Ten million viewers. 10.9 million to be precise, with 7.3 million in the coveted 18-49 age bracket. So yeah, it seems like the zombies will be with us for a while.
You may recall that when we last left our intrepid band of survivors, they’d just been cast out of paradise as Herschel’s farm became overrun by a herd of walkers. We pick up several months later. Lori, Rick’s wife, is noticeably pregnant and everyone is kind of tired and bummed (post-Apocalyptic life is not for the whiners among us).
The opening is a neat little montage with nary a word. Our survivors simply burst into a house, kill two walkers, then scout out the interior with military precision. They’re looking for supplies and a place to rest. Neither is available here. The house is pretty much picked clean already and more walkers are visible through the window. So it’s back on the road. It’s a nifty little opening, one that conveys the essential dilemma, the group’s transition to hardened survivors, and a heaping helping of despair with minimal effort.
The set piece that follows is even neater. They stumble across a prison. You know, compact grounds with big towers, gates, barbed wire, etc. The kind of place that would be easy to defend if you can secure it in the first place. The kind of place that might even have a cache of food and ammunition within.
The grounds are seized, again with military precision. They first cut their way into the interior dead zone between fences, sealing it up after them. There’s a great visual as they race along, zombies snarling from beyond the outer fence and zombies snarling from behind the inner fence. It’s an annular zombie-free zone. Half the group distracts the walkers inside to come over and snarl at them. As the walkers line up, they’re dispacthed one after the other by simple pointed sticks and crowbars. That’s right—align with a hole in the chain-link fence, piston jab into the head, align with another hole in the chain-link fence, piston jab, vomit and repeat as many times as necessary.
While that’s going on, several others mount towers and start sharp-shooting walkers from above. Rick dances through the inner yard, dispatching walkers until he can close an open gate. Then he makes a tower and joins in the fun. The yard is theirs. They even get to sing around a camp fire before tomorrow’s unpleasant chore—take the rest of the prison.
The dead guards make it tougher. You have to work to kill zombies in tactical body armor because, well, they’ve got that helmet on their head. And it’s kind of gross when you pull it off. But that effort is successful, too. Everyone now has a cell to sleep in. Thank God for small favors, I suppose. Nice bit when they first enter the prison interior as well. It’s so dark the visual diffuses into black-and-white for a moment. Very Romeresque.
Rick and Lori are having problems. She worries he’s turned into a survival first, not-so-nice kind of guy. He resents the Lady MacBeth routine she played on him and Shane last season. Plus, let’s be honest. It’s work to provide for a family under good conditions. Being a post-Apocalyptic dad would probably drive most anyone to falling asleep on the couch every now and then.
Andrea, our erstwhile Annie Oakley, became separated from the group in the flight from the barn. She was saved by a mysterious African America woman with two zombies in tow. Seems she’s cut off their arms and cur out their jaws and keeps them on a leash. Again, okay, most of us would probably evidence some kind of anti-social behavior after the world ended. At least Michonne, as the lady is know, kept Andrea alive through the winter. They’re travelling together.
Lori is worried about her baby going still born and turning into a walker inside her. She tells Herschel that if she gives any sign of that, he’s to put her down. No excuses allowed.
Now its videogame time. One last cell block to clear. They enter the darkened interior with flash lights and weapons. Alas, zombies are much more dangerous in mass in tight quarters. The group gets overwhelmed and retreats only to get cut off. Herschel gets bit in the leg. They find a door handcuffed shut, break the locks and barricade themselves inside. Rick thoughtfully picks up an ax and whacks Herschel’s leg off to try and save him. This being the show it is, however, multiple whacks are required. Even Rick is sort of appalled afterward.
That’s when we see five prisoners. They’re framed to seem like walkers until one of them says “Holy s**t.” Other survivors holed up for God only knows how long.
Holy s**t, indeed. A tense, well-made episode that eschews last year’s slow-building angst for the matter-of-fact terror of day-to-day life in zombie world. And the ongoing hardening of what survivors we have.
Will Conservatives Like This Episodes?
Action aplenty. And, if you look at it from the right perspective, maybe the NRA was on to something. Maybe everyone should have had a gun in the good old days. Sure, nobody expected a zombie Apocalypse, but we’d have been prepared.
Try that line in the next debate, Romney.