Zombies are getting smarter. This could be a problem. The Walking Dead sure didn’t take long to bring down the illusion of tranquility it established at the start of the season. Not only is there a mysterious disease ravaging both humans and livestock alike, but the show’s main antagonists are getting a little bit of an upgrade.
Patrick, who died of the still-unnamed disease in the final seconds of the premiere only to come back as a walker, is a little different from the shambling idiots we’ve previously seen. He’s faster and seemingly smarter, attacking a sleeping prison citizen and going straight for his throat. He then also rises virtually instantaneously (with his guts hanging out) and we’ve got a full-on outbreak. Interestingly enough, these new zombies also don’t stop to feed when they down a victim – they’re more interested in biting more people and strengthening their ranks.
Rick, Carl and crew manage to take down the insurgency and neutralize all the walkers, but at the end of the day there’s one left, locked in a cell, and they realize that the mysterious sickness is responsible. Now that anybody could sicken, die, and become a threat to the community things are a little tense on the inside. The council rules that anybody showing signs of illness should be quarantined.
Speaking of strengthening their ranks, some unknown person is feeding live rats to the horde of walkers outside the fence, for unknown purposes. That’s leading more and more of them to the walls, which are starting to give under the strain. When a section gives way, Rick has to sacrifice his pigs to lead them away from the spot so repairs can be made. Considering it was probably the pigs that brought the plague upon them, this seems like a fair trade, but the scene was difficult to watch.
We also got some interesting character development, with Michonne subtly revealing that she lost a child in the apocalypse and Carol (who lost one as well) getting a little hard-assed on the surviving kids.
The episode ends with another shocker, as Tyreese returns to the prison to discover the charred body of his girlfriend Karen (previously quarantined) and an unidentified male, obviously immolated to prevent the spread of disease – but by who? I don’t think he’s going to like the answers.
Strong season so far. Established a central throughline (the plague), brought up some new questions, got things moving away from stability towards chaos (where The Walking Dead excels).