After something of a bland premiere two Sundays ago (though it shattered several television and network records), The Walking Dead aired the second episode of its highly anticipated fourth season on Sunday night. What went down after the chilling cliffhanger a week ago? Did Patrick truly succumb to his illness and turn Walker within the boundaries of the prison’s protection? Is all still well for Rick and the survivors of the zombie Apocalypse? Read on to see what happened this week on AMC’s The Walking Dead!

Walking Dead #2

Infected

Picking up roughly where the show left off last week, the episode begins with a flashlight, rats, and someone feeding said rats to Walkers in the dead of night. It’s unclear who this confused humanitarian is, but it’s obvious that they care more for filling the empty bellies of rotting corpses than innocent little rats being eaten alive. The scene ends with a Walker munching off the head of the poor rat and the bewildering feeder remaining a mystery.

Inside the prison, Tyrese is getting his game on with Karen, his post-Apocalyptic girlfriend. Serenading her with a song, Tyrese scores a passionate smooch shortly before the two part ways, at which time Karen heads to the showers for a midnight rinse.

Unbeknownst to Karen, Patrick has died of his mysterious illness right there on the shower floors. Brushing off the sounds of Patrick’s corpse rousing, Karen quickly leaves the showers and returns to her cell, following closely by the newly zombiefied Patrick. Spared by an ill-timed cough from another survivor, Karen’s cell is passed over by Patrick, who heads straight for the itchy-throated dude in the neighboring cell, where he proceeds to kill and slowly devour the doomed survivor’s body throughout the night.

The following morning, Patrick’s turning remains undiscovered as Rick and Carl head out for a morning session of farming and Michonne heads off on horseback to look for supplies. While pulling weeds and feeding pigs, more light is shed on Rick’s desire to keep Carl’s hands from getting dirty (figuratively speaking, of course). However, Carl still seems to be fighting Rick’s wishes. After informing his father that the group has been struggling to contain its ever-expanding fence-Walker problem, Carl subtly suggests that he lend a helping hand. Rick quickly dismisses his son’s proposition though, affirming that he and Carl will spend their time farming and leave the task of dealing with Walkers to their fellow survivors. Carl reluctantly complies, promising that he is trying to obey Rick’s orders. Then he drops a bombshell on his dear old dad, inquiring when his gun will be returned to him. After a steely stare down, Rick decides to ignore the question, moving on to the pigs as muffled gunshots from inside the prison break the tension. Ordering Carl to take shelter in the watchtower, Rick beelines toward the gunshots and desperate cries for help.

Having heard the gunshots from outside the fence, Michonne gallops gallantly back to join the clash, only to get jumped by two Walkers as she dismounts her steed. On her back with two zombies chomping at her dreadlocks, Michonne seems to be doomed.  Naturally, though, her ninja-fighting skills spring into action. Kicking one Walker backward and the other over her head, Carl and Maggie come to the rescue, dealing with the zombies with decisive shots to their rotted, scabby heads. Alive but injured from the struggle, Michonne is carried back into the safety of the prison’s boundary.

Back inside the prison, all hell has broken loose. Since turning the night before, Patrick has triggered a sweeping endemic of the very virus that Rick and the others have strived to eliminate from the prison. With men, women, and children screaming and darting for safety, it’s difficult to determine who is dead, alive, bitten, or Walker. Nevertheless, Rick leads his people to a swift victory over the zombies, clearing out the survivors and eradicating Patrick and his nasty little friends.

Surveying the losses of the recent disaster, the group is presented with a new series of issues to tackle. Hershel and Dr. S (a newly-introduced physician) examine the dispatched prison Walkers to determine a cause for the latest infraction, coming to the conclusion that Patrick wasn’t bitten but rather killed by a fast-acting form of influenza most likely spread by the group’s pigs. What’s more, several others (including Tyrese’s sweetheart) seem to share the same symptoms exhibited by Patrick the day before. To keep the spread of this new threat to a minimum, Karen and another survivor is quarantined, and anyone else who may have been exposed keeps a safe distance from the rest of the group.

Caring for an injured father of two, Carol discovers that her patient has been bitten on the neck and will surely turn Walker after dying. Promising to care for the man’s two young daughter, Carol brings the girls in to say their goodbyes. But things get a little weird during what was supposed to be a touching farewell. The eldest daughter Lizzie (who can’t be any older than nine or 10) declares that she should be the one to end her father’s misery. Encouraged by Carol (yes, I wrote “encouraged by Carol”), the little girl attempts to drive a knife into her father’s brain, only to lose her nerve at the last second. With the two young girls still in the cell, Carol finishes the man off with a determined stab through the ear.

Out in the yard, Daryl and Rick share a few words as they bury their dead, notably Daryl commending Rick on his poise and leadership throughout the recent disaster. But another matter requires immediate attention. The commotion of the morning not only hindered the much-needed daily chore of clearing the fences, it also attracted more droves of Walkers to the prison’s border.

Strained under the weight of the mass Walkers, the fence is dangerously close to collapsing in on the prison’s grounds. The group desperately attempts to clear the Walkers from the boundary, discovering the remnants of the dead rats in the process (and, incidentally, learning why the Walkers have been grouping together at the fence). Unable to keep up with the Walkers’ advance against the fence, Rick makes a last-ditch decision – sacrifice the collection of pigs to the Walkers and lead them away from the prison. Daryl tows Rick in a trailer as the latter wounds the pigs and offers them as ransom to the Walkers. Rick’s plan succeeds, but the heavy cost is evident with the group’s proud leader.

Reflecting on the damages of the day, Rick and Carl come together to burn what’s left of the group’s stables, making certain that the spread of the new virus remains limited. Agreeing to maintain a safe distance from Judith until they are ascertain that they are not infected, Carl divulges to Rick that Carol has been secretly teaching the children about survival. No doubt because of the severity of the day’s events, Rick thanks Carl for telling him and shrugs off the news, expressing that he will not hinder Carol from teaching the kiddies how to survive.  Most importantly, Rick returns Carl’s gun to him, straps on his own gun, and burns his shirt in the flaming stables – a nice symbolic end to Rick’s farming days.

Definitely pulling at the old heartstrings, this week’s episode ends with Tyrese heading down to visit his quarantined girlfriend. Bearing a sweet bouquet of wildflowers and a giddy grin, Tyrese finds Karen’s cell empty with a bloody trail leading out the back door. Upon investigating, Tyrese finds two smoldering corpses just outside the prison, and one is unmistakably wearing Karen’s bracelet. Thus ends the second episode of season four.

Remember to visit each week for recaps and discussions of each episode as the season progresses!