Two promo videos and several photos released by AMC in anticipation of this week’s episode, “Internment,” suggest that after focusing on the two groups outside the prison last week, we’re now going to spend most of our time inside, specifically with Hershel. The illness is still raging, and although it looks pretty clear that Daryl and co. get the medicine back to the prison, will it be in time? More importantly, will it be in time to save Hershel?
Here is the promo video that was first shown during last week’s Talking Dead:
Let’s quickly parse the video:
Scene 1: Rick driving back from banishing Carol. The walker at the side of the road, unable to move, grasping at the passing car – is this symbolic of the feelings Rick is having right now? He’s heading from the proverbial frying pan into the fire, knowing that both Tyreese and Daryl will be angry at him, and that the group will be in danger of fracturing. His clenched teeth shows that he’s steeling himself for a possible confrontation with one or both men, not to mention the rest of the group.
Scene 2: Glenn and Hershel struggling to keep an ill survivor alive. They’re using a handheld respirator, so it looks as though Daryl has returned with the supplies. Glenn: “How long will that keep him alive?” Hershel: “As long as it takes.” Looks like we’ll be getting more of the sturdy “We’ve all got a job to do” Hershel from Episode 403 “Isolation.” He’s become Rick’s conscience over the last season and a half, and here we see him sharing his wisdom with Glenn, not to mention his first aid skills – could this be a passing of the torch to the man his daughter has chosen?
Scene 3: Rick and Maggie are outside behind a pickup moving logs, when they hear a gunshot. Rick: “Go.” Maggie: “You can’t do this alone.” Rick: “I got this.” Wait a second – they hear a gunshot, but both of them feel that whatever they are doing with the logs is more important? My guess: The hoard that nearly killed Daryl and the gang on the road to the veterinary school is either fast approaching the prison, or have already arrived. They’re using the logs to try to shore up the fences (a futile gesture, I suspect – the sheer weight of that many undead is bound to barrel right through anything they can jury-rig), and it needs to be done posthaste, else they’ll be overrun. But why doesn’t the gun shot elicit more panic? It says to me that it is a known factor. This means one of two possibilities (or a third I’ll mention below regarding the sneak peek AMC released a couple of days ago): some of the survivors were close to death, and Rick and Maggie interpret the gunshot as an indication that someone has died and is about to turn; or it is possible that someone may threaten to take the proactive Carol approach to dealing with the ill, and Rick and Maggie fear that this is what’s happening. In either of these cases, the fact that the gunshot is a secondary threat says that those logs are pretty damned important.
Scene 4: We’re inside with the stricken survivors, and they’re all looking sick to their stomachs. Hershel tells them, “Get back in your cells.” Is he the source of the gunshot? Has he taken it upon himself to deal with those about to turn? Or is it possible that Dr. Subramanian has committed suicide (more on this below)?
Scene 5: Maggie runs through the darkened prison hallways, and we hear Rick in voice-over: “When we get past this thing,” as Hershel walks up and sees a pair of booted feet lying outside a cell. We cut to Rick speaking to Hershel, “It’s not going to be like how it was, is it?” He isn’t just talking about the illness here. He’s referring to the choices he made last week, and some choices people are making this week. This is especially relevant if Hershel was the source of the gunshot.
Scene 6: A quick montage of several shots: a pool of blood seeping from a blanket-wrapped body; a quick blur of someone knocking someone else down in the dark (the attacker almost looks like Michonne, but it’s impossible to tell, and the victim looks a heck of a lot like he has a balding gray pate – is someone about to take a bite out of old Hershel?); Daryl looking squinty and like he’s about to cry (I suspect he’s just received some bad news from Rick); Rick firing an automatic weapon at night; Michonne dragging someone, either an injured survivor or a body, by the legs; and then back to Maggie, pounding on the door to the quarantine area, shouting, “Open the door.” We see both day and night sequences, suggesting that we begin in the daytime and move to night for the big climax (Rick’s gunfight with an unseen enemy). The questions it leaves are many: who is attacking Hershel (if it is, indeed, him)? Who is Michonne dragging, and what condition are they in? And who is Rick fighting? Is it someone from inside? Or does the Governor choose this moment to make his all but inevitable attack?
A lot of information packed into 27 seconds. The possible third origin of the gunshot – Dr. Subramanian’s suicide – is hinted at in the longer sneak peek video released by AMC. Here’s the video:
As opposed to the promo’s frenetic pace, this sneak peek is slower and focuses exclusively on Hershel and Dr. Subramanian – and we actually learn the doctor’s first name: Caleb. Unfortunately, it looks as though we’re learning it just in time for him to bite it. He refuses Hershel’s medical attention, telling him to save it for others who are more likely to survive. “Doctors make the worst patients,” says Hershel. “Not everyone gets to live,” replies the doctor. He’s obviously talking about himself in the moment, but really, he’s talking for everyone in the entire show. At this point, we have only four of the original group together and alive (Rick, Daryl, Glenn, and Carl), so the viewers have become somewhat accustomed to the brutality of life post-apocalypse. More importantly, he is telling it to Hershel. Two weeks ago, when he coughed blood all over Hershel’s face, the audience took a collective gasp. Now, we may end up seeing the end result of Hershel’s choice to minister to the sick. Subramanian continues: “End stage…is a point that no one comes back from…or they…or they can’t. That’s where I am.” End stage – it may be a medical term, but it also clearly describes the point the group is arriving at. Have they entered the end stage of the group, as a group? Will Carol’s actions and Rick’s choices afterward mean an end to the group as we know it? And in a practical sense, if Dr. Subramanian has arrived there, how many others that were ill before him are also at this point, or have already died? Subramanian, speaking now as the Spiritus Mundi of the situation the group is facing, says, “If you’re not ready to lose one, you’re gonna lose them all.” After he insists that Hershel triage the remaining survivors, he reveals that he’s brought something into the quarantine because of what happened in Cell Block D: guns. He knows what happens when people die, and he wanted to be prepared. Now, dying himself, he is passing on the responsibility to Hershel. This is why I consider Subramanian suiciding as a possible third source of the gunshot. He’s not only ready to die, he’s resigned to it. If he doesn’t feel that Hershel will make the hard decisions to abandon those too ill, and to save those that can be saved, he might very well choose to end his own life in order to take the choice out of Hershel’s hands.
It looks like there’s going to be a lot packed into this week’s episode. The remaining survivors are all back together at the prison, multiple enemies internal – and possibly external – test the group’s resolve, and Hershel’s days might be numbered. He’s always been a practical man, often being the lone voice of reason in the group – and tomorrow night’s episode may find the survivors needing his voice more than ever before. But what if that voice is silenced?