A constant question in “The Walking Dead” is what would YOU do at the cost of keeping everyone alive? This episode shows us once again the challenges the group faces as they continue to contend with forces that disrupt their peace. There was a shot in the middle of the episode, right before Hershel begins his furious search in the office for a clue, a temporary answer: Smooth Seas Do Not Make Good Sailors.
So, aside from building on wonderful dramatic tension due to the fast spreading infection, this episode also graced us with lots of wonderful camera shots and camera angles. A well composed episode, even if the pace may have otherwise been too slow at times.
We’re back at the discovery of Tyreese’s boo Karen’s and another Woodburyan’s fried bodies in the yard. Tyreese is enraged, calling it murder. Rick tries to keep his cool, saying they’ll find out who did it but need to keep everyone safe. But Tyreese is too enraged for proper modes of justice – he wants revenge now. Rick bursts out and punches Tyreese until his hand and his face are all messed up. Rick has a moment of pause after he stops, like he recognizes his potential to be the monster he doesn’t want himself or Carl to be amidst everything.
Hershel immediately calls a council meeting – they’re facing an outbreak. They need to enforce a quarantine for those uninfected and figure out a solution for those who are. We see signs of Glenn holding back a cough, and Sasha immediately waves people off as she stumbles sick and weak to the sick bay. Their only other doctor, Dr. S, is also infected and is with those who are sick, but is too weak to offer proper help.
Hershel suggests going to a veterinary college 50 miles away to raid for pharmaceuticals, noting that those meds will work on everyone. Daryl takes the mission upon himself, and Michonne volunteers too, even though Daryl is infected. Hershel at first agrees to go but Daryl reminds him, “If it comes down to it, we have to run.” Ah, yes the callbacks! Hershel rescinds and provides them with a map.
Meanwhile, Carl reluctantly packs his bag for quarantine. Rick tries to put a spin on it, saying he wants Carl to take the role of protector for the children. Carl taps the gun in his holster, letting his dad know he may have to use it. The moments between Rick and Carl all season have been ripe with the right kind of quiet subtlety and tension – they both acknowledge they’ve come a long way to get to where they’re at, and know that they both have this crazy unfettered sort of urge, not just to help, but there’s something else about the act of killing walkers (or others??) that puts them in a place that’s almost out of control. Almost like the monster within isn’t just the disease.
Beth watches the kids, cradling Judith, and talks to her sister Maggie through a closed door. Again – the introduction of a disease separating loved ones creates an interesting dramatic tension that allows for wonderful moments like this. Beth comforts Maggie about Glenn being in quarantine, almost taking on the older sister role by noting, “We don’t get to be upset. We all have jobs to do.”
Carl, while on his watch, finds Hershel itching to get out on a mission, having figured out that there could be a natural remedy to stave off the effects of the symptoms. Though Carl had otherwise been unexposed, he insists on joining Hershel in the woods. When Carl spots a campsite near where Hershel picked elderberries, he’s ready to use his gun. Hershel stops Carl, telling him, since they’re just two walkers, “We don’t need to.” Carl listens and they walk back to the prison.
Tyreese visits Sasha, who is worse and worse by the minute. She expresses hope in the mission Daryl and Michonne are going on to find meds. Tyreese had initially brushed off the offer to joing them. Seeing Sasha gives him the inspiration to join Daryl, along with still newbie Bob, who has the medical knowledge to locate exactly what they need once they reach the college.
Tyreese, before leaving, has a moment with Carol as well, having cooled off from the fight with Rick and having acknowledged a truce with him. He asks Carol to look on Sasha till he gets back. She agrees, but as he leaves, she kicks over their water in frustration. Hmm…
Carol also then takes it upon herself to risk her life and fix the water pump. Earlier, she and Rick failed to pump enough good water. They noted that they need to go out beyond the gates to fix it, but had agreed to do it together once the quarantine was all worked out. Carol is nearly ambushed when Rick finds her and saves her, after having examined the scene of the crime once more. This was one of the great, horror-suspenseful moments of the episode – since the disease took over, it’s almost like the walkers have become a bit secondary. To see an almost-attack like this was definitely exciting…
…but not more exciting than what Daryl faces. As they drive to the college, he tries to prod Michonne about the hunt for the Governor. He decides to turn on the radio, while waiting for Michonne to pick a CD, but they all stop to listen closely – there are voices! Some signal is going through to the radio… they’re distracted enough that Daryl just almost misses hitting a walker on the street, then another, then … A massive parade of walkers approach, swarming the car. Daryl, Michonne, and Bob spring into action, making their way through the walkers and into the woods. It takes Tyreese a second to get his head in the game, but he does. We see him surrounded on all ends, having barely stepped away from the car. When Daryl, Michonne, and Bob are in the clear in the woods, they look back a second – there’s a rustling… and finally, Tyreese emerges. Again, another exciting moment in a walker battle.
Back at the prison, Hershel is giving everyone elderberry tea to appease the symptoms. He approaches Dr. S, who coughs blood onto Hershel. He pulls down his handkerchief and stays in the sick bay in solidarity, saying either of them would have wound up in there anyway because they would work to help heal everyone. This upsets Maggie, who reports to Beth. Beth fights back her tears as she repeats, “We don’t get to be upset. We all have jobs to do.” What’s great about this is that these girls continue to have reasons to be rattled by the quarantine – first Glenn, and now Hershel. With all the connections these people have with one another, the meaning of separation is so much deeper than before.
Our final moments are probably the most surprisingly and chilling. Rick confronts Carol. He asks if there’s anything she wouldn’t do for the sake of the group. Carol agrees there’s no limits to what she would do. Then, finally, Rick drops the bomb: “Did you kill Karen and David?” Carol responds without hesitation or remorse: “Yes.”
The episode was well rounded enough to provide a good beginning and end to an arc, while also bringing us, as I’ve said before, new dramatic tension. There was a lot of quietness to the episode, some of which did feel slow, but many other moments were definitely excellent. The horror of their world as it stands now is definitely palpable, and it definitely solidifies the thought that just because they created their safe haven doesn’t make them safe (like the painting: Smooth Seas Does Not Make Good Sailors) The group still has a ways to go to figure things out, and keep everyone as safe as they can possibly be.
Till next week, and Happy Halloween!