All’s not well for everyone’s favorite group of scrappy survivors in “Infected,” the second episode of the fourth season of “The Walking Dead.”
Much like “Game of Thrones,” it seems to be a running gag with the creators of the show to see how bad they can make things for the characters while simultaneously upping the ante on how many they can kill over the course of a season.
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This episode sets a new bar on the zombie-meter in having one of the most suspenseful and blood-drenched beginnings of a “Walking Dead” episode so far.
“Infected” starts with a mystery. Someone is feeding fresh rats to the walkers that cluster around the chain link fence that protects the prison where our heroes hang their hats (and, of course, if you feed zombies, much like stray cats, they’ll keep coming back for more.)
Meanwhile, inside the prison, Tyreese (Chad Coleman) is wooing Karen, his new girlfriend, by belting out “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” (hey, whatever it takes, man.) Unknown to either of them, one of the survivors has fallen ill and died from a strange flu-like illness and turned into a walker inside the prison. Their safe haven is about to become hell on earth.
What follows is mass carnage as the cell block is overrun by walkers. Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) manage to help clear the prison but not before a good 10 to 15 “redshirts” (minor characters who get killed but whose name you don’t know) have had their throats ripped out and intestines spilled.
As they sift the embers of what happened, Hershel (Scott Wilson) discovers a new threat, a superflu that's spreading through the compound, and Tyreese’s girlfriend and another survivor are quarantined in another part of the jail.
Meanwhile, outside a horde of walkers is starting to cluster again, and the fence is buckling from their collective weight. Time to kill more zombies!
Even killing as many of the undead as they can, there are simply too many, and the fence starts to collapse. In a move that’s sure to infuriate animal rights activists, Rick uses the piglets the group has been raising as zombie bait, to draw the undead away from the prison.
If it were only for the special effects, this episode would satisfy, but of course, “The Walking Dead” has always been about much more. It’s about surviving against the bleakest odds and the scars that all of us carry. The quiet moments are the ones that bring viewers back and this episode had plenty. Carol (Melissa McBride) must teach two young girls to stand on their own after their father is killed in the attack. Carl (Chandler Riggs) struggles with the realization that he will never be a child again. Badass Michonne (Danai Gurira) is softening her edges and becoming more attached to the group.
The episode closes with Rick holstering his gun and symbolically taking charge of the group once again, while Tyreese discovers someone has dragged his girlfriend and the other infected survivor outside and set them on fire. "Infected" ends as it began, with a mystery.
“If you want to live you have to become strong.” Carol
“When you care about people, hurt is kind of part of the package.” Beth