The Walking Dead – Inmates
by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)
Like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead is adapted from previous source material. This review is not meant to compare similarities and differences between the show and comic. It’s meant to be read purely as a take on the episode as it stands.
That being said, SPOILERS AHEAD.
“You should write down wishes to make them come true.”
Daryl. It’s rare that you see him running for his life from walkers, but that’s exactly the situation he finds himself in with Beth, Hershel’s daughter. The two of them are franticly scrambling through the forest and walkers, exhausted and seeking refuge. Hearing Beth read a letter she wrote as a spoken overlay on top of the action was actually very powerful; underscoring the chaos the group is thrust into. Beth’s useful optimism is a great contrast to Daryl’s stark realism, even going so far as to give him something to channel his emotions into. Daryl is pretty much resigned to things being chaos for the immediate future, so it was nice to see Beth being so persistent. She volunteered to track even if Daryl wouldn’t, despite Daryl being superior in that area.
It only makes sense that Tyreese would end up with the girls and Judith. The girls are pining for Carol, who took it upon herself to teach them protection and how to handle firearms. Carol is also the one who took Tyreese’s love away from him because of the impending infection, prompting her expulsion from the camp. It was inevitable that Tyreese would come across Carol. Eventually, Carol will think Tyreese knows and the truth will come out, likely leading to some sort of open conflict between the two of them. Presently though, Tyreese is forced to contend with two girls and a baby. Judith adds an insane level of complexity to survival out in the wild. Thankfully, Tyreese is smart enough to know how to survive and even imparts some wisdom upon the girls to improve their odds of survival. Tyreese represents a cautious optimism, with the girls quickly jaded by what’s happened all around them. Speaking of the two girls though, Mika is definitely the more compassionate of the two. Lizzie has something dark within her, going into a trance as she covered Judith’s mouth to prevent her from screaming anymore. The trance clearly indicated something much more evil and likely points to her as the person doing murderous things with rats at the prison.
Maggie, Sasha and Bob are dealing with their version of survival. Bob is handling a gunshot wound while Maggie is feeling resolute in finding Glenn. Bob is all for joining Maggie, while Sasha is a little more pessimistic and doesn’t see the point in searching for Glenn, presumed dead. While the trio didn’t find him, it did give Maggie a chance to let some emotion free, moving from fear that Glenn was among the walkers and the bus to sheer joy that he was, in fact, alive. Alive may be an optimistic way of putting it though; throwing a somewhat recovered Glenn into the madness of the prison with little bearings at all. He stumbles upon a reluctant-to-be-alive Tara, shell-shocked from the Governor’s rampage and on teetering on the brink of suicide. She feels obligated to help Glenn because she feels partially responsible for the current situation.
On a sidenote, a facet of the show that really doesn’t get much attention is the role that weather plays in life. Atlanta is hot more often than not and seeing the characters suffer loneliness that’s only exacerbated by the excessive heat adds an additional layer of emotion to their stories. These characters are mentally and physically exhausted, not sure when they’ll be able to eat or sleep next. The elements as yet another enemy they’re forced to contend with only up the stakes even further. It’s one thing to fight for your life on a daily basis; it’s another thing to do it under miserable conditions.
The madness at the prison was effective from a storytelling perspective in that it shattered the idyllic unity the group thrived on to this point. When things are running smoothly, things aren’t very interesting. Offering up unique groupings such as Daryl and Beth, Maggie/Sasha/Bob and Glen/Tara makes for pretty compelling viewing and give the characters a chance to express themselves in a different light. From a world-building perspective, “Inmates” was extraordinarily powerful in offering up all the characters in their most base, instinctive thought processes. It played out like a story where the main character wakes up in a chaotic world with little recollection or realization as to what’s going on. You know, a lot like how The Walking Dead actually started with Rick.
In a sense, “Inmates” reset the show. It broke up all the main characters and put them in situations that could be considered uncomfortable to some extent. Sure, there’s some familiarity among them, but Carl, Rick and Michonne is the only group that actually has any established chemistry. All the characters are given some glimmer of hope and something to work towards. For some, it was the hope of another settlement; for others, it was just knowing others were alive. The season is finishing up in a way that hopefully gets the characters back together in some meaningful way, ensuring that there will be plenty of new obstacles for them to deal with along the way. “Inmates” was a great episode in terms of building up the characters and presenting sides to them we’ve yet to fully comprehend. A powerful episode all around.
Rating: 5 out of 5