There are spoilers discussed below. You've been warned.
And we’re officially two for two with the start of season three of AMC’s The Walking Dead. Granted, the second episode was a bit toned down from the fast-paced first episode, but the excellent character beats throughout help make this episode another standout amongst the series.
Surprisingly, we get no time with Andrea and Michonne this episode. Instead, the entirety of this episode focuses on Rick and our group of survivors meeting the prison inmates teased at the end of episode one. The show creators and cast really do a solid job displaying the tension between Rick and, since his name is never mentioned I’m just going to call him “Latino Heat.” From the get-go, it’s established that something is very, very wrong with Mr. Heat, and the situation plays out pretty much exactly how you would expect it to with a guy so clearly off his rocker.
However, I am shocked that this plot point was dealt with so quickly. Again, The Walking Dead has been a rather slow-paced series (especially season 2), so to see them address the situation and move on so quickly is maybe another sign that the writers of the show have taken the criticisms of last season to heart, not dwelling on one thing for too long. It should also be interesting to see how the remaining prisoners factor into the rest of the season. Honestly, I feel bad for the poor guy with the sweet wax mustache. He seems legit, even if he’s an inmate for crimes unknown.
While Rick and the rest of his goon squad dealt with the inmates rather swiftly, we have still not seen this season’s big bad, The Governor, or his town of Woodbury. Sure, this episode teases the existence of Woodbury with the creeper watching Carol from afar in the woods while she practices a C-section on an undead corpse (really gross by the way). But that’s all we see. If there’s anything that’s going to be a slow burn this season, it’s probably going to be the reveal of The Governor and Woodbury, and their intentions. We’ll have to wait and see if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Fans of the comic are probably dying to see the Woodbury stuff comes to life with real actors, but these first two episodes have smartly made the choice to establish a new status quo for our “heroes” before shoving them into another totally depressing situation (as if things aren’t already awful enough).
The other major talking point for this episode is the relationship between Rick and Lori. Clearly, this couple has some issues, which were briefly established in the first episode of the season where the two were barely on talking terms. All of that gets addressed here, even including a great meta line by Lori saying, “I know I’ve been a sh**y wife and I’m not going to win any parent of the year awards,” which is exactly what we have all been thinking since midway through season two.
With this season’s time jump, the Rick/Lori dynamic has become much more interesting and, honestly, I think it works better because we’re slowly going to get the pieces filled in for us. Also, I found myself actually feeling sympathetic for Lori during this episode’s final moments. Trust me, I did not expect that to happen… ever. But it honestly feels like she’s trying to atone for her (many) past sins. Now we just have to sit back and see if Rick accepts her distinct form of apology.
While “Sick” might not be as action-packed of an episode as last week’s “Seed,” it’s still another solid entry into this series. There were some great character beats all around (look at little Carl getting business done), and the devolution of Rick into a near spitting image of Shane is a truly fascinating turn for the character. To say Rick delivers swift justice is an understatement. It might be disappointing that we don’t get any more Michonne ass-kickery in this episode, but I’d gladly trade that for a stronger emphasis on the growth of our main cast, which is exactly what we got here.
Erik Norris is a freelance writer for sites such as ComicVine, IGN and CraveOnline.com. You can stalk him on Twitter @Regular_Erik.