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'The Walking Dead' - 'Inmates': The Only Thing Left Is To Try To Live

By TK | TV Reviews | February 17, 2014 | Comments ()


the-walking-dead-inmates-glenn.jpg

After a somewhat rough return from the midseason break, “The Walking Dead” came back with a strong, emotionally resonant episode wherein we rediscovered the rest of the survivors of the prison massacre. It was a harsh, unforgiving episode, but also an effective one. Part of what made it so refreshing was its willing to abandon the conventional pairings and groups that we’d become so comfortable with, allowing for new dynamics and conflicts. Just as intriguingly, each group came with its own pair of contrasting visions, one hopeful, one despairing, both having to find enough commonality to survive.

One of the show’s most-neglected characters has always been Beth. Sister of the strong, driven Maggie, daughter of the sage patriarch Hershel (RIP), Beth has always simply been a sweet, charming young woman with little to do. Her sequence with Daryl added a little depth to her character, particularly via the tragically hopeful tone of the voiceover. Full of earnest innocence, it serves as a stark contrast to her ragged gasps as she and Daryl race through the woods, trying to find safety. But what was more striking was Daryl’s moment of numbness, staring into the middle distance as Beth pleads for him to help. It’s the anti-Daryl, the rare moment where he simply wants to quit, and it’s Beth’s hope — or need, whatever you want to call it — that brings him out of it. Yet ultimately, he’s still Daryl - unapologetic and unrepentant, never looking back on what he’s done or said — even after the crack about Beth’s father. Daryl is hard, because to be soft is to come apart like Beth does, and even in the face of her despair, he can’t pull his punches.

Meanwhile, we had two surprises, though one wasn’t all that surprising. The unlikeliest, and most uncomfortable new group is the one made of Tyreese and the two young girls, Mika and Lizzie. Once again, the light and dark dynamic comes into play, this time between the terrified naivete of Mika compared to the burgeoning sociopath that is Lizzie. LIzzie, who tries so hard to be strong, to be what she thinks Carol would have wanted. The one chilling moment, where she attempts to smother Judith (surprise #1 - Judith lives!), shows just where the path that Carol was on could take you. Yet there’s also a terrible pragmatism to it, because what more nightmarish scenario could there be than to be trapped with a baby in a forest full of the undead? When one of your companions screams and runs from birds? Yet it was the second surprise that was the greater curve ball, when in the midst of the chaos and terror, as Tyreese and Lizzie and Mika all begin to lose themselves in different ways — suddenly, improbably, almost impossibly — Carol. After finding the ruins of her former home, paired with the man who she betrayed worse than anyone, one can only wonder what strife will be born out of that combination.

Perhaps the most peculiar group was that of Sasha, Maggie and Bob. Maggie is frantic, on a wild-eyed but fiercely determined quest to find Glenn, regardless of the risk. Sasha gets to serve as the voice of reason, and most interesting was the oddly cheerful Bob. Bob has been an enigma from the start, a drunken mess, prone to hapless screwups, a lone survivor who knows nothing but fear and loss. Perhaps he has simply tired of being the last man standing, and thus is willing to do anything to keep his group together. Ultimately, this entire vignette belonged to Lauren Cohan. From her face almost breaking when they came upon the walker-filled bus, to her own breakdown as they burst out of the back door, she hit every emotional note on the head, And when she, climbed aboard, crying and despairing, but knowing that she just had to know — well, I never for a moment believed that it was Glenn, but she sold the hell out of the moment.

Finally, Glenn, in what was likely the best of the four scenes. The last one to remain at the prison, we find him unconscious, surrounded, desolate and alone. There was something so perfectly tragic about him wandering through the wreckage of what used to be their home, now just a dustcloud of hopelessness and echoes of what was. For ten minutes, Steven Yeun carries the scene with only saying her name. and it’s her name and her face in the picture that brings him back from the brink. And when he loads up on supplies, armors up and rolls out, the episode has its first real moment of hopefulness, a visceral thrill and sense of fierce optimism that somehow he has consistently brought to the show. But Glenn is not meant to be alone either, and the show’s writers saved the least likely ally of all for him — Tara, the last survivor of The Governor’s ragtag army. A lost soul, filled with nothing but self-loathing, brought back to life by the words of a man she helped slay. Glenn clings to Hershel’s advice and simply believes, because to do otherwise is to give up everything.

“Inmates,” the tenth episode of this season, carefully balanced those warring themes of hope and despair, of the urge to give up versus the need to carry on. It did so by creating new relationships, and for the most part, those relationships brought a fresh perspective to the show, doing exactly what they need to do as a way to periodically rejuvenate things (certainly more enjoyable than watching Rick and Carl play the same tired tapes over again). Yet there’s still great uncertainty ahead of them, now more than ever. The questions continue to multiply — about Tyreese and Carol, about Glenn and Tara, about a little girl who almost murdered a baby. But also, about what lies on that road that promises safety and sanctuary, and who are the new strangers that have found Glenn and Tara? Who can you trust, in the wake of Woodbury and the prison? Can anyone ever be trusted again?



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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • I'm not sure I could hold my breath as long as Judith did. I can't hold my breath for shit. But it seemed like a long time.

  • Naye

    Has anyone read Stephen King's The Cell? The finding of that map leading to "Terminus" reminds me of this book. Secondly, anytime I have seen "terminus" or "terminal" on print on onscreen fiction, it usually means the end in the bad way, not the good way.

  • Wednesday

    Terminus is also the original name of Atlanta.

  • simplysarah

    I loved that book. They are making a movie of it, finally.

  • Dennis Albert Ramirez

    just found out the actress who plays Lizzie on The Walking Dead also plays one of Hart's daughters (Macie) on True Detective. Given how this episode went, I am pretty sure TWD is a sequel to TD. Since everyone insisted, let me tell you how.

    1) True Detective will end by going full cosmic horror and the Yellow King turns out to be an eldritch abomination whose current host is killed in a heroic sacrifice by Rust at the end of that series. Unfortunately, everyone in the immediate vicinity is killed, including Macie's family.

    2) The distress of that death is like a metaphysical explosion, and the fragments of the Yellow King become the contagion that causes the dead to reanimate. Since time is a flat circle (ala Rust in TD) and everything that has happened happens again forever, the Yellow King cannot be truly killed, so a fragment possesses Macie, de-aging her in the process and giving her selective amnesia. The immediate trauma of possession is mutual, so the Yellow King fragment is also put into a dormant state. Macie, calling herself Lizzie, finds the family she has in TWD*.

    3) The zombies trying to eat people is like the Yellow King trying to pull itself back together again, each new zombie a piece of that larger puzzle, all trying to find the center, the fragment in Lizzie. As the zombie numbers grow, the fragment in Lizzie begins to awaken. That's why she is sympathetic to walkers, that's why she's killing animals methodically (like the ritual murders in TD), and if you buy the theory that it was actually Lizzie who killed the two sick people at the prison, well there you go. The Yellow King is starting to awaken and remember itself.

    i mean, it's all right there.

    *it's never mentioned that Lizzie is adopted in TWD, that i know of anyway, but i mean, i'm sure the Yellow King can work that out.

  • sailboat

    like watching trains on a track

  • Marc Greene

    I'm growing more and more disillusioned with the show. The two stand-out stupid scenes for me were:

    -Maggie, Sasha, and Bob's "We'll let out Walkers one at a time from the back of the bus" plan which predictably collapsed almost immediately into failure
    -Glenn suiting up in the riot gear and getting swarmed and covered by like 15 Walkers, yet just throwing them off without a scratch. I was initially intrigued with his difficult scenario, but then just laughed when instead of coming up with a clever plan, he apparently could have just walked right the fuck out of there in that suit. Christ, that suit was like a friggin cheat code on a video game.

    What was the Prison's contingency plan other than "get on the bus"? I thought I recall them talking about a rendezvous spot, but it doesn't seem like anyone is trying to get there.

    The net primary character deaths from the prison collapse is -5. We lost Herschel but gained 2 little girls, the Governor-team lady, and now 3 more new people (and Carol and Judith came back).

    I think WD has been bumped from live watching to catchup-sometime-later-on-DVR-status for me.

  • simplysarah

    The whole point of the riot gear suit is that it's impenetrable. There wasn't any exposed skin for the walkers to scratch.
    The meeting spot is bothering me too. I thought for sure they set a meeting spot but everyone is going off in their own directions.

  • Marc Greene

    But then how did the original riot guards get turned? Their suits looked pretty wholly intact. My assumption was that riot armor is awesome, but with enough zombies dog-piled on you, chomp-chomp happens.

  • Keith Ballard

    The bus scene bothered me because when their plan failed they weren't even trying to stop it. In the shot the door just lazily swings open and Sacha and Bob are just gone.

  • Marc Greene

    And Sasha puts down her assault rifle under the bus o.O

  • SeattleIsInfected

    Mika is really getting on my nerves. Running from birds? Looking for praise for not abandoning her sociopathic sister in the face of a walker when she had a gun? I have a hard time believing a kid like that would ever stand a chance. Even season 1 Carl had better instincts.

  • Tecuya

    Remember she's from the protected environment of Woodbury and then the semi-protected environment of the prison. She hasn't been out there like Carl has. If she was, it was before Woodbury and she is too young to remember it.

  • Does this not finally put to bed the idea that it was Carol that killed all those sick people? It was clearly Lizzie and it was clearly for her sake that Carol burned the bodies.

    Much better episode and, obviously, the reveal of the new characters will hopefully add a drive to the show during this half of the season. This show is at its best when it's not pausing to think but barrels on with action.

  • DarthCorleone

    No, it doesn't put it to bed, and, no, it is not "clearly" the case.

  • You mean her holding Judith's mouth close and the close-ups as she appeared to smother the baby didn't immediately make you think she could smother a sick Karen in her sleep? Or that Carol -- who thinks of her and her sister as her children -- wouldn't drag the remains out and burn them to hide the fact?

    OK.

  • DarthCorleone

    Well?

  • OK, OK, you win this round.

  • DarthCorleone

    Ha. Thanks. :- )

  • DarthCorleone

    No, it made me think Lizzie is a budding psycho thanks to this awful environment in which she is being raised. It's a perfectly reasonable possibility that BOTH Carol and Lizzie are going down the sociopath road without one covering for the other's murders. Carol was Lizzie's teacher; her detachment even could have been an influence on Lizzie's.

    Reasons I still lean toward Carol as the sole executioner of what's-his-name and what's-her-name:

    1) Carol said she did it. Yes, she could have been lying, but the beat of that moment and the resigned delivery of that line as an episode-ender after Rick's clever detective work had the weight of truth to me.
    2) We spent the entire next episode watching Rick assess just how much empathy Carol is lacking in that test case with the young couple hiding in the house. Rick shouldn't have unilaterally tossed her in my opinion, but the observation about Carol's state of mind was reasonable and reinforces her willingness to commit the murders herself.

    3) If Carol truly had wanted to best protect Lizzie, it seems to me that she would do a better job of it staying with the group. That is, once it was evident that Rick was throwing her out, in her position I would have copped to the truth. Otherwise, who is going to cover for Lizzie the next time? The fact that she asks Rick to look after Lizzie indicates to me that even Carol doesn't fully realize how screwed up Lizzie is. Rick just threw her out of the group; what would he do to Lizzie after she smothered his baby?

  • Even Stevens

    Don't forget the scene before Carol and Rick leave the prison, though. Carol was filling water (I think, it's been awhile) and was visibly upset, shaking and crying. I think that she may have dragged the bodies out, but I don't think she did the deed. The show has done a pretty good job of showing what a creepy little thing Lizzie is and she doesn't hesitate or shy away from violence.

    No, Carol promised the girls' father she would protect them, and I think that's what she did - lied to protect them.

    Also, I'm like 99% sure little miss Lizzie Borden is the rat-killing zombie feeder.

  • ed newman

    I still think both possibilities are wide open. Carol killed the sickies to protect the group, or that Lizzie killed them and Carol disposed of the bodies and confessed to protect her. Mika's comment to the effect that Lizzie doesn't really understand the walkers makes me lean toward the latter explanation, but it's not open and shut.

    BTW, the Lizzie near-suffocation scene of Judith reminded me of the M*A*S*H* finale when the refugee mother on the bus suffocates her own wailing child to avoid detection of the enemy. It would be terrible, but also dramatically intense, if this WD scene served as a foreshadowing of when it does become necessary to kill Judith to save the group. I don't think WD has the stones to do it, but it would be a very real conflict in an actual zombie apocalypse.

  • J4Sho

    I agree. After this episode (what normal kid would kill cute lil baby bunnies?!?!?!!!) I am convinced Carol only confessed to protect her psycho pseudo-daughter.

  • Carol confessed.

  • ed newman

    That's easily explained away. She was protecting Lizzie from Tyrese and Rick's retribution. Not saying that is the case, only that Carol's confession doesn't really end the issue.

  • kirbyjay

    I can't wait for those two annoying kids to belly up for the walkers.

  • Keith Ballard

    A huge step up from last week's comic-faithful but sort of disappointing episode.

    I actually burst out laughing at the end of this one when they made the big reveal. Glenn's story tonight ended with the introduction of three people who look like they're ripped directly from the comics. It's actually startling how immediately recognizable they are, especially in a show where almost no one strongly represents their source character in personality (Andrea) or appearance (Carol). I of course have nothing to go on when it comes to how those characters will actually be handled, but wow, what a moment.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    I really REALLY hoping the new guy (that looks exactly like a cartoon character) isn't another reincarnation of The Guv.

  • Maydays

    On Talking Dead the actor who plays Tara said Gimple was very deliberate about that. They had the comic cover taped up and had hair/makeup/costuming and direction work to recreate the image.

  • Stu Rat

    So Lizzie is a fan of the finale of M*A*S*H?

  • kirbyjay

    Exactly what I was thinking, though Judith doesn't look like a chicken

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