The Walking Dead: ‘Infected’ – Season 4 Episode 2
Let it be said that no one could accuse AMC’s zombie series of being a programme that plays it safe. Let’s take Tyreese, for example. This season sees the long-suffering zombie fighter finally finding some happiness and starting a romantic relationship. Guy meets girl in zombie apocalypse. Guy and girl start courting. Guy brings girl flowers, only to discover girl’s smouldering corpse outside the prison he inhabitants with the culprit. So runs the course of true love in The Walking Dead.
As if to compensate for last week’s series premiere, the second hour of season four is saturated with tragedy, danger and corpses – lots of corpses. Following his death in episode one, Patrick returns as a zombie for a midnight snack, one that has terrible consequences for all the residents of the prison. Rick and the survivors are forced to battle against the outbreak of infection within the prison grounds as well as the herd of angry walkers threatening to tear down the gates. But as if that isn’t enough, the emergence of a severe flu strain adds another degree of threat that culminates in a shocking and unexpected conclusion.
It’s about time the show tackled the issue of illness in a form other than the typical flesh-eating plague. It’s true that turning into an ankle-biting, intestines-eating zombie is a terrible threat in itself, but the group have done miraculously well so far to have evaded the endless series of ailments that come with a world where sanitation and first world living are increasingly becoming a distant memory.
The first thing you’ll do after watching this episode is book yourself in for a winter flu jab – the influenza strain is nasty stuff, fast-moving and ultimately fatal. It’s a fresh, realistic introduction that offers new dramatic potential. In order to maintain the interest of such a large audience the series has to effectively raise the stakes, and this new development suggests the producers are intending to do just that.
For some people this episode will feel like the series is treading familiar ground; the story is reminiscent of season three, and the zombie outbreak that led to Lori’s demise. But the episode quite smartly introduces threats from both inside and outside the compound, ensuring that all the central characters are utilised to full effect and offering two separate but equally compelling story strands. As such the episode doesn’t drag so much as it seems to end before it’s even begun.
While it doesn’t exactly rip your heart out (that particular pleasure is reserved for some of the minor characters) it’s overall as emotional as it is bloody. Ryan’s demise is effectively played, and the grief experienced by his two innocent young daughters makes his death feel important, which at this stage is difficult to achieve. The Walking Dead probably has the highest mortality rate in TV Land at the moment. Similarly, the final pig sacrifice scene manages to be more powerful than it has any right to be, although in an ideal world, it’s how the movie Babe would have ended. For some reason the pigs’ helpless squeals were more upsetting than many of the human screams in the show to date, which says a great deal about the series’ ability to evoke sympathy and emotion from many different sources.
Who has been feeding rats to the walkers? What will Tyreese do to avenge Karen’s death? And how will the survivors deal with the dangerous flu outbreak?Tagged in: Andrew Lincoln, David Morrissey, George A. Romero, The Walking Dead, zombies
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