The show that had taken the world by storm in 2010 is back and ready to bring even more zombified goodness in 2013-14.
When last we saw our merry band of zombie apocalypse survivors, their new home was being inundated by the fellow survivors of Woodbury, the town run by the psychotic Governor. We get a glimpse of this new life early on, as the camp goes about its daily duties. Rick is tending the garden while Daryl, the camp rock star, has taken over many of Rick’s duties since the camps merged. Glen and Maggie are still together, though there’s a bit of tension between the two, with Glen suggesting his woman not go on the afternoon supply run. As Rick and Carl chat—and it looks like their fractured relationship has healed somewhat—Michonne arrives back in camp. Unlike her identity as a fringe wildcard last year, Rick and Carl’s reaction to her speaks volumes on her integration into the group. Tyreese and Karen, two Woodbury survivors, are together, as are Zach and Beth, Maggie’s sister. It’s a very tame beginning, with only Carol identifying the walker buildup on the fences to Daryl and Herschel mandating Rick to carry his gun when he checks for game the two truly red flags of what we should expect.
It’s the veritable calm before the storm.
The supply run group, led by Daryl, Sasha and Michonne, also includes Maggie, Tyreese, Zach, and Bob, a newcomer to the prison, depart the same time Rick does to survey his traps. He runs into a frazzled and barely there woman who pleads for him to assist her and her husband. There’s a palpable unease about her, one that Rick picks up on though he agrees to follow her to her camp. He tells her their inclusion into the prison camp is predicated on how her husband answers three questions.
Rick follows the woman through the woods and she talks about the things she’s seen and done. Rick understands all too clearly the sacrifices to one’s humanity this new world requires. At one point, she asks him whether or not a person can make it back from the brink and, in a moment of vulnerability that crashes through his instinctive awareness of her wrongness, he replies “I hope so.”
Rick’s hope is also echoed what he wants for Carl. As they talk about Violet the pig’s mysterious illness, he suggests his son do more kid-friendly things, such as listening to Carol’s story time. He does end up joining the group and is a bit shocked when story time becomes a lesson on how to wield a knife. Carol asks him not to tell Rick and Carl runs out with nary a word.
On the supply running side of things, there a moment of levity with Zach trying to guess what Daryl did before the apocalypse and he fails. They grab the attention of the store walkers to the window and, plan in hand, enter the supermarket. It starts off uneventful enough until we glimpse a hidden part of Bob when he comes across some booze. He thinks of taking a bottle for himself and the struggle hints at someone with alcohol issues. Though his strength wins out, the shelf doesn’t, collapsing when he puts the bottle back and trapping him underneath it. It comes crashing down on him and the noise alerts the walkers patrolling the store roof. Like animals, they home in on the calamity and, coupled with the weight of the crashed helicopter and structural weaknesses of the building, start falling through the roof. Though it’s almost old hat by now, the gang begins their fight for survival as walkers are raining from above. Things go from bad to worse as Daryl spots the chopper starting to sink further down, ready to collapse the roof at any moment. Zach rushes over to Bob, lifting the shelf enough for Daryl to pull him out. Unfortunately, Zach is not so lucky. A walker crawling from under the shelf hamstrings him and with some extremely questionable speed has him down and doing its best vampire impersonation and tears out the young man’s throat. Daryl watches helplessly but can’t slow down as the roof finally gives, bringing with it the wrecked chopper and remaining walkers.
Rick and the woman finally reach her campsite and the former cop is on high alert. She goes over to where her “husband” is sitting, suddenly coming at Rick with a knife. He throws her
away and her cracked soul is bared to him. Eddie is nothing more than a walker head in a bag and she wanted to use Rick for a bit of sustenance for her hubby. She can’t live without Eddie, and begs Rick to allow her to join up with her husband. To his horror, she stabs herself. Her life slowly leaking away, she wants to know the three questions Rick was going to ask her husband and he tells her…
- How many walkers have you killed?
- How many people have you killed?
The last shot is of Rick leaving the dying woman’s camp, seemingly allowing her wish to be fulfilled.
Back at the camp, the group recovers from the events of the day. Not wasting time over the losses, Michonne pours over a map, planning a ride to Macon in search of the Governor. Tyreese’s gentle soul is further exposed when he tells Karen how runs are no better for him than the fence patrol. The killing is getting to him. The tension between Glen and Maggie is revealed when she tells him she’s not pregnant. He’s relieved and despite her feeling the same, she also tells him that, if it were to be, they could raise a child in this new world. Daryl takes the responsibility of informing Beth about Zach’s fate. She is nonplussed by the loss, telling him “I don’t cry anymore, Daryl.” Her matter-of-fact attitude disturbs him more than losing a fellow survivor and she resets the ’30 days without an accident’ counter to zero.
Bob is still shaken, whether by his need for alcohol, guilt over his weakness causing Zach’s death or both, is not clear. Not too far from him, Patrick continues coughing. They young man makes his way to the washing room, dousing himself in cold water in hopes of cooling his fever. It does no good and he passes out soon after. The camera slowly pans up to his prone body; his face is covered with blood before his eyes open and they are no longer his.
They are the eyes of a walker.
- After some serious rocky moments last year, Carl and Rick seem to be back into a proper father/son dynamic. The respect and admiration is back, highlighted when Carl, echoing Rick’s words to him about naming the livestock, castigates one of his younger peers about naming the walkers.
- What killed Violet (the pig) and does it have anything to do with Patrick’s fate?
- Despite his loner nature, Daryl has become a steadying force throughout the camp. Though Rick has returned to the fold (mentally), the cross-bow wielding biker has morphed from the blunt instrument or soldier, to a true leader of the pack.
So what did you think of the first episode of the season?