Then, in a burst, plenty happens. There have been "Walking Dead" episodes that shortchanged the viewer with too few zombies on display. And there have been episodes with escalating dread but no dramatic release. This is not one of them. Count this episode — packed with a zombie skirmish, a terrible twist and a bonus complication — among the series' most unforgettable.
And looking ahead to next week's episode: Necessity proves to be the mother of invention. One of the survivors hits upon perhaps the most macabre problem-solving scheme since season one, when Rick smeared himself with hunks of zombie carcass to pass undetected through a zombie mob. Yuck.
Identifying with the plight of Rick and his fellow refugees is clearly a blast for the fans of "The Walking Dead," who last season averaged nearly 7 million weekly. "The Walking Dead" puts you with this tattered band as you imagine yourself under similar threat and joined in the struggle that may never end.
The zombies remain a threat not through craftiness or villainy (they, stripped of their humanity, are capable of neither), but instead due to their multitudes and plodding persistence. This season "The Walking Dead" continues to trade on a familiar nightmare: a frightening foe that stalks you in slow motion, yet still you can't evade.
It's a nightmare you typically handle by waking up. But only if you were asleep. If you're awake, the best way to deal is by savoring the blows to a zombie's head, each certified by a satisfying crunch.
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