Well, that didn’t last long.
The relative peace that opened the new season of “The Walking Dead” a week earlier was quickly upended Sunday night.
Pacifist Rick is no more, having sacrificed his possibly diseased piglets to divert the Walkers from the prison’s buckling chain-link fences, allowed Carol to teach her schoolchildren how to use knives, and given Carl back the right to bear arms.
Meanwhile, the prisoners who were thriving last week with their organic farm-to-table restaurant and their running water are now being picked off one-by-one from a nasty flu, or by the Walkers that result from it. So much for thriving during the zombie apocalypse.
The show opened with a mysterious flashlight-bearing person feeding live rats to the Walkers at the gates. My guess? One of the girls who was into naming Walkers last week, thinking they are still alive and fun little pets. Either way, those girls did some fine child acting in this episode, but more on that later.
Next, we saw new couple Karen and Tyreese making out, with a zoom in on Karen’s “rock, paper, scissor” bracelet, which I want.
Tyreese sang “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” which, considering the nasty bug going around, you probably don’t want. He tried to get her to come back to his cell, but she turned him down, and instead headed to the bathroom where she drank some of the water the ailing Patrick practically heaved into before he dropped dead.
Karen hears a noise and looks around, waking Walker Patrick in the process, and he follows her back to Cell Block D.
Patrick gets drawn into another cell by the sound of a cough, and proceeds to spend the night making nasty zombie noises that no one seems to hear, as he chows down on an old friend. As morning arrives, he heads out to snack on some early risers, and the guy he was eating stands up and loses the rest of his guts through the gaping hole in his stomach. Thanks for that, makeup folk.
Naturally, mayhem ensued, and multiple people we have actually never even seen before got bitten, including Ryan, the seemingly sweet dad of those two girls, Lizzie and Mika.
As Rick, Daryl and Glenn put down the Walkers and cleared out Block D, Carol tended to Ryan, and brought him his two daughters to say good-bye. He died moments later and Carol urged Lizzie, who is the perfect amalgam of ’90s kid stars Anna Chlumsky and Gaby Hoffmann (denim vest and all) to stab her father in the brain before he turned into a zombie. She freaked out, and once again, Carol was left to do everyone’s dirty work.
Per Ryan’s request, Carol took the two girls under her wing, and tried to comfort the grieving Lizzie with these time-tested words of encouragement: “Honey, you’re weak.”
But Lizzie didn’t like watching Walkers die, and worried about her old friend Nick from last week, a Walker she spotted with a name tag. Lizzie stormed off, and her younger sister responded to Carol flatly, “She’s messed up, she’s not weak.”
Meanwhile, the elders of the bunch were busy trying to figure out what happened in D-Unit. They found Patrick’s body and another guy, Charlie.
Dr. Caleb, a newbie, diagnosed them with pleurisy, aspiration, and a pneumococcal aggressive flu strain. But then put it in the medically sound terms of shaking a soda can and popping the top, “only imagine your eyes, ears, nose and throat are the top,” and the soda is blood, and ewww. Rick also put together the connection to his dead pig Violet, and Hershel decided the pigs have got to go.
The council had a meeting and decided to quarantine anyone else with symptoms, a convenient time for Karen to walk by hack-coughing. They put her in the tombs, along with “David from the Decatur group.”
Meanwhile, outside, Walkers were messing everything up. First, they followed Michonne, who was on horseback, in through the gates and attacked her.
The Walkers started pushing the fences down and the crew couldn’t stab them fast enough. Sasha noticed piles of dead rats at the gate and realized someone’s been feeding them (although I found it suspect that the Walkers wouldn’t have eaten the entirety of those rats already, so what’s up with all that evidence?).
Rick, who moments before told Daryl he was not interested in helping everyone figure out how to handle their problems, came up with a solution to both the sick pigs and the clustering Walkers. The two went on a joyride out to the field, where Rick sliced open the pigs and offered them up. Please tell me no animals were harmed in the making of this television show.
Rick was covered in pig blood, very “Carrie,” and the music was all emotional, and I’m not sure whether he cared for these pigs or was just really going to miss having bacon for breakfast. At least, the Walkers moved away from the fence for five minutes, long enough for Rick to go torch the pen and give Carl back his weapons.
Carl was not the only child who now armed. Little Lizzie realized the error of her ways in refraining from stabbing her father in the brain. So she accepted Carol’s knife. Guess that’s what constitutes a “happy ending” on “The Walking Dead.”
Tyreese went to bring Karen flowers and found a bloody explosion all over her pillow and a trail out to the yard where two bodies have just been burned, one of which wore Karen’s “rock, paper, scissor” bracelet. (The other body must have been David from Decatur, in his first on-screen appearance.) It looked like their soda tops popped, which left Tyreese in mourning.
So: Who burned the bodies and why didn’t they tell anyone? Who is feeding the Walkers? And can the prison crew really go Kosher? Chat me up on Twitter @sharynjackson.