At home this weekend for my mom's birthday, I realized that it's much scarier watching The Walking Dead in Atlanta than in New York. Instead of poshly-furnished apartments outside the window, all you can see is pitch-black forest. No ambient city noises resound, amplifying each muted creeaaaaak that drifts up from the basement steps for whatever terrifying reason. Not to mention, most of the zombies we've seen in Walking Dead have technically been Atlantans. It's scarier than watching Poltergeist in a teepee. Small Becky Big Scared.
The episode begins back before the Zombiepocalypse, when Lori had to tell Carl that his father Rick was shot in the line of duty. Thank goodness for the primer, because now we REALLY understand the irony of Rick having to tell Lori that Carl has been shot. Standing too close to mythical bucks is a demanding line of work, Mom, and I can't stop now. Why can't women get it through their thick skulls?! Men have to put themselves in danger, if only for vainglory! This theme constantly weighs down on Mr. & Mrs. Grimes: If women have no problem staying with their families to keep them safe, what makes it ok for men to run off looking for adventure? Yet if nobody's out looking for adventure, what kind of outer world can we expect, and how are we to protect our own?
Back at van camp, Dale realizes that T-Dog needs antibiotics and painkillers for his butterflied forearm. Lacking the meds, Dale treats him to a few folksy anecdotes instead. It does just the trick! Full of women, Daryl's search party soon turns into a catfight about certain people's sisters turning into zombies. Andrea grumbles to her companion until she realizes it's a lumbering walker, content to walk alongside her and her grumblings forever. Although it's the only zombie kill in the episode, at least the guy takes a while to die.
I haven't even mentioned the entirely new set of characters we meet in this episode. It turns out the Big Buckhunter is from Hershel's* Farm, where an old Jewish(?) farmer and his remaining children are holed up. They've got horses and everything, and they'll be fixing up Carl's chest wound (not dead, fart). Hershel's daughter Maggie rides out to Darryl's group and brings Lori back with her, and for the rest of the episode, I marvel at how much I hate Lori. She's so overdramatic. She's got terrible priorities as a mother. She raised Carl, for Pete's sake! If the fruit's weird, you can bet the tree is even weirder. And if people don't already say that, they should.
*Hershel is played by Scott Wilson, who has amazing credentials (his second role was one of the In Cold Blood killers) and is also one of the only Atlanta-born-and-raised actors in the cast. He is now my barometer for the rest of the accents on the show.
In order to do proper surgery on Carl, Herschel needs a few extra supplies (and a lot of anesthesia) from a high school-turned-military base nearby. I wonder which Atlanta-area high school it's supposed to be. Grady? Druid Hills? Paideia? I wonder which of these zombies in the parking lot used to be MY FRIENDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Or more accurately, I wonder which of these Inside-the-Perimeter zombies used to be my main competition in intrastate Quiz Bowl competitions. WHO'S SMARTER NOW, JERKS? WHO WINS BEST SPORTSMANSHIP NOW?
Otis, the huge guy who'd accidentally shot Carl (along with a sizeable-enough deer to feed the survivors for a week...so thank you for complaining even more, Lori), leads Shane on the high school expedition. Said parking lot is full of zombies, and until Shane and Otis throw flares across the lot to distract them, I'm positive they're goners. So many situations look completely impossible until some guy comes up with one bright idea -- it reminds me both of video games and of the justification of mankind's dominion over beastdom. Each day in a Zombiepocalypse is a new puzzle. The surprise is that quite a few of the puzzles are solvable.
And so we wait for next week to find out if they'll ever find Dummy, if Carl will survive surgery, and if the surgery can even happen, considering Shane and Otis are trapped at school. Who knows, maybe they'll be alright 'cause they're saved by the bell? SAVED BY THE BELL!! Needeloo-needel-oo-EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-uh!
all photos courtesy amctv.com