Last week’s “After” benefitted from being contained and only following up on what happened with Rick, Carl and Michonne. Of course, the show had to keep moving along and explain what happened to the rest of the group in the prison, so this week’s “Inmates” quickened the pace with more characters, more action and a few surprises.
If “After” was a quiet and decidedly focused episode of The Walking Dead, then “Inmates” served to get things moving with a roll call of the prison survivors that weren’t featured last week, as well as a few surprise appearances.
The episode begins with Beth narrating her escapades while she and Daryl continue on the move. She talks of finding the prison and how Hershel told her it could become a new home for a new life, but obviously that didn’t come to pass. Beth hasn’t gotten her hopes up too much. After all, she’s worried that it’s becoming easier just to be afraid.
When Beth and Daryl finally stop for the evening, Beth holds out for other survivors. Daryl says little, but insists that if anyone goes looking, he should since he’s a better tracker.
That morning, the two continue wandering until they come across some footprints and what appear to be crushed grapes in the center of the prints. Based on the prints, things went south for whoever came through the area. Beth, again, holds out hope, but Daryl, in his own way, reminds her that hope hasn’t helped anyone so far, even Hershel. He spots some blood on a tree, but it’s not of a walker.
The two follow a trail and happen upon a few walkers feasting upon the remains of other walkers. Daryl makes quick work of the remaining zombies, but Beth is just sickened by what she sees and everything that’s happened so far. Daryl, however, insists that the two keep moving.
We then rejoin Lizzie, Mika, Tyreese and baby Judith. Because, come on, you know AMC isn’t going to off a baby like that. This isn’t Game of Thrones. But anyway, Lizzie gives Mika a knife to protect herself since she’s more worried than anyone else about whether the others are all dead. Tyreese promises the girls that they’ll find a safe place, but they won’t be able to get there in time if they’re eaten by walkers attracted by the sound of Judith crying.
Yes, Judith’s wails carry throughout the forest until she’s given her bottle. As the three move along, they find some edible looking grapes which Tyreese deems safe enough to eat, so the girls do. When Judith keeps crying, Tyreese decides to change her in hopes that it stops her crying.
How many television shows or movies that have a baby involved eventually have at least one diaper changing scene?
Upon hearing some noises, Mika screams, but Tyreese decides to investigate. He tells the girls to stay close to each other and hands them a gun, informing them to only fire it if they’re in danger.
Tyreese goes off and finds a group of men unsuccessfully trying to fend off a group of walkers. And, you know, we don’t know their names, so it’s pretty clear that they were going to be bitten, if Red Shirt logic is indicative of anything.
Tyreese hears his gun go off, but then hears a familiar voice call his name. He turns around and is greeted by the sight of Lizzie, Mika, Judith, and Carol.
One of the men in the attacked group manages to tell Tyreese and the others that there’s a safe place further up the train tracks. Surprisingly, they decide to keep him alive instead of killing him, but I guess he’s not their problem.
Carol explains that she was on her way to the prison, but never made it. She did manage to witness the end of the Governor’s assault and saw people flee, so she somehow found them.
The group follows the train tracks and arrives outside an entrance with a sign that reads “Sanctuary for All. Room for All. Those who arrive survive.” Well, it’s nice to see that in the end of the world, people can still find time to rhyme.
Elsewhere, Sasha tends Bob’s wound while Maggie carves into a rock. Maggie wants to go looking for Glenn, but Sasha is against the idea since they have no idea who got out of the prison. She suggests they just camp where they are for the night, but Maggie knows that Glenn got out, so she goes looking for him. And since Sasha is against the idea of them splitting up, she and Bob really have no other option than to follow Maggie.
They happen upon the bus that Glenn used to leave the prison, but it’s now littered with walkers. Maggie needs to know if Glenn was in there, so she has Sasha and Bob open the back door so she can confirm if any of the remaining walkers is Glenn turned. When they aren’t, they’re given a stab to the head. Turns out that the walkers were all people from the prison. Best guess is they’re part of the crowd that came over from Woodbury. Their names? Who cares? Again, they’re Red Shirts.
So let’s go to Glenn, who awakens not in the woods, but on a ledge still at the prison with a crowd of walkers crowding beneath. He considers jumping across a huge gap, but decides against it and heads back inside the prison. When he’s back inside the cell block, he grabs some riot gear and takes a moment to soak in what has happened.
Soon enough, a picture of Maggie gets him motivated. He grabs a few items, like a knife and Hershel’s watch, and suits up. With the riot gear on, Glenn brushes through the walkers and makes his way through the prison yard when he spots Tara, who has boxed herself in a cage to protect herself from walkers.
Glenn asks for her help, but Tara is too remorseful in the part she played with aiding the Governor. With no real time to discuss this, Glenn prepares a Molotov cocktail and throws it at a car to distract the walkers. When the walkers are drawn to the fire, Glenn and Tara use this as an opportunity to flee into the woods.
When the two are out in the open, Tara apologizes for what happened and accepts blame, but Glenn isn’t interested in playing the blame game. He also doesn’t want her help, but he needs it in order to find Maggie. He doesn’t know if she made it, but believes in the best.
The two make some work of a small group of walkers but Glenn collapses from exhaustion, leaving Tara to finish off the rest of the walkers. The two are not alone, however. Tara finishes her work just in time to see an Army talk parked right next to her. She tells off whoever is inside, but then three unnamed characters, two men and one woman, make their way out of the van, well-armed and interested in more than Tara’s sharp tongue.
Now these three characters do have names, but as they’re adapted from The Walking Dead comic and not just made up for the show, I’ll refrain from addressing them by name for the moment. Don’t want to delve into spoiler territory yet even though I was excited to see them make their debut.
This was a solid episode. I did enjoy the “Rashomon” approach to the storytelling that allowed us to see various parts of the same storyline occur at different times. It’s an approach that I don’t think the show has employed before, but it was a nice way to balance out the drama, but still give each group their moments to develop without then cutting away to another character and interrupting development. It also helped fill in blanks so we can see how each stories affected one another, such as Beth and Daryl happening upon the remains of walkers previously killed by Tyreese.
If these events all took place at the same time, it would just confuse the issue since that means the groups were so close to each other, but despite the marks left, they somehow never intersected. Could these stories have worked at the same time? Possibly, but playing Rashomon allowed the characters to grow without being lumped upon one another.
The episode answered most of the unanswered questions about the fates of the others at the prison, though it did leave the door open for future confrontations.
Take Tyreese’s group. You know, let’s just start with Carol. I’m not entirely sold on the details of how she caught up to the group, given how she literally just pops up off-screen. Carol must have had impressive luck to end up in the exact same part of the forest as Tyreese and the girls. However, while I find the explanation of her absence a bit sketchy, it does make sense, given the circumstances Rick left her in when she went off on her own, that she wouldn’t have been able to help during the Governor’s assault because she went off to do her own thing. What that thing is, we’re not sure of, but I guess the goal was just to integrate Carol back into the group.
And Carol really does seem like the type who would be able to survive on her own. She’s grown from the near defenseless woman we saw back in Season One and I feel that watching Sophia turned into a walker and then shot by Rick really opened her eyes even more to the reality of the world around here. This Carol can be motherly and nurturing, but she can hold her own in battle.
It’s a world apart from her comic book counterpart. There, Carol is much more dependent on others for survival and very insecure about her emotions. She let herself get bitten because she wanted a way out. The TV version of Carol knows better and I’m glad that she’s put to better use than she ever was in the comics.
Also, Tyreese doesn’t know that Carol is the one who took responsibility for Karen’s death, which ought to lead to an interesting conversation…
I actually like Tyreese as the temporary guardian for Lizzie and Mika, as it puts him a position where he has to help defend two people who realistically would not be able to fend for themselves for very long. And having him be the one to have Judith gives him an extra incentive to survive, not just for his sake, but for the newborn who must grow up in an ugly world without her mother and- currently- her father and brother, as well. Tyreese is shown to be very patient with two girls who have grown up in a real world Hell and just had their new, temporary home attacked.
Like Carl, Lizzie and Mika have seen their fair share of danger that would have an effect on their psyche. They’re being molded by this apocalypse because the memories they have of the world before this are leaving them.
Lizzie comes off as more seasoned, given her age, but while she’s still a bit of a prude to Mika, saying that she’s not as brave as Sasha, she does arm her sister with the tools needed to survive, proving this when she tells Mika to tuck her knife behind her shirt when she needs to use it.
I do like Maggie’s determination to find to find Glenn and Lauren Cohan sold the scene at the bus when she stabbed and bashed each walker’s head when she needed to know if one of them was Glenn. Like Beth, she clings to hope because she believes it will carry her further than pessimism, but like Carol, Maggie is a fighter and isn’t about to let a little separation stop her from at least looking for Glenn.
This puts Bob and Sasha in the position of having to just tag along. Thought I did like Sasha saying that shit happens and it doesn’t have to mean something, but Bob throwing out the possibility that it does. That’s pretty much one of the running themes of the show: things just happen and survivors just get through each day to survive. What happens the next day? They survive again in an endless cycle where the primary goal is to live.
The only issue I have with their sequence is that I didn’t feel anything for the people who had turned. Again, they’re Red Shirts. These walkers could have just been anyone, but for the characters to point out that they lived at the prison should carry some sort of emotional resonance. For me, having never learned anything about them, it fell flat.
I don’t have much to say about Beth and Daryl, as it’s pretty much them going from point A to B with some dialogue in between. I did like the fact that their storyline took place after the events of Tyreese’s group, so we as an audience could learn later on what led the two of them to finding the footprints and crushed grapes. Daryl did have his moments of interaction with Beth, mostly to tell her how pointless it is to have faith, but at least he’s not shutting her out completely.
Glenn’s sequence was definitely my favorite, if only for the sequence where he reenters the prison and lays down. You can read the contemplation on his face as he comes to grip with the fact that he believes he is alone at the prison without the love of his life, his friends, or anything else. The entire sequence was well directed and I bought his motivation to fight his way out in light of the prison assault.
I’m not sure what to make of Tara yet, but for character purposes, at least she shows some remorse for helping the Governor attack the prison. I can’t help but think her character is on a clock since her inclusion feels like an afterthought, but we’ll see.
Again, the three surprise characters at the end do play a major role in the series, but more on them when they’re properly introduced.
“Inmates” ramped up the action and still had good moments of character development. Like last week, it set up the trend of slowly getting the group back together and dealing with their various storylines as they try to survive without the support of the group as a whole. Though some of the episode was too predictable and lacking in details at points, I enjoyed it. I still prefer “After” if only for it being more focused, but again, it’s all setup for the rest of the season and I’m looking forward to the group reuniting and meeting their new travel companions.