The Walking Dead season four’s second episode was not to be outdone by the season premiere.  “Infected” brought some harsh realities to light.  SPOILERS!

Karen and Tyreese start our episode off by bonding. and cuddling.  He sings a cute (but off-key lol) rendition of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” by Frank Sinatra.  Karen eventually goes off to do checks, but Patrick’s very dead, newly zombiefied ass is already roaming around looking for something to eat.   He eats at night, okay?  Don’t judge him!  He proceeds to eat some poor unsuspecting soul who was probably dreaming of a zombie-free life.   Just like that, the idyllic paradise they’d created within those walls is shattered.

Patrick is still eating the guy’s innards and neck when he hears someone coughing and decides to go hunting.  The guy he ate reanimates and now the prison has two walkers on the loose.  Everyone seems to be going about their business just fine, and there seems to be a little flirtation between Rick and Michonne.  Unfortunately, all hell breaks loose as walkers have started to eat their once fellow refugees in the prison.  By the time it’s all over, everyone’s shaken and the sad business of making sure the dead stay dead is handled by Rick, Daryl, and Glenn.

The Council quickly comes to the conclusion that it could be some sort of pneumonia or some sort of illness of that sort that progresses quickly causing a quick death.  They decide that people who are showing symptoms of illness need to be quarantined away from everyone else.  Hershel, Carol, Glenn, and Daryl hear Karen’s girlfriend coughing, and they deliver the news that she will have to be quarantined in another cell block while they figure out what the hell is really going on.  Tyreese is reluctant, but she’s willing enough.

Carol is tasked with taking care of two little girls whose father was attacked (and mauled) while inside, and she completely takes on the role with gusto.  She will not be coddling them at all.  She gets right to the business of toughening them up, and I think that they couldn’t have found a better mother.  I still think she regrets losing her daughter Sofia, and I know she wants to do right by her memory.  I love that Carol was the only one who realized that idealism is cute, but it’s not helpful or efficient.  The reality of this world is that even the toddlers need to know how to slice and dice.

In the chaos of the internal attacks from zoms, Michonne is injured when she tries to get back to help, but feels a little guilty that Maggie and Carl had to come to her rescue when she was outnumbered by a few walkers.  One thing the three of them noticed as they helped Michonne inside was that the walkers completely ignored them for the most part and kept going to the fence.  Oh, and Carl fired the hell out of a rifle!  Rick may not like it, but that kid is mean with a weapon.

Later, Maggie notices that the fence is giving, and calls Sasha, Rick, Tyreese, and Glenn over to try and stop the walkers from caving the first section of fence in, but they realize that it’s not going to keep much longer.  Sasha spots some dead rats on the the fence on their side, and points out that the zombies were being fed somehow; something which was confirmed in the episode’s first minute when we saw a suspended, yet very live, rat being fed to a zombie.  Could it be the Governor?  Has he infiltrated?  Could it be one of the “Zombies are People Too” kids?  One way or another, the zombies have been lured there.  Eventually, the fence looks like it might come down on all of them and they try to keep it up themselves.  As luck would have it, the fence doesn’t fall, but Rick comes to a saddening realization.  Saddening for him anyway.

He and Daryl take the Jeep and attach a trailer full of piglets Rick had been tending to like his name was Old McDonald. Rick and Daryl ride outside of the prison, luring away the zombies with fresh piglets, Rick methodically cutting them to bleed a little, so that the zombies can be lured to the bacon animals.  Rick is heartbroken because it seemed like he was trying to forget the fact that they are constantly in survival mode, or should be anyway.

Rick thought he was losing Carl to the dark side, and maybe he was, but he lost his edge.  Carl had no weapon, and Rick didn’t really participate in Council meetings as much.  He was so happy being a farmer, putting all his hope in creating some sort of pseudo-utopia, that when that failed, he came down hard.  You could see it when he was throwing his precious piglets to their deaths.  In the end, Rick and Carl understand they both need to be armed, and that false hope will only get them killed.  Interestingly enough, Rick realized this when even Carl told him that Carol was teaching the kids how to kill zombies.  I think he realized that he was the only one who was losing his grip on reality.

In the prison, while Michonne recuperates, Beth hands over little Judy to her so she can tend to something else.  At first, Michonne seems very annoyed with Judy, but Beth will have none of it.  She makes Michonne hold the baby, and though she appears disgusted with the child, she eventually smiles at her affectionately before something even more touching happens: she starts crying.  Michonne shed tears upon tears while holding Juju.  Everyone will have their ideas, but I really felt that Michonne’s sadness at the profound losses she’s experienced, and the real possibility that motherhood may no longer be in her future ever again.  I think Michonne realized that she’d made a decision about what her life means in this new world where the dead eat the living (and where nowhere is really safe), and there will be no coming back from it.  If you’ve read the comics, you’ll likely come to a different conclusion.

I was getting annoyed with Michonne’s constant brooding in past seasons, because I felt it was a stereotype.  Maybe I was jaded from the way they did other WoC on other shows.  Make no mistake, she was badass, but I wanted more than that.  I saw that there was hope in the third season finale.  This season the writers have gotten it just right.  I love the balance we’re getting in her character.

I also love how the PoC in the show have gotten some meaningful storylines and character development, and I sincerely hope the writers at True Blood see this and realize just how much they’ve dropped the ball for the last few years when it came to Lafayette,  Tara, Jesus, etc., and the development of their characters to make the show better.

Getting back to Tyreese, he had the most f*cked up moment ever when he went to check on Karen in quarantine.  He discovers blood all over her cell, and more to his horror, the blood indicates a body or two was dragged outside.  When he comes outside, he sees a gruesome sight.  Karen and another refugee were doused with gasoline and burned to a crisp.   Now, we’ve got a murder mystery (or a really badly executed favor to the group) on our hands next episode.