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Walking Dead: Infected

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Walking Dead Infected

Walking Dead draws on its roots this week, taking a cue from the original modern zombie film and exploring this strange new sickness.

This season is off to a roaring good start. A huge reason for that is returning the focus to the zombies. Sure, one of Walking Dead’s big messages is that living humans are usually the worst part of the zombie apocalypse, but it’s a theme that hits hardest when you visit it from time to time. Long story short: it’s nice to see The Walking Dead be about the walking dead.

An important element of horror is the unexpected. It’s also one of the trickiest elements. People who are watching a horror movie or show know they’re watching a horror movie. They expect there to be some awful, supernatural shit going down. And after three seasons of battling zombies, it’s even harder to make zombies unexpected (especially the way TWD had been treating them like a minor inconvenience the characters dealt with vaguely, while making breakfast or chatting on a cell phone).

Enter the disease. Last week nerdy kid died, bleed oozing from his face. Karen almost blundered into him, then he got up and wandered into D Block, chowing down on some guy’s guts. Serious gore here, which doesn’t usually bother me too much, but maybe sitting down to snack on individual organs is a little too much for me. I mean, I didn’t look away, but I definitely made the “Yuck,” face.

The result of zombification occurring inside the prison is a tension that’s been missing for quite a while. When Karen went into the shower area, that was genuinely scary. As nerdy kid zombie wanders into the block, you didn’t know who he was going to eat. And once he has a victim, you know there are going to be more zombies inside the prison. This was a great nod to the original Night of the Living Dead. Even in the seeming sanctuary of the farm house, their fellow survivors (or even family members) would return from the dead and attack them.

There’s also the unknown factor of the zombie disease. In the early zombie movies, that introduced the unexpected element, because nobody knew the “rules” of zombies. We figured out the rules in Walking Dead a long time ago, so it took a big change to shake that up. People are dying of a fast-acting disease that makes bleed from their eyes and mouth and probably some other orifices. Some of the newcomers are doctors and explain a bit about this delightful process.

What they describe sounds a lot like Ebola hemorrhagic fever, a real disease with a 90 percent fatality rate and no cure. It might be totally unrelated to the zombie virus, or it could be interacting with it somehow. Either option is bad news, because a virulent, deadly disease means people dropping dead, which means more walkers. The only good news is ebola is spread via fluids, not through the air, so if this disease is similar there’s at least some hope of avoiding it.

Meanwhile the walkers at the fence are becoming a bigger problem, and a mystery person feeding them rats in the middle of the night isn’t helping things. Why would someone attract zombies and undermine the prison’s security? Keeping in mind I haven’t read this far in the comics (so I’m not spoiling, just speculating), I think this is related to Carol’s new doctrine of Strength Means Safety. “Are you crying?! There’s no crying in zombies!”

It doesn’t help that everyone is a total knucklehead when it comes to defending the fence from zombie clusters. I guess with the attack in D Block, they were distracted from their usual fence patrols, but they stood there like dummies when the first thing they should have done was drive out in a car making noise to draw the walkers off the fence. That’s exactly what Rick and Daryl eventually do, but they waste a bunch of time killing pigs to feed the zombies. The zombies were following the car without the pigs. Morons. I know the pigs had to die because they might have spread the disease, but it was still stupid.

It took two episodes for me to figure out this weird anti-gun, farmer Rick thing. Rick has been utterly defeated by self-doubt, feeling as though his mistakes cost too many lives and almost turned his son into a twisted, soulless bastard. Oh, and he was going insane. Carl’s been trying to tow the line, but man he really wants that gun of his back. And it took only slightly longer than it took me to figure it all out for it all to be undone. Rick hands Carl his gun and straps a piece to his belt again.

Michonne and Beth have a moment with the baby Beth takes care of, starting off humorous as Michonne grits her teeth at baby screams and Beth’s country songs. Then it turns poignant when Michonne’s refusal to hold the baby turns to a smile, then anguish. One suspects a baby has played a part in Michonne’s past. Great job by Danai Gurira though. Her face went from steel to velvet there.

Tyreese goes to visit his girlfriend Karen, who’s been quarantined along with anyone else who might have been exposed to the disease. He finds her cell empty, but bloody drag marks lead outside. There he finds two burned bodies, one of them Karen.

Someone inside the prison is screwing with the others. Is it one of the new people? I still think it might be Carol.

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Posted by on Sunday, October 20th, 2013. Filed under Dark TV, Headline. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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