The second episode of season 4 of The Walking Dead picked up right where things left off in last week’s premiere, which means the prison camp survivors are in for a bit of surprise trouble in “Infected.” Thanks to a mysterious sickness making its way through the prison cells a new threat is challenging the will of the survivors. Now they not only have to deal with the ever present threat of walkers breaking into the prison, but they must also deal with an invisible enemy that has brought the threat of a walker outbreak into the confines of the prison walls.
(Spoilers below proceed at your own risk)
Someone forgot their flu shot
“Infected” opens with a sincere exchange of emotions between Tyreese and Karen, who seem to be getting closer each day. The scene foreshadows a few of the horrific events that would follow, but it also allowed a bit of humanity to creep into this relatively demoralizing episode for the prison camp crew. There was a troubling tease right before this scene that showed an unseen survivor feeding rats to a walker at the prison camp’s outer fence, so not every survivor is what they may seem, and someone is trying to ruin the peace that the likes of Tyreese and Karen have been experiencing since the close of season 3.
After leaving the two love birds the episode transitions back to Patrick, who is the kid that died in the showers at the end of last week’s episode. He’s since re-animated as a walker and is on the prowl for a midnight snack of human flesh and organs. In a very graphic zombie dinner scene Patrick gorges himself on a sleeping survivor’s throat and stomach contents, which in turn starts a chain reaction of new zombies coming to life within cell block D of the prison. No matter how hard the survivors have tried to live as normal lives as possible in a zombie apocalypse they just can’t seem to get a reprieve from the horror of their new lives.
The zombie outbreak in cell block D hits full stride while Rick and Carl are tending to Rick’s garden. This garden has become his escape from the harsh realities of his new existence. For Rick it’s not only a means to feed the community, but the garden also keeps him from the violence that he so desperately wants to avoid taking part in again. He’s sworn off violence since season 3 and has forced Carl to do the same, but the two quickly find out that non-violence isn’t a viable solution during a zombie apocalypse.
Rick along with other members of cell block C come to the rescue of those trapped in cell block D who are being eaten alive by the walkers Patrick created with his late night meal. The group slaughters the freshly animated walkers quite quickly, but they find one locked in a cell that doesn’t have a scratch on him. This leads the group to the conclusion that there’s a virus going around that causes death to fall quickly on those who are infected. They decide that any survivors showcasing flu-like symptoms should be quarantined, and that includes prison council members, so Karen is quickly sent off with the others who seem sick.
The survivors now have a dual threat on their hands, and their feigned peace is over. They must now figure out how to deal with the sickness infecting the camp, and the walkers mulling about the prison’s perimeter. The time for violence is back at hand.
The walls almost come tumbling down
Thanks to the chaos created from the cell block D walker event, the midnight rat feedings, and a zombie’s insatiable thirst for brains; the horde outside of the prison camp fence begin to forcefully bum rush it like a group of unruly soccer hooligans. Sasha, Daryl, Glenn and Maggie begin violently stabbing at the horde to push them back while Rick contemplates the bloody act. Realizing that there is no other way to survive a zombie apocalypse except with violence he begins to aggressively slaughter the zombies trying to break down the fence. There was a brief moment when you could see that he didn’t want to take up zombie killing again, but deep down he knew there’s no way to remain passive in the forsaken world that he lives in with the rest of his camp.
In an effort to draw the horde away from the bulging links Rick takes it upon himself to use his precious pigs as bait to lure them away. This act was the final push that drove Rick back to the realization that violence is the only way to deal with walkers. He disturbingly slashes the little piggies to spill their blood, effectively calling the walkers to the smell and away from the fence. One couldn’t help but feel for Rick throughout this process, especially since his pigs represented his peaceful side that he was trying to recapture after all of the violence he enacted and lived through during seasons 1-3.
It was a painful lesson to learn, but by the end of “Infected” Rick realized that he must return to killing, and in the process he also arms Carl again with his weapons. His dreams of living peacefully and free of violence has ended for both he and his son.
Carol’s killing class 101 and the mystery pyro
While Rick and the others are dealing with the fence breech Carol is left to help clean up the gore left in cell block D. While tending to one of the survivors she realizes that his life is over when she finds a bite on his neck. Knowing that he had children she gathers them up to say their final goodbyes before he could die and come back as a zombie. The eldest daughter offers to end her Father’s life thanks to Carol’s classes on effective knife wielding, but she can’t bring herself to do it. This prompts Carol to stab the man in his brain in front of the girls while she more or less scolds the eldest for not having enough emotional fortitude to do it herself. She later finds out that this same girl has been naming walkers (think back to a scene from the first episode,) which may have led to her inability to kill one because she feels for them in a sick way.
What this scene offered outside of a stark reminder of the horrors of living in a world full of undead humans is the fact that Carol has fully morphed into a no-nonsense woman who can fend for herself. This is a strong departure from the weak and always afraid Carol from the first 2.5 seasons. She’s been forced to watch her own two kids die at the hands of walkers and many others, which has created a rhino skin layer of toughness around the once fragile women’s psyche. She like the others before her, now knows full well what must be done to remain alive, and she’s not going to let anyone around her fall victim to the zombie horde.
The final scene of “Infected” featured Tyreese finding two burnt bodies in the makeshift quarantine block that had been set up to house ailing survivors. One of the bodies is Karen’s, which obviously shakes Tyreese to the core since he was on his way to present her with flowers like the doting boyfriend he is. This scene confirms that there’s someone amongst the camp that is up to their own agenda. Could the pyro be the same person as the one feeding rats to walkers? Are they two different people with two different motivations? Both of these questions will surely be answered before season 4 is through, but the mystery definitely adds a new twist to the show since up until now season 4 has only been focused on surviving the zombie threat, not one from the inside.
The second episode of season 4 of The Walking Dead started with blood and ended in fire. The peace that the prison camp survivors had come to love is gone, replaced by the more typical chaos that you’d expect survivors of a zombie apocalypse to deal with. Rick has given up trying to live without violence, and goes so far as arming Carl again after his shooting incident from the season 3 finale. Carol has grown emotionally strong and is doing her best to not let anymore children perish through some odd, but tough love. The survivors must not only now live in fear of the walkers outside of the prison, but now they have to contend with a virus that is threatening them all.
To make matters even worse for the camp survivors, but more entertaining for the viewers, a mysterious insider is torching sick people within the prison, and possibly baiting the zombies outside with fresh rat meat. This opens up all sorts of threads that can be followed throughout this season, so it’ll be interesting to see where things will end up next spring. One thing is for sure, and that’s the fact that the prison is no longer the safe haven the survivors thought it would be. In fact, it just may end up being their greatest nightmare.
Head on down past the review summary to watch a preview of next week’s episode, as well as a few behind the scenes looks at “Infected.”
[schema type=”review” name=”The Walking Dead: Infected | Review Summary” description=”The Awesome: Heavy amounts of blood and guts, New mystery woven into the plot, Rick the zombie slayer is back | The Not so Awesome: Rats, Gasoline cans, Teaching little kids how to stab their parents” rev_name=”The Walking Dead: Infected” rev_body=”The second episode of The Walking Dead’s 4th season picks up right where the first left off. The survivors must contend with a dual threat now: The zombies trying to break in from the outside, and a new virus causing zombie outbreaks from within the prison walls. Rick and the group must reevaluate their thoughts on life to combat the threat from both angles. To make matters worse a mysterious gasoline attack on two of the sick survivors highlights the fact that the survivors aren’t even safe from themselves.” author=”Matt Heywood” pubdate=”2013-10-21″ user_review=”8.5″ min_review=”0″ max_review=”10″ ]
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Photos by Gene Page/AMC