Monday, November 5, 2012

Preparedness Review of the Walking Dead Episode 302: Sick

Spoiler Alert!!!

Lori:  What are we gonna do, get lawyers, file for divorce, and divide our property?   We have food.  Hershel's alive.  Today was a good day.

Synopsis:  This is the first knock-out punch of the season, and may be the best episode of the series.  Hershel's life hangs by a thread; the newly discovered inmates become a threat; and someone is watching the prison.

Sick picks up right where Seed left off, in the prison cafeteria.   Five prisoners have survived there, and Rick's impromptu amputation of Hershel's bitten leg is still fresh on the floor.   A confused scene follows where the Rick's group retreats through the walker-ridden corridors to the cleared cell block with Hershel on a cart.

T-Dog, Rick, and Darrell confront the prisoners.
Once he is stabilized by Carol and Lori, and Rick strikes a deal with the prisoners.  The isolated group has no idea of what has happened outside the walls or that everyone has been infected with the walker virus.   It's a rude awakening.   Rick decides to  help the prisoners clear a cell block of their own in exchange for half the food in the prison pantry.   Tomas, the leader of the prisoners, keeps trying to assert his dominance as the prison leader, and Rick and Daryl have a discussion over whether they will have to deal with him.

The combined group expedition proceeds, and the prisoners learn the ropes of killing walkers.   One of the prisoners, Big Tiny, is wounded by a walker, and  Tomas violently murders him before he shows the first symptom. When the group moves into another part of the prison to clear it,   Tomas tries to murder Rick by tossing a walker into him.   Rick has had enough, and once the walker threat is neutralized he murders Tomas with a machete chop to the head.   He then chase down Andrew, another prisoner who tried to attack him, and locks him in an isolated prison yard full of walkers, presumably sealing his fate.

Rick makes Oscar a deal he cannot refuse.
In the cleared cell block.  Hershel is handcuffed to a bed and ministered to;   Lori has to perform CPR to revive him at one point.  Carol realizes he may die, and goes off to find a female walker with Glen to kill and practice a C-section on so she can be ready when Lori goes into labor.   Someone watches her from the tree line.

Rick, T-Dog, and Daryl lock the two surviving prisoners, Oscar and Axel, in another cell block and tell them if they see them on their side of the prison, they will kill them as well.  The cell block is littered with corpses of prisoners who were flex-cuffed and shot in the head execution style by the guards when the prison was overrun.  Axel and Oscar knew the occupants of the cell block, and are horrified by the discovery.

The episode ends on a high note.   Hershel regains consciousness, and Rick and Lori have discussion which indicates their may be a thaw in their icy, broken relationship.  Lori is clearly remorseful for her role in pitting Rick against Shane, and for betraying Rick.


Sick is one episode that brings to the front the importance of freedom and self-reliance as keystones to preparedness.  I was struck by just how powerless the prison survivors were; isolated in the cafeteria, cut off from the world, and at the mercy of whomever had control of the prison.   I sometimes come across posts in online discussion boards by people who intimate that they are procuring weapons or material that may or may not be illegal in their jurisdiction in order to further their preparations.  Number one, if it is illegal, it is illegal.  Whether you agree or not, a law is still the law and you should live within it.   Number two, how are you going to look out for your family when you get arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to prison?

Rick's interaction with the prisoners is another interesting example of the group dynamics within survival situations.   Some preppers are working with groups of like-minded people in their communities to create formal groups for mutual assistance.   Some are working with groups to create multi-family survival retreat communities.  Preparedness is a group activity, whether it is a single family, group of families, or whole community.  We should be seeking like-minded people and educating those around us as much as possible.   By forging those links before a crisis occurs, we at least know who we can count on to help us and participate in survival activities.

Rick has no such luxury. This group has been ad hoc from the beginning, and now they are faced with having to deal with convicts of a questionable nature.  Whenever we are approached or are approaching an unfamiliar group, we should always use extreme caution.  Do not give out more information than necessary -- when Tomas asked how many were in Rick's group, Rick simply said, "too many for you to handle."  That also goes in the aftermath of a crisis when help arrives.  After Hurricane Sandy, warnings went out to residents in New York that criminals were donning utility worker uniforms and trying to gain entry to homes.  That later turned out to be a hoax, but the threat was there.  Certainly, there was looting in the New York area.

Also of note in the group survival arena is that Carol has been cross-trained by Hershel in first aid and midwifing, and that is a tip all of us should take to heart.  What's the use of one person knowing how to start a fire in the group if that person dies or is separated from the main body?  Cross-training should occur in as many areas as possible.   I really dislike that Hershel was injured in Seed.  Your only qualified medical personnel should never be on the front lines.

Preparedness Lessons for Episode 302:

  • You cannot protect and help your family from a prison cell.  Don't violate the law or your moral compass.
  • Use caution dealing with strange groups.  You should be forming bonds before the crisis occurs.
  • Group members should be cross-trained to the extent possible in essential survival skills.

Next week:   Hi, I'm the Governor.   I am totally not a spooky dude.  

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