This week’s episode had a somewhat claustrophobic feel to it, as viewers were increasingly sucked in watching the walls (aka, the virus) close in around our prison group.
Poor Tyreese was in a lot of pain after seeing the charred results of Karen and David’s murder.  However, his reaction to Rick was a bit over the top.  Like Rick said, they all lost someone.  The other three people standing outside in that courtyard had lost a brother, a wife and a daughter, relationships that run much deeper than what Tyreese and Karen had together.  At that moment, however, Tyreese couldn’t remember that he didn’t have a monopoly on pain, and instead, he hauled off and started beating up on Rick.  Fed up, Rick decided to get in his share of punches as well.  Funny, it seemed that once he started, pacifist Rick was nowhere to be found as he pounded the hell out of Tyreese.  There may still be some residual pacifism left in Rick, though, because he did feel bad about “falling off the wagon” as Hershel put it.

While Glenn was outside trying to get some comfort about the dire situation from Hershel, Sasha lumbered by, looking pretty peaked.  The look on Glenn’s face when he saw her made it clear there was no comfort to be found.  The next scene where Sasha is wandering through cell block A looking for Dr. S, was nothing short of haunting.  We take the trip into Hell with her, as she (and us) bear witness to the horrific sights and sounds of the sick – the shaky, sweaty bodies, the guttural hacking and wheezing, and even the gurgling of one who had already turned.  The claustrophobic view was suffocating.

Meanwhile, part of the council decides to make a trip to a Veterinary college (a place that may not have been raided at the start of the zombie apocalypse) for some antibiotics.  At first I was skeptical about the antibiotics, because they won’t help a viral infection, but the writers quickly covered themselves when Hershel said it wasn’t the virus that killed, but the symptoms instead.  Since the symptoms could possibly be managed by the antibiotics, the trip was justified. Besides, we all know – and Daryl confirmed – the runs are always where the zombie action happens, so we needed some excuse to get the gang out there.

Outside, Carol and Rick fell into a disagreement about going outside the gate and fixing the muddy line to the water supply.  It’s interesting to see the changes Carol has undergone this season.  She is tougher, more assertive, and more proactive.  I had a feeling that despite Rick telling her to wait until the next day to fix the line, she would take matters into her own hands.  As we found out, that wasn’t the only time in which she did.

Rick, ever the gentleman, makes his way to the field in order to apologize to Tyreese, where he tells him that the motivation of Karen and David’s killer was most likely to stop the outbreak.  Tyreese aptly points out that the culprit’s plan didn’t work.  Again, I thought Tyreese was too hard on Rick, telling him he wasn’t doing enough to find the murderer.  Rick is doing his best in the given situation – so maybe Tyreese just needs to lay off my TV boyfriend!

Back inside the prison, Carl wasn’t happy about going into the area with the kids, but Rick turned it into a responsibility for Carl to look after his baby sister and the others.  Carl takes his gun, letting Rick know in no uncertain terms that he may have to use it should someone turn after becoming ill. 

I liked Michonne’s interactions with Daryl as they prepared for the trip to the college.  She is much more interesting to me with Rick’s group than she ever was with Andrea.  When Daryl mentions they could use one more person to go on the run, he finds and then appeals to Tyreese.  Tyreese is obsessing, though, and wants to stand watch over the sick group, lest anybody else be burned by the mysterious prison perpetrator.  He finally snaps out of his own pity party, though, after talking with Sasha.  Once he gives her hope about the antibiotics, he decides to go along on the run.  How ironic was it that he asked Carol to check in on Sasha (even though at the time I didn’t catch the irony).

Carol is pretty tough as she herds the sick into the cell block for isolation.  Her tough exterior cracks a bit as Lizzy comes in, scared and coughing on cue.  Even so, Carol still shows no hesitation in putting Lizzy in isolation too, not even agreeing to tuck her into bed.

As Maggie starts to despair once Glenn falls ill, it’s up to Beth to provide a little tough love about sucking it up and just focusing on doing the current job.  Later on (when she finds out about Hershel), she will have trouble taking her own advice.

Carl accompanies Hershel out to the woods to pick some berries, and just as Hershel is remarking how peaceful it is there, the two spot a tent, once inhabited by humans, but now the home of a mossy zombie and a bear-trapped walker.  Oh this show – the peace never does last for long.

It turns out Hershel made elderberry tea to bring to the group in order to ease some of their symptoms.  I have to wonder though, why he couldn’t just bring the crate with the thermos, cups and washcloths to the inside doorway of the cell block and leave it there.  I guess then we couldn’t have had his impassioned speech about what is worth risking one’s life over.  And it was a great speech.  Of course, ultimately it wasn’t just the items themselves that were important, but Hershel’s presence, and the hope it provided to the sick by letting them know they were not actually alone.  Having said that, did Doctor S. really have to spew bloody sputum at Hershel’s face?  Yes, he was very sick, but no one can tell me that he couldn’t find the bit of strength needed to raise his arm and cough into the crook of his elbow.  And Hershel, your mouth was covered; it didn’t get hit, so you really didn’t have to drag the bloody cloth from your forehead down to your mouth.  Somehow, though, it was all symbolic of Hershel’s willingness to put himself in harm’s way, literally stripping away his own protection for the sake of the group.  I still say he should have left the tea in the doorway.

I don’t know why, but I enjoyed seeing Rick play cop and look over the murder site.  He saw the bloody handprint on the side of the door, and then it must have dawned on him who killed Karen and David.  I must confess that it didn’t dawn on me until after Rick ran to help Carol, who took matters into her own hands in order to clear the water line (and she didn’t even thank Rick for saving her life when long haired lady walker came at her).  It was her “We don’t know if we get a tomorrow” comment that started to clue me in to what she might have done.  

In the car on the way to the college, however, I knew as soon as Daryl turned on the radio that they would pick up a voice.  I loved that moment; it reminded me of a similar moment depicted in Lost.  I also love the idea of anything that might give this group contact with the outside world.  In all these seasons, I have been so curious to know what is happening in the rest of the nation, and even throughout the world.  I’m excited that after this scene, we might just get a glimpse beyond the group’s limited domain.

The Walking Dead is masterful at their action sequences.  Seeing that herd of walkers surround the car was unsettling.  When the shot widened, revealing that drove of walkers, like ants – well, the effect was jaw dropping.  Also, during these sequences I always feel that at any time one of the main characters can get it, and that makes me nervous.  When the group left the car, I found myself anxiously thinking, “Not Daryl! Not Michonne!” so obviously these scenes are being done right.  It ended up that Tyreese, who initially seemed like he was giving up, started hacking at the walkers with his trusty hammer, giving the others time to run away.  I wasn’t too surprised when he emerged from the trees, though, because we didn’t actually see him get taken down.  

By the time Rick elicits the awful truth from Carol, things have once again, spun out of control.  The run was unsuccessful, the sick are getting sicker, and time is running out.

Miscellaneous tidbits:

Best line of the episode:  From Glenn, who exasperatedly states, “After everything, we just get taken out by a glorified cold.”

Best exchange of dialogue:

Rick:  “Carol, did you kill Karen and David?”
Carol: “Yes.” Then she nonchalantly walks away!

Most bizarre (yet cool) walker scene:  When Daryl spins his wheels, desperately trying to get some traction, despite the walker bodies piled underneath his tires. 

Though this episode was a bit morose at times, it was an interesting character study for many of our key players, and the action elements couldn’t be beat.  Next week, we will see who else from the group ends up in “Isolation.”

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