In last week’s episode, we saw the original group and the new Woodbury residents had begun to settle into a complacent routine. We also observed the transformation of Rick Grimes from a take charge leader with a weakness for crazy women into a man who just wishes to be a simple farmer (and still can’t resist hanging out with crazy women). As you might imagine, all of that is about to drastically change with this week’s episode, “Infected.”

WARNING: THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD.


Someone’s a rat (feeder)


The cold open shows someone feeding the zombies a live rat through the prison cage. This might seem like the set up for a new villain trying to sabotage the group from within, but I’m going with the simpler explanation of it being one of the girls who was giving the zombies names from last week. Once you start naming animals (which is what the walkers were to them), the next step is giving them food.


Tyrese strikes out, Zombie Nerd doesn’t


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Back inside the prison, Tyrese shares a tender moment with his girlfriend, Kate. We barely know her (or him, really), but it’s already very apparent how much they care about each other.

Unfortunately for Tyrese, his rendition of Sinatra’s “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” isn’t enough to keep him from getting shot down when he suggests that the two of them get it on. Kate instead decides to go to bed, but not before running through a battery of horror movie clichés while Zombie Nerd stalks her through the cell block.

Fortunately for her, someone else in the area is a snorer. This leads Zombie Nerd to his first victim, who he conveniently bites in the throat so that no screams or moans of agony can be heard.

Zombie Nerd later hears coughing from another cell and heads off to continue down the buffet line. His newest victim then reanimates and gets up while his intestines spill onto the ground (which is a feeling many of us have probably experienced after eating at Waffle House too late in the evening).


Glenn gets creepy and Carl wants his gat back


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The next morning, Glenn takes a picture of Maggie while she’s sleeping before heading to the main building. It’s a bit strange to say the least, but I guess when you’re dating that far out of your league it’s good to have some proof to make sure it’s real.

Back at the farm area, Carl asks his dad if he can help clear walkers at the fence later. When Rick says no, his son decides it’s the perfect time to ask for his gun back.
But before Rick can play the sternly passive parent again, shots ring out from inside the prison. Glenn comes running out and screaming that walkers are inside.


The zombie guts hit the fan


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Glenn wasn’t kidding; Cell Block D is in total chaos as the shows extras are getting turned into zombie chow faster than an AMC executive can cut the casting budget. The battle also gives us two pretty awesome moments:

Sasha stomps on a zombie’s head.

Daryl rescues a child by swooping him up in one arm and using the other to shoot a zombie with his cross bow. The moment was so vintage Daryl (and awesome) that even as a straight male I’m pretty sure I almost ovulated.

Once the carnage is over, Herschel, Rick, Daryl, and a conveniently introduced extra (who also happens to be a doctor) find Zombie Nerd’s body and quickly deduce that he died from some sort of infection.

Rick mentions that he noticed one of his pigs and a pig out in the woods that seemed to be sick. Herschel solemnly tells him that it may be time to give up bacon forever.


Carol does what has to be done (again)


Back inside one of the cells, the father of the zombie naming girls has been bitten and needs to be put down. Lizzie says she should be the one to do it, but can’t. Carol, who promised to look after the girls once he was dead, takes the knife and plunges it into the father’s brain herself.

The moment was so vintage Daryl that even as a straight male I’m pretty sure I almost ovulated.

Back outside, Michonne had just started out on a supply run when commotion from the zombie attack brought her back into the jail. Two walkers followed managed to follow her in, leading to a fight that ends when Carl and Maggie shoot them… but not before Michonne badly twists her ankle.

Rick comes outside where he is greeted by a tearful and scared Carl. He then explains to the others that they will probably need to separate everyone since a deadly virus is going around the jail.


Tyrese gets frozen out


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Later, the highest paid actors on the show (known as ‘The Council’) decide that anyone showing signs of infection need to be immediately quarantined. As if on cue, Tyrese’s new girlfriend Karen starts coughing. The group tells her that she will need to be put into a separate area away from everyone else, including her significant other.

After surviving the zombie apocalypse and landing a good looking girlfriend only to be forced away from her by a super flu bug, Tyrese is understandably pissed. Making matters worse from a foreshadowing standpoint is that the quarantine area is Cell Block A, a.k.a Death Row.


Lizzie might be loony


Back outside, Carol tries to impart some tough love on Lizzie by saying that she should have killed her father herself…and that her inability to do so was a sign of weakness. Lizzie responds to this by beginning to cry about the possibility that the walker she named “Nick” might also have to be killed as well.

Later on after realizing that she was kind of being a bitch, Carol tries to comfort Lizzie both about her father and the walker. She reminds her that the walker isn’t human and that her grief is better served in memory of her dad.

As Lizzie walks off, Carol is clearly confused (and a bit disturbed) by the fact that the girl seems more upset about what might happen to the walker than her parent’s death. Lizzie’s younger sister, Minka, explains to Carol that her sister “isn’t weak; she’s just messed up.”


Michonne has mommy issues


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While Beth tapes up Michonne’s ankle, she reassures her that it was worth the risk to let her back into the jail with walkers coming after her. Beth goes on to explain that they all care about each other too much to just leave someone behind if they can be saved.

Later, Beth is carrying Judith when the baby barfs on her. This causes Beth to try and pass the baby to Michonne so that she can clean herself up. Michonne initially reacts to the little child the way a vampire would to garlic or sunlight, but eventually relents and holds Judith in her arms…and then begins to cry uncontrollably. If you’ve read the comics, you know why she’s reacting like this, but it should be pretty obvious, anyway.


The worst pig pick ever


Back outside, Daryl tells Rick that he is the man to lead the group. Rick tries to explain that he’s made a lot of bad decisions (evidenced by his decision to marry Lori), but Daryl insists that Rick’s the one he would trust above all others to lead them in the right direction.

Getting rid of these pigs was also symbolic of him casting off his Farmer Rick persona and taking back the reigns as the leader of the group.

Later, a horde of zombies has begun to push on one section of the fence, causing it to start to collapse. Rick and a few of the others run over to try and keep it from toppling over. While they push against the horde of undead threatening to breach their sanctuary, they also notice a large number of dead rats on the ground.

But before any sort of detective work can begin on who has been feeding the walkers, the fence begins to get pushed down again. That’s about the time that Rick remembers something: Much like humans, zombies can’t resist bacon. He then gets Daryl to drive him around while he cuts the piglets he had raised and drops them away from the fence, leading the zombies away from the jail and onto a feast of raw ham.

From a practical standpoint, this seems like a very temporary solution. All it does is move the zombies away from the fence until Lizzie (or whoever is feeding them rats) starts handing out rodents again.

But from a plot standpoint, Rick’s pained face tells us that getting rid of these pigs was also symbolic of him casting off his Farmer Rick persona and reluctantly taking back the reigns as the leader of the group.

After the pig slaughter, Rick dismantles the barn the burns it to the ground. Once again, burning a lot of wood around a field of dry grass without any pressurized water available doesn’t seem to make much sense from a plot standpoint, but symbolically it works.


This girl is on fire


Later that day, Tyrese decides to bring Karen some flowers. When he gets to her cell block, however, he notices a trail of blood leading outside…and to the completely burned/charred remains of her and another prison inmate that had been placed in quarantine.


Final Thoughts


8.5

  • Great zombie action that was even better than last week
  • Intriguing new plot about the infection
  • Even more intriguing new plot about who killed Karen
  • Rick still doesn’t seem ready to lead the group despite proving that being one of the episode’s main goals
  • Carol forgets what empathy is

My observation about this season being much slower and less frantic may end up being true in the long right, but tonight it got blown to smithereens. But despite the great action and gore we were treated to, I’m still not sold on Rick being ready to lead the group again (and that’s coming from someone who reads the comics, too).

I’m also slightly disappointed we didn’t get a zombie pig, but maybe Rick’s slaughter at the end of the episode will lead him to be haunted by squealing ghost pigs, instead…which would still be less annoying that the ghost version of Lori.

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