Plot: Paradise is lost for the Prison group. In a single moment, everything Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his crew have been building up has begun its inevitable collapse. A young boy named Patrick (Vincent Martella) became a walker after dying of an unknown illness within the fortified walls. Now the group is stricken with paranoia and fear as they try to combat this new monster. Meanwhile, someone has been attracting the walkers to the fence with rats and the chain link barrier can only keep them out for so long.
Isn’t it amazing how quickly shit can hit the fan with this show? Whatever peace the Prison group had between Season 3 and Season 4 is already gone within the second episode. It almost felt as if the events this week were going to be what sends Rick out of the Prison for good. I know, it’s way too soon to be thinking that. They’re supposed to be in this place for the majority of Season 4. What was set into motion tonight is the rolling snowball that will eventually go into something bigger. Not only is the existence of a deadly strain of flu a huge danger for the group, they also have to deal with a traitor on the inside. To put it simply, everything they have tried so hard to keep out has found its way in. Combined with some excellent performances by characters like Carol (Melissa McBride) and you have a great episode on your hands with “Infected.”
“Infected” opened up the night with a rat being placed on the outside fences to attract some walkers. Whoever does this is completely covered in darkness and their ultimate goal is a mystery, but there’s a solid chance they’re up to no good. Then we have Patrick shambling his way into D-block and beginning his own personal human flesh buffet. No one notices his entrance and the curtain doors give him free access to any sleeping people. All hell naturally breaks loose and a good chunk of time goes by before anyone really notices what is going on. It’s not until Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) and her little sister Mika (Kyla Kenedy) run out that all the main characters stop their morning routines to save people inside.
Before I touch upon the traitor inside story, I want to talk about Patrick’s death and his subsequent feast. I love the introduction of a sickness to create some exciting turmoil within the group. It definitely provides an unexpected problem for them to deal with and trying to figure out how everything started will change everything. One early theory Hershel (Scott Wilson) brings up is that the pigs Rick is raising are the ones carrying the disease. There’s no proof to back up his claim mind you but it does make sense as animals were the carriers of plague in the past. Now Rick had to either sacrifice the pigs and lose food or keep them for the food and put everyone in danger. He ends up sacrificing the pigs in the most tragic way possible, but I’ll cover that later.
How exactly Patrick was able to get into D-block without any issue is where my problems arise. For starters, why don’t many of the cells have doors? Were they taken off so people wouldn’t feel like they’re sleeping in a prison? Several people were slaughtered last night because they didn’t have structured bars protecting them, which is just one glaring oversight I noticed. The other is the fact that this cell block, which is filled with only people who are background characters and can’t defend themselves (D-block D-characters?), has absolutely no security. If gun shots weren’t haphazardly fired and the two girls didn’t run out, no one would have noticed the zombie dinner going on. In the same vein, someone could have just as easily snapped and snuck through each cell silently killing people without issue. Again, no one probably would have noticed this. I just can’t get the thought out of my head that this whole thing could have been prevented if people were assigned to keep watch over the blocks for safety purposes. They obviously have the man power to manage this.
In my own twisted way, I’m also a bit glad that everything went to hell in the Prison as it gave us one of the best Carol centric stories to date. Remember when Carol was that hopeless wife in Season 1 who got beaten by her husband? Now she’s a powerful mother figure who is both teaching children how to use knives and mercy killing those who are infected. She even silently kills a man named Ryan (Victor McCay) this week following his bite, after seeing if his daughters Lizzie and Mika could do it first to essentially get then acclimated to that life. Once the deed is done, she makes it her goal to comfort the two girls during this harrowing time. With everyone else so focused on duties like farming (Rick), security (Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan)), and supply runs/possible Governor (David Morrissey) hunting (Michonne (Danai Gurira)), it’s amazing to see Carol care for the children in such a way. They would have no one else otherwise.
Then we come to the second conflict of the night which is the growing walker numbers weighing the outside fences down. The walkers have been coming by steadily for several months but the rats someone is feeding them is making them come by in droves. Rick, Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Greene), Daryl (Norman Reedus), Glenn, and Maggie trying to keep the fence from collapsing was one hell of an exciting scene. It got even more intense when Rick hatched a plan which involved him sacrificing the possibly infected pigs to the ravenous beasts. While the hoard was distracted, the remaining group propped up the fence with some support beams. It was, to put it mildly, heart wrenching watching these innocent pigs get sent to the most horrible slaughter imaginable. You could see the disgust and anguish all over Rick’s face every time he sliced up a pig, making this one of the better performances by Andrew Lincoln as well. It was really a top notch scene all around.
Now let’s talk about the rat feeding to the walkers. Who is doing this and why is completely unknown right now, but it’s obvious that the ramifications of this person’s actions will be huge. It could very possibly be the very same person who murdered Karen (Melissa Ponzino) and David (Brandon Carroll) by fire at the very end for their possible flu sickness. It’s also very likely that these are two separate people and the rat feeding has no sinister connotations whatsoever. Remember how heartbroken Lizzie was that walker Nick was killed? It wouldn’t exactly shock me to find out that she was feeding the walkers with such innocent intentions like “They’re people and they’re hungry.” She acts so tough but as we saw this week she’s still just a child. We’ll have to let our theories race until the big reveal later though.
As much as the Season 4 Premiere brought us into this new Prison with more people, “Infected” introduced us to the real shit of the entire situation. Everything is falling apart now and what we saw tonight will have huge ramifications for future episodes. The final scene of this episode with Tyreese (Chad Coleman) finding the burnt remains of his beloved Karen is bound to cause a lot of problems next week especially. My initial reaction was that she and David killed each other for being sick but getting murdered seems much more likely. All in all, “Infected” was a great episode with some excellent build up, despite the questionable first quarter.