Walking Dead Recap: Cell Block Tango

The Walking Dead Season 3If you have yet to watch tonight’s Walking Dead, hit the nearest exit. And we repeat, if you have yet to watch tonight’s Walking Dead, stop reading now. Everyone else. read on...

Not one, not two but three characters kick the bucket in Sunday’s entirely jailhouse-set episode of The Walking Dead. And, by the time the hour is over, things are looking a little iffy for a fourth character, too. Here’s the obits, in all their gory glory:

THE HARD CELL | Though our heroes have their hands full trying to keep Hershel from becoming the limping dead — you remember the hatchet job Rick did on his leg last week, right? — one of the inmates — let’s call him Trigger, shall we? — is nonetheless quick to draw his gun and go all “my house, my rules” on them. In response, Rick stares him down like he’s less an alpha dog than a prison bitch and agrees to trade half the convicts’ food for help clearing them out a cellblock to call their own. (A Survivor style merging of the tribes is never an option. In fact, Lori even gives Rick the green light to waste the criminals, if he thinks it best.)

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DEAD END | Later, as Rick, Daryl and T-Dog are helping the jailbirds secure their new area, another inmate — Big Tiny, and no, I’m not making that name up — is bitten, and, during a brief discussion of whether he can be saved a la Hershel, has his head pulverized by Trigger with a level of enthusiasm not seen since Shane bought the farm. Later still, while battling a zombie onslaught, Trigger “accidentally” takes a swing at Rick, then pushes a walker at him. “Oops!” Trigger says (basically). “Oops!” Rick replies (basically) as he splits Trigger’s head open with a machete. This sets off another of the criminals running — a bad move, it turns out. Rick locks him outdoors with enough walkers to organize an unusually authentic rendition of the “Thriller” dance. Finally, Rick spares the remaining two inmates and turns them loose in their new cell block.

WE DON’T NEED ANOTHER HERO | Back at our group’s cell block, Maggie is working so hard to brace herself for Hershel’s death that she’s all but digging his grave. (Optimistic Beth, by contrast, is re-hemming the amputee’s pants.) Carl again proves his mettle by sneaking off to the infirmary alone and coming back with a bagful of gauze and, you know, medical stuff. (“No big deal,” he insists.) After Hershel stops breathing, Lori performs CPR, resulting in a fantastic fake-out when he grabs her, making us think for a heart-stopping instant that he’s turned. (He hasn’t.) Finally, Carol — who’s apparently been in training to be Hershel’s nurse — enlists Glenn’s help in obtaining a walker on whom she can practice performing a C-section. (Carl, we’re told, was born that way, so there’s reason to believe the new baby will be, too. And, in case Hershel doesn’t make it, she needs to be ready.) Unfortunately, someone — or something — is watching her Dr. Quinn routine in the yard…

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REUNITED, AND IT FEELS SO GOOD? | In Rick and Lori’s few moments together, he continues to give her whichever of his shoulders seems to be the coldest. But she at least gets a little laugh out of him when she jokes, “What’re we gonna do, hire lawyers and get divorced and split our assets?” And, though he doesn’t exactly encourage her — the best he can muster is thanks for saving Hershel — he does touch her shoulder. Which, just then, all things considered, is still pretty encouraging.

Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? As good as the season’s first? And how beautiful a job did Lauren Cohan do in the scene in which Maggie told her dad it was okay for him to let go if he had to? (A full bowl of popcorn later, and I still can’t get that lump out of my throat!) Hit the comments, and do your thing.