Seriable’s Robert L. reviews The Walking Dead 3.02 “Sick”
I could not have imagined a more tense and exciting follow-up to the season opener. You’ll recall from last week’s review how I worried that the pacing may have been a little too fast. I’m pleased to report that any potential pacing problems were completely resolved here. There were plenty of things happening, with enough time made for some incredibly strong character beats.
The episode picks up immediately from where we left off last time, with Hershel’s leg gone and our heroes meeting a small group of prisoners. That the encounter is going to be tense and full of distrust is apparent from the beginning, as the show cleverly sets up all the threads of suspense. Waiting for the bomb to go off — if you will.
In the meantime, Glenn is given the responsibility of offing Hershel if he were to die and turn into a walker. This gets a fantastic dynamic going, given his relationship with Maggie. But Maggie seems ready to face the reality of what has to happen if her father turns.
I do think that all of the exposition with the prisoners was an attempt to indoctrinate any new viewers, who may have missed the first two seasons, into the show’s mythology. It’s a pretty easy leap to make, and would presumably allow new viewers to give the show strong ratings as the season continues (the re-addition of Dish customers may help as well). I never found myself annoyed by it, because the tension between Rick and the new group’s de facto leader — whose name is apparently Tomas — is palpable from the very beginning.
With the long stares Rick and Tomas give each other, I assumed that the motif was “this is what Rick could become if he doesn’t put moral limits on himself.” That may have had something to do with it, the great thing about a visual medium is a lot of what is shown can be left up to interpretation, but they seemed to push it the other direction. Tomas is a threat, what is Rick going to do about it?
Lori decides to give Rick some advice, that maybe he should eliminate the prisoners altogether. He says what every viewer is thinking, “You say this now …”
Which gives her an opportunity to be self-deprecating and admit that she’s been a horrible person. This may help a little bit with our sympathy (or rather, lack thereof) for her character, but she still has a long way to go.
The episode tries to have a bit of humor when the prisoners have their first encounter with the walkers. Any way to shake up an encounter with walkers is welcome by me. I feel that making these encounters more difficult and dangerous adds a lot to the reality of the show.
In the meantime, Maggie wants some time alone with her father. Maybe it’s because of how adamant she was about his probable death, but I half-expected her to put him out of his misery right then and there. (With the inevitable fallout between her and everyone around her, and whatever Rick would do when he found out Glenn had left them alone.) Obviously, it didn’t happen that way.
When Glenn left for the second time, I fully expected something bad to happen. The fact that Rick never found out about Glenn leaving may have been a missed opportunity (I imagine there would have been severe consequences for Glenn), but more likely it’s setting up a thread that can be exploited later: what happens when Rick finds out about any kind of disloyalty or unwillingness to follow orders?
Remember, suspense is all about the waiting. So it’s quite effective to draw these conflicts out after setting them up.
After the look Carl and Beth gave each other last week, I expected her telling him not to argue with his mom would pressure him into giving an apology. Instead he storms off. At this point, it’s a pretty safe bet that Carl will be the most annoying character this season.
When Tomas becomes openly hostile to Rick, it became apparent that this episode would end up with most, if not all, of the prisoners dead. But killing Tomas on the spot shows exactly how gutsy Rick has become. If that weren’t clear enough, locking another prisoner outside demonstrated a lot about how things have changed. In previous seasons, he would have saved the prisoner’s life and given him a second chance.
By not killing the two remaining men in cold blood shows that he still has a heart, even if he’s owned up to the reality of the world in which he lives. So it’s not like he has turned into Shane, but he isn’t the same old Rick either.
The last two scenes kept the momentum going. First, by showing that someone is watching the prison, and second by showing that Rick and Lori’s relationship is making progress. Seeing how meaningful a simple touch is to Lori was a powerful moment. Lessened by how much we hate her, but still impactful.
People do things for a lot of reasons. Sometimes people do things that hurts other people, and it doesn’t seem to make any sense. Sometimes it’s only later that you find out there was actually a good reason behind doing what they did. So I’m hoping that there’s something about Lori’s actions from last season that the writers haven’t revealed to us that will make a whole lot of sense and essentially justify her actions. Can you imagine hating a character as much as we do, and then having that flipped on its head by learning that Lori was completely justified the whole time? I can’t imagine what that might be, and I doubt there is a plan laid out for that. But it sure would be cool if there was.
More likely, she just screwed up. Over and over and over again. People do that too.
9/10 Seriable Stars
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