Tonight’s Episode number 410 of The Walking Dead is called “Inmates,” but it might just as well have been titled “Scattered.” It follows the plight of four of our groups of survivors, thrown to the four winds by the events of the Mid-Season Finale. There are surprises aplenty, and new characters to meet, so let’s get started after the break.
<<Spoiler Alert: The following review will discuss at length plot points of The Walking Dead S04E10, “Inmates.” Read more at your own risk.>>
First off, I just have to say – Carol’s back! And not only is she back, but she’s grouped up with Tyreese, who still doesn’t know that she killed Karen and David back at the beginning of the flu outbreak. This is just great writing, and should have been obvious from the moment we saw Tyreese get separated from everyone who knows the truth, Samuels girls in-tow. In addition, we get baby Judith still alive. This isn’t quite on par with Carol’s return, but it is still a nice hopeful sign – for the most part (which we’ll get to soon). One of the Governor’s group has survived as well – Tara, Lily’s sister. She’s got her heart in the right place, and may actually be able to fit in with the group eventually, despite their bad start. And at the end of the episode, we get to meet three new people: Abraham, Rosita, and Eugene. Again, more on them later. For now, let’s take a look at a scene-by-scene breakdown, and figure out what we learned, and where things might be going.
We begin with Beth doing a voiceover, speaking apparently to her journal or diary, as she and Daryl make their way through a forest, fighting off walkers, and running when they’re almost overwhelmed. Her conversation with “Dear Diary” is pure optimism, speaking of how she’d almost lost hope, but that life at the prison was giving it back to her. This is in stark contrast to their bleak situation: they’re both exhausted, running and barely surviving. They collapse in a heap in a small clearing, apparently safe for the moment. We cut to night, and see the scene shown to us in the Sneak Peek video (see my synopsis and breakdown here). Once Beth gets fed-up with Daryl’s reluctance to engage, she gets up and starts heading off, intending to track down any other survivors from the prison. Daryl shakes his head, but gets up, kicks some dirt on the fire, and follows her. Daytime finds them walking along a light trail, following footprints. Daryl spots spoor, and we see an interesting dichotomy opening up: Beth says this means they are alive, but Daryl counters, “Yeah. Four or five hours ago.” This pattern repeats several times as they continue to follow the path – he finds human blood, she feels that means they’ve fought off an attack; he finds crushed grapes, she interprets this as meaning they’ll be hungry when they find them; this tit-for-tat optimism versus pessimism makes for their entire conversation. To be fair, considering all of the events that have just happened, I don’t think of Daryl’s voice here as being so much pessimistic, as it is simply realistic. The prison was destroyed by The Governor and his people, and bullets were flying everywhere. They got separated from everyone else, and have no idea who might be alive, nor where they would be. Of course life is hard in the zombie apocalypse. In the first part of their search, the camera lowers to ground level as the two pass by, focusing in on a fallen tree and a rotted hollow – inside there’s something gray, fluffy, and unmoving; this will become very important later. When they’re in the area with the wild grapes, Beth implores Daryl to have faith, but he replies, “Faith ain’t done shit for us,” and then steps over a line when he says it didn’t save Hershel, either. Beth doesn’t reply, but withdraws, picking grapes with her back turned to him and barely keeping things together. They go further, and find a couple of dead walkers on the ground. This is where Daryl finds the blood. As they are checking the area, another walker comes out of the bushes and grabs Beth, who manages to hold its mouth off her arm as Daryl tries to get a bead on it with his crossbow. Unable to, he grabs the walker and throws it to the ground, pinning it until Beth can stab it in the head. Despite their different attitudes to their search, they do work well together. Even Beth seems handy with a knife at this point in the game. They follow the trail until they find some railroad tracks, and see a group of walkers eating something. They approach, and quickly dispatch the distracted zombies. On the ground is a barely recognizable human skeleton, and a single child’s shoe. Beth begins to cry, great heaving sobs, as she believes that their search has been futile – here, as far as she can tell, is the person they were following, and the evidence is clear that they had a small child with them as well – Judith, perhaps? We cut to that night, where we see Beth tearing out her journal pages in a great handful, and feeding them to the fire.
We now turn to the Samuels sisters, Lizzie and Mika. Mika is crying, and Lizzie tells her to stop. “I want Carol,” Mika responds. Lizzie gives her a knife, and then turns to an unseen third person to mention that the sun will be going down soon. The camera shifts, and we see Tyreese’s tense back. He stops and turns – he’s got Judith in his arms, which is a welcome surprise both for readers of the comic (Judith is clearly dead there, something which happens during The Governor’s attack), and for fans who have been discussing her fate over the mid-winter break with bated breath. They sit and rest as Tyreese bandages a cut on his arm. Mika is beside him, and Lizzie’s sitting nearby on a fallen tree. She looks down, seeing a couple of rabbit kits snuggled in a gap in the wood. She quietly takes her knife out, and we see her doing something with her hands as her face and eyebrows twitch. Tyreese doesn’t notice, as he’s rather preoccupied with his injury. But this, combined with the unmoving balls of fluff we saw earlier as Daryl and Beth came through this area (which is chronologically later, although that scene precedes this one), show clearly that Lizzie kills both of the bunnies. This is a highly disturbing event, and now clarifies a few things from earlier in the season. I’m now absolutely certain that it was Lizzie that vivisected the rat Tyreese found pinned to the board inside the prison (the discovery of which, ironically, prevented Rick from revealing Carol’s culpability in the deaths of Karen and David to Tyreese, thus setting up their successful reunion a little bit later); in addition, I am about 95% sure that it was her that was feeding rats to the walkers through the fence. The only reason I’m not 100% certain is that the act of feeding them seems almost altruistic, and Lizzie is clearly a sociopath at this point. The fact that she has been broken by the tragic circumstances of her upbringing does not mitigate that she has now become perhaps the most dangerous person within shouting distance of the group. The Governor was crazy, but he was crazy with purpose. Lizzie – she just enjoys watching things suffer. As she is enjoying her work with the rabbits, Judith begins to cry, and Mika puts her hand on Tyreese’s arm to ask him to calm the baby, touching him right on his open wound and causing him to yell at her. She cringes and pulls away, as Lizzie brings a bottle of formula over to Tyreese, quieting the baby. Further on, they come across some wild grapes (the ones we saw earlier/later with Daryl and Beth), and Judith begins crying again. Tyreese asks for a diaper, and quickly changes her, but with a finicky baby and being out in the open (not to mention with a sociopath in the cohort), Tyreese’s situation is stark indeed. He hands Judith to Lizzie, and tells the girls to watch her. He approaches a bush, hearing noise from within, when a small murder of crows bursts forth, startling Mika who begins to run headlong into the woods. They catch up with her, Lizzie berating Tyreese for yelling at Mika, but Mika apologizes for hurting him. Just then they hear screams from nearby, clearly human. Tyreese places the girls back to back, handing a gun to Mika, and telling them he has to go help, despite Lizzie’s admonitions to the contrary. Tyreese comes into a clear area, a line of railroad tracks (again, the ones we saw earlier/later), and beside them two men fighting off a small group of walkers. Back with the girls, Judith is crying again, and Mika begins to panic, asking Lizzie to stop the baby from crying. Lizzie puts her hand over Judith’s mouth, and then moves her hand up a bit and begins to smother the baby. Tyreese, meanwhile, enters the fray, hammer swinging into one squishy skull after another. Both of the other men go down, one bitten on the arm, the other on the shoulder before Tyreese can take his attacker down. In the woods, two walkers are approaching the girls from Mika’s direction, and she tells Lizzie they need to move – but Lizzie is completely unaware, staring at Judith as her muffled cries become fainter and fainter, all other sounds tuning out into a dull blur as she comes closer to taking the baby’s life. Mika fires her gun at the walkers, who are now about five feet away, but she fails to connect. We cut back to Tyreese, who hears the gunshot, but is still fighting. As he finishes the last walker, he hears his name from behind – it’s Carol, and she has the girls with her, carrying a now calm Judith. She looks fearfully at Tyreese – she has no way of knowing what he knows yet – and she looks both surprised and relieved when he hugs her. She tells him a half-truth about running for supplies, and staying behind after Rick went back to the prison. She returned just in time to see the end of the battle, and Tyreese heading into the woods with the girls. She’s been following them since. The dying man also tells them to stay on the tracks, that there’s a safe haven further on up. They decide to follow his advice for the moment, coming to a rail bridge with a hand printed sign attached to it. It says, “Sanctuary for all Community for all Those who arrive survive” and beneath that, a map with a circle saying, “Terminus.” An interesting name. It means “end” in Latin, but it is also a technical term used for trains and subways indicating the final stop on a line. It could be innocuous, a commentary on the physical location of this settlement; or, it could have a much darker meaning, a euphemism for what they might be walking into. After all, remember the last well-run and successful community the survivors found? I’ll give you a hint: it was called Woodbury.
Next we see Maggie’s story. She’s accompanied by Tyreese’s sister Sasha and Bob Stookey, but this act of the show is entirely motivated by Maggie’s desire to search for Glenn. Bob is all flirty with Sasha, which I found to be a little inappropriate even though she tells him it’s okay to smile, as they’re still alive. Maggie is distracted, sharpening her knife against a large rock on a river’s edge. She tells them she’s going to leave them here, as it’s defensible, and she is going to go find Glenn. Sasha tells her they can’t separate, and when Maggie goes, Bob and Sasha follow. They make their way to the road that runs away from the prison – this is the road we saw first Carl and Rick, and later Michonne, walking along last week. They pass the “Hitchhikers” sign and go around a further corner, spying the bus sitting on the road, silent. Maggie goes up to it, and she sees a couple of walkers pressed up against the windows, trying to get to her. She tells them to get back, she’s going to open the rear Emergency Exit – she needs to know if Glenn is inside. Sasha and Bob convince her that she needs their help, and they determine to try to let out one at a time. This works for the first three – none of whom are Glenn – but the fourth time they open the door, the rest push through, nearly overwhelming them. Maggie is so overwrought with her emotions, having lost her father and not knowing the fates of her sister or her husband, that she is at first unable to fight back. Bob saves her by shooting a walker that’s about to bite her, and she snaps out of her fugue in time to help finish off the last couple, grabbing the final one by the hair and slamming its face into the side of the bus until its entire head caves in. Maggie steps up inside – Sasha tries to tell her she shouldn’t, but she isn’t listening. She moves forward past bench seats covered in blood and ichor, seeing a few bodies on the floor. Near the front is one walker, trapped beneath other bodies but still trying to pull itself free. From above, seeing only the back of its head, it looks a hell of a lot like Glenn, right down to the long greasy hair and general body type. Maggie has a gleam of panic in her eyes, but climbs up and around, opening the bus’s door and hauling the body pinning the walker out of the way. It stands up and lunges for her, and she stabs it in the head. She begins to sob, at first appearing to be destroyed – but then she begins to smile, and half laughs between cries. Glenn wasn’t on the bus.
Finally, we go to Glenn. He comes to, lying on a damaged part of the observation bridge that runs between cell blocks at the prison. Part of the bridge is blown out, and immediately below him a horde of walkers is trying to reach up to him, looking like nothing more than a group of moaning worshipers imploring their god for succor. Glenn, having no interest in sacrifice at this point, shouts “Maggie” several times, and getting no response, goes back inside the prison. He grabs his lantern, and makes his way back to the cell blocks, going to his and Maggie’s room/cell. He gets out his riot gear from beneath the bed, and lies down. Turning to his side, he sees a Polaroid of Maggie. He takes it and clutches it in his hands, clasping them together in supplication (an interesting mirroring of the more pagan worship of the flesh-seekers outside). He cries at first, but a determination steals over him: he isn’t going to lie down and die here. He begins gathering weapons, batteries, lighters, anything useful that he can find, stuffing it all into a large backpack. He goes back to where he saw a half-empty bottle of alcohol earlier – perhaps Bob’s secret stash? – and takes that as well. We cut to the yard, where Glenn comes out of the prison door in full riot gear. He charges into the horde of walkers, trusting in the gear to keep him safe. We get an interesting camera perspective here, as we see things with Glenn-o-vision through is increasingly gummed up (by zombie oozings) visor. He’s completely surrounded, and things look bad – but he’s able to push through, and sprints for the gate. Just as he’s about to get out, he sees something – another survivor, head hanging low, sitting inside a small caged area. It’s Tara, Lily’s sister, and a former member of The Governor’s second army. He quickly kills a couple of walkers that are between them, lets himself into the cage, and efficiently disarms the completely unresponsive woman. He pulls out the magazine, and sees that the gun is fully loaded – she admits that she didn’t fire a single shot. Still, she asks why he’s helping her – “I was a part of this” she says. He tells her he doesn’t want to help her; rather, he needs her to help him. He gives her back her gun, as well as a knife, and then uses the half-empty bottle of alcohol as a Molotov Cocktail, igniting a nearby car in the yard and causing a bunch of walkers to lose interest in them. They run out, taking out a few stray walkers, and make for the main gate. They get to the road, and we once again see the “Hitchhikers” sign. Tara is explaining a bit about why they attacked the prison, about how The Governor had told them that the people there were bad, but that she knows now that they weren’t. She tells him about The Governor beheading “the old man;” this is Glenn’s first knowledge that Hershel is dead. Tara wants to give up – her guilt is weighing too heavily on her – but Glenn insists that he needs her help. Just as they’re speaking, however, a bunch of walkers come out of the woods and attack. Glenn goes into the fray, and although Tara hesitates at first, she enters with a certain gusto herself, saving Glenn as he collapses, either injured or exhausted, but unconscious once again. She goes to check on Glenn, when one final walker surprises her. She knocks it to the ground, and then proceeds to bash its skull in with the butt of her gun. As she does so, we hear the sound of a large diesel vehicle pulling up. She looks at it – it’s an old-style troop transport missing the canvas cover. “Enjoy the show, asshole?” she shouts. Three people get out: a cowering dark haired slightly schlumpy man staring at the ground; a young Hispanic woman; and a beefy blond man with an automatic rifle and Fu Manchu mustache. He’s the obvious leader, and immediately establishes a great presence. “You got a damned mouth on you, you know that?” he says. “What else ya got?” These three are Eugene, Rosita, and Abraham respectively, three new characters that will already be familiar to fans of the comics. They’re going to be a major part of the upcoming storylines, and I have to say as someone who reads the book as well as watches the show: they’re perfectly cast. Eugene’s shuffle step and downward look; Rosita’s aggressive hand-on-hip; and Abraham’s no-nonsense BS detector were all good indicators of who these characters are, and this from a five second glimpse at the very end of the episode.
Interestingly, “Inmates” was very similar to the most recent episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (read my review here) – not in content, but in structure. Both borrow heavily from Rashomon-style multiple narratives, telling stories that overlay each other to a certain extent (Daryl’s tracking of Tyreese and the girls, where we see the blood, the grapes, and the cute little (dead) bunnies; the recurring “Hitchhikers May Be Escaping Inmates” sign; the railroad tracks), although unlike the Japanese classic, it isn’t exactly the same story. It echoes the time-play from episodes 405 through 408, when we skipped from seeing The Governor at the end of 405, to his two episodes of development/regression, and then back to the exact moment of the end of 405 at the end of 407, as he watches Rick and Carl in the prison. This time-play also means that only about a week or so has passed since Rick banished Carol, which, when combined with Tyreese only just returning from the medicine run, and Rick’s cowardice in facing him, further means that it’s sensible that Carol’s actions have yet to be revealed, setting up their rather awkward – yet timely – reunion. And to be fair, it wasn’t entirely Rick’s cowardice, per se, but was the distraction caused by Tyreese’s discovery that a sociopath was living in the prison – a sociopath that he is now unwittingly “protecting” while trying to find safe haven.
The only reunions tonight involved those that either weren’t in the prison when the attack came (Carol), or were part of the attacking group (Tara). Abraham and his group are mobile, and look like they’ve been living well. They should provide Glenn and Tara with some help – if that is in their best interests. I suspect that next week we’ll begin to see the group coalescing again, but where will it be? On the road with Abraham and co? Or down the tracks at a town called Terminus? We got the answer to a few big questions: where’s Carol, did Judith survive, what happened to Glenn when he left the bus, and did anyone from The Governor’s army survive. But some tantalizing new questions have arisen: how long will Carol be able to keep her secret from Tyreese, and how will he react when he does find out? How far is Lizzie the sociopath willing to go (remember, she likely would have killed Judith if Carol hadn’t shown up)? Should she consider changing her last name to Borden? Will Bob and Sasha decide to try their hand at romance, even though love is obviously causing Maggie to stop thinking coherently? What is Abraham’s motivation, and how will his appearance affect the rest of the group? Can Maggie and Beth accept Tara into their group following the death of their father? Loads of questions, and some interesting new directions. Lizzie continues to be the most fascinating character of the season, and I couldn’t be happier that Carol is back. Can she act to mitigate the damage, or somehow find a way to fix the broken Lizzie? The next few episodes should be very interesting, and the story is inevitably going to pick up narrative speed as the survivors physically begin moving through the world again.
Steve’s Grade: B+
A Rashomon style approach, showing four concurrent stories from different perspectives, with some overlap in space but not in time. Much more action than last week, and some great character development (especially for Lizzie), considering each story had just about ten minutes to be told. New characters, a crying baby in the wild, and Carol round out a solid and entertaining episode.