The Walking Dead

Episode 302 - "Sick"

Starring Andrew Lincoln, Sarah Wayne Callies, Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, Chandler Riggs, IronE Singleton, Lauren Cohan, Melissa McBride, Scott Wilson, Emily Kinney, Nick Gomez, Theodore Crane, Markice Moore, Vincent Ward and Lew Temple

Written by Nichole Beattie
Directed by Billy Gierhart

"Today was a good day," Lori Grimes (Sarah Wayne Callies) notes wearily during the closing scene from "Sick," the second episode in the third season of "The Walking Dead." She ain't just whistling "Dixie."

The previous outing left the group in perilous straits, with a walker-bitten Hershel (Scott Wilson) enduring an anesthesia-free amputation of his infected leg--plus the reveal of a group of scruffy survivors in the prison cafeteria, all wearing inmate uniforms. While the now-unconscious Hershel is spirited back to the secure cellblock, Daryl (Norman Reedus) and T-Dog (IronE Singleton) lag behind to confront the bewildered prisoners and are shortly joined by Rick (Andrew Lincoln), who quickly takes control of the situation.

IronE Singleton as T-Dog

Tomas (Nick Gomez), who seems to be the leader of the surly jailbirds, reveals that they've been surviving on their own for the past ten months and are unaware as to the extent of the dire conditions in the outside world. After a period of haggling, Rick agrees to help them clear and secure a cellblock of their own, with the caveat that any attempt at contact with his own group will result in swift execution. In exchange, Rick's group will also receive half of the prison's remaining food supply.

After a series of dust-ups with residual walkers, plus two attempts by Tomas to sabotage Rick, the inmates have been reduced to Axel (Lew Temple) and Oscar (Vincent Ward), who reluctantly agree to take their exile in a newly-cleared wing of the compound. Whereas in the previous season Rick only killed the living for the purpose of emergency self-defense, he now demonstrates that he is perfectly ready to assume the role of deliberate executioner should the need arise.

The group tends to the badly injured Hershel.

The rest of the group has been tending to Hershel, who remains unconscious and, despite not developing the tell-tale walker fever, seems to be going downhill. Carl (Chandler Riggs) ventures into the prison and, finding the infirmary, brings back supplies which help quell Hershel's bleeding. Lori's scolding for Carl's unaccompanied jaunt away from the cellblock sends the kid running off in a sulk. And Carol (Melissa McBride), knowing it may fall to her to perform a Caesarian-section on the pregnant Lori, opts to "practice" the incision process on a walker cadaver.

Nichole Beattie's teleplay keeps the narrative exclusively in the prison, so there's no appearance by Andrea and Michonne this time. Despite this minor restraint, director Billy Gierhart keeps the tension remarkably tight, especially with the tenuous truce between Rick and the inmates. And whereas most "Walking Dead" episodes end on a cliffhanger-style conclusion, the final scene here offers at least a temporary bit of closure, although thankfully not at the expense of anticipating the next one. That makes "Sick" a commendably healthy outing.

Review by Petch Lucas, for Pitofhorror.com