The Walking Dead: Don’t Forget the Hand Sanitizer

So, a new threat in the form of the oldest threat to humankind: disease. There is an aggressive flu strain that is killing seemingly healthy members of the jail-tribe almost instantly. With no way to fight against simple viruses or infection, the group has to resort to Dark Age methods of guessing who will be next and then separating the infected from the group. This plot point reminds audiences that in the zombie apocalypse, health care is pretty much nonexistent and, while tribe members have been lucky not to get sick (except Andrea in S03E01) lack of proper medicine, vaccines and sterilization can be deadly.

Poor Patrick didn't get much on-screen time without blood covering his face.
Poor Patrick didn’t get much on-screen time without blood covering his face.


S04xE02 “Infected”

When last week’s episode ended with Patrick convulsing and dying in the shower, we all knew it was coming. An in-house, all-you-can-eat buffet served up for the zombies, and first in line was the young Patrick, who apparently caught a mysterious flu virus, bled out in the shower and died in less than 24 hours. Not only is there a fatal virus that kills quickly, but there is no way of knowing how it spreads or who is infected. Yikes! As the group begin to rebuild civilization, needs such as health care and government become as vital to survival as basic comfort-based needs, like shelter and food and companionship. The jail-tribe has recently formed a governing council, but there is no larger entity to take care of basic health needs, and so simple problems such as a contagious cold or a broken ankle become supremely problematic. Still, the group has a contingency plan for when there is a zombie breakout inside the walls of the prison. Kill em. We get to see an emotional moment in which Carol is forced to stick a knife in the brain of a father bitten by a zombie bitten by Patrick after he died from the mysterious flu and turned. Many are left dead, some are sick, and the tribe has no way of protecting themselves from the virus. The tribe can only continue to do what they do best, which is kill friends and family when it becomes zombie vs. the living.

All of a sudden, Carol's got kids.
All of a sudden, Carol’s got kids.

Life inside the prison isn’t all roses, and when we see Rick forced to kill the piglets to save the living, it becomes obvious that “normal” will never exist for the jail-tribe. Carol and Rick’s actions reveal a new theme in season 4, which The Collectress and I happen to be studying in our online zombie course with UC Irvine, which is awesome sauce! Maslow’s hierarchy of needs helps us understand, now that the tribe has established a place to live and a regular food supply, they feel safe enough to try and establish relationships (with people, nature, animals, etc) and attempt to create a normal existence in an abnormal setting.

No one said it was going to be easy.
No one said it was going to be easy.

Unfortunately, horrible shit is happening all around the group. People are dying, Michonne broke her ankle, the fences are weak and Daryl has his shirt on. We even see new love destroyed by the new threat, and then strangely disposed of by an even newer and freakier threat. Is it horrible to say that I’m so glad it wasn’t Glen and Maggie going through that?? But I digress. Seems there is someone in the tribe who is feeding the zombies rats, burning flu-infected tribe members (were they even dead, yet?) and sabotaging the group from within the walls. Wasn’t that a quick plot-point in the beginning of season 3? Regardless, I’m loving the exploration of humanity after such a devastating global event. I can’t wait to see where Captain Kirkman takes us next week.


The Collectiva Diva

Can’t wait to see the next episode? Enjoy a preview below.