I was suffering from the most dreadful cold whilst watching this week's episode of The Walking Dead, so found it easy to identify with the likes of Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) battling the agonising illness that has ravaged the group.
Last week focused outside the prison's confines, but in Internment we were stuck right in the thick of it, as the malady affecting the camp reached a bloody crescendo. Rick's shocking decision to leave Carol behind in Indifference is sidestepped as instead the episode focuses on Hershel (Scott Wilson), as he desperately tries to save those in the prison who are dropping like flies around him.
With the likes of Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) currently out hunting for supplies, Hershel has taken it on himself to look after those suffering from the deadly disease that has decimated the prison, despite the risk of infection such actions entail. He's played little more than advisor figure in the last couple of seasons, but here he proves himself the backbone of the show as he courageously tries to treat the inflicted.
Unable to keep the undead locked in their cells, it's a terrifying moment when they break out and swarm over the prison, as we realise the one-legged Hershel is the only one around who can fight the zombie hordes. Unfortunately the incredibly tense race to save the gravely sick Glenn, with Hershel grappling with one of the undead over the bag valve mask, is hampered by Bear McCreary's overblown score.
The jeopardy of Hershel's confinement in Cell Block D is also not matched by Rick and Carl's defence of the prison perimeter. The not particularly interesting storyline involving keeping Carl (Chandler Riggs) away from violence appears to be at an end, as Rick hands his son a machine gun to take down the walkers who have broken through the prison fence, and the two go ahead and massacre the zombies with relative ease.
The show's lead returns a solemn figure, but is honest with both Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Hershel over how Carol was dispatched. What we're far more anxious about is how Daryl will react to the news, as he's not only one of the group's strongest figures, but also Carol's closet friend.
The Governor of Wrath
What we're left with for now is a lot of dead redshirts, and morale at an all time low. As Hershel quotes Travels with Charley to Rick: "A sad soul kills quicker than any germ". American literature from Steinbeck and Sawyer is referenced in the episode, but it's from the Bible that Hershel finds his faith tested. The he returns to Caleb's (Sunkrish Bala) cell to read the gospel, only to break down in tears, is a quietly powerful moment that highlights the difficulties to not fall in to despair when confronted with such tragedy.
Their spirits could be shattered further with the reveal at the end of the Governor (David Morrissey), lurking in the bushes, watching Rick's band of survivors ravaged by disease and overrun by walkers. He's seeing the group at their most vulnerable, but what does he have in store?