks him to tell her what the three questions he was going to ask her were as she bleeds out.
- How many Walkers have you killed? (She says none. Heady did all of that.)
- How many people have you killed? (Just herself. Poor Clara.)
- Why? (That’s self evident. But that’s a good question to ask others – you want to make sure they’re not wackos like Shane.)
She murmurs, “You don’t get to come back from things…” Well, shoot. That’s Rick’s biggest fear. She dies, and Rick takes on more emotional trauma. I think he’s full up on that, people. Now Rick, take the sleeping bags and the– He walks off without taking anything. PEOPLE, HAVE I NOT TAUGHT YOU ANYTHING? Wait, no, he took the Chipotle burrito at least.
Carl creeps in on the story hour in the make shift library to hear what Carol is reading. Turns out to be Zen and the Art of Knife Maintenance as she’s giving a lesson in how to hold and defend yourself with one. Patrick “My gluten allergy is deadly!” McSickly interrupts to be dismissed before he gets the pukes on everyone. Was there shellfish in their lunch? He’s not supposed to eat any shellfish according to his former pediatrician. Or maybe it was a bad bit of cheese? Sometimes there’s a coating on pre-shredded cheese, you know, and that might have had gluten. Did anyone else think the fruit was too soft? His tummy is all rumbly, and he just needs a cold compress.
He leaves, and Carol catches Carl watching and begs him not to tell his dad. Um, I am in full support of this type of lesson for the tweens, for the record.
Rick returns, checks on Violet and some terrific pig is dead in the mud. Good work, trained veterinarian Doc. Jeez. Can’t even keep a pig alive. By the way, is anyone else concerned that the pig got sick? Pigs and humans have very similar DNA, which is why we have things like Swine Flu and now I’m all concerned about Patrick and his sickness and wow, that would really be amazing if it’s connected.
Glenn finds Maggie, she says she’s not pregnant (yay, periods!) and he’s relieved. Well, maybe she wants a baby now, Mister? Because things are good there in the prison. And you just jinxed everyone, Maggie, don’t you know the rules?
Daryl peels off to gently break the news to Beth.
Daryl: I’ve got some bad news for you.
Beth: Zack died?
Daryl: …yeah. I’m sorry about th-
Beth: Whatevs. Now I have more time for my 1D fanfic. *hums song*
She swaps out the 30 for a 0 on the “No one kicked the bucket!” board, shrugs, and then pulls out an old Teen Vogue magazine. Yeah, she’s over it. She’s all hard, like Carl. She even comforts Daryl. Damn.
Rick gets some comfort and reassurance that he’s not totally broken from Doc, the vet who can’t keep a simple pig alive, Army Medic has a PTSD-looking freakout in his bunk which does not bode well, and Patrick shambles through the prison – including what looks like a makeshift hospital – with the coughs. (There was totally shellfish in coating of those old vitamins he kept.) He coughs over the water supply, turns on the shower, passes out on his face, leaving the precious water – filled with his germs – running.
Cut to his bloody face, his eyes glazed over, and well, shit. He’s a Walker. Way to go, sicky.
Question: why the hell isn’t there someone on duty in that makeshift hospital? There needs to be a third shift in security, food, and medical. Up your game, people, because slacking off there is about to go very badly.
Comment: I am super proud of them for all of the advances they’ve made, but I’m super frustrated with the lack of interior security. Wasn’t there a giant hole in the other side of the building, letting Walkers in? Has that been patched? Barred off? Was that old man Walker the Governor? Nah, couldn’t be. Right? Guys, it’s back. IT’S BACK and I’m so excited because this season looks like it’s going to be even darker than before. Now we have grizzled, hardened kids in the mix, which always makes for awesome television. Just give me more Michonne and I couldn’t ask for more.
IT’S BACK! Stick with me, folks, and we’ll all get through this alive. Next Episode: INFECTED.