The Walking Dead, “The Calm Before”
Life among the undead appears to have turned into some semblance of normalcy after the trials and tribulations at Woodbury, as Rick and the survivors adjust to life in the prison while keeping the imminent assault of the neighboring town in the back of their minds. Glenn and Maggie get married, Michonne allows herself some emotional release after her ordeal and Lori struggles with the implications of her looming pregnancy by offering to reveal the nature of her and Shane’s relationship. Not wanting Lori to actually tell him, Rick acknowledges and understands that the baby is not his, but Shane’s. Meanwhile, Andrea, Tyreese, Axel and Glenn pack up the RV and head to the outskirts of Woodbury in order to watch for any signs of movement from the enemy camp and discover that they are not far from National Guard armory. After taking all the weapons they can carry, the crew travel to a nearby Wal-Mart only to be confronted by a cadre of Woodbury thugs who are quickly dispatched, but Glenn is hurt.
Back at the prison, the remaining survivors scramble as Lori gives birth to a healthy baby girl. The evening does not pass without incident, as Dale and Billy are attacked by zombies while scouring for fuel, leaving Dale bitten on his leg. Now that they have a doctor, Dale has his infected limb removed and cared for, allowing him to survive his injuries. Days pass, with Rick and Lori caring for their daughter Judith and Carol, seeing herself being drawn away from her obsession with the Grimes family, sneaks away and forces herself on Hershel’s son before letting herself be killed by a zombie. This volume ends with the Governor, clad in National Guard riot gear riding atop a tank ordering his personal army of Woodbury citizens to kill everyone in the prison.
Adults: Rick, Lori, Allen, Donna, Carol, Shane, Jim, Andrea, Amy, Glenn, Dale, Tyreese, Julie, Chris, Hershel, Billy, Maggie, Otis, Patricia, Axel, Michonne, Alice, Doc Stevens, Martinez.
Children: Carl, Sophia, Billy, Ben, Judith
What a sad end for Carol. Having lost Tyreese to Michonne, she has obviously struggled with feelings of loneliness, sometimes at the expense of her daughter’s emotional state. Her desire for some sort of human contact pushed her into wanting some sort of connection between Rick and Lori. Both rebuked her advances and suggestions of marriage and although we believed her to have returned to some normal state of mind, she allows herself to be bitten. But what of poor Sophia? She’s been forced to see her mother hurt herself on two occasions, the first being her failed suicide attempt after leaving Tyreese. What does this say about her? While it is easy to say she was a bad, selfish mother, one has to consider the situation she’s been placed in. Her world has been turned upside down because of the zombie apocalypse and her rational state of mind damaged due to the constant fear of death.
One of the things I love about the art direction of The Walking Dead is how Adlard gives the series’ most arresting images an entire page – or in some cases, a two page spread. Carol’s death, the birth of Judith, the arrival of the Woodbury citizens and the reappearance of the Governor are all given big, dramatic shots which are really effective in delivering a sense of emotional impact.