Piers McCarthy reviews the tenth episode of The Walking Dead season 4…
Having the obligatory opening episode focused on Rick and Carl (alongside Michonne), the tenth episode of Season 4 shows us what has happened to the rest of the group. Whereas I thought “Inmates” would focus on a select few – as had the first episode – we get to see each member of the surviving gang and how close and how far they’ve travelled to and from one another.
Major spoilers follow
If some criticism went towards Carl’s succinct maturation during “After” – cramming a compendium’s worth of character development into 40 minutes, it seems the writers don’t have the same plan for Beth. Starting the tenth episode with her voice-over (reading from her diary), we start to understand a girl who so far has only said a few lines and sung a couple of songs. It’s nothing too major, nor is it an attempt to pinpoint that personality in a select amount of time, it’s simply edifying. The fear and excitement of the last few years are summed up nicely in the memoirs she recollects. We see her now as an older, more knowing part of the crew who has suffered some of the worse loss out of all of them. Presently, she’s paired with Daryl which seems like the perfect match. Both have an innate goodness, are smart, and are able to take care of themselves yet, ultimately, seem more altruistic than the rest.
There is a moment where Beth demands to track the remaining family and friends, but Daryl seems apathetic and tired. This is the first sign of weakness we’ve seen from the Rambo-esque warrior but it is his loyalty and honour that brings out of the stupor to help Beth. There is no romance to be had here – an age difference, for one, would prevent it, I expect – but it’s a relationship that has the potential to be poignant.
Part of their tracking involves seeing many corpses and a dozen drops of blood. The fate of the other lot seems uncertain, especially when they come across a load of walkers feasting away at a group of recently dead. Beth’s sadness and shock at the tiny disaster zone speaks volumes of her frailty; the next scene showing her burning her diary pages for a fire exemplifies this further – her past is an ashen memory (if that reading isn’t stretching too far!).
Before noting the next narrative arc, it’s worth mentioning the location work for this episode which is fantastic. There are a couple of landscapes expertly picked out for that desolate-feel. An abandoned train track may seem trite for an apocalyptic story but having not come across one for a while in the Walking Dead, it stands out. It also stands as the centre-piece for the interconnected timelines, of which Tyreese, Mika and Lizzie come second in the episode.
Having saved Tyreese during the mid-season finale, Lizzie seems like Carol’s successor. Taught by the very woman she’s becoming, Lizzie is fiercely unmoved by events. Mika, on the other hand, is a live-wire of paranoia and dread. Mix-matched, their storyline can be trying at points, but there’s something in Lizzie’s near-inhuman stance on things that grips you. With Tyreese also cradling Judith (obviously having taken her from that blood-soaked carrier), there is a fair bit more riding on their survival. Taking care of Judith seems incredibly taxing when the baby is crying all through the forest. Attracting walkers, Lizzie is given Judith as Tyreese helps fend the undead off (moving to the centre-piece we’ve seen minutes before with the group being eaten, here in a flashback scenario). Lizzie, in trying to stay unnoticed muffles/smothers Judith to a point where you really start to wonder if she’ll kill the child. With no emotion in her face it’s a worrying moment – acted out well by Brighton Sharbino.
As Tyreese tackles the small hoard on his end of things, Mika has to point the gun at the walkers heading towards her, Lizzie and Judith. The shot rings out as we’re back on focus on Tyreese and you can expect something to have gone wrong (Mika’s pretty weak and the weak don’t tend to survive on this show). The walker win of the week comes when Tyreese takes down the zombie who has chewed on the neck of an ex-survivor, bashing its face off with his hammer. As he floors the walker we hear a “Tyreese”, and he then turns to find Carol and the three girls. That’s another re-addition to the show, and something that’ll add tension considering Carol killed Karen a while back.
Going over the episode for reviewing purposes I had forgotten how much is packed into it. Next up is Maggie, Bob and Sasha who have found themselves banded together. There isn’t much to take from their part in this week’s story apart from Maggie’s search for Glenn. They find the bus that had left the prison, crawling with walkers. As The Walking Dead is known for killing off favourites, there is a fear that Glenn may not have survived. As Maggie works her way through the fray looking for the (potentially unfamiliar) face of Glenn, it nearly seems possible. A cry that turns to a smile as she kills one unseen foe (that could have been Glenn) we realise he’s safe. Cut to the break and we see him, lying on one of the prison bridges with walkers clawing up at him.
Glenn’s absence has been felt throughout the last few episodes. Only as a shell of himself, the character was almost lost to us but fortunately “Inmates” brings about his return. And it’s a glorious one at that – Steven Yeun’s shining moment in the show so far (both in acting ability and kick-ass entrances). Picking himself up off the rubble, Glenn goes back into the abandoned prison to do what any sane survivor would do – scavenge every useful thing remaining. He also picks up an old photo of Maggie from his cell and this is where we see Yeun the best he’s been. It’s a subtle sob; just enough to have the audience well up but never lose it. It’s captured in that moment expertly – a showreel-worthy example of Yeun’s talent. As he leaves the cell-block we cut to the smoky outside and out comes Glenn, kitted out in the riot gear and looking cool. He throws himself into the walkers and pushes his way through and out.
Spotting Tara sitting catatonically, he goes over and hands her a weapon and tells her to get out with him. This is the last pairing of the episode and a less thrilling one. Still, it leads to the two exiting the prison and finding themselves struggling against another group of zombies. Injured and tired, Glenn realistically loses his energy and drops down. What we don’t know at this point is someone has been watching. Tara notices them after saving the unconscious Glenn from a walker yelling, “Hope you enjoyed the show, assholes!”. Apparently they did, as three come out of a huge vehicle, swaggering up and retorting, “You’ve got a damn mouth on you, you know that?”
From not having read the comic I’m unaware of whom this group are, but a close friend, who’s a big fan of the Kirkman series, tells me I’m in for a treat. I’d like to hope so as the human element of conflict ended with the death of the Governor so this should spice things up a bit.
Piers McCarthy – Follow me on Twitter.