Humanity is once again showing its worst side on “The Walking Dead.”
With the virus now having potentially infected every character on the show, at least one person in the Prison is taking the matter of stopping the illness’ spread into his or her own hands. The final moments of the episode show Tyreese coming across the burned bodies of Karen and another sick victim after they seemingly had been murdered to stop the spread of the illness.
What’s interesting about this twist is that Rick had to do similarly kill the pigs he had been raising, albeit for a better purpose. The former leader of the Prison survivors sacrificed the pigs he had been so carefully raising — and the farmer persona he had taken up between Seasons 3 and 4 — to draw the walkers away from the Prison and allow the fences to be strengthened. But as he notes to Carl, the pigs were either the reason the humans were infected or soon to become sick themselves, so it made sense they had to die.
How can the survivors fight against this virus? As it caused Patrick’s death in less than a day, it’s not safe to wait until someone shows symptoms to decide to keep them separate from the rest of the group or — hopefully — treat them. This is the division of the survivors that’s been teased in Season 4, with Maggie needing to stay clear of Glenn and everyone needing to stay away from baby Judith.
Hershel notes that viruses like these are typically carried by pigs and birds, which explains the sick pig Violet and the ill boar Rick saw in the woods. But has anyone thought about the fact that walkers could potentially carry the disease as well? Rick notes that one of the walkers outside the Prison fences showed the same causes of death as Patrick, so it could be that just being around formerly infected walkers is a danger too.
A solution to this virus problem doesn’t seem present in the Prison, which means they might need to soon depart the save zone. But those aren’t the only troubles the survivors have to face. Someone is feeding rats to the walkers, either to draw them in or — as in the case of the little girl Lizzy — because they think they relate to the undead creatures. After all, Lizzy was more upset that a walker she named Nick had been killed than she was by her father’s death. Whether Carol’s stern talking to her worked or not, Lizzy likely isn’t the only person having trouble drawing a line between what’s dead and what’s undead.
Now it remains to be seen what the Council — Daryl, Carol, Sasha, Glenn and Hershel — will do to face the threat of the virus and its consequences. Knowing Tyreese, he won’t allow the matter of Karen’s murder to be taken lightly, and there’s still a matter of figuring out who did it. Was it someone new to the survivors like Bob Stookey, or could it have been someone within the core group — like Carol, perhaps? After all, she has repeatedly shown that she’s her strongest self if it means the group’s safety.
Odds & Ends
– Rick and Carl are finally back in the gun shooting game. It seemed that Rick had finally beaten the desire for violence out of Carl when the teen got incredibly upset over shooting a walker, but by the end of the episode Rick clearly realizes that they need to put their peaceful ways behind them and pick up better weapons to defend the group.
– Michonne had a pretty strange response to being stuck with Judith, and it begs the question of whether she had a child before the zombie apocalypse. Still not much is known about her past, and she seemed pretty upset when Beth brought up the point that there’s no word for a parent who has lost a child. Hopefully this is a tease of a bit more of her backstory that will be explored in future episodes.
– Daryl wants Rick to return as leader, but will it be a mantle Rick picks up? As Vincent Martella told Zap2it, none of the new Prison survivors have known Rick in his leader mode, and they look to Daryl instead.
– Carl rats out Carol’s knife teaching class, but only so he can voice his support for what she’s doing. Apparently Carl’s petition was pretty convincing, because Rick agrees to not stop her and also not tell the children’s parents what she’s up to.