Hot damn, what a fantastic episode!
This was one of my favorite episodes of the series so far. The show is at its best when it focuses on telling the story of a few people trying to survive the zombie apocalypse, and combines that with classic elements of horror. The show loses the audience when it tries to tackle colossal social issues like race relations or when it delves too deep into specific inter-personal relationships.
This episode was a pedestal for Herschel, and allowed him to show off the depth of his character, from concerned father to medical professional to still-devout Christian to empathetic zombie killer. Throughout the hour, Herschel was attempting the impossible, trying to save everyone from the sickness, while not getting sick himself. All the while trying to avoid walkers while not letting any of the infected see someone else turn. The episode was so Herschel-centric that I was more than concerned that this would be the last of him. It was well-acted, well-directed, and well-written, and I was convinced that the old one-legged, snow-bearded, doodle-bugging semi-recovered alcoholic was gonna get himself bit. But he managed to make it through, with a fantastic shot of him alone in a cell, sobbing over his Bible.
Which in my opinion should have been the last shot of the episode. Without the minute long epilogue, I think this would have been my favorite episode yet from The Walking Dead. We get the anticipated return of the Governor, who I wasn’t expecting to see again until episode 8. I don’t think it was necessary at this point, and it definitely detracted from the quality of the individual story told on Sunday night. We should get some (hopefully) fascinating backstory focused on the Governor in the next ep or two, either filling in details from his past (would be interesting) or letting us know what the dastardly villain has been up to since the end of season 4. I hoping for off-the-rails, batshit crazy. Take the gloves off completely. Show him talking to his preserved but completely dead daughter. Better yet, show him shacked up with Andrea’s corpse. Let it fly, writing staff, don’t hold anything back!
The rest of the episode served as accompaniment to Herschel’s moment in the sun (or moment in the dark?). Rick and Carl working together to off the biggest herd of zombies killed yet was touching, a real father/son event. At this point, I think Rick is just hovering on the edge of sanity. His decision making is haphazard and inconsistent, but it is still decisive. His actions viewed long term are inconsistent and hypocritical, but having gone through what he has, they would be at this point. I’d like to see Carl ditch the, “but dad I’m all grown up” bullshit, but that’s just me.
So apparently the sickness is over with little fanfare, Daryl Dixon is back, looking for Carol. This of course sets up the Daryl/Rick confrontation that was probably inevitable. Rick has Maggie and Herschel already on his side, but I don’t think Daryl will be so easily swayed, even if Rick’s argument for keeping Carol away makes sense. It will be interesting, because Daryl and Tyrese will both be super pissed off, for entirely different reasons.
Also, I’m still holding out hope that my Carol/Lizzy murderer theory is true. There were still some signs of Lizzy being a budding sociopath (treating the zombie like a dog, playing with blood), so I don’t think we’ve seen the last of this yet. I think we get at least one episode with the governor, then shit starts flying through the air in the last two before the mid-season break. I’m excited, I think this is the best path the show has ever walked down.