Back by popular demand, Ms. Hillary Bauer will once again be offering Episode-by-Episode reviews and recaps for TV’s most beloved Zombie Apocalypse Thriller: The Walking Dead. So hold on to your butts folks, there are walkers abound!
Here’s Review #10:
There are two types of episodes on The Walking Dead: quiet and contemplative or frantic and confusing. Last week fell into the former with only a few characters working through their feelings, while this week’s episode fell firmly in the latter. Basically “Inmates” boiled down to the entire cast running around in the woods yelling like angsty teenagers. There were a couple of exciting surprises though! And I mean “fun” exciting, not just “someone’s gonna die now” exciting. (Although there’s plenty of the killing type too.) So let’s go get the band back together!
Actually, the band is staying pretty aggressively not back together. We didn’t even get through the “Previously on” before everyone in my viewing party had to pause and try to remember what the hell happened during the prison raid. Who ended up with whom? Who got shot and where? Who shot them? Eh, obviously I spend a lot of time thinking about and picking apart The Walking Dead, but nobody can claim that this show doesn’t get a little too convoluted sometimes. Better to just start the episode and see what happens…
The actual episode opens with a very optimistic, and very wrong, voice over monologue from Beth. Flashback Beth’s optimism about the prison being their forever home is a stark contrast to the visual of her and Daryl running through the woods fending off a decent sized pack of zombies. (There should be a specific word for a group of zombies. It’s too bad that a “murder of crows” already exists.) This pairing is really strange. Have Beth and Daryl spoken to each other more than once? Are we sure they know each other’s names? In any case, Beth just won the lottery because it is immediately apparent that if Beth didn’t escape with the strongest fighter in the prison, she would be lunch meat twenty yards from the front gate right now.
Beth apparently doesn’t realize just how lucky she is. Later that night, the odd couple are sitting by a fire and Beth is antagonizing him about not wanting to run into the Forbidden Forrest in the middle of the night for other survivors. To be fair, Daryl’s angsty silence is even annoying me and he’s my tv husband. Beth storms off into the woods and Daryl sits for a second before reluctantly following his brat companion at the same leisurely pace I use when I have to go to the dentist.
The next morning, Daryl finds fresh looking human footprints (I guess “walkerprints” are more draggy and drunk looking). Beth is hopeful that they might belong to Luke or Molly which means they’re alive. Oh honey, we don’t know who those people are so they are definitely not alive anymore. Then, finally, Daryl opens his mouth and we hear from someone other than Beth. For real though, I think she’s had more lines in this episode than in the cumulative series leading up to it.
Daryl’s first words aren’t particularly cheery ones though. He drop the truth bomb that the footprints only mean that they were alive four or five hours ago. Obviously, Daryl is being pessimistic about these particular people, but it’s actually pretty depressing in a general sense too. They live in a world where your life expectancy can boil down to four hours. If I only had four more hours, the rest of my life would this recap and leftover pizza. Now I made myself sad.
(Keep in mind for later: as they walk away at the end of the scene, pay attention to the log with in the foreground. It’s not just the close up nature porn that The Walking Dead loves so much.)
As they follow the tracks, Daryl and Beth continue to be polar opposites but equally annoying in their own ways. Beth’s blind can-do attitude irks Daryl causing him to tread into “too mean” territory when he makes a jab about faith not saving her father. So far, it feels like losing all of the people that brought him out of his shell has undone all of Daryl’s character development and now we’re stuck with the Season 1 version of my hero. It might be my imagination, but I’m pretty sure they’re even showing his angel wing leather vest more.
The odd couple comes to the tree line and finds some railroad tracks where a couple of walkers are having a feast fit for a decaying king. It’s not looking good for anyone on Team Faith. Daryl takes out the walkers who have seriously obliterated these bodies. That is the most completely I can ever remember seeing a zombie eat someone before getting distracted by something shiny and alive and abandoning the fresh meat that they already have. I’m curious if this is intentional. The competition for food must be getting pretty low as the supply goes down and the demand goes up. Even if the zombies only have an animalistic level of reasoning, they would still know not to leave food on the table if they’re not sure where their next meal is coming from.
Sidenote: I really appreciate that they showed Daryl actually retrieve an arrow. How many arrows did he bring to the apocalypse?!
The next group we check in on is Tyreese and three young girls wandering around in the woods. It sounds creepy but it’s not. Tyreese’s day care includes Lizzie, Mika, and, drum roll please… Lil’ Ass Kicker! Duh, they weren’t going to kill the baby. They have two and a half seasons invested in that little thought experiment of joy and there is still way too much that they haven’t explored about having a toddler in Zombieland. Plus, what would we assume that Beth is doing off screen when they finally get reunited? Hopefully they find each other soon, because Tyreese is holding that baby like a bag of groceries. Lizzie keeps the conversation light and casually asks if everyone else is dead. Tyreese doesn’t answer, but makes a face like he wishes he was.
The day care sets up camp for the night and Lizzie is sitting on a log looking at some adorable bunnies. Wait, what’s she…is she taking out a knife? What the hell, Lizzie?! She’s just casually slicing the adorable log bunnies and she’s enjoying it. If Criminal Minds has taught me nothing else, cruelty to animals is totally part of the Homicidal Triad. Plus, we know that she can light a camp fire so if Lizzie starts wetting the bed, then I’m gonna go ahead and call serial killer. I said from the very beginning that she was off. Also, I’m going to go on record as predicting that the mysteriously dropped plot line of the dead rats at the fence was actually Lizzie. Now she’s just graduated from gross animals to adorable ones. Let’s hope nobody picks up a pet dog along the way…
The terrifying bunny incident does serve a plot purpose though. Remember when I said to take note of the log that Daryl and Beth walked by? Well, that little bit of white sticking out of it was Lizzie’s dead bunnies. So now we know that the tracks that Daryl and Beth are following actually belong to Tyreese and the day care. It seems like kind of a confusing choice to put Daryl and Beth’s adventures in hiking ahead of Tyreese’s group in the episode. Except of course to give something for over-analytical nerds to find when they re-watch the episode to write their blogs. Whatever, I found it and I’m proud.
Lil’ Ass Kicker moves along the plot in pretty much the only way a baby can and starts crying. This, of course, brings on the walkers and forces the day care to move on. They walk along and find some grapes, when Tyreese realizes that Lil’ Ass Kicker has kicked something out her ass and needs a new diaper (yup, poo joke). They hear movement in the woods but it turns out to be just some crows moving around. Even though it’s a false alarm, Mika is apparently more afraid of birds than zombies and takes off into the woods by herself. They specifically show Mika hurting Tyreese’s arm which is making me a little bit nervous. That scrape is getting an awful lot of attention.
Tyreese and Lizzie catch up to Mika who is actually pretty adorable. Mika is as close as you can get to what it would look like if a child from our universe was plopped into Zombieland. Even though she’s lived there as long as everyone else, she’s been sheltered. Mika is old enough to remember the world before walkers so when she is confronted with real life monsters, she reacts the same way a real life child would react to the Boogie Man; she freezes up. Except, when you hide under the sheets from a creak in the closet, you don’t get eaten.
Mika and Tyreese make up, but the moment is interrupted by screaming in the background. Tyreese sets the girls up to that he can leave them in relative safety while he goes to see if he can help. He hands Mika a gun and leaves her almost in tears. Then Lizzie gives Mika the same advice Carol gave her at one point about tucking her shirt behind her knife so she could reach it easier. No! Lizzie is trying to screw up Mika as badly as she is.
As soon as Tyreese is gone, Lil’ Ass Kicker starts up crying again and the girls panic. Then Lizzie has the brilliant idea of smothering a baby. I repeat, Lizzie is currently smothering. a. baby. The worst part is that she is so into it, she’s actually blocks out the rest of the world. She is so oblivious that she doesn’t even hear Mika yelling about the two walkers coming toward them. Mika panics and fires the gun. Clearly she doesn’t get the head shot because, well, she’s eight. Things are not looking great for the day care when we cut away. I knew that they were going to obviously fix it somehow, but I really couldn’t come up with anything at this point.
Tyreese tracks down the screaming that is coming from the same group that Daryl and Beth found earlier, except this time the group is looking decidedly less like hairy strawberry ice cream with toes. The situation still isn’t good though and since we know how it’s going to end up, there’s not much suspense here; just watching people get demolished which is almost as good. Tyreese hears the gun shot, panics, and goes into overkill hammer mode.
But then, he’s stopped by the voice of an angel. Tyreese looks up and sees the three girls aaaaand Carol! I actually involuntarily screamed when they made the reveal. The rest of my viewing party looked at me like I was insane, but I don’t even care. The secret hero of The Walking Dead has returned and all is right in the world. (Except for the zombies and the collapse of society and all that other minutia. Whatever, my girl is back.)
Tyreese stumbles over to give Carol a hug and struggles to find his voice so he can ask the million questions he has. They’re quickly cut off by the loud sobbing of the last guy to get his neck chomped into. Was that his version of the fake cough to get their attention, because he hasn’t been sobbing this whole time. First of all, rude. They’re obviously having a moment. Second of all, this guy’s death is Shakespearean level long. He had an arterial neck wound and he’s not only still sitting up, he has a good length conversation with Carol in a very strong voice.
He tells the group to stay on the tracks and they’ll take them to a kid friendly Mecca. They trust his dying words and leave him there to die a slow painful death alone which seems a little harsh. Another throw back to Daryl and Beth who eventually run into this guy after he turns and he puts up a hell of a fight before Beth stabs him in the head. Turns out the whole ordeal could have been avoided if Carol and Tyreese had stuck around to take care of him.
Tyreese asks how Carol got out and she tells him that she hadn’t gotten back until the very end of the show. The timeline of the first half of the season was so wonky, I had to think about the fact that Tyreese got back pretty much immediately before the attack so he wouldn’t have known that Rick was telling people that Carol was gone permanently. Good for Carol though that she decided to blow off Rick and was headed back to the prison despite his unilateral banishment of her. They find a map with the promised sanctuary marked on it. I know they don’t have a lot of options at this point, but this seems fishy. Plus, even if it all it’s cracked up to be, our crew has a knack for imploding safe havens.
I wasn’t kidding when I said that a friggin lot of stuff happens in this episode, because now we move on to our third group of weary travelers. Somebody please explain to me why Carl the terrible got almost an entire episode while the rest of the cast gets jammed into one hour. Whatever, writers. Maggie, Sasha, and PTSD Bob are in what actually looks like the best shape which is saying something since they’re the only team with someone who got shot. Regardless, they’ve found fresh water and are the only group that doesn’t have a kid weighing them down. PTSD Bob’s wound doesn’t look too serious though and he gets the added bonus of flirting more with Sasha. Ironically, PTSD Bob is the only person smiling in the whole episode. Given, he’s the only character who wasn’t separated from a loved one, but I think I’m ready to give him a clean bill of health and just call him Bob. Congratulations, Bob!
Sasha agrees with me that these are some primo digs and wants to camp out for the night, but Maggie is on a mission of love and wants to leave immediately to find the bus and Glenn. Maggie takes off so smilin’ Bob and frowny Sasha have no choice but to follow so that they don’t split up. They find the bus impressively quickly, but unfortunately it’s because it’s stopped in the middle of the road full of zombies. Did literally nobody get off the bus? There are bullet holes all over the bus from the prison raid so presumably people were injured, died, and came back. I still feel like if I was stuck in a tin can with people turning into zombies, I would be working my way to the front of the bus.
Maggie needs to know if Glenn is inside so they decide to do check the “smart” way and let them out one at a time. The plan works really well. For approximately 90 seconds. As if it wasn’t going to happen, the walkers band together to bust through the door and a zombie slaughter ensues. Maggie apparently caught Bob’s PTSD because she freezes up and we get the wobbly camera and high pitched tone that PTSD episodes always look like on tv. She snaps out of it in time to go into overkill mode on one walker to the point that I kind of feel bad for it. Maggie grabs the walker by the ponytail and unnecessarily slams its head against the side of the bus before stabbing it anyway. Maggie realizes that she kind of crossed the line there and apologizes to ponytail zombie so it’s all good.
Now that the bus is mostly empty except for some bloody rags and entrails, Maggie hops on to see if there’s any sign of Glenn there. She finds one zombie that missed the party outside and stabs him before starting to sob uncontrollably. Obviously this is a fake out since we only see the back of the walker and he has the same hair and build as Glenn. It’s a little kitschy for my taste but then again, this is a zombie show.
So, if the blackboard that I have devoted to keeping track of this episode is correct, that only leaves one inmate and one camper to check in on. Phew! Poor battered Glenn wakes up alone and suspended on some sort of plank above a sea of walkers. How did he get there and why is he unconscious? I guess we’re just not talking about it.
Apparently this is Glenn’s first day in Zombieland, because he makes rookie mistake after rookie mistake. How much ammo does he have? Who cares? Go into the dark hallway before you light the lamp? Super! And then when he miraculously does make it make to the honeymoon suite, the first thing he does is lay down for a quick nap. You’re better than this, Glenn. He sees a picture of Maggie and rallies to set out on his own mission of love. Aw, those poor star crossed lovers!
The one upside to being ditched at the prison, Glenn does get to gather supplies and suit up in some riot gear which makes him look incredibly tough. He barges into the prison yard and the zombie swarm descends. Glenn sees sad little Tara curled up in a tiny little box and starts to take off, but then he remembers that he has a heart of gold and goes back to help her. He takes her gun and realizes that she didn’t fire a single shot in the raid. Glenn invites her along, but Tara feels too guilty to try and save herself. I really appreciate that Tara’s first reason for being a sad sack is that she feels guilty about the attack and not that she lost her girlfriend. Her show of remorse and the fact that she chooses to go with Glenn rather than just give up makes me hopeful that Tara might have some good layers to explore.
Glenn makes a molotov cocktail and all I can think is, “But, why is the rum gone?” After re-arming Tara, Glenn explodes a car which draws away most of the walkers. Apparently zombies like fire and we’ve just never discussed it before. They make it to the highway pretty uneventfully and finally slow down to have the awkward “so our people slaughtered each other” conversation.
Tara confirms that her sister is dead and then accidentally breaks the news to Glenn that his father-in-law is dead. Glenn tells Tara that even though he doesn’t want her help, he needs it. They seal the deal by bonding over some walker killing. Tara holds her own especially when Glenn, still sick from the zombie death flu, collapses. Just as Tara is working out some of her anger issues, we get the obligatory cliffhanger of the week. Surprise! Ginger G.I. Joe pulls up with his two cartoon character military buddies and we have to wait a whole week to see whether they’re new friends or new foes.
Until then, my friends!