As Carl lies dying, it looks like our intrepid band of survivors will be growing in number.
At the heart of the misery and fear incumbent on any episode of The Walking Dead, "Bloodletting" presents a pretty optimistic message. That being: some good things could come out of tragedy. With young Carl Grimes lying unconscious with bullet fragments tearing up his insides, our group connects with a friendly group of survivors living in a remote house, all too willing to help. This new group seems to be exactly what Rick and friends need.
The episode opens with a flashback of Shane informing Lori of Rick getting shot in the series premiere. From there, it cuts to Rick frantically running while carrying Carl. Shane is not far behind him, along with Otis (hey look, Pruitt Taylor Vince), the hunter who accidentally shot Carl. Otis leads them to Greene household, stating that "Hershel" will help Carl. Hershel (Scott Wilson) turns out to be a kindly old doctor who takes care of Carl as well as he can with the meager supplies he has on hand. We find out later on that he's a vet (as in, "veterinarian," not "combat medic" as Lori needs to have explained to her, even though the rest of us don't), but as he responds when Lori asks him if he's in over his head: "Aren't we all?" While Rick stays with Carl giving blood and feeling guilty over his son getting shot, the Greene family mobilizes. Maggie, Hershel's daughter played by Lauren Cohan, runs out to find Lori and bring her to the house (saving Andrea from a walker in the process), while Otis volunteers to go with Shane to the local high school, which was set up as a shelter by FEMA, to get Hershel all the surgical supplies he needs (after all "the hospital went up in flames last month." Man, this is some apocalypse).
It's interesting to see the group meet up with friendlies, since they haven't had much luck when they do come across other survivors. They're usually either jerks or suicidal crazies, but in the Greenes and their allies, Rick and the gang seem to have found people they can count on for help and comfort, as well as a friendly ear to talk to (Hershel thinks of the zombie plague as some kind of self-correcting feedback loop ocurring in nature, and then compares it to AIDS in talking about his optimism for a cure – does The Walking Dead take place in a world where AIDS has been cured?). It's certainly what the group, and the show, needed at this time. Seeing some bit of light throughout all the survivalist pathos has actually been pretty heart-warming and the slightest bit of let up on all the grimness is pretty welcome. Of course, we never forget that this meet-up with the Greenes wouldn't have happened at all if Carl hadn't gotten shot, so it's not like it's all sunshine and roses, but a bit of hope in the form of new friends isn't a bad thing in the midst of the end of the world.
Speaking of friends, the original group is still trying to find its relationship footing. T-Dog is now suffering from a hemorragic fever due to a blood infection (suffered when he accidentally sliced his arm running away from zombies last week) and starts delusionally ranting his paranoid thoughts about being seen as a weak link in a group full of damaged individuals. Dale is worried as hell for him, but it's Daryl who once again comes to his resuce, as he roots through his brother Merle's bag of meds and comes up with some doxycyclene, just the thing T-Dog needs (other than a real name). Daryl has taken an interesting journey in this show. When he was introduced last season, he came off as the anti-group redneck asshole who just keeps rubbing everyone the wrong way, but now he's actually showing leadership potential. Not only does he kill zombies with great effectiveness, but he talks confidently about finding little lost Sophie and is actually working with the group to accomplish things. If Rick does unravel over the course of the show, as predicted after last week's premiere in this space, we'll have to see what Daryl's role in the group will become. If Carl dies, we may get to see that dynamic play out pretty soon. After all, Shane and Otis were able to pick up the supplies they needed, but they are stuck in the high school, which is basically overrun by zombies.
Written or Contributed by: Royal Nonesuch