The Walking Dead: Prison Break opened up with The Correctional Five holed up in the cafeteria for 10 months, hoping for a rescue team. The cafeteria was well stocked with food—and apparently razors (all but Little Tiny have been keeping their cheeks nice and smooth). But at the end of the world, with scarce resources and little trust, groups don’t always play nice.
We’ve seen seen this before, first in “Vatos” when Glenn was kidnapped and it looked like a shootout between the two packs of survivors was inevitable. Then, cooler heads prevailed—or the coolest head of an old woman—prevailed, and peace was made. Last season, in “Nebraska,” Rick, Glenn and Hershel meet a couple of men in a bar. When one of them reaches for his gun, Rick kills them both. Between Shane, Dave and Tony, and Merle, it’s clear that the living can be as dangerous as the undead.
Especially when the living includes a guy like Tomas, the psychopathic leader of the prison survivors. It’s pretty clear he’s not the neighbor you want living next to your pregnant wife and kid, but Rick gives him the benefit of the doubt, helping them clear out another of the prison blocks. The funniest scene is when the newcomers show how they fight the Walkers—prison-riot-style. The zombies go down like schoolkids getting beaten by bullies. It’s never clearer that Rick’s gang have been seasoned by 10 months on the run—10 months of surviving everything that’s been thrown their way. Tomas and his buddy Andrew underestimate Rick, thinking they’ll accidentally off Rick during a Walker attack. Rick responds by burying a machete in Tomas’ skull. Everything that needs to be done. He’s rewarded later in the episode by a meaningful handclasp from Hershel—more tenderness than he’s prepared to show Lori at this point.
Carl is following in his daddy’s footsteps, too. Anything that needs to be done—first killing zombie Shane, and this episode, making a solo run to the infirmary and being ready to kill potential-zombie Hershel if needed.
This episode’s encounters didn’t provide much in the way of moral quandaries for Rick. We seem to have moved past that, as Lori lays out pretty plainly, telling Rick that she knows there’s no malice in his heart and that he’ll do what he has to with a clean conscious. Indeed, killing off Tomas and Andrew seems like the only recourse left to him. It never really comes up what they were in prison for—they’re not judged for past crimes, but for throwing a zombie on top of Rick. Allowing Axel (who seems to have just walked off the O Brother, Where Art Thou? set) and the hardened Oscar to live—in their own cell block—provides the counter-balance. All the tough decisions seem to have been faced last year. This year, it’s more about the follow through.
The big reveal at the end is that there’s someone outside the prison watching them. It’ll be a while before we find out who, as the next episode in two weeks introduces Andrea and Michonne to The Governor.
Here’s a look at this episode of The Walking Dead By the Numbers:
Zombie Kills: 32
Human Deaths: 3 (assuming Axel didn’t make it through his zombie gauntlet)
T-Dog Lines: 4