The Walking Dead, Episode 402: “Infected”

On Sunday afternoon, Andrew Lincoln’s Facebook fan page posted the following quote: “Episode 1 is full of hope. It’s the beginning of society. Episode 2 is . . . you getting punched, hard.” I don’t know about “getting punched,” but “Infected” is definitely the most entertaining episode of The Walking Dead in recent memory.
The greatest part of this episode is the fact that Carl is back doing what Carl does best – messing up the lives of his loved ones. True, Michonne escaped relatively unscathed this time, but Carl was supposed to go to the tower with Maggie. Reminiscent of the glorious days of “Get in the house, Carl!”, Carl’s disobedience could be the harbinger of further rebellious behavior. That being said, in spite of going against his father’s orders, Carl still managed to get his gun back. Now, he no longer has any reason to kiss Rick’s ass and can thereby return to his angsty teenager ways.
While a weapon-wielding Carl is intriguing, the potential for a depressing Michonne backstory also has my curiosity piqued. If I had to guess, I would say that her baby died. Perhaps it was the continuous flare-up of emotion each time Beth brought Judith within a five mile radius of Michonne – sometimes these writers aren’t the most subtle.
Criticisms aside, I actually enjoyed this episode. There was a lot going on, and a lot of interesting zombie deaths (i.e., fence-face-squishing walking and guts-pouring-out-of-tummy walker). Also, we got to see Daryl and the gun show as he spent a substantial amount of time digging graves. I could deal with more of this sort of footage.
Essentially everyone has been exposed to this flu, and each death on the cell block poses the threat of another emergency situation. This crisis did force a dormant Rick into action, as he reluctantly tossed in his farming equipment in favor of his gun and holster. Nevertheless, Rick is clearly uncomfortable in returning to his previous role in the group. Even killing walkers is too much for him, and he is visibly pained when sacrificing the piglets to the hoard. This is not the cray cray Rick of Season 3, but he’s also not the kickass Rick of Seasons 1. He is damaged, and it will be interesting to see whether he is able to rise to the challenge posed by the group’s current dilemmas.
I’m not entirely ready to forgive The Walking Dead for Season 3, but I am also not ready to give up on it entirely. I am actually looking forward to the next episode, something I haven’t said in well over a year. I don’t think Carl was ready to get his gun back; similarly, The Walking Dead has not yet earned back my undying love. But, I am willing to give it a shot.

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