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The Walking Dead: 302 “Sick” Review

Reviewed by Rich Jepson, cult TV enthusiast and author of 24: Terrorism Through Television.

I don’t know what was most shocking about this week’s episode – the fact that Rick split a living guy’s head in half or that T-Dog got more than one line, and a couple of good ones at that. Aside from those elements and some other strong parts, this episode didn’t quite have the same level of adrenaline OR excitement as the season opener, yet it was still effective in pushing the boundaries when it came to character development.

The action this week was split between a limbless Hershel coming close to death and the tricky situation of dealing with the locals inside the prison. This was a bit of a mixed bag between the two narratives of the episode with some really intense stand offs between Rick, Daryl and T-Dog and the inmates, intercut with a somewhat flat sequence of Hershel fighting for his life.

In terms of the inmate thread of the story, this was a real turning point for Rick that demonstrates just how ruthless he’s become as the group’s leader. His opposing number in the prisoner’s overalls was Tomas, a character that I was happy to see split, not because he was dangerous but because he didn’t come across as the alpha male he was meant to be. The way he cut up his friend after being scratched was shocking in many ways yet he came across as slightly comical in his stern looks and reactions. I just didn’t believe he’d be the one running things in this kind of situation, not with the size of the guys he was with.

Furthermore, I wouldn’t have believed these five guys would have been living happy inside a cafeteria with such an explosive personality amongst them. Wouldn’t he have tried to kill them sooner to preserve food? Especially being the guy with the gun as well, you’d have thought someone so quick to kill his convicted companion would’ve tried it before. However, I like how they did address the fact that they’d never tried to escape because of the walkers outside, making it more believable that they’d been sat tight for almost a year.

Whilst all this was taking place Hershel spent the entire episode trying not to die. This wasn’t executed in the best way possible, although, it did pay off nicely at the end when he thanked Rick by holding his hand. Beside Maggie’s one-on-one with Hershel the rest of this story was a bit clumsy and un-engaging. Beth has little impact on audiences because she said about four words in season 2 so her being upset about Hershel came across more annoying than sympathy inspiring.

One other thing that was a bit of a peculiar part of this episode was Carol’s decision to practice delivering a baby on a walker. For what it’s worth this was a really good scene and it lets us know that someone is watching the group from the tree line, which keeps the excitement going into next week. The one thing that bugged me about this whole thing was – why right then? With Hershel possibly minutes from death and Carol the new No#2 for medical problems, why did she have to leave right then to practice. I get that she’s preparing for Lori’s birth but surely she could’ve waited at least a day?

Aside from these points, Rick and the other’s tour of the second cellblock brought the episode to life. This delivered more bloodshed and violence, keeping the audiences appetite satisfied for a second week running, stepping further away from the sometimes-uneventful moments back on the farm.  There was no sign of Michonne or Andrea so let’s hope their journey is focused on next week.

The big question that most fans of the comic books are thinking at the moment – is Oscar the new Tyresse? Well time will tell but least we know for sure that Alex is sticking around for the time being – you feel me partner?

8.5/10

Scene of the Episode: Slice of Life – Rick killing Tomas was fantastic in showing us just how evil he can turn when his life is in danger, adding to this was the even more sadistic decision to lock the other inmate outside in the yard, where he was probably, albeit it somewhat poetically, ripped inside out.

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