'The Walking Dead' recap: Welcome to Hershel's Farm
In "Bloodletting," Sunday's night episode of "The Walking Dead," penned by new showrunner Glen Mazzara, the odds are stacking up against Rick's young son, Carl -- the bullet that entered his body (which, we learn, was fired by a well meaning hunter/former EMT named Otis, played by actor Pruitt Taylor Vince) has fragmented and the kindly doctor overseeing his care (Hershel Greene, a veterinarian in the world before the walkers, played by series newcomer Scott Wilson) is in need of some serious medical equipment if he's even going to attempt to perform the life-saving surgery the boy requires.
Quite simply, his prognosis doesn't look good. (Of course, in a recent interview with The Times, Chandler Riggs, the young actor who plays Carl, talked about his character's arc over the coming season, so maybe the news isn't as grim as it first appears.) Still, the occasion of the boy's injury made for some outstanding scenes between Andrew Lincoln and Sarah Wayne Callies, as Carl's deeply distraught parents, and between Lincoln and Jon Bernthal as Shane, Rick's partner and best friend turned secret romantic rival.
It's Shane who comes to deliver the news to Lori, in the flashback that opens the episode, that Rick has been shot in the line of duty -- after she's shown confiding to a friend about the trouble brewing in her marriage. She has only a few moments to collect herself before she has to break the news to Carl, who's just getting out of school for the day. Cut to Rick running toward Hershel's secluded white farm house, carrying Carl's limp body.
Otis tells Rick and the others assembled there that he had been tracking the buck he shot, and Hershel observes that the fact that the bullet first passed through the deer sufficiently slowed its velocity, explaining how Carl managed to survive what really, really looked like a fatal wound. (I, for one, was absolutely convinced there was no way he could have lived.) Rick breaks down sobbing, beside himself that Lori has no idea what's happened to their boy. Back in the woods, where she, Daryl, Andrea, Carol and Glenn are heading back to the freeway, Lori expresses concern over hearing a single gunshot.
Emotionally shattered, Rick blames himself for the incident, but Shane tries to reassure him that Carl will survive, reminding his friend that he managed to pull through after being similarly wounded. Hershel asks Rick to give blood to his son -- they share the same type -- and he does so; but he also has to stand by and watch the boy scream until he passes out as Hershel removes one bullet fragment. Five still remain, at least one of which has caused internal bleeding. In order to remove them all, he says he will require a respirator, drapes, sutures and other supplies. Otis and Shane volunteer to go to a nearby high school to collect what he needs and the two set off in Otis' truck.
In the woods, Andrea is attacked by a walker but is rescued by Hershel's daughter, Maggie (Lauren Cohan), who comes riding up on horseback. She delivers the news about Carl to Lori, who immediately heads back to the farmhouse.
When she arrives, Lori runs to the room where Carl lies unconscious. She soon begins to question Hershel about Carl's odds, and the fact comes out that he's not a surgeon, but a vet. Meanwhile, Rick nearly passes out from having given so much blood to his son.
T-Dog, too, is suffering from having lost so much blood -- in fact, the gash in his arm has become infected. The pair search the cars littering the freeway for antibiotics, but T-Dog finds only cigarettes and a blood-spattered infant car seat (the most unsettling image of the episode by far). When Glenn, Carol, Andrea and Daryl make it back to camp, they update Dale and T-Dog about what's happened -- and the fact that they still haven't found Sophia.
After learning that there is a doctor nearby, Dale insists that they take T-Dog to the farm to get his arm treated, but Daryl reveals his stash of painkillers, medications and other substances, and offers to share them with the injured man.
On their quest to collect supplies, Shane and Otis make it to the high school. The only problem is that dozens of walkers stand between them and the mobile medical trailer they need to reach. Thinking creatively, Shane find flares in the trunk of a police car that he sets off and throws, drawing the walkers' attention away from the trailer. The zombies go shambling toward the lights, and Otis and Shane run into the structure.
They didn't quite plan their escape route so well, however. When they exit the trailer, the walkers (including one wearing a FEMA jacket!) immediately sense them and give chase. Shane and Otis shoot their way into the school and close the security gate behind them, but countless hungry walkers are just inches away and they appear trapped. Making it back in time to save Carl won't be easy.
What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.
-- Gina McIntyre
Photo: Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Hershel (Scott Wilson) stand on the porch of the farmhouse in "Bloodletting," Sunday's episode of "The Walking Dead."