So tonight’s The Walking Dead has taught me that I am ill-equipped to deal with anymore emotional strife the likes of which this show supplies in surplus fashion in episodes like this one. I pretty much screamed and yelled at my television, as if it would hear me and make the episode less insane; I was enjoying it, but the commercial breaks weren’t even long enough for me to catch my breath.
Let’s get a few things straight first, in more of a list-form, so that I can work out my feelings better afterwards: Lizzie led a walker like he was a puppy until she trips and ends up beneath him, Hershel proved himself as the ultimate bad-ass at every turn, daddy-son bonding time comes in the form of failing at fixing the fence and having to shoot an army of walkers once they all get in, Daryl awaits the news about Carol, and lastly– THE GOVERNOR.
The episode started off at a fairly steady, certainly tense enough pace. The doctor warns Hershel ominously to make sure the doors are all closed, and I should have known then what that would foreshadow (and it was heartbreaking to see Hershel cry, holding his bible at the now dead man’s bedside). So one minute, we’re watching Glenn expertly stab one of the sick who has turned, while Hershel claims he’s never had to do it himself. The next thing I know, Glenn is coughing up blood, and practically everyone in the quarantine block has suddenly died and turned and gotten loose (so much for closing all those doors in time), and Hershel is, as I said, being a bad-ass like only Hershel could be (then again, I suppose what was so entertaining and surprising is that I didn’t really know he had it in him to be such a hero).
Lizzie has proven herself as the creepiest little girl ever, in my humble opinion, for the reason mentioned in my little list above (she said she thought he would listen. Has crazy-Carol taught you nothing about the true nature of walkers?!) and Carl proved himself a helpful little man, also as mentioned above. But in that moment, all I could truly think about was how stressed I was feeling, all the intellectual work that pervaded the last two episodes for the viewer replaced by a nerve jangling sense of terror.
Maggie’s attempts both with and without Rick earlier in the episode to secure the fence served as more horrific foreshadowing, but in all this time I never could have imagined walkers actually getting in. It played out like a nightmare, because we’ve been teased with the possibility so many times up until this point. Plus, with the illness rampant inside the prison, and the mayhem it was causing in this particular moment, it seemed like we were given almost too much to feasibly handle at any one time. And I mean that in the best possible way, I suppose; I embrace episodes that leave me squirming and shouting. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t agree with Lizzie’s sentiments of “is it over?” simply because my heart couldn’t possibly take anymore.
And yet, just as I was concurring with Maggie’s response of “I hope so,” the episode doesn’t merely end, for that would be too easy on us. No, first we have to endure Hershel telling Daryl to talk to Rick (and to be quite honest, this made me more anxious than the horrible non-stop events of the episode) and a closing shot of a man, whose back is turned us. However, I’d recognize that figure anywhere, and just as I suspected, he turns slowly to reveal that signature eye patch.
Needless to say, I reacted with numerous expletives and a pained, distorted facial expression that probably resembled something straight out of the show. As I said before: this episode bombarded us with one intense situation after another, or rather, on top of one another, really. And with only a few minutes to breathe, in what can be considered a denouement of sorts (though I hardly consider it one, because my shoulders were still glued to my ears), we are given yet another threat to worry about. This is even while the last one hasn’t really been conquered yet, but my hopes are of course high, on that front anyway, now that the medicine has been retrieved and Glenn is in stable condition at least.
So, I’ll give this episode a 4 out of 5 ineffective-fence-reinforcement-logs. It was almost perfect, really, but to have so much intensity happening at once, the viewer can feel a bit jostled around and overwhelmed with what the biggest concern should really be if everything seems so inescapably terrible. I guess the answer would be precisely that. All of the concerns are valid and we are all the more aligned with our characters as a result of the snowballing sense of doom and dread that they necessarily have to juggle and deal with at one time.
I loved this episode, and personally I don’t see this as being a major flaw, other than the fact that I probably suffered a heart attack and multiple ulcers within a span of the second half hour or so. But then again, those are the most exciting and exhilarating episodes of the series, and I truly do welcome them; they are rewarding in a different way than the last couple were. Plus, the music in this episode was particularly haunting and wonderful, as it often is. And lastly, if nothing else, the closing shot was well worth the trauma; welcome back, Governor! This season can only get even worse (which is to say better, for us anyway).