See the previous episode's debrief here.
See memes for this episode here.
WARNING: EPISODE 3x02 SPOILERS AHEAD!
WHAT WE LEARNED:
* Bear McCreary's music has taken a step up. It was always good, but the intense dramatic moments of these first two episodes have born witness to heart-pounding, driving pieces on the soundtrack.
* I forgot to mention last time, but the new opening sequence is great. Covering key images from the second season (such as the Cherokee Rose flower, Hershel's watch, the farmhouse and more), it looks forward to what's to come.
* T-Dog might have a bit of a naff weapon (a fire poker), but he sure knows how to wield it effectively.
* Hershel, in the intervening months, has taught Carol a thing or two about medicine.
* Rick's competitive side is unleashed. It's survival of the fittest now, and Rick is willing to stand his ground for the good of his group. He barters a trade with the five inmates - half their food in exchange for assisting them in clearing out another cellblock for them to live in separately.
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* To the near-starved group, the prison kitchen is like Christmas come early.
* "I'm a shitty wife and I'm not going to win any mother of the year awards" - Lori lays herself bare to criticism in a speech that seems to confront the complainers and fun-poking meme-makers in equal measure. "Do whatever you have to do to keep this group safe, and do it with a clear conscience" - Lori knows what's at stake, especially with potentially problematic prisoners thrown into the mix. The gravity of the situation isn't taken lightly, but the harsh realities of this world must be considered.
* Lauren Cohan brought her A-Game. In a highly emotional scene between Maggie and her unconscious father, she thanks him for everything she's done for her, and tells her that it's okay for him to pass on. An exceptionally emotionally charged scene that brought a tear to the eye. Seeing as this is only episode two of the season, you have to wonder what they've got in store for us in future episodes.
* Zombie Killing 101 - our gang teach the inmates how to take on the undead threat. Darkly humorous at first, it takes a dark and sinister turn as Big Tiny is taken out by Tomas after taking a hit from the handcuffed geek.
* Where's Carl? Going it alone is arguably foolish, but with the big guns of the group preoccupied, a more mature and ready-to-act-for-the-greater-good Carl sought out medical supplies on his own - he even killed two walkers single handedly, revealing as-such in a manner that illustrates just how accustomed our group has come to taking down the undead.
* A very sane thought in an insane world - Carol needs to figure out how to possibly carry out a C-Section - a female walker provides such a possibility. However, with eyes watching from afar, it's exactly the sort of spectacle that can easily go misunderstood, but more importantly, who exactly is it that is watching from afar? Is it somebody from Woodbury (to which we'll be introduced to in the next episode), or is it someone else? Glen Mazzara has already mentioned that it's not just the prison and Woodbury in season 3.
* Shit happens - Tomas refuses to follow orders, unleashes a corridor of zombies upon the laundry room, and takes a swing at Rick. Big mistake. You might have expected him to become the key antogonist inside the prison, but one of the biggest shocks of the episode comes when Rick swings his machete into his attacker's head and extinguishes the very real human threat. A further shock comes when Rick chases a fleeing Andrew out into a zombie infested courtyard and locks him out, leaving him to his fate.
* Axel and Oscar seem to be the good ones out of the inmate bunch - but we never see Andrew get chomped by walkers, so could Rick's brutal decision to feed him to the geeks come back to haunt him? Maybe, but perhaps not, considering the look on Rick's face and the resultant silence. At the very least, this is another step towards the erosion of Rick Grimes in this hideous new world.
* Lori's a life saver - in the second big shock/scare of the episode, Hershel comes back from the dead - fortunately Lori gave him CPR just in time and the old man's ticker is still going.
* In one of the most haunting images from this episode, we see that in D Block, every prisoner was zip-tied and executed. The Walking Dead is excellent at giving you a glimpse of the aftermath of a terrible event, another touch of shading that suggests the madness of the wider world and of past events.
BEST GORE MOMENT:
Handcuffs aren't much cop against a walker, as proven when Big Tiny faces off with more than one on his own. Amongst the geeks that he takes on, one is handcuffed, but soon pulls an arm free - by ripping off its own decaying hand in the process, and using the resultant bloody bone stump as a weapon.
BEST TWIST ON THE COMICS:
A human threat within the prison was clearer from the get-go in the comics, but with Rick dispatching the obvious threat - the one guy you would expect to be the big bad behind bars - the tension of the unknown has been unleashed upon the viewer. Who can you trust?
This was a more character-centric episode, dealing mostly with the deep emotional issues that have either been bubbling under the surface all winter within the group, or which have arisen as a result of the previous episode. In the closing scene, Rick and Lori assess the state of their marriage, which hangs in the balance. Seemingly on the brink of the abyss, Rick places an appreciative hand on Lori's shoulder and utters "We're awful thankful for what you did". The emotional release is restrained, yet evident, on both their faces.