THE WALKING DEAD - Season 3, Episode 2: "Sick"
Picking right up where last week's excellent season premiere left off, "Sick" kept up the breakneck pace that has been established under showrunner Glen Mazzara. One of the main complaints about much of Season 2 was that it moved too slowly and the characters spent too much time discussing their feelings. With the first two episodes of the third season, Mazzara has ratcheted up the intensity of the action and the drama in comparison to last season's slow burn at the farm. The show has developed a tremendous balance between the zombie-killing action and the quieter personal moments, such as Maggie's tearful plea to her unconscious father to just let go and die as an escape from the hellish world of The Walking Dead. Rather than explaining everything in dialogue, the actors are relying far more on body language and subtle facial expressions to effectively convey their emotions.
While I personally enjoyed the slower approach as well, this season has been an overall improvement, thanks in part to Rick's evolving attitude toward safety and security. Psychologically scarred yet fiercely devoted to the safety of his group of survivors, Rick has taken a hardline approach that reflects the horrors and atrocities he has witnessed and participated in. In his role as protector and de facto dictator, he has found his calling in this new life and uses that as his reason to keep living. As it should, the safety of the group supercedes all else and Rick has proven he will go to any lengths to ensure it remains intact, including the elimination of any perceived threats.
When we first meet the prisoners that were holed up in the kitchen—led by a gangbanger named Tomas who physically resembles the comic book depiction of the Governor more than actor David Morrissey—I assumed they would stick around for at least a couple of episodes to wring the tension and drama out of an uneasy truce with Rick and the gang. Even after Tomas threw a walker on him, it was still a shock when Rick settled their differences by burying his machete in the convict's skull. "Shit happens," indeed.
The prisoners did provide one darkly humorous scene prior to their demise, when they first fought the walkers and completely disregarded Rick's instructions about staying in formation and targeting the brain. Modeled after the survivors of Hurricane Katrina who waited for help for weeks and months, these prisoners had been isolated in the prison without any knowledge of the zombie plague that had seized the human population for the past year. Resorting to a messy combat style Rick termed "prison riot crap," the convicts attacked the walkers by stabbing them in the chest and abdomen, beating them down, and kicking their torsos, completely ignoring the advice about head shots.
By the end of the episode, only two of the five prisoners were left alive, relegated to their own cell block. A fine character actor in dramas and horror films such as The Devil's Rejects, Lew Temple is a welcome addition to the cast and an inspired choice to play Axel, who was depicted as a much older, larger, beardier biker in the comic book. So far, he seems amiable enough, as Temple imbues the admitted lover of pharmaceuticals with a white trash charm, including his earnest declaration that he "can't wait for my own pot to piss in" after Rick discovers the foul-smelling room designated for human waste.
In terms of scares, there was one "gotcha" moment that made me jump: Hershel springing up while Lori is performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on him. Just because the corresponding character from the source material survives well into the comic book's run doesn't necessarily mean the same will hold true on the television show, as evidenced last season when Dale was killed off. When he sprang up, it was completely plausible that Hershel was one of the undead and was about to chew off Lori's face. While that didn't occur and Hershel actually woke up from his coma, there is a feeling that anything could happen, yet it all fits together thematically and dramatically.
Next week promises our first look at another community of survivors and their leader, as we focus on Andrea and her new friend Michonne, the katana-wielding young lady in the hood. Entitled "Walk With Me," that episode should continue the hot streak of top-notch outings for The Walking Dead. "Sick" was another superb hour of post-apocalyptic television that moved the story along and presented increased zombie-killing action, but not at the expense of character development and tender personal moments.
FINAL GRADE: A
The character development from this episode was surprisingly great for this show. I'm certainly more invested in this season now after this episode, which might be one of (if not THE) best yet.
Love this show... Can't wait for more... I really like the changes they've made from the page to the screen... I've read most of the comic books...
Side note... I like this site I just wish more people would comment on some of these articles and reviews... I just like reading what others think this and a few other shows...