'The Walking Dead' - 'Infected': Bloody Moon Rising With A Plague And A Flood

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'The Walking Dead' - 'Infected': Bloody Moon Rising With A Plague And A Flood

By TK | TV Reviews | October 21, 2013 | Comments ()


After three seasons of The Walking Dead, we’d seen a lot, and we knew what we liked and what we didn’t want. We knew what we wanted. We wanted consistency, and intelligent decision making, and better characters — particularly for women and minorities. We wanted better writing.

If the first two episodes of Season Three are any indication, we are getting all of those things — whether we want them or not. For make no mistake, my friends. The writing and characterization is superb so far, but it absolutely devastating. One of the advantages — and I use the term very loosely — of the increased numbers at the prison is that the carnage can now take place of a much larger scale, and the effects, when utilized properly, can be that much more devastating. And that’s what happened this week — flat-out devastation struck the prison, from within and without, literally and figuratively. Chaos was king this week, and each time the group thought they could stop to take a breath and decide their next steps, the next disaster would rear its head.

As before, we start off gently, the show lulling us with the softer side of Tyrese and his relationship with Karen, a genuine and sweet little moment that at this point should have set off warning bells. And it did, as she wandered through the prison’s darkened halls in a masterfully suspenseful opening, where the darkness itself almost seemed like its own menacing character. Yet we were fooled, weren’t we. More on this later.

It’s only minutes later that chaos takes control, and the prison becomes just that — a prison, with hell exploding from within and nowhere to go. The battle in the prison block is a spectacularly vicious one, something the likes of which we haven’t quite seen since season one. The sheer numbers of survivors makes it an exercise in claustrophobic terror, as the dead lurch to and fro and people and children desperately try to claw their way to safety. In the midst of it, Rick finally begins to regain that sense of purpose, of necessary violence, and emerges with blood to the elbows and what probably feel like fresh cuts on his soul.

However, the carnage in the prison isn’t the worst of it. Not even the absolutely heartbreaking scene with Carol and Ryan Samuels, one that makes me once again sing the praises of Melissa McBride, is the worst of it. And that scene is fairly brutal, from Carol’s terrible serenity when she’s about to amputate*, to her steely sympathies when she knows its too late. But worst of all was the desperate pleas as the girls tried not to witness the cruelest of possible fates. I’ll be hearing little girls cry, “look at the flowers!” in my nightmares for a little while.

Yet the worst was still to come. Something is attacking them from the inside. Some things, if we want to get technical. Something is plaguing the people and animals of the prison, and we can only wait and witness the inevitable paranoia and fear that it will foster. What’s almost worse is the other unseen nemesis, the one that feeds rats to walkers, the one that is slowly trying to kill them all each night. But that particular terror is for another day, I suppose.

One of this season’s greatest successes has been its unflinching focus on the fragile, flawed humanity of its denizens. Michonne’s startlingly affecting, emotionally heavy scene with Beth and the baby brought a whole new light to her — one that was needed, actually. Much as I love Michonne, in particular now that actress Danai Gurira has been allowed to spread her wings a bit, there was a certain one-note aspect to her that has been injected with a new life, a new sense of realness. By the same token, Carl has become a real person, and Chandler Riggs has finally turned the corner for me, leaving behind the insolent, teeth-grindingly frustrating brat that drove people batty for the first three seasons.

Yet Andrew Lincoln’s Rick was perhaps the most interesting and affecting character this week. There was this remarkable feeling through this episode that was almost an homage to the great old western films. That image of the tired, broken, aging gunslinger, who has given up his guns to live a simpler life with a family was a powerful part of ‘Infected,’ and Lincoln’s weary, disheveled face made you feel every pang of regret and fear. And as he tore through the walkers in the prison, as he took charge of the battle to save their weakening fortifications, and as he finally took up arms once more, you could sense doors opening ahead and closing behind him. There was a redemptive feel to the whole endeavor, and that final moment, as he burned his bloodstained clothes and stood there with guns on his hips, felt like — for better or worse — a rebirth.

We ended how we began — with Tyrese and Karen, but in a terrible, grisly, tragic parody of that opening. Instead of love, we have heartbreak, instead of affection, there’s tragedy. Instead of the heat of intimacy, there’s the blistering heat of burning corpses and the fire of fury and anguish in Tyrese’s eyes. ‘Infected’ was a terrific episode, but also an exhausting one. They may not be characters that we’ve known for long, but the new showrunners and writers and directors have found ways of giving every death a weight, and after seemingly relentless onslaught of this episode, that weight felt almost crushing. The Walking Dead has never been easy on its viewers, but they’re mining new depths this season, and the show is — thus far, at least — better for it.

.* Postscript: OK, at some point we have to discuss one of the glaring problems here — if everyone is infected, why does amputation make any difference? If everyone is infected, why is a zombie bite — as long as it’s nonlethal — any worse than, say, a cat bite? Or put differently, why does it seem like every zombie bite is lethal? Someone please tell me if I’m missing something.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • St

    Also - do those Woodbury people become Lost people? I think they do. You know how in Lost there were some 10 our main heroes and were making all decisions. And then other people from plane were wondering in the background and showed up once in a while when they needed someone to conveniently die.

    And here in Walking Dead we have our main heroes who made all decisions and go out for food. And nameless Woodbury people just wonder in the background and we only see them and know their names when there must be tension and someone must die. Like that guy in supermarket in first episode and that friend of Carl, or this Carol’s guy in this episode, or that Tyres’ girlfriend in this episode. How convenient. And we did not care at all when they died. Because we don’t even know them.

    And nameless Woodbury people were running in the background during zombie attack. And then we see our old gang to discuss everything. Woodbury people are Lost people. Which is lame.

  • St

    Well, new season is better then previous ones for sure. It’s almost like Walking Dead we wanted it to be. No stupid farm, no stupid Governor. At least for 2 episodes. We all know that at one point that idiot will show up and be all evil and will do bad and super evil things to our gang. Lets hope they will kill him after 1-2 episodes. Because at this point he is just boring. There was too much of him in last season.

    I was looking at that zombie attack inside prison and just wondered why they all sleep in open cells. Aside from that thing when boy suddenly got flu and died – anyone can die in sleep from heart attack and then become zombie. They all really should have sleep in closed sells. Just got some lock or latch. It’s really more safe.

    I really hope that they won’t turn Carl to annoying brat again.

  • Felicia

    I am loving that Michonne is finally being given a deeper storyline and she's doing an awesome job of it. On a more superficial note, we also got to see some hot Sheriff Grimes neeps this week!

  • F'mal DeHyde

    Yeah, that's a nice little body.

  • Wigamer

    I have a bad feeling about Glenn's/Maggie's chances. I think some major characters are going to die this season, and I was sweating it after the Polaroid moment. I think one of them's zombie fodder. Which I will HATE.

  • The Other Julie

    Did anyone else get pissed about Michonne's incident at the fence? What the hell happened there? This is Michonne here and seemed totally out of character. If she heard the gunfire and was coming back to help, her sword would have already been drawn and she should have been lopping up walkers' heads on the way back in. If anything, once off the horse, she would have taken a few steps back to buy herself a few seconds to draw her sword and kill those at the gate who attacked her - instead of getting into a shoving match with them, allowing herself to be overcome and then - what - twisting her ankle as she fell? Really? She might as well have been in high heels and tripped - that old horror movie trope. This behavior just seemed totally wrong for someone who has historically been way better than this at combat.

  • Kate

    That scene was idiotic. She had plenty of time after she got off the horse to take her sword out (though really, it should have been out before anything even happened, after all she was just feet away from walkers as she was riding off), but instead she decides pushing them is the way to go? What the hell was that?

  • Edwina the Magnificent

    I think they're trying to show that she's just not on her game at the moment (her scene with Li'l Asskicker for example, breaking down like that is also not like her). Personally, I'm intrigued to find out more of what she's been up to lately and what's causing the sudden change in her. Fatigue? Existential crisis? Totally over this shit?

  • The Other Julie

    Could be. Hopefully we get more backstory on her soon...

  • supergwarr

    my theory is Glenn. i think at this point he would do anything to protect
    Maggie and his whereabouts were unknown. as for the rats yeah i think it is the
    crazy girl. i think it was smart how they showed in ep 1 how crazy people can
    get in this new normal

  • Emma

    I was sure they burned themselves in a last, selfless act - they realized they were gonna die and didn't wanna spread the disease. No? Yes?

  • Meli_V

    I thought this too at first, but there was too much blood and the trail shows they were dragged.

  • St

    Nah, it was probably that stupid Governor. Who knows maybe he has his people inside who do that things with rats.

  • Bert_McGurt

    I thought so too, at first. But if they had to drag themselves out to the yard like that - why weren't there handprints in the blood? And, more importantly - where'd they get the gas?

  • mairimba

    There was blood in the cells. Started at the pillows. Someone clearly shot/stabbed them in the head first then dragged them outside to burn.

  • The Other Julie

    Or they may have even died and turned already... in which case burning was not a bad idea, given their potential contagion factor.

  • mairimba

    I think someone is working for the Governor from the inside and that's who is feeding the walkers and burned the bodies. They've rescued a lot of poeple in the past months as mentioned in the last episode. There's Woodbury people and random people, like the military doctor. But whoever it is I'm convinced the Governor is behind it all.

  • jon29

    That scene with Michonne and the baby was too much for me.

  • Counsel

    The zombie bite will cause a fever which will kill you unless you can amputate an infected appendage before the blood spread. Similar to blood poisening. Think Augustus McCrae (Robert Duvall's best role) in Lonesome Dove, "If you'd had cut my other leg off, I'd a shot you dead."

  • Wigamer

    Don't remind me of Gus...I always cry.

  • Maria

    Everbody in the Walking Dead World is infected with the Zombie Virus. It just breaks out when you die. No matter how. Unless you have brain damage, then you wont turn and stay dead. (See first episode of Season 2 when they are on the highway, lots of dead people in the cars from car crashes and traumas.

    The Zombie bite kills you but doesnt turn you into one.

    so basically if you fall down the stairs and break your neck you will come back as a walker. if someone shoots you in the head you will just die. if hershel, bless him, dies in his sleep due ot his age he will also turn.

    its a bit weird concept at first but it makes sense for storytelling, you need people to turn into zombies without being bitten. like in this episode.

  • Wigamer

    But am I right in noticing that the zombie bites seem to accelerate death. Like faster than a normal bite from, like TK says, a cat or whatever?

  • My money's on Bob Stookey for burning that nice lady and Nameless Other Guy. They're not likely to waste an actor like Lawrence Gilliard Jr. on a throwaway T-Dawg v.2 role - dude's gonna do something big, whether it be awful or brilliant. This season seems to be trending towards awful.

    And it's totally that jacked-up little girl feeding the walkers. She's legit wrong in the head, and it's about damn time some kid besides Carl lost it.

  • The difference between the living infected and the dead infected has always drawn uncomfortable parallels to HIV and AIDS in my mind. The one being manageable and non-lethal, the other being the aggressive, quite dangerous, rather inevitable evolution of the original.

    All any germ wants to do is survive and replicate itself. There are a lot of medical conditions that lie dormant until some kind of bodily trauma triggers them - lupus springs to mind - and it don't get much more traumatic than death. So, what if the bug that's caused this particular zombie apocalypse is content to spread from living host to living host until it senses the death of its host, at which point a second stage of survival mechanism kicks on to animate the dead flesh so that it can continue to survive and spread? One bite from a walker, in addition to being a painful way to get a vicious bacterial infection, would be enough for the triggered virus to jump to a new host. But the triggered virus only knows how to move dead flesh, so it has to overwhelm the living host's immune system and kill in order to survive. It can only move at the speed of blood pumping through the body, though, being an apparently blood-borne pathogen, so if you're bitten on an extremity there's a chance the infection can be stopped before it spreads to the rest of the body. More central bites, like that poor bastard's neck wound, can't be amputated.

    But maybe I'm overthinking the whole mess.

  • Bert_McGurt

    God, the anguish on Rick's face as he baited the walkers with the piglets...you could it in the immediate sense as he had to sacrifice his animals, and in the greater sense as he watched the normalcy they've been trying to build disappear in front of his eyes - maybe for good. Maybe they can't farm after all.

  • Meli_V

    It was a difficult scene to watch I could feel the sense of hopelessness almost like a part of him broke as he realized the peace of their community was coming to an end. It actually brought tears to my eyes.

  • God, the anguish on my face when Daryl could have just rode his chopper off into the woods, OR, someone could have yelled down the fence line where it was stronger, OR, they could have set off some noises away from the prison, OR they could have did the EXACT same thing without the pigs and led them anywhere... with NOISE!


  • amylu

    I thought there was a possibility that folks were getting sick from a swine flu. Did I imagine a scene where Rick mentions his sick pig, and Herschel mentions that illnesses often spread from birds and pigs? So it made sense that he would dispatch the pigs and then burn their pens. It was pretty heart-breaking to watch Rick sacrifice his pigs like that, but it probably would have been just as traumatic for him to kill them in a more humane manner, too, if he thought they were the cause of the deaths.

  • Rachelchron

    That was the first time in all my 34 years of tv/movie watching I have actually closed my eyes, covered my ears, and screamed. Just screamed. Even thinking about it makes me want to cry.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    I had to pause it to sob. This show is tough on everyone but it really hurts to see animals killed like that.

  • ELee

    Extremely powerful scene, but SO disturbing and sad.

  • Melissa D

    That KILLED me. Those poor little piggies.

  • BeardoGomez

    This show's just bad.

  • God Of Bal-Sagoth

    Oh thank god you're here to help.

  • simplysarah

    Zombie bites cause infection that causes fever that kills the person faster. Amputating the limp will stop the infection and fever and allow that person to not die.

  • Parker Jammstein

    It's MRSA!

  • MauraFoley

    I was just coming to say this. A lot of people carry MRSA, but it doesn't overcome their immune system until they are either immunocompromised or sick in another way. Thus, you can carry it, but if you don't get sick/sepsis from a bite, you don't get sick.

  • PaddyDog

    MRSA is a bacterial infection. This infection is clearly airborne and has all the hall mark features of a virus.

  • J4Sho

    How do we know it's airborne?

  • PaddyDog

    99.9% of all influenzas are airborne (influenza has to be airborne in order to survive because it can only live a very short while outside of a living host: it "dies" very quickly just sitting on a door knob for instance) and it has already been determined that people were exposed just by being in the cell block regardless of whether they had blood on them or not.

  • rn3

    What are the chances the rats are planted by the Governor? Seems like we're about due for a "meanwhile on the other side of town" segue

  • Bert_McGurt

    I wondered that too, but the rats are on the INSIDE of the first fence. I'm not sure it'd be easy for him to get in.

  • I don't think there's anyone left on the other side of town?

    Most of them boarded the bus to the prison. The rest of them were gunned down by the Governor!

  • stella

    Seriously should I start waitching agian. I stopped halfway through last season, but it sounds a lot better. Great review Mr TK by the way.

  • lmtj

    If this is what story may follow, then I think it's a great concept to have something from the old world follow to them the new one, but reacts harshly to the walker virus, speeding up the process. Just when they thought they established new reality..bam!, the old one creeps back in.
    I'm also wondering if it's Carl feeding the rats to the walkers. Maybe his thought process is if the threat is high enough again, I can move back into my position as a guard/solider and get my gun back. Stupid normal teenage stuff where the plan only makes sense to them.

  • MrFroggie

    Nah. I'd put more money on the dumbass kids that were naming them like pets last episode that Carl barked at.

  • simplysarah

    That would mean the little girl would have to get out at night and get in between the two fences to feed the walkers. I don't see that being possible. I could be wrong though. I think it's Carl. He was doing it to show his dad that there is still a serious threat so he could get his gun back. I think the little nutjob was getting bored. Or it's Bob. It was said he's only been there a couple weeks. He could've met up with the Gov and been talked into taking down the prison from the inside.

  • Because of the head games Carl was playing with Rick this episode - trying to manuver him back into a leadership role - I kind of thought it was him feeding the rats, too.

    But I agree with MrFroggie. It's the girl that was naming the zombies. Her sister spoke of how she was messed up, but wasn't weak.

    If she thinks enough to name them, she probably still sees them as people - or the people they once were - and took to feeding them. This would also set up an interesting conflict between the girl and Carl later on.

    Right now, I'm more freaked out by whoever is behind what happened in the last scene tonight. No way is a kid doing THAT!

  • Rachelchron

    That's a good theory. I hadn't even thought about the girls treating them like pets. But the way she gripped that knife Carol gave her makes me think it wasn't her. The determination in that act would ensure she wouldn't be doing it any more, and I don't think they're going to let that storyline go.

  • Bobbs3k

    I agree I think the one girl is the one feeding the rats. I have a few suspects for who is responsible for the last scene. My highest one is the new guy, the medic who tried to grab the booze last week. Just his earlier lines when they were all talking about the illness and them not being lucky lately. My other suspects in include Tyrese's sister and Dr. S.

  • I'm thinking there's still a stray Governor running amok.

  • Wigamer

    Did David Morrissey's new show start yet? I thought that kind of meant he wouldn't be around for most of the season.

  • He may be working on it, but it hasn't started yet. He's definitely going to appear this season--soon, I believe.

  • Wigamer

    Ooooohhhh...good news. Though they gave him the world's lamest send-off last season, I wasn't finished looking at him yet.

  • TCH

    Honestly the flu like disease that kills within a day scares me more than the walkers.

  • Dennis Albert Ramirez

    yeah and ive got bad feeling the writers are gonna get ballsy this season and kill off some of the main cast. daryl did lick his fingers before shaking Patrick's hand after all...

  • I would be truly shocked if they opted to kill the ONE character on the show that doesn't make stupid decisions every 15 seconds.

  • Lauren_Lauren

    To my mind, a zombie bite doesn't turn you - it kills you with infection, then you turn when you die. A bite would be like injecting rotting flesh into your bloodstream. You just die from sepsis. So if you are able to remove the bite location before the infected blood spreads, then you will be okay. Per your example, a cat bite wouldn't kill you either . . . unless you got a wicked infection from it, and died.

  • Jim

    I always guessed it was a two-stage infection - that everyone has the low-grade version which normally can't progress to stage 2 until the host's immune system stops. When bitten, there's a fresh injection of stage 2 which activates the stage 1 already present over a short period of time.

  • That was my thought, too. A zombie bite is kind of like aggravated rabies, or something. It just overwhelms your immune system until you burn out from fever, die, and come back.

  • Dennis Albert Ramirez

    i think the zombie virus is more or less dormant until a bite somehow aggravates or activates the worst symptoms of it. i think it takes different lengths of time for different people.

    maybe something in zombie saliva

  • Wigamer

    But how would they have arrived at this knowledge? So far, the need for immediate amputation to keep the zombie virus (that they're already infected with) from spreading just doesn't make sense.

  • Dennis Albert Ramirez

    oh i meant to just comment on like, how it might behave in the universe, i don't think the characters know it works like that. and yeah, i think the amputation thing was just trial and error and in hershel's case, immediate action. perhaps after a certain timeframe amputation wouldnt matter anyway.

    that said, and now that i think about it, i may need to rewatch TS-19 from the first season, because (mild SPOILERS?)
    the CDC dude who had been studying the virus goes in detail about how it works and kills

  • I don't remember the exact scene, but I swear there was a conversation at some point about how the virus is passive in the living but activated in the walkers, and when they bite, it activates and kills the bitten.

  • lmtj

    IMO: Trial and Error from Hershel. When Rick chopped off his leg in a state of panic and they rushed him back to the "family". Then the human side of Carol and Lori went into effect to control the bleeding for their loved one, which they did, then back to reality: :"Ok, we just reacted like would have in the regular world, now was this for nothing? Let's handcuff him to the bed to see what happens and hope our lack of thought to this world worked." It did, so why not try it again?

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