Credit: Gene Page/AMC Photo: Daryl Covers His Face With a Bandana in The Walking Dead Season 4, Episode 2: “Infected”

One of the new "big bads" was introduced last night on The Walking Dead Season 4 premiere — some kind of super-fast, super-deadly swine flu type thing. Somehow young Patrick got it, perhaps from something connected to Rick's sick pig, or maybe from the food.

Earlier in the episode, he shook Daryl’s hand — “Mr. Dixon!” “Sir!” — and thanked him for bringing back that deer. A photo for Episode 2, “Infected,” shows Daryl wearing a bandana around his mouth. Is this new sickness contagious? Could Daryl have it? Is it from the food, which Patrick served once Carol left with Daryl? Is it in the water? Does it only affect some people?

New showrunner Scott Gimple talked to The Hollywood Reporter about the threat and its connection to Patrick and even the walkers. THR noted that some of the zombies are bleeding from their eyes, which we see when Patrick dies too. "Is it safe to say this flu is impacting other survivors beyond the prison and they're turning as well?"

Scott answered, "It is safe to say Patrick died of whatever that was. The walker that was at the fence that we saw was rather fresh; he's not very rotted. I would intuit that because it's a fresh zombie, that the person who died recently was by the same method Patrick died. [...] If that zombie died of the same thing that Patrick did, and Patrick said he was feeling ill, that would mean you'd want to stay away from those zombies as well. So standing up against the fence and smashing and stabbing them in the face, there's a great deal of blood flying everywhere. It's very bad news and presents potentially a very difficult situation beyond the simple difficulty of being around other people, which you have to be."

Tyreese stopped stabbing at the fences, so maybe that was a good call if he could catch this sickness that way. But it might be a bad sign for his girlfriend, Karen, and the others.

Does the virus travel by blood? "I'm not saying that," Scott continued, "but if someone is sick with any sort of communicable disease, any bodily fluid is bad news. But there were also a couple of dead pigs in this episode, which also might have something to do with it."

Dead pigs. Soil. Crops. Patrick. Fresh zombies. What connects these threads, and will Daryl suffer from it? Start theorizing below!

The Walking Dead Season 4 airs on Sunday nights at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter