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Tonight's episode of The Walking Dead may very well have been the most depressing episodes in recent memory. Even Beth's melodic singing or the sight of Daryl scooping up that kid wasn't enough to lift the mood. The virus that killed Patrick is a harsh reminder that people are their own worst enemy in this series. Sickness kills. Killing produces dead people, which turn to zombies and kill more people. There's no escaping death and so, there's no escaping walkers. It's a dark reality, but one that seems necessary to address.
Spoilers ahead if you haven't seen Season 4, Episode 2 ("Infected")!
Let's take stock in all of the depressing content in tonight's episode. We have a guy getting killed in his sleep, two little girls having to watch their dad die, Tyreese's new girlfriend getting sick and then torched, Michonne crying while she held baby Judith and worst of all -- ok, probably not, but this was still a pretty depressing scene -- adorable little pigs being sliced and left as walker-chum. RIP squealing piggies.
While some of the prison-people were fending off the hungry walkers attacking the fence, the people in cellblock D were under attack by Patrick -- the kid who got sick and died at the end of last week's episode -- and the people he turned into walkers during the night. The virus isn't the only mystery to surface in "Infected." Someone was leaving rats near the fence to lure more walkers to it, which nearly caused the fence to collapse. Is that the same person who torched Karen and the other quarantined sick guy?
A lot of characters on The Walking Dead have experienced loss, but few have seen such a drastic evolution throughout the course of this series as Carol, a character who started out as a relatively timid wife to an abusive husband and the mother of a little girl. Both husband and daughter ended up dead, and Carol toughened up, a lot. The Carol we're seeing this season seems completely grounded in reality. She sees the world for what it is now -- "You loved him and he's gone." -- and I'm not sure if that's entirely a good thing. On one hand, I don't think she's wrong to teach kids how to safely use weapons, and a realistic view on the state of the world now seems necessary. But on the other hand, encouraging a little girl to stab her freshly dead father in the ear or the eye seems like an unnecessary measure to take, even as a life lesson. Yes, maybe one of those little girls will be in a situation where they're going to have to do something like that, but this wasn't it. Why encourage that potentially scarring experience if it's not entirely necessary?
So, I guess i'm torn on this. These kids need to accept the reality that they're in, and someday that reality might include having to pierce the brain of a loved one. But on the other hand, if the kid doesn't have to be the one to do that, maybe they shouldn't be. And then that kid can go on grieving for... Nick?
Speaking of Carol, Carl ratted her out to his father over her knife lessons. He expressed support of the lessons, which makes me think his reason for tattling was more about believing his father should know about the situation than trying to get Carol into trouble or not being able to resist telling on someone. Either way, it doesn't matter. After tossing pigs to zombies to lead them away from the prison (they came back shortly after), not to mention the lives lost to Patrick's mayhem, Rick was bloodied up and exhausted, and he told Carl he wasn't going to tell Carol to stop and he wasn't going to tell the parents either. So he's basically turning a blind eye.
The non-approach to dealing with the situation is interesting. On one hand, Rick is making the call not to put a stop to it, which is consent in a sense. But on the other hand, he isn't going to alert the parents or openly support it. So he's basically just avoiding being the leader. What happens if and when those parents find out? In related news, Rick gave Carl his gun back. Fingers crossed he doesn't kill anyone.
There's a flu-like virus that can kill people within a day. Someone's feeding the walkers outside. And someone torched Karen and the other guy. So we have plenty to wonder about while we wait for next week's episode. Also, what's up with Michonne crying about the baby? She seemed so intent on not holding Judith and then when she did, she cried. Did she lose a child? Or is this related to something else?
We'll wrap this up with a nod to the special effects tonight. There were lots of zombie attacks in "Infected," but I found myself most horrified by the sight of a face being pushed through a chain-link fence and sliced into squares in the process. Yuck! (Nice job, effects people!).