Who is Connie?
I have to admit that, when I started watching the latest episode of The Walking Dead a few days ago, I had absolutely no idea who Connie was. As I’ve stated before, I actually stopped watching the show after Carl Grimes shot himself during season 8. With Carl dead, it really didn’t seem like it was going to be worth following the show to whatever bleak destination it was heading towards. So, I sat out two and a half seasons. I missed the final appearance of characters like Rick Grimes and Michonne. I missed the death of Jesus during season 9, which was unfortunate since that was one character who really got on my nerves. And, most importantly, as far as this week’s show was concerned, I missed the introduction of Connie.
And yet, despite not really knowing who she was, I was enthralled by her storyline. Connie (played by Lauren Ridloff) and Virgil (Kevin Carroll) spent the majority of this week’s episode trapped in a house. On the outside of the house, there were Walkers. On the inside was something even more frightening, a group of feral human beings who, though still living, had reverted to mindless cannibalism. For the first time in a long time, The Walking Dead was genuinely scary. The Walkers, who are far too often treated as an afterthought on this show, were a legitimate threat and the feral people made me jump every time they emerged from the shadows. I was frightened for Connie and Virgil, despite not being totally sure who they were. For once, I cared about whether or not the film’s human characters would survive and it’s been a while since I’ve been able to say that about The Walking Dead or, for that matter, any other zombie-themed show or movie.
Director Greg Nicotero deserves a lot of credit for this episode. He did a wonderful job maintaining suspense and an atmosphere of impending doom. The scenes of Connie and Virgil in the house felt a bit like an homage to the Dead films of George Romero. Beyond the location, the twin threats of the Walkers and the Ferals brought to mind one of the main themes of Romero’s work — i.e., there’s not that big of a difference between the dead and the living. One could argue that the Ferals are just getting an early start on their eventual fate.
The Connie/Virgil storyline was so intense that I was actually happy for the somewhat more subdued scenes involving Darryl and the Reapers. They have me a chance to catch my breath, even if the Reapers themselves still haven’t really established themselves as anything more than just this season’s group of misdirected bad guys. Naturally, I felt bad for Frost but, at this point, I can’t really say that I’m surprised by his fate. There’s been many Frosts over the past few years of The Walking Dead.
On The Inside was definitely a triumph. It reminded me of why, way back in 2010, people were so excited about this show in the first place. Hopefully, this will bode well for the rest of season 11.