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The Walking Dead: Season 4 – Episode 3

Alex Straker

In this week’s episode, the Grim Reaper takes a back seat to allow the conflicts between our band of not-so-merry survivors to take centre stage. It follows the familiar pattern the series has developed of following an intense episode with a quieter, character-based one (not that I’m complaining, I needed a break from zombie mayhem after last week’s exhausting events). That said, it’s true that most of the truly compelling story material is horded by only a few of the central characters, leaving many of the other fan favourites on the side-lines.

In the aftermath of last week’s tragedies, Rick and Tyreese come to blows as they struggle to face the horror of Karen’s murder. Daryl leads a team in search of medicine and supplies, while Herschel and Carl encounter more of the undead on a trip into the woods. Meanwhile, Carol and Maggie are struggling to hold the group together as more of the prison inhabitants succumb to the deadly flu strain.

On the surface there’s not a lot happening in this episode and many viewers will likely spend most of the hour waiting for some compelling dramatic development to take place. Eventually we’re treated to two such events, both occurring in relatively quick succession – Daryl’s ‘rescue team’ is very much in need of rescue themselves by the end (if the size of that titanic zombie herd is anything to go by, Michonne should have packed an extra sword).

Of course the very best scenes of the week belong to Carol, as the second major development sees her fall into a morally grey area before the credits roll. Whether it’s knocking over their much-needed container of fresh water or taking out zombies and fighting for her life, everything she does hints at the agony she feels inside. The closing scene reveals the dark centre of her character (the fact that she is willing to kill others in cold blood to protect those she loves), and at this stage it looks pretty unlikely that she’ll live to see the fifth season. It’s one of her very best scenes (after seeing her go through so much pain throughout the episode, it’s a nice touch that she reveals her crime without a shred of emotion). Will Rick confide in Tyreese or another member of the group, or will he punish Carol himself?

As further proof that there is no happily ever after in a world ruled by zombies, placing the Maggie/Glen relationship in jeopardy is a painful but effective way of reminding viewers that the worst is yet to come. It’s unlikely that we’ll see such a central character die so early on in the season… is what I thought at about the same time in season three. Then Lori made her abrupt exit.

The Herschel/Carl team-up is a duo made in heaven. After all, Carl is the long suffering but efficient child assassin and Herschel is a zombie killing, speech giving Santa Claus. So it’s a shame that their trip into the woods somehow fails to deliver any genuine surprises (although the zombie in the bear trap is among the finest instances of makeup and effects work that the show has ever done). However it’s likely that the time they spent together in this episode was intended to set up their relationship for future storylines, so it’s possible that the full potential of their partnership will be realised in the weeks to come.

Overall as episodes of The Walking Dead go this one was rather bloodless, but that only means we’ll find ourselves back in hell again next week.

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