Editor’s note: this review will contain some spoilers. I will try to keep them to a minimum, but they’re be there nonetheless. You’ve been warned.
After last week’s extremely focused episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead, we checked in with pretty much all the other survivors from the prison, and there aren’t many left. I was kind of dreading it, I kind of figured this episode was coming, especially on the heals of such a character driven episode like we got last week. The problem here is that the show has to manage a bunch of divergent story lines, many of which cover the same events from different perspective, and many of which have to be told in conflicting timelines. I love The Walking Dead, but strong writing has never really been the show’s driving force.
And that’s why I was so pleasantly surprised by “Inmates”. The deck was stacked against The Walking Dead‘s core strengths, and they pull off a excellent episode that succinctly caught us up with everyone without seeming rote or boring.
We start off with Daryl and Beth, as narrated by outdated entries from Beth’s diary. The opening was poignant and minimal, and turns into a argument about having faith and hope in the midst of horrific circumstances.
Now I’ve never really cared one way or another for Beth. She always seemed like a glorified extra to me, but her scenes in this episode really worked for me, not the least because of the actress herself. The young woman playing Beth has such huge, expressive eyes, it’s very easy to buy into her wonderment, naivety, and horror.
Next, we jumped to Tyreese, who fell in with the two young girls and baby Judith. This section worked well, but it also felt kind of cheap to me. Let me explain. Because Tyreese’s story jumped back in time and intertwined with Daryl and Beth, the show immediately set us up to think that we were watching them coming to doom, and then kept teasing us with it the whole way. It’s a sort of ready-made tension that the writers really didn’t have to work very hard for, and that I hope the show doesn’t re-use too often.
That said, the part with the girls trying to keep Judith quiet, and almost suffocating her in the process. It was sickening to watch, but just the sort of horrifying thing that could happen in the midst of panic. We also reunite with Carol, which should be interesting considering what Tyreese doesn’t know about her.
After that we got to one half of The Walking Dead‘s core love story: Maggie, who is drags along a Sasha and Bob in her quest to find Glenn, who she assumes is on the prison bus (he isn’t). This plays out more or less as expected, with the bus full of zombies and Maggie having to ensure that Glenn isn’t one of them. We get some nice back and forth between Sasha and Bob about the nature of hope, which nicely builds on Beth’s journal entries from earlier in the episode. I wish this had been built out a little more, but perhaps it’ll become a theme for the second half of the season, which could be cool.
Finally we get to Glenn, who was left behind at the prison. He scrounges up some supplies and teams up with Tara, who is deeply remorseful for her role in the Governor’s attack on the prison. They take on a group of zeds, but Glenn is all but overcome thanks to his weakness following the viral outbreak that went through the prison just prior to the attack.
Oh, and then we get a huge surprise in the final shot, which dovetails back into the comic’s story. That should be an interesting development.
All in all, it was a solid effort at putting all the pieces on the chessboard for the remainder of the season. I like how we’ve boiled down the cast to only a small number of survivors, and it’s fascinating to see how the toll of stress and loss has changed them all. The Walking Dead has come a long way since ‘Vatos” and getting stuck on Hershell’s farm.
Sorry for getting this posted a little later than normal. I had a morning meeting.
*SPOILER READ AT YOUR OWN CAUTION* When Tara screamed at the camera “hope you liked the show, assholes” and then Sgt. Ford just appeared out of nowhere it took me sometime to realize what Tara did, because TWD isn’t really a show where they pull off stuff like this.
Hah, that was pretty awesome.
Another good episode this week, sufficiently covering what happened after the big event at the prison. Its looking like they’ll be moving the cast into a new Woodbury, which I like the idea of. Will be nice to see how the group does in a realm of normality instead of a dreary prison setting.
HOWEVER! There are problems, this weeks issues include:
1) Opening and closing the door on the bus. Apparently this is a task that gets difficult very quickly. Especially when 3 zombies fall out at once, followed by a nice long gap before any more could follow. Seriously, my Gran could have done a better job!
2) Glenn walking into the darkness, and closing the only source of daylight before turning the lamp on. In fact, why close the door at all a zombie isn’t going to get up that high to follow you in!
3) Zombies have suddenly become secret ninjas, operating in absolute silence as they sneak up behind you. No noise as they shuffle and groan. I’m guessing that’s the case as long time ZA survivors seem to have forgotten the old “look behind you” trick.
4) A guy who’s been bitten and is dying in front of you kindly gives you (a total stranger) instructions on how to get to a safe haven. Said guy will no doubt turn into a zombie very soon, so rather than offering to put him out of his misery (therefore preventing a possible zombie attack down the line) you decide to just walk off down the train track! WTF?!?!
On a plus side, and as a comic fan, it was good to see how they are bringing the show and comic back together with the introduction of the new characters at the end of the episode 🙂
Another good episode, I had hoped it would focus on just a couple of people like last weeks but the way they did was very well done.
When they cut to Tyresse and the girls my first thoughts were “No don’t let them be the ones scoffed at the railroad tracks” thankfully it wasn’t to be.
I’m in full agreement with Mark about leaving the freshly bitten dude to die and then turn, instead of putting him down. WTF indeed!
Sundays 23rd walking dead:
First off this is to offend those that strictly follow the show & not the books. Your depriving yourselves, be shamed!
2nd a nod to Negan whose only trace of being apart of the bad pack. Only a trait: bouncing a tennis ball around…might as well give him a French poodle.
3rd a role reversal for the “tank” Abraham & scientist flunky. Only good line out of the group interacting “”trust me, I’m smarter than you””
4th how long will the camper of inactivity hang around? <– get her bit already!
Sorry but the story is lacking the cast iron that got the comic turned into a phenominium (sp), if it is because of tv censors… Smash the raters face in & get the grittier rating. If it is for the stories sake… You Funked up ALREADY! Back to the rails, Quickly, then develop characters as taste for extra episodes!
Sorry to post like that, but the show is honestly making me cry.