Remember how last week it was pretty much all action and no talking? Yeah, it's not quite so much like that this time, although it's not as draggy as most of last season. And to whom do you think the episode title is referring? I think it's Rick: he looks BAD, physically ill, half-starved, but almost emotionally and psychically sick: trying to get a grip on this world he was flung unconscious into, forced into a position of leadership he never really wanted, trying to keep everyone alive and, by doing so, segueing from a man of law to a ruthless killer of both the living and the dead ... it'd take a toll on any of us.
While the others try desperately to stem the bleeding from Herschel's stump, Darryl has the prisoners come out from the kitchen, carefully covering them with his crossbow. There are five of them and although we don't get all their names in this episode, I looked them up online because otherwise it's a pain in the ass: there's Tomas, the belligerent leader who has a pistol; Andrew, a squirrelly young guy who sticks close to Tomas; Big Tiny, who's, you know, a really big guy; Axel, the older, quieter guy who's in for prescription drug abuse; and Oscar, who is "really bad at B&E." The prisoners look at Rick's crew and note, "You don't look like much of a rescue team." Rick's crew load Herschel up on a dolly and run back through the corridors towards Cellblock C. The prisoners trade puzzled looks and then follow after them. Rick's crew gets back to their cellblock and locks the gate behind them, Darryl remaining out front with his bow to intercept the prisoners. They bundle Herschel into his bunk and work to stop the bleeding. Rick tells Glen that if Herschel dies, Glen's going to have to take care of it when he comes back as a zombie. Glen pauses, then says he can do it.
When the prisoners catch up, Darryl sneers that today they've been pardoned by the great state of Georgia - you're all free. The prisoners have no idea what's happened in the world outside - they've been barricaded in the cafeteria for going on ten months - and Rick, Darryl and T-Dogg bring them up to speed: no power, no police, no government, no hospitals, no phones, hardly any people. "For real?" asks Axel. The prisoners are stunned, disbelieving, so Rick et al. bring them out into the prison yard where they goggle at all the dead bodies and eye the living dead clustered at the fences suspiciously. Big Tiny asks if it's a disease and Rick tells them yes, sort of, and they're - "we're" - all infected.
Tomas and Andrew decide to get territorial and want Rick and his crew out of the prison but Rick makes it clear that he and his people aren't going anywhere. He cuts a deal with the prisoners: half of the remaining food in the cafeteria for assistance in clearing out another cellblock where the prisoners can live. The prisoners agree, saying that there isn't much food left. When Rick et al. see all the food still in the pantry, it's clear that "not much food" means very different things to these two groups of people. Darryl snarls that the prisoners certainly haven't been starving themselves over the last ten months.
Back in Cellblock C, Herschel's bleeding has slowed. Maggie is despondent and Glen tries to keep her spirits up. Note: Everyone's hands are still bloody to the elbows - ick - you'd think they'd find some way to wash up a little. When Rick et al. come back with the food, Lori asks Rick what he thinks about sharing the prisoner with the incarcerees. He tells her that they'll try to live side by side but if he has to, he'll kill them. He looks uncomfortable when he says that and she reassures him that he's a good man and should do whatever it takes, with a clear conscience, to keep the group safe. Also, Maggie sits by Herschel's side and cries a lot. Also, Carl takes it upon himself while everyone is distracted with Herschel to sneak out and find the infirmary, bringing back all the supplies he could find - and only having to kill two walkers to do it. When his mother freaks out about him taking that kind of risk, he snaps at her to get off his back.
Next is a zombie killing lesson. Tomas thinks that all he needs is his gun but Darryl explains that they have to go hand-to-hand because gunshots attract the walkers, plus it's brain shots only. The prisoners sneer: You don't gotta tell us how to kill a man. T-Dogg rolls his eyes: "These things ain't men." They get in formation and move out into the corridors. At the first group of zombies they see, the prisoners rush out, hollering. They beat and stab the zombies like they were living, to no effect. Rick, Darryl and T-Dogg just watch for a while, snickering, before moving in and putting the zombies down efficiently. The prisoners do better with the next batch, methodically taking the walkers out, until Big Tiny gets nervous and breaks formation. He gets bitten on the shoulder. Everyone stands around and debates for a while: the prisoners think Big Tiny can be saved like Herschel was saved; Rick et al. point out that they can't really hack off Big Tiny's shoulder like they did Herschel's leg. Big Tiny is all, I feel fine, and then Tomas cuts through all the bullshit by bashing the big guy's head in. Repeatedly, with much gusto. Rick and Darryl look sick at the display of enthusiasm.
Back on Cellblock C, Carol tells Glen she needs help with something. He doesn't want to leave, in case Herschel needs to be put down, but she is insistent. She is worried that if Herschel doesn't make it, she'll have to be the one who helps Lori deliver her baby (Herschel has taught Carol some triage; Lori had Carl by C-section and it could happen again). Carol wants to practice on a walker before she has to cut into a living woman. She and Glen go out to the yard, separate a female walker from a small group and dispatch it, then bring it inside the fences. Glen goes back inside and Carol, with some trepidation, pulls up the walker's skirt and starts dissecting. From the woods beyond the fences, however, someone unseen is watching her.
Rick, Tomas and their respective crews have moved into a laundry room, heading towards another cellblock. They hear a bunch of walkers moaning on the other side of the closed door. Tomas yanks the door open and the zombies pour into the laundry, outnumbering the guys. Even worse, Tomas slashes at Rick with his crowbar ("Sorry, man") and then throws a zombie at him in the melee. After the zombies are all put down. Rick and Tomas have a stare-down, Tomas sneering that "shit happens" ... until Rick buries his machete in Tomas's head. Yeesh. Andrew freaks out and runs for it, Rick chasing after him; Darryl and T-Dogg point their weapons at Axel and Oscar and force them onto their knees. A panicked Andrew races through the hallways until he finds himself in an outside courtyard full of zombies. Rick comes up behind him, quickly assesses the situation and closes the door in the prisoner's face, telling him that he better run. As a grim-faced Rick walks back to the laundry, he can hear Andrew's dying shrieks behind him.
Back in Cellblock C, Herschel stops breathing. His daughters freak out but Lori steps in and starts mouth-to-mouth and chest compressions, heedless of the fact that if Herschel dies and comes back, her face is right up against his. Suddenly Herschel gasps and lurches. Lori staggers back, terrified, and Carl draws his gun. It's okay: Herschel is breathing again.
Axel and Oscar's lives are spared and Rick leaves them in a safe cellblock that's full of dead - but not living dead - bodies. Looking around at the bodies, Axel is shaken, saying he knew these guys, they were good men. Oscar tells Rick that this is sick, leaving them here in this place. Darryl: "You think this is sick? You don't want to know what's outside." He pauses, then adds that he's sorry about their friends. As T-Dogg leaves, he recommends that they drag the bodies outside and burn them before they try to settle in. Our guys close the cellblock door behind them when they leave. Oscar and Axel just look at each other.
When Rick, Darryl and T-Dogg return to Cellblock C, everyone stands around and watches Herschel, who finally, once everyone (except Carol) is assembled, opens his eyes. His daughters are in tears as he reaches out his hand and grabs hold of Rick's, wordlessly thanking him for saving his life. Rick is speechless, tears in his eyes, thankful that something has gone right just this once.
The episode ends with Lori standing on a catwalk outside. Rick goes to find her and she tries to reach out to him - blah blah blah - tries to see if he's willing to put their relationship back together. After a long pause, where it looks like he's moving towards forgiving her, Rick puts his hand on her shoulder and tells her that "we're grateful for what you did." Not "I'm grateful." He scurries off, such a damaged man, and Lori watches him go, rubbing her shoulder and absolutely devastated. Well, she's supposed to be devastated but the actress can't quite pull it off. Enough so that we get the picture though.
Previously on The Walking Dead / next time on The Walking Dead
14 hours ago