Wow, what an episode. Stuff is happening. Like majorly. I sort of wish we had a list of all the dead people somewhere in the prison so we could keep track of what percentage of their group has been killed off this season. We're only five episodes in, and we've had quite a lot of people die. Somehow this doesn't seem very sustainable. Anyways, let's take a look at the plot.
In the isolated cell block, things are getting way worse. People are hanging on by a thread. Hershel is keeping up a good attitude, but the situation is looking desperate. Meanwhile, the outer fence is in serious danger of collapse. Both of these problems loom throughout the episode, until they final spiral out of control. Several of the sick people die and reanimate, attacking the remaining patients in the cell block. There's a lot of great action and suspense, all culminating with a very sick Glenn on the verge of death, as the Walkers still roam throughout the cell block. With Maggie's help, the patients and Hershel manage to get the Walkers under control, and using a breathing apparatus, they save Glenn. Daryl and the others return with the medicines that Hershel needs, and it looks like both Glenn and Sasha will live. Unfortunately, a lot of lives were lost.
Meanwhile, Rick enlists Carl's help in reinforcing the outer gate, but unfortunately it collapses. The two of them manage to run away and get machine guns. As the Walkers make it through the inner gate, Carl and Rick mow them down, killing dozens and dozens. Our episode ends very chillingly. Hershel falls to weeping, crushed by all of the losses he's been made to suffer. Daryl asks about Carol, and receives no straight answer. He's going to go ask Rick, which will obviously lead to some juicy confrontation. And... the Governor is revealed to be watching the prison, still very much alive and evil.
This episode was chalk full of great character moments. In particular, it was a great chance to focus on Hershel's character. He essentially dominated the story. I loved the way he kept up hope in the face of seemingly impossible odds. He encouraged everyone else to keep their spirits up as well. However, as we saw, when things got bad, Hershel was also willing to do what needed to be done, and that included stabbing the corpses before they could reanimate. I thought it was a lovely touch how he was hesitant to ever do this in front of any of the other patients. He felt it was important to retain his persona as a medical man, and he didn't want to scare anyone. It was touching to see how far he would go to save Glenn, as well: since the breathing apparatus was shoved down the throat of a Walker, Hershel had to try and wrestle it away from the dead man. He nearly lost his life in doing so, and only a good shot from Maggie saved him. In the end, we see how this experience really has taken quite the toll on Hershel, despite how positive he tries to remain.
Then there's the little girl Lizzie, who had a really awesome scene in this episode. One of the patients dies, and Glenn, very ill, is in the room. Lizzie lures the Walker away from Glenn, trying to coax it away like you might do with an animal. It's so tragic because she seems to have some belief that the person is still alive in there. Regardless, it was really brave of her to do that for Glenn.
Maggie had some great moments as well. She's obviously so worried about Glenn, and she feels helpless to do anything. It was great to see her struggling with these feelings, and I liked the payoff when she got to help save Glenn.
Then there's the Rick and Carl story line which I actually really enjoyed. Rick hasn't been as interesting to me this season as I would have liked, but here I really saw him shine through. After sending Carol away, he's obviously feeling a lot of confusion and guilt. At the same time, however, he knows he has to protect his community from external threats. It was actually really great to see him fail at this - when the fence collapsed, I thought it was a good example of the problems in how Rick has been running things lately. Internal problems are important, but the Walkers are still pressing in from the outside, and they have to be dealt with. He asks Carl for help, thus acknowledging his son as an active and helpful part of the community, which I thought was really important. The scene where Carl and Rick mow down the Walkers was really powerful, since it clearly showed just how fast Carl has had to grow up. He handled it like a champ, but there's something so unsettling about a young kid being nonchalant about something like that.
There's a lot I could say about this episode, really. It was fantastic. If I had to come up with something negative to say, it would be this: why did they let the fence collapse? I mean, I know that a lot of people are sick and they've got other things going on, but if I were in charge of such a community, I would want constant rotations of people killing the Walkers who were pressed up against the outer fence. That should be a 24/7 activity, in my opinion. However, I understand that for the story's sake, I'm going to have to let it go. I'm curious to see how they will adjust to their new circumstances.