Whilst it can be claimed that the first episode of Season 4 was a gentle ease back into the world of The Walking Dead, this second episode certainly ups the ante, the action, the tension, and the intrigue. Yes, the first episode broke ratings records, and it was a solid, intriguing episode, but this episode really sets an impressive tone for the rest of the season.
The end of the first episode found young Patrick (Vincent Martella) feeling a tad woozy; woozy enough to be turned into a walker. Here we find Patrick going on a hunt for ‘food,’ finding said food, infecting said food, creating another walker, this new walker goes on the hunt, lather, rinse, repeat. Before we know it, there’s a high threat in the once safe prison that our band of survivors call home. What makes this even more intriguing, and adds further concerns to the plot, is that it appears that we now have a virus of sorts that can cause people to turn into walkers. No longer do we rely on bites, but there’s a flu-like illness that seems to turn people within 24 hours. Adding to these troubles, the walkers that regularly gather on the fence surrounding the prison… well let’s just say they’re starting to be given motivation to bring those fences down. Helping all of this along, we have somebody leaving the walkers dead rats to feast on and to entice them through the fence.
Infected gives its audience a good dollop of action, but it also gives out some fantastic character development. Similar to the first episode in this season, there’s a constant theme of being numb to the zombie threat; it’s now seen as the norm. Survival is now the king, and this is taught like part of some extreme educational timetable. This is non-more-so prevalent than when children are being encouraged to kill their parents if they are likely to turn into walkers. And there was me thinking some of my old French teachers were strict and overbearing…
Here we have some great little moments shared by the likes of Darryl (Norman Reedus) and Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Rick, and Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan), but the person that seems to get the most interesting screen time is Michonne (Danai Gurira). Yes, we all know how much of a badass she is, especially when expertly wielding her katana like a mute Deadpool, but this is arguably the first time that we get to see other layers to the Michonne character. We see genuine emotion from her – humour, sadness, a sense of family – for once. It makes for fantastic, compelling viewing, and these slight reveals only add further to the mystique of the character.
Whilst Michonne is seemingly taken out of her comfort zone, likewise, the show shakes things up for the viewer from the relative safety net that was the first episode of this season. There’s emotion here – and plenty of it – as the show, once again, has you feeling genuine sadness at certain, soul-destroying scenes. Heart-strings are well and truly tugged on, but the main drawing point to this season is the mystery. Who is trying to feed the walkers? Why? Who is responsible for certain atrocities that happen to the camp? So many questions, but this season seems to be progressing along at a frenetic pace, so maybe the answers, and likely further questions, are just around the corner.