RECAP: ‘The Walking Dead’ – S03E02 – “Sick”

NOTE: Let’s be mindful of all the new viewers participating in this conversation and try not to spoil plot points taking place deep into the run of the comic series. Mild speculation is fine and encouraged, as well as talking about things that have happened in the comic up until the point they are at in the show, but don’t get too explicit with regard to future surprises. They will be deleted. Thanks!



“Zombie Killing 101 is Taken Pass/Fail”

Last week, Rick and the gang moved into the prison and in the course of doing so killed a lot of zombies. I mean, like, A LOT. Seriously, it was an almost uncomfortable zombie bloodbath. Also, Doc Hershel got his leg chopped off in a procedure performed by Rick, who I’m pretty sure would have done well as a battlefield surgeon during the American Civil War. Meanwhile, Michonne and Andrea have been hanging out doing girl stuff: braiding each other’s hair, talking about boys, and using samurai swords to behead zombies. You know, Friday night sleepover stuff.

This week I’m taking the “viewer discretion is advised” warning seriously for once in my life.

We pick up mere moments after last week’s show ended as Rick and the gang confront the very much human and alive group of prisoners whose sudden appearance made up last week’s cliff hanger. There’s no time for pleasantries, however, because not only are zombies trying to bust in on the get-to-know-you session, but Doc Hershel is bleeding out. In a bit of light comedy, Rick and the gang almost completely ignore the impotent posturing of the prisoners, who demand to know just what the hell is going on here. They’re too busy trying to save the doc to care about these dudes.

Darryl and his seemingly endless supply of arrows clear a path as Doc Hershel is carried back towards the cell block where Carl and the womenfolk are holed up. The prisoners cautiously follow. While everyone else runs around in circles like they are on Benny Hill trying to figure out how to stop Doc Hershel from bleeding to death (maybe not cutting off his leg in the first place…), Darryl and T-Dogg hold the just-arrived prisoners (and their lone puny handgun) at bay. Rick goes to help, but not before reminding Glenn that if the doc dies someone’s going to have to put a bullet or a sharp piece of metal in his head.

The prisoners have no idea there has been a zombie apocalypse! They’ve been locked in the cafeteria for 10 months where apparently they had a ready supply of razor blades and hair trimming devices, but no news of what’s been going on in the world. Rick, Darryl, and T-Dogg try to explain that no, they don’t have a cell phone that can be borrowed to call everyone’s old ladies. They let the prisoners out onto the prison grounds so that they can see the results of the apocalypse for themselves. Instead of being grateful, the alpha male posturing begins over control of the prison. Rick on one side and a prisoner with a really bad mustache and questionable hair on the other. Rick agrees to let the prisoners clear themselves their own cell block, and he’ll even spot them some weapons, in exchange for half of the food left in the cafeteria.

While the ladies discuss how to get Doc Hershel up and running after he’s all better, the prisoners take Rick and Darryl to the cafeteria to check out the food supplies. And despite the prisoners’ best efforts to lower expectations as to the amount of food left after 10 months–there’s a lot!

Meanwhile, Maggie frets over the state of her father and Glenn reassures her that even though Doc Hershel has been bitten by a zombie, and even though much of their existence involves running for their lives from zombies, everything will be okay. He neglects to tell Maggie that he is on Doc Hershel Turns Zombie Killing Duty, probably because he will want to have sex with Maggie again.

Maggie leaves Glenn to go talk to her younger sister—last season’s Random Blonde Chick whose name I will dig up later—and finds her obsessively preparing new pants for her now one legged father. In the land of the zombie apocalypse, the therapist is king.

Rick and T-Dogg return with food! No one is very excited though, because Doc Hershel is still unconscious. Lori wants to know what the deal is with their new neighbors. They seem delightful but they are, you know, convicts. Continuing her Lady Macbeth role from last season, Lori basically tells Rick that it would probably be better for everyone if he just went ahead over there and murdered those convicts. You know, just in case.

It’s Zombie Killing 101 as Rick, Darryl, and T-Dogg brief their new friends on combat and the best way to take out their undead foes. The convicts are mighty confident in their ability to clear the cell block without a problem. I see where this is going.

Back at the field hospital, Maggie requests some time alone with her dad and she tells her unconscious pop that it’s okay for him to die. She tells him that she and her sister will be fine and she thanks him for everything he’s done for them.

Enough emotion! Let’s get to zombie killing! Rick, Darryl, and T-Dogg lead the group of suddenly jittery prisoners into their dark and shadowy new cell block home. A group of zombies appear and the prisoners attack with verve and gusto. And I’m not sure if I was supposed to laugh, but I did, mightily, as the prisoners laid into the zombies with baseball bat beat downs and repeated midsection shankings, the kind of attacks that would work extremely well in a pre-zombie apocalypse prison riot, but are utterly useless in the post-zombie apocalypse world. Clearly, none of them were paying attention in Zombie Killing 101.

A death vigil stands over Doc Hershel, interrupted only by Carl who walks up with a giant duffel bag… full of medicine and related supplies! It seems that organizing the food got boring so Carl took it upon himself to venture out into the prison alone and find the infirmary, which he promptly cleared of everything useful. Oh, and he also killed two zombies. And yet, Lori is not too happy with her son for going out into the prison alone.

Professor Rick and adjunct professor Darryl have reconvened Zombie Killing Class 101 and everyone now seems to be on the same page vis a vis the whole going after the zombies’ brains thing. Massive zombie killing ensues, and in the midst of it, the gentle giant prisoner named Tiny falls back until he is faced with a small pack of zombies trying to out flank their group. He dispatches two before a third shakes loose of his handcuffs (by ripping his hand off) and bites Tiny’s back before Rick runs in to help and the prisoner with the bad mustache causes everyone to experience partial hearing loss by firing his handgun into the handless zombie in an enclosed space.

The death vigil over Doc Hershel… continues. Suddenly Carol decides she needs Glenn’s help with something but Glenn doesn’t want to go because he’s on Secret Doc Hershel Turns Zombie Killing Duty. Glenn’s up against four ladies, though, so he leaves with Carol.

Rick informs the prisoners of the bad news. As much as everyone might like Tiny, and as fine as he might seem to be, it’s only a matter of time before he turns flesh craving zombie. Tiny’s friends’ protests are interrupted by the prisoner with the bad mustache embedding what looks like a pick axe into the gentle giant’s skull. While everyone looks one in horror, Bad Mustache bashes in Tiny’s brains again… and again… and again… and again… and… Ooooookay. So clearly Rick’s gonna need to keep a close eye on this one.

Out on the prison grounds, Carol points out to Glenn a female zombie raging up against the outer fence. She’s gonna need that zombie to practice c-section delivery because that’s how Lori had Carl and that’s how Lori is probably going to have her new baby. And with Doc Hershel down for the count she’s gonna need a cadaver to practice cutting through the stomach and uterus without hurting the baby. It certainly sounds logical! And also awful!

As the men move through the new cell block, Darryl tells Rick that he’s ready to take out Bad Mustache as soon as Rick gives the word. They come upon locked double doors through which the sound of many zombies can be heard. Rick makes Bad Mustache unlock the door and he is very clear: only open one door at a time so that they are not overwhelmed by the undead. Bad Mustache opens both doors and they are overwhelmed by the undead. It’s a zombie killing melee! In the midst of the fight, Bad Mustache swings at a zombie and almost clips Rick’s head in the process. Intentional or not? That question might get its answer as Bad Mustache grabs a zombie and tosses it at Rick, which knocks him to the floor. With a well placed knife to the zombie skull, Darryl saves Rick from being dinner. After the zombie killing is done, Rick confronts Bad Mustache and the alpha male stare down begins. And it lasts an uncomfortable amount of time! The tension is finally broken by Rick who embeds a machete in Bad Mustache’s head. One prisoner makes a run for it with Rick hot on his heels while Darryl and T-Dogg keep the other two prisoners at bay. The chase winds through the cell block and ends as the prisoner bursts through a door out into an uncleared section of prison yard. He’s surrounded by zombies and turns to find that Rick has shut the gate on him. As the zombies descend, the prisoner begs Rick to let him back in and Rick has only one piece of advice for him: “You better run.” Rick shuts the door and contemplates life as he listens to the prisoner scream.

It’s starting to look like there will be no vegetable garden on the prison grounds for Doc Herchel as he appears to be shuffling off this mortal coil. Lori checks his pulse and tries to administer CPR (which, bad idea) and Hershel’s body suddenly jerks and he grabs out towards her. Everyone leaps back in horror and Carl, with shaking hands, pulls his pistol. Is Doc Hershel beginning to turn or is he just gasping at his last breaths?

It’s decision time! Rick is trying to figure out whether or not to just execute the last two prisoners. Rick seems inclined to kill them but they beg for their lives: they’re just drug dealers and incompetent burglars! They’re not killers! Instead of killing the prisoners he locks them in their own cell block with a lot of dead bodies, many of whom were their friends. The prisoners think it’s sick to lock them up like that, but Darryl tells them that it’s nothing compared to life outside the prison. In a last second burst of compassion, Darryl tells them that he’s sorry about their friends being dead and T-Dogg advises them to take the dead bodies out to the yard and burn them.

It’s a miracle! Doc Hershel lives! Just as Rick, Darryl, and T-Dogg return from their long day of zombie and prisoner killing, the doc wakes up! He ignores his daughters and grabs for Rick’s hand. Everyone is happy! Well, except for Lori, it seems. She leaves in a huff and Rick goes after her.

Outside, Carol prepares to practice c-section cutting on the dead zombie girl in conditions that could in no way be described as sanitary. While she does this, she is being spied upon by someone in the woods. Someone we can’t see because it’s being shot creepy POV style.

Rick finds Lori as she overlooks the prison grounds from a fenced-in catwalk. He promises her that they will start cleaning up the prison tomorrow. The conversation quickly takes a left turn to extremely awkward town where it’s clear that their relationship has some serious problems that they are no where near addressing but hey, what are they gonna do? Hire divorce lawyers?

Next week: Michonne and Andrea meet The Governor!


  1. this episode was crazy. Bad Mustache takeout was pretty cold blooded. I think we’re starting to see Rick make a real change.

    Also, Carol playing Zombie OB/GYN was maybe the roughest thing i’ve seen on this show so far. Put the hands up to block the view, but it was just too much.

    That prison just has to smell sooooooooooooo bad.

  2. Thank GOD that my poor Hershel is okay. I don’t think I’d’ve been able to sleep tonight if my favorite character croaked thanks to Lori’s improper CPR. (Compressions only, Lori! Compressions only!) So yay – the Walking Dead gods were kind to us this week. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Except for the fact that hunky latin jailbird Tomas got benihana’d by Rick. Jeez, couldn’t we have kept Tomas around for at least one more episode! I guess the whole Shane thing taught us that it’s not good to have that kind of interesting conflict in our group….

  3. After watching the prisoners beat up on the walkers, I kind of want to see this become a meme:

    “Zombie Killing:
    You’re doing it wrong.”

  4. Great episode. The stare down was crazy intense!

  5. Excellent episode. I love the way Rick responded to Lori at the end of the episode. The hand on the shoulder was a nice tease. Rick has evolved.

  6. Conor, how could you not mention the rebar!?

  7. The Season 3 Express keeps a’rollin along.

    Some quick thoughts:

    – The Hershel death watch may have been dragged out a little too long – but how great was the “I’m a zombie now!” fake out when Lori was giving mouth to mouth.

    – love the “prison riot” fighting scene. Watching zombies get shanked made me laugh.

    – was waiting and hoping for that one prisoner to say the words, “Ya feel me?” but it never happened. too bad.

    – the stand off between Rick and Bad Mustache reminded me of the end of Akira Kurosawa’s “Sanjuro” – where two samurai go head to head ending in epic bloodshed. You gotta check this shit out….

    • Wow, that Sanjuro scene must have been an influence on this showdown.

      And now, a musical interlude: “Whoa-oh-oh-oh-ohhhh-oh-oh-oh-ohhhh-ohh-ohh-ohh, You’ve got a bad mustache…”
      (sung to the tune of “Bad Romance”)

  8. Not a single “Ya follow me?”?!! Not one?!

    Good episode. Despite my intense inability to separate the show from the book, I already enjoy this season more than the previous two. The time jump was a great idea, because we can finally shake off the shock and despair and get down to business. This is the group I wanted to see. My only nitpick is that they’re hardening Rick and Carl a little too rapidly. Especially Carl, but that may be due to the young actor hitting puberty any day now, and the show runners want to avoid a Walt-from-Lost situation.

    Good episode. Keep it up.

  9. This was the best episode in recent memory, maybe since the first episode.

    The rebar through the eye sealed it.

  10. Enjoyed this episode a lot. Poor T-Dog, though. Each one of those two surviving prisoners had more lines than he had all of last season.

  11. “I get, I get…shit happens.” Loving this season more by the minute, Rick Grimes has arrived, full survival mode, not completely cold and distant just no room to be bogged down by emotional baggage that he can’t change. He held Herschel’s hand and smiled when he came to and said “the groups proud of you” to Laurie after she opened up and is being more likable than ever but i think his state of mind is no room for weakness as it will get you killed. “You better run”