If you’ve been craving a little one-on-one time with Hershel, the prison’s resident veterinarian and wise-old bible-reader, then this week’s “The Walking Dead” was for you. “Internment” was Hershel-heavy, casting the one-legged gent as a noble hero, or, as Daryl put it, a “tough sumbitch.”
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A couple weeks ago, we last lost track of our main man sacrificing his health to feed magic berry tea to the ailing. Picking up there, Hershel is now installing makeshift breathe-bubble bags into the windpipes of nameless extras.
Hershel’s trying to keep some order, even as Caleb, the one doctor in the crew who didn’t devote his career to farm animals, now has blood trickling from his eyes. He also tries to keep everyone distracted from the truth, that they’re all about to suffer the same fate and then turn into Walkers. He refuses to stab the dead in their brains in front of the others, electing to wheel them out into a hall and do it in private. Also, echoing his absent daughter Beth, he says, “We all got jobs to do,” when he demands that little Lizzie go off and read “Tom Sawyer.” Even in the sick ward, Hershel’s trying to keep everyone on some sort of track. But toward what?
And interestingly, Hershel has to do his first zombie brain-stab on a known acquaintance after a guy convulses on his own blood and dies in front of everyone. Hershel still takes the time to roll him out to a hallway, then covers the guy’s face with a sheet before doing the deed.
Hershel tells Rick that he still believes there is a plan for everyone, a reason why the world has gone to hell.
Things of course take a turn, as characters whose names we actually know get sicker, and Hershel has to choose between helping save them or dealing with the increasing dead bodies littering the cell block. Hershel can’t quite keep up with both tasks, and suddenly has a Walker frenzy on his hands.
For all Carol’s hard work training Lizzie, the little girl winds up being pretty useless. When the bag-breather turns Walker, she does lure him out of the cell while Glenn coughs up his guts. She talks to him like a pet—“Come on boy!” But then trips and falls and he lunges on her and she screams. Carol would have been disappointed if she hadn’t been banished for cold-blooded murder.
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Rick and Maggie hear gunshots from outside, and Maggie runs to the rescue, breaking an ax trying to get into the block. Father-daughter team slay a number of Walkers and quickly recycle the breather-bag into Glenn’s bloody throat, just in time to not have to break the contract of a principal cast member. (In a creepily sociopathic moment, Lizzie draws patterns in Glenn’s gooey blood puddle with her cowboy boot.)
Good thing they got to Glenn when they did, cause guess what? Meds for everyone! The vet school team is finally back with the goods. Which leaves Hershel to rest in the now-deceased Dr. Caleb’s room. He pulls out the Bible, but can’t read it. He cries. Guess that whole plan/reason thing isn’t quite working out a he’d hoped.
In other news, Rick has the difficult task of breaking the news of Carol’s banishment to the council. He starts with Maggie, who says she agrees with his decision. And Hershel, who does not appear to react, because maybe he has bigger things to deal with. Rick wants to tell Daryl, but doesn’t get a chance, because he and Carl are having some serious bonding moments.
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First, Rick and Carl team up to take down what appear to be hundreds of Walkers who break down the exterior fences of the prison. They fire up some machine guns and blow out all their brains in the zombie apocalypse equivalent to an Andy Griffith and Opie fishing trip.
Then while everyone’s cleaning up the mass murder of the undead in the courtyard, Rick and Carl go off to the garden and enjoy some fresh peas. “You can’t JUST be a farmer,” Carol told Rick last week. I think he finally figured that out.
Cliffhanger of the week: You thought this was gonna end with peas? Guess who’s watching Michonne and crew clean up all those nasty Walker bodies. The Governor! Our favorite evil one-eyed dictator is back and handsome as ever. Sumbitch!
“The Walking Dead” airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.