"The Walking Dead" - "Sick": Oh I'm Prison Bound, I May Never Know Any Other Way
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"The Walking Dead" — "Sick": Oh I'm Prison Bound, I May Never Know Any Other Way

By TK | TV Reviews | October 23, 2012 | Comments ()


“Sick,” the second episode of this season of AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” was one of those episodes that helps you forget some of the show’s past missteps. We’ve already discussed how the first episode restored that much-needed sense of desperation to the show, and that feeling is continued in this week’s episode. It also brought to bear a critical new dynamic that the previews have shown will play a larger role in this season — the idea that sometimes, the living are just as bad, if not worse, than the dead.

The encounter with the five prisoners was perhaps one of the best ideas they could have had. “The Walking Dead” needs more than the occasional fresh blood — it needs bad blood. Only a couple of times in the past two seasons did they encounter anyone who might be adversarial to their cause, and that always rang somewhat hollow. On the one hand, I’ve never really bought into the post-apocalyptic conceit that people immediately become ravening beasts who rape and kill everything in their path because of the breakdown of society. On the other hand, the end of the world is unlikely to always bring out those better angels of our nature. The show needs more to propel it than zombies chasing the cast, and this set the stage for the next obstacle rather nicely.

The prisoners were important for more than that, though. It enabled us to see one more facet of the evolution of this group’s dynamic, as Rick’s hard edges become even harder and his grip over the group is more tight than ever. It’s a good development, and I felt like the rapport of the group — all jangled nerves and jagged breaths and tightrope-taut anxieties — felt natural and just right. The tension has never felt more right than it does right now, between the new living neighbors, the ailing — and possibly failing — Hershel, and the adjustments to their new realities, the group is rightfully on edge. Much as they did in the first episode, they feel more real this season so far than they probably ever did in Season Two.

And while there’s little character development happening outside of Rick’s increasingly stoic and severe exterior, there’s much happening that is working quite nicely. Carol’s burgeoning interest in… um… anatomy is a fascinating, if somewhat perverse, development, and while pretty blond Beth is doing little other that cry and be pretty, Maggie is developing into a nice, strong character as well. Her poignant scene at what we assumed was Hershel’s deathbed was one of the more emotionally gripping ones that the show has featured.

Yet all wasn’t blood and roses this week, as the show did fall back on some of its same tired, frustrating tropes. Lori and Rick’s relationship is clearly meant to be a Very Important Topic, but it’s already rather overdone. Lori gets shaky and teary eyed and makes hollow, passive aggressive statements about how terrible she’s been, Rick clenches his jaw and stares off into the distance, there’s a minor platitude uttered, and scene, rinse, repeat. It just doesn’t feel as authentic as it should.

Worse yet… fucking Carl, who is rapidly become the most hated kid in television not named Joffrey. But Carl is much worse because he’s so poorly written, again cycling through the same stupid, tooth-grindingly aggravating scenarios. Carl runs off, Lori gets upset, the group gets frustrated, Carl acts like a brat. It’s one of the worst and most oft-repeated themes of the show, and they need to put an end to it. Carl may just be a child, but I refuse to believe that a child, after all he’s seen and experienced, could still be that ignorant and arrogantly foolhardy.

And I’d like to point out that we’ve now had 20 consecutive episodes without T-Dog being developed in any fashion whatsoever. Seriously, “The Walking Dead,” either give the man his due or kill off his token black ass. I’m severely annoyed.

So yes, there were some hiccups. Yet “Sick” was another solid entry into the series, one that, in addition to really doubling down on the blood and gore and mayhem (yet with purpose, fortunately), is putting the characters through an emotional and physical wringer. Their trials and tribulation feel more authentic and real, in all of their stomach-clenching tenseness, than ever before, and it’s making for a better show. Next week should prove to be one of the more interesting episodes, where we finally get to see more of Andrea and Michonne and the ominous Governor. But until then, we can content ourselves in knowing that our little group fights on, and isn’t going to let anything get in the way of their survival.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Monte X. Hector

    1. You know full well how this zombie shit works, AND you're pregnant.
    2. Someone who you know was bitten just (apparently) died.
    3. Instead of getting the hell away, you give that person mouth to mouth resuscitation?

  • Mike

    I think you're oversimplifying Carl. The subtext in this episode is that Carl was trying to do something impressive (and succeeded) and was promptly rebuked. He's trying to impress the grownups (and Beth), yet they still treat him like a child. There's nothing more shameful and frustrating for a boy his age. So, lacking emotional coping mechanisms, he acts out like a brat.

  • peachykeen5014

    They can make Lori sound as pathetic as they want; ain't no way I'm feeling sorry for that b.

  • I can't wait for her to die. I have a feeling it won't happen any time soon, unlike the books.

  • Fredo

    If we made a show of just Darryl, T-Dog, Glenn and Maggie kicking zombie ass and offed the rest, who wouldn't watch it?

  • MikeRoorda

    I actually laughed when Carl just showed back up again and nobody had even uttered the famous "Where's CARL?" line. I think it's kind of interesting that Carl can be trusted to use a silenced handgun competently, including being a part of a team that clears out a house, and yet they get all pissed when he goes to the infirmary to get stuff that they actually NEED instead of wandering into the woods to poke at zombies with sticks. He can act and be treated as an adult at times, expected to off dead guys from a guard tower with precision aim, and then scolded like a typical 12 year old the next afternoon.

    I also think Andrew Lincoln is seriously pulling off the "nice guy who has to do bad shit" internal conflict pretty well. Yeah, he's more willing to impassively swing a machete at an assholes dome than he was previously, but we still get scenes of him where doubt or pain flashes across his face and we see that he doesn't WANT to be that person. He HAS to in order to survive and keep those around him alive for as long as possible.

    I feel like the Rick and Laurie drama has developed as well. Whereas he and Laurie used to dance around each other unsure of their continued commitment, Rick has clearly decided he'll continue to be civil, but he neither loves or trusts her any more and that loss is painful for her, even if it's deserved.

  • Forbiddendonut

    I've really enjoyed the first two episodes of the third season. The world seems a much harsher place now than it did at the beginning, which makes sense. Everyone is more desperate and they've really been pushing the boundaries of things. Between what went down with this episode - with Rick macheting that guy in the head and then chasing down the un-armed prisoner like some maniacal killer and then locking him out side with the zombies - and what went down in the "Cold Storage" webisodes, it really makes me think that they may, in fact, continue to push boundaries and add some of the crazier aspects of the Governor and Woodbury into the show.

    The show really has come flying out of the gate this season. Many more zombies. Much more action and violence and much more streamlined character interaction. That last scene between Rick and Lori spoke more volumes than all of their previous interactions combined almost.
    So far, this show is as strong as it has ever been.
    As for Carl, this time was different. Carl goes off on his own, finds the infirmary. Lori is (not inappropriately) pissed, but for the first time, this sets up real, logical drama about Carl not being in the house. Carl's not in the house, Carl legitimately could have gotten killed, BUT... Carl also found the lifesaving medications that could save Herschel's life, and Carl's growing into a badass in his own right. Who's right this time?
    Carol realizes she needs to KNOW STUFF, and starts practicing her anatomy on cadavers. Brilliant. You've got nothing /but/ cadavers all around you. It's frankly a great idea to start learning how to do stuff like amputate limbs and perform C-sections on the cadavers before you have to do it in the field, on living people, with zero training.
    They handcuff Herschel and post Glenn there to watch in case he turns. Solid thinking, and nobody pulls a hissy fit about it (other than Beth, who quickly aquiesces).
    Everything going down at the prison has been great so far and the other plot could be equally great.

  • littlealbatross

    Handcuffing Herschel is fine and good, but its really his mouth, or rather other peoples proximity to his mouth that should be a concern: Handcuff him, and then you have your hand on his face, kiss his forehead and have hands and arms in biting distance? I kept waiting for him to go all zed-word and suddenly bite Maggie.

  • Utopian

    I gotta say, TK, I'm a little disappointed with your first two reviews this season. Not because I agree or disagree with them, but because it feels as if you've skipped over any actual analysis of the episode/characters and just given us a surface recap along with a couple minor gripes and compliments.You barely addressed Rick's decision to kill the prisoners, which was one of the most fascinating turns in his character since the show's beginning, and you brushed over his ending scene with Lori like it was just another marital dispute. Rick's closing line, his emphasis that "WE are grateful" rather than he; these are some huge moments that you seem to be overlooking or just plain writing off. I'm not trying to bring you down or bash you, but as soon as I'm done watching an episode, the next thing I'm normally waiting for is your review, and these seem more matter-of-factly than they should considering how kick-arse the first two episodes have been.

  • Wednesday

    I’ve never really bought into the post-apocalyptic conceit that people
    immediately become ravening beasts who rape and kill everything in their
    path because of the breakdown of society.

    Come to Atlanta right before an ice storm. Try to buy batteries or a generator.

    That's as close to apocalyptic societal meltdown as I ever want to be. You might not be murdered, but you would be in for some serious maiming if you tried to grab the last pack of D-cells at Home Depot.

    It sorely tests your faith in civilization.

  • K-Raw

    Even the reports of what happened in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina make me think this is an entirely realistic scenario. Some people just need an excuse to be horrible.

  • sherlockzz

    I like Carl this season. The struggle is internal and subtle but I read it as the influence of his father vs. the influence of his mentor (Shane). He's stone cold at times and as foolhardy as a teenager can be.

  • David Sorenson

    Yeah. I actually like Carl more after this episode. Instead of pissing off into the woods to play "poke the zombie with a stick," he thought of something that nobody else had. He went and got some damn bandages from the infirmary for Herschel. Took out two walkers by himself. Carl did something right and he did it competently.

  • corey bones

    i think what you are missing about carl this time is rather then get lost doing something stupid and childish, he went on a solo mission to get much needed supplies, which makes him more of a badass, t-dog also, while not yet getitng character development, is actually getting lines now and allowed to kick zombie ass, all good things in my book

  • IMO T-Dog is the best character on the show because he keeps his fucking mouth shut and kicks ass. This show has absolutely terrible dialogue and characters but awesome action scenes, so T-Dog is a welcome breath of fresh air.

  • Blake

    I feel meh overall toward this episode. There was far too much talking going on and I found I was more often than not hitting the "Mute" button. And seeing the promos for next week's episode made me realized how little I care for Andrea (I haven't missed her at all) It's too bad the introduction of the Governor is wasted on her.

  • DeltaJuliet

    I hate Andrea and haven't missed her one bit.

  • SchmidtUltra

    The only reason I hang onto my hope for Andrea's character is because of how awesome she becomes in the comics. I'm praying she gets to that level very soon.

  • I don't know, I'm finding Rick's character changes to be a bit extreme. While obviously the asshole prisoner had to go, the other one that Rick locked outside? That was (as my friend mentioned) cruel. And Rick has never been cruel.

    If Carl and Lori don't simultaneously self-destruct very soon, I'm going to lose my mind. Not only did we have the Carl runs off again scene, but also Lori--again completely ignorant to any maternal instinct she might have lurking somewhere--bending down to see if Hershel was dead and then doing mouth to mouth? That's death wish stupid.

  • littlealbatross

    Rick has indeed, never been cruel. In fact during the first season with the leg-less female walker he showed...mercy for lack of a better word. That scene has always stuck in my mind, as an indication of who Rick is- he's a good guy (at least as good as people can really ever be), he believes in right and wrong, mercy and justice. He, on more than one occasion apologized before putting a walker down. That means something. That makes him different from the crazy-blood lusty prisoner he put down in the latest episode (how great was that machete moment? Who doesn't love a machete?) And then...he lost that thing, that separation, when he locked Andrew out with the walkers. I have a bit of issue with that. If Rick just killed him, then that's one thing (and I can't say I have too much of an issue with that), but leaving him to be walker food- a slow and painful, not to mention icky death- That's not the Rick we know. I don't see this as a good character development- that separation the white hat that is admittedly a little grey now has to be there, otherwise why would we care, or like him? Why would he be a leader if he does not have some quality that makes him better, different?

  • DeltaJuliet

    But what should he have done? I already thought it was incredibly stupid of Rick to go chasing that guy down hallway after hallway. When they encountered the courtyard full of zombies, was he supposed to risk his life to save this prisoner he barely knows or trusts? I thought of it more as he was locking out the zombies, than locking out the prisoner. As far as he was conecerned it seemed like a "you made your bed, lie in it" sort of moment.

  • Rick had a weapon; he could have forced the guy to the new cellblock same as he did the others.

    It was just too drastic a change from the Rick we've come to know.

  • pt783

    Andrew (skinny guy) had to go one way or another, he swung at rick and was probably the closest one to the leader of the prisoners... it WAS cruel of rick, but they ARE prisoners, though we dont know what they have done, they are in prison for a reason and being too cautious cant be bad...

  • Rocabarra

    I cannot wait for some delicious, delicious David Morrissey next week. This season is shaping up to be a good one, methinks.

  • TherecanbeonlyoneAdmin

    I couldn't believe that, after the strong first episode and all of the internet hazing of this particular shortcoming, Lori actually lost fucking Carl again! Where is Carl indeed? All I could do was laugh.

  • TherecanbeonlyoneAdmin

    You know what? I'm not leaving this alone. In any alternate universe excepting this particular one, someone would have called child protective services two seasons ago. Or Rick, who is now the unchallenged leader of the group, would refuse to leave the boy alone with his mother. This dick-headed kid stands more of a chance surviving going along with his dad to hunt flesh bags than being left alone with his mother.

    What the fuck? Her fucking baby is going to be born and, one day, somebody is going to be walking along and find the poor child laying on a shelf because Lori forgot to pick the whelp up when she was on her way back from the pantry after grabbing a nice can of Spam and cold delicious glass of powdered milk.

  • littlealbatross

    Worst Mother of the Year Award goes to....Lori.

    The whole episode I was asking where that little shit of a kid was...she lost him again, but hadn't noticed. If I had a kid in the zombie apocalypse I would hope I would train him to be self-sufficient (read not stupid) in case I get offed, but that little shit would be where I could see him AT ALL TIMES. Because, ZOMBIES.They.eat. people. And kids are...easy eats.

    I keep praying that the new-soon to be annoying and dangerous (to the group, because shocker: kids cry, crying attracts zombies) dies, and eats its way out of Lori, killing and zombifying her in the process. That would be a good day.

  • TherecanbeonlyoneAdmin

    We must also remember that children are the tenderest of all the "other" white meats.

  • TheOriginalMRod

    This. this made me think of Matilda.

  • Three_nineteen

    The prisoner who said he wouldn't beg for his life is has now had more character development than T-Dog.

  • Steve Baker

    It was interesting that Rick chose the machete to the head option so quickly. I think they could have milked another episode out of it.

  • CptCrckpot

    In season 2 they would have milked 5 episodes out of it, so I'd say the fact they they didn't drag it out is an improvement

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