“If you’re not ready to lose one, then you’ll lose them all.” — Dr. Caleb Subramanian
As this season’s of The Walking Dead gets closer and closer to it’s mid-season finale it’s time to take stock on what has happened, so far. There human-on-human conflict w hich dominated season 3 has now been replaced by a new and more insidious danger: disease outbreak. It’s a concept rarely explored in apocalyptic stories and barely even mentioned in zombie fiction. We’ve seen how the progression of the disease going through the population of the prison community has become an even bigger danger to everyone. Glenn said it best in episode 2. Zombies and raiders they can take on and succeed, but this disease is something that they can’t see until it’s too late. With the state of medical healthcare in the zombie apocalypse being horrendous at best and non-existent for the most part, this new wrinkle in this group’s survival since the world went to hell was a good move and start for new showrunner Scott M. Gimple.
We’ve seen characters we;ve grown to love in the first four episode grow in surprising and, at times, disturbing ways. Carol has become a hardened survivor who will do what it takes to protect the group from dangers both outside and inside the fences. We’ve seen Rick deal with trying to shed the mantle of leadership for the sake of his children, but quickly realizing (with some help from Carol) that it’s what he’s good at and something he needs to rediscover once again to help the group survive.
Even Carl has shown that he’s not just marching straight into sociopathy in this new world order. He’s realized what his father has sacrificed to try and bring him back from the brink of losing his humanity. So far, it has worked and we see more and more of his father in how he’s handling situations that in the past he would’ve used violence as a solution.
Tonight’s episode, “Internment”, we get to see the opposite image of what Carol has turned into by focusing on the group’s spiritual leader. Hershel Greene has taken over the spiritual and calming guidance that Dale used to provide. Where Dale seemed too entrenched in trying to live life as if the world still operated under the old rules and morality, Hershel has been more flexible. He doesn’t let his idealism get in the way of doing what’s necessary in the end. Yet, he still believes that saving everyone should still be a goal they as a community need to do. He’s willing to sacrifice his own well-being if it means keeping the sick from dying even if it means just providing that calming presence. He’s not just trying to save their lives but give their soul a semblance of hope that things will work out for the best in the end.
The episode played out like a calm before the storm. Some would say that it was unfolding like a throwaway episode that’s trying to give it’s viewers a breather before moving on to the next couple episodes with something more meaty and considerable. But like all slow burns this one exploded into action when we least expected it even though the writers dropped crumbs throughout that something big was about to happen.
Followers of the show won’t be disappointed when that slow-burning fuse finally leads to that gathering explosion. An explosion that once again saw the prison community become smaller and smaller with loses both to the disease that’s overtaken it and the zombies who have awoken inside the prison walls because of it. Showrunner and series writer Scott M. Gimple promised to make the zombies scary once again and in tonight’s episode we finally get the payoff the first four episodes have been working on achieving. Yes, they’re the faceless horde that has made killing them become more a chore than an act of survival, but the way the episode used them tonight made them scary once again. Their numbers will always be legion and this season has shown just how that still remains the scariest part of this show. Human enemies and even diseases are scary as well, but the zombies have once a gain returned as that patient, ever-encroaching symbol for the inevitability of death.
“Internment” has seen one of the more quieter members of the group who was becoming Dale 2.0, but tonight saw Hershel was just as much a badass survivor as Rick, Carl, Carol, Daryl and, his own daughter, Maggie. His faith in whatever plan God has in testing them might have taken a blow, but he still looks to his faith to get him and his friends and family through it all. He hasn’t let his physical handicap slow him and down. He’s even come through the crucible of tonight’s episode with his eyes much more open to the new realities of this new world, but still keeping his faith.
Time to see what the final reveal of tonight’s episode will now mean to the survival of what remains of the prison community.
- Tonight’s episode was written and directed by Channing Powell and David Boyd respectively.
- Interesting opening shot of Rick driving back to the prison with a very serious look on his face. Rick almost looked as if he’s steeling himself for the reaction on the news of what Carol did to Karen and David.
- Looks like we now know that zombie flesh and blood is not toxic to animals. The two feral dogs feeding on the immobile zombie by the shoulder of the road was a nice detail.
- Give Scott Wilson the first star for his incredible performance as Hershel tonight. He pretty much carried the episode from start to finish and there wasn’t a fake or boring section with him in it.
- Great to see Rick finally see Carl as someone who is not just willing to provide help and protection for the group, but one who is more than capable of doing so. Carl looked more capable than Rick tonight.
- Maggie has been pretty absent this season, but great to see her rush into the teeth of danger just like her father to try and save Glenn and the rest.
- This is the second episode this week where half the cast doesn’t get any airtime which more than helps the episode’s pacing.
- I still believe that Carol is protecting the real killer of Karen and David by confessing to Rick about it. My money is on scary-sister Lizzie who has taken on some very disturbing habits of treating zombies like pets and then using blood to make patterns on the floor with her shoe. The creepy-meter on this girl is reaching record levels.
- Love the use of Ben Howard’s “Oats In The Water” during Hershel’s moment alone after taking down all the zombies in the cellblock and saving Glenn.
- Talking Dead Guests: Adam Savage of Mythbusters.