Note: This article contains full spoilers for the show. If you are a newcomer to the series, refrain from reading.
Just when you think a world filled with roaming flesh eaters was bad enough, the gang falls deeper in between a rock and a hard place. Keeping strong with the series theme by facing the horrific things they’ve done thus far, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and everyone are stopped in their tracks by something just as deadly as their past: the flu.
“Infected” not only took away a dozen new faces in a frenzied, inside-the-walls walker attack, but questioned any safety presented in last week’s premiere of “The Walking Dead.”
Doctors stretched far and thin throughout this grim world are going to have their work cut out for them this season, as even a slight cough is setting off some red flags.
What makes “The Walking Dead” so special in terms of a zombie outbreak is the fact that everyone living is already infected. No matter how you die — whether from a bite to the wrist by a starving zombie, slow torture from a band of thieves or a pitiful overnight exposure to the flu — you come back the next day with a strong craving for flesh.
This eerie presentation makes even the slightest cut and bruise worrisome because the lack of medical treatment. A possibility of a flu outbreak on par with avian or swine virus might be the deadliest thing the group has faced since the Governor (David Morrissey).
Right now, we have very little knowledge regarding the origin of such a disease. After seeing one of Rick’s pigs die last week, viewers have some understanding that it reaches further than human DNA. Hershel (Scott Wilson) backs this up when he mentions that viruses of this kind spread through birds and pigs, and with his veterinarian background, he seems like a credible apocalyptic source. It is a hidden threat that can strike at any moment.
Producers of the show can use this to their advantage in the coming weeks and if you thought the gang wasn’t safe before, think again. Even someone like Daryl (Norman Reedus) can’t muscle his way through a viral outbreak as much as we hope he could.
This week we saw more than a handful of people drop like flies overnight, and coupled with the fact that the fence is starting to give way around the perimeter, a new discussion is bound to happen regarding the safety of the group. Conflict is already brewing between the exposed and trust is beginning to run thin.
Alongside this looming threat, this week presented some exciting new character development. For the first time ever, it seems we are finally given insight to stone-jawed Michonne’s (Danai Gurira) life before the outbreak. She could barely look at baby Judith (Adelaide and Eliza Cornwell), and broke down in tears when forced to hold her for a few minutes. Could this mean the troubled swordswoman had lost a child in her previous life?
Beth (Emily Kinney) and Carol (Melissa McBride) continue to develop fantastic new character arcs. Carol reprises her mother role when promising a dying father that she’ll take care of his two daughters. These two new faces, young Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) and Mika (Kyla Kenedy), are already causing problems. It seems like the eldest of the children is feeding the walkers rats out of pity, so who knows how she will react to losing her father.
Beth continues to be the refreshing beacon of good advice in the prison, obviously growing up much faster than someone her age normally would. The unexpected threat of death could make anyone grow out of their youth early — hats tipped to you Carl (Chandler Riggs).
Tyreese (Chad Coleman) lost his love interest, a recurring pattern from last week. I wonder if the producers wickedly enjoy giving these characters hope and taking it away as fast as they do. It was clear that Karen’s (Melissa Ponzio) days were numbered due to her overexposure and nasty cough, but someone seems to have rushed the envelope for her.
At the end of the episode, we discover Karen and another infected group member murdered and burnt to a crisp. Tyreese, not even given the chance to say goodbye, is bound to go on a manhunt for the culprit.
In a prison where a zombie outbreak and a flu virus are the least of your problems, you know you’re stuck in the horrific world of “The Walking Dead.”
An earlier version of this story stated the actor who plays Hershel is named Scott Greene. In fact, the actor’s name is Scott Wilson.