We pick up months after we left off at the end of Season 2, which is both a departure from the norm and a GREAT idea. The gang has been traveling from house to house all winter, and somehow none of them have died from exposure. I know what you're thinking: "Beck, I hate to break it to you, but it doesn't really snow much in Atlanta." Well guys, I hate to break it to you, but it gets SO COLD and SO ICY that I'm shocked they survived. And guess what, a ton of zombies are still on their tail from Hershel's farm disaster. Instead of wasting bullets, the gang practices silent and streamlined escapes. They are pros, and it is AMAZING how much better it is to watch characters actually be good at something.
Eventually Rick stumbles upon the prison that we glimpsed at the end of last season (Coweta County, maybe?), and he's like "Exxxxcellent. We shall take it tonight." Everyone's like "do you think we oughta?" but guess what, they definitely oughta. They cut a hole in the chain link fence, storm the outermost yard, and secure the first fence as well as the next fence in. Within 10 awesome minutes, they own the yard.
Carl helps a lot, by the way. Now that his hair's grown out, I guess he's finally turned into a reasonably helpful human being. He can shoot a gun, he can clear a house, and he hates Lori. Nice work my young friend. Your influence has even made Carol into a less miserable character. She crawls onto the RV to ask Daryl if he feels like "foolin' around." I don't mind this as much as I would have last season. Meanwhile Carol and Daryl have matching haircuts like Brad and Gwyneth c. 1996.
Up until now I've been writing from memory. The copious notes I took while watching last night's episode are now lost in cyberspace apparently, so I'll continue to write from memory. It just gets hazy at this point because all I can remember writing is "oh my god oh my god awesome oh my god awesome awesome awesome oh my god I can't believe this no no no oh my god."
So Rick's team of tough dudes (himself, Glenn, Maggie, Hershel, Daryl, and T-Dog) enters the next yard in. It seems manageable enough - a walker here, a walker there - until Rick turns a corner and sees a SEA of zombies standing at the next fence, whose door is wide open. Why the zombies haven't spread out into this second yard yet is beyond me. I know how diffusion works. Anyways as Rick tries to tell the gang not to come see what he's seeing, they're suddenly attacked by a few zombies wearing riot gear. NO NO NO! I scream, until I realize that if their weapons were useless against the armor, then probably zombie teeth are similarly useless.
As Rick and Daryl rush over to close that second fence, Maggie figures out that she can stab the SWAT zombies up through their necks. A geek in a gas mask comes out and somebody removes the mask to kill it and ITS WHOLE FACE COMES OFF WITH THE MASK!!!!!!!!
I'm not sure how the gang deals with that sea of zombies. No wait I remember now - the second yard, now officially cleared, includes the entrance to Cell Block C. So they go in, see the corpse of a guard who killed himself when the going got tough, and find the first row of cells to clear. They kill the remaining prisoner-zombies and give them to T-Dog to dispose of. Mainly because he's unlucky.
Rick pushes them further inward, which brings them into a crazy scary dark tunnel that Glenn keeps spray-painting arrows onto. But the spray paint can makes so much resounding noise I'm freaking out. Eventually the gang runs into the roving band of zombies that necessarily exist down there, and they get split up. When the mini-herd passes, Glenn and Maggie call out for Hershel, who shuffles right over in his scraggle-beard and farmer-moccasins. He walks on top of a walker who is somehow smart enough to play dead even though all this hubbub is going on. The walker goes "You ain't EVEN stepping on my foot right now" and bites Hershel's ankle.
SO RICK DRAGS HERSHEL TO A ROOM AND HACKS HIS LEG OFF. It's the best idea, since Lori's about to give birth and Hershel's the only doctor, but it's also a terrible idea, since Rick's belt isn't a good enough tourniquet to keep the old man from bleeding out. Just as the leg comes off, Daryl spots 5 zombieish forms through a mesh window. BUT! THEY'RE! HUMANS!
Oh man, everybody! What a crazy episode! Yowza. Man that was crazy.
Here is what I liked/what felt like great new ideas:
- These people are finally good at existing in this universe. What a relief and what an awesome opportunity for finding out more about the rules of survival.
- Carl and Rick have come to their senses and hate Lori now. And even Lori hates Lori! She wishes she'd died at the farm. Good consensus, everyone!
- There were nonstop waves of "oh shit oh no!" and "we totally just handled this" that kept me thrilled throughout the entire hour.
- We are BARRELING through the comic book plot!!!!!!!
- No Dale & No Shane Make Becky [something something]. Very happy. I didn't even think Dale needed to go, but I guess he was a goiter on the gang's neck that needed prompt removal. Or prompt radioactive iodine treatments.
- Daryl ate an owl.
- Rick, if Carl grabs a can of dogfood, it's probably because you are starving. Please don't splatter it against the fireplace. It will probably be like 1 minute before you're scraping that crap off the wall to eat it after all.
- Hershel is dumb about his family but it's not like this is inconsistent with his entire deal.
- Certain roommates thought that the singing was nice, but NOT ME.
- Not enough Michonne!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- More Michonne!!!!!!!!!
- Carol n Daryl do it, yikes, no thank you.
- Carl kisses Beth or whatever Hershel's youngest catatonic daughter's name is. Remember last season, when she was 10 years older than Carl? It's like Padme and Anakin all over again. Everyone in my apartment: "UPGRADE FROM SOPHIA!"
- The prison will be awesome and spooky and great.
- Daryl should eat another owl.
photos courtesy amctv.com