The Walking Dead – Internment
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.
“A sad soul can kill quicker than a germ.”
The saying goes “when it rains, it pours.” It’s safe to say that the prison is currently under a deluge of torrential bad luck, as the sickness continues to ravage a good chunk of its residents. Hershel’s inventiveness and reliance on old methods in treating them is offset by only the rising death toll. Taking things back to a pre-technological state when it comes to medicine further emphasizes the desperation to ease the burden on everyone involved. Hershel is pretty stubborn when it comes to keeping tabs on all the patients, offering up a rather endearing (and almost foolish) insistence that everyone sick will survive.
The episode also lived up to its title in a poetic way, as all the sick were being held almost as prisoners. The thing about sickness is that it requires a certain amount of willingness to quarantine, which in this case means making some of the survivors in the prison prisoners. The problem with confining everyone in close quarters is that the chances of dominos to fall in a bad way are greatly increased, as evidenced when Hershel was making his rounds. It was only a matter of time before the cell-block massacre was recreated on a smaller scale, as people succumbed to the illness and came back as Walkers. It’s a situation that happened in internment camps throughout history, as the somewhat squalid conditions almost encouraged the outbreak to spread much faster than it would have otherwise. Obviously, the conditions here aren’t intentionally deprived, but they still lend themselves to things getting worse.
There’s also the whole zombie thing going on outside the gates, further compounding the problems. So far this season, there have been multiple references to the growing zombie herds massing around the perimeter fences. Previously, the survivors were fairly well equipped to keep the fences clean and the Walkers out, but with all the events so far, the able-bodied fence-pokers are dwindling. As such, there’s a problem growing much faster than anyone previously anticipated, with a rather large herd congregating at a particular point in the fence. Pairing Rick with Maggie to fix the fences was pretty refreshing, as they haven’t really had that much time working together at all really.
Rick/Maggie is sort of a nod to an earlier pairing of Hershel and Carl. Both Rick and Hershel are parents and they’re working with another’s child for very important tasks to preserve the sanctity of the prison. It also set the stage for a pretty awesome parallel in the episode. Maggie fought relentlessly to get into the cell-block and help both her father and Glenn, with her fierce resolve on display when her loved ones were in danger. She exhausted every means necessary to get in, even showing off her refined ability to fire a gun with deathly precision when the situation called for it. Her and Hershel relied on their relationship as father and daughter to weather the storm, bringing peace inside the walls.
Outside the walls, Rick enlisted the help of an always-hungry Carl to get the fences reinforced. Turns out though, that even though they got some supports in place it still wasn’t enough and the fences fell. Carl showed Rick he was more than ready to help as well—even in dangerous situations—effortlessly handling the assault rifle. There’s that moment for parents when they see their child exceed their expectations of them and when he was standing beside him shooting, Carl grew up before Rick’s eyes. The father-son duo handled the zombie herd with a cool efficiency, working in tandem that drew on their father-son relationship to offer some intuitiveness in their tactics. It was also pretty harrowing and awesome on Rick’s part as he charged through Walkers to make sure Carl stayed safe, knocking a few down en route.
To the show’s credit, the medicine crew got back with the meds and ended that storyline in the process. There was a sense that the storyline could drag along much like the Sophia storyline in the second season, but the illness has a cure and things look like they might improve on that front. Hershel made it through physically unscathed, but his faith may have taken a hit. His faith might get even more battered, as the end of the episode prepared viewers for what will be the real meat of the season. It’s an old friend who departed last season on less than favorable terms for his situation. That’s right, the Governor is watching the prison and he’s brooding in silent anger.
It was inevitable that the Governor would make a return. The big question was (and will be) around his motivation and expectations. He was rather soundly defeated by a combination of the survivors’ grit and his own hubris, the latter of which cost him everything he worked so hard to establish. He appears to be a one-man army at this point, likely seeking revenge among other things. He had an almost perfect scenario in the world they lived in, yet he wagered it all on his ability to be the top dog against Rick. In hindsight, it wasn’t the best call, but it still won’t deter him any less from trying to finish what he started. It’s interesting how Michonne lost his trail, considering he’s been camping nearby it would seem. Hopefully that will be explained a bit more down the road.
For an episode that wrapped up one storyline and opened another, “Internment” was a ridiculous look at what happens when everything bad happens. The episode was the best of the season so far and quite possibly one of the best in the series. The stretch run of all hell breaking lose and two parents working with their kids to keep the calm was very powerful and suggested that even though the world is falling apart, there are still some things that don’t change. There’s a dedicated, human component of perseverance that never fails to leave humanity, even if humanity leaves most of those around it. And the looming specter who is the Governor was finally given a physical manifestation, offering the survivors little cause to relax.