Monday, February 17, 2014

AMC's The Walking Dead - "Inmates" - TV Review

Spoilers ahead.

So we know Rick, Carl, and Michonne survived the prison showdown but how did everyone else do? Everyone's splintered into groups, which is just fine with me. I hope they don't find each other two quickly. I don't need a "they never see each other again" separation like the Stark kids in Game of Thrones, but it'd be cool if they stretch this out a few episodes.

Group #1 - Daryl and Beth - These are two characters who haven't interacted much, so it's interesting to see how they'll play off each other. Beth's been the younger, slightly more immature sister to Maggie, and now she's with the Coolest Man Left on the Planet, she finds she's the more optimistic one of the duo. She's still reeling from her father's death, but this is a world where everyone is constantly reeling from loved ones' deaths. A narrative choice I really liked about this one is we see them following someone else's tracks and we don't know whose they are or what exactly happened. We see rabbit carcass and smashed grapes but what do they mean? They find some walkers eating the last of some human survivors and Beth has a breakdown. Is Daryl going to harden himself up again, or will he continue to grow as he makes himself Beth's rock.  But then we jump to...

Group #2 - Tyreese, Lizzie, Mika, Judith - We have our answer. Baby Judith is alive, and somehow Tyreese is in charge of all the surviving girls. They are the ones Daryl and Beth are tracking, and we have our mystery confirmation that Lizzie was the one who was mangling the rats at the prison, as she secretly cuts up a rabbit while the others aren't looking. (Dang, that would have been some protein.) There's also a chilling moment when Tyreese runs off to help someone, and Lizzie decides to shush crying Judith by suffocating her. Fortunately some intruding walkers disrupt Lizzie's murder attempt, but no one else noticed that's what she was doing. Lizzie's going to be trouble in the near future. Like serial-killer trouble.

Tyreese comes upon the humans that we know from earlier will all die, and to help him out, Carol shows up!  Hooray for Carol, the mama figure that Lizzie and Mika need.  Tyreese doesn't know Carol had been banished by Rick, and more importantly the why (she killed Karen), so now they're in tow as father-figure, mother-figure and three girls. It's Little House on the Zombie Prairie. And for the first time, we get a glimpse of hope, as they find a map that'll take them to place called Terminus, a train station where apparently other survivors have gathered. Hopefully it's real, although it's more likely it'll wind up being another trap, another Woodbury. And one final note, their group is walking the opposite direction down the tracks as Daryl and Beth.

Group #3 - Maggie, Sasha, Bob - Beth's sister, Tyreese's sister, and... Bob... are trying to figure out what to do next. Sasha thinks they should make camp, but Maggie wants to walk after the bus that held Glenn, whether they split up doing so or not. Bob knows what happens to black people in horror movies, so they all stick together. The bus isn't that far away, and this was an ingenius way of the writers to get rid of all of the extras. Remember in the final episode of season 3, when they took in the poor, the huddled masses, the leftovers from Woodbury? Between the virus and the prison shootout, most of them are dead. The bus is how the rest of them were wiped out. The bus is full of walkers, and Maggie needs to know Glenn is one of them. He isn't, and if they got to know any of the other characters from the bus, they don't show it beyond Bob's one-word eulogy: "These were good people."

Group #4 - Glenn, Tara - Glenn, it turns out, doubled back to the prison to try to find survivors. I guess he and Michonne just missed each other.  He loads up his backpack and puts on some riot gear, but then he sees Tara, who's locked herself in a cage. I was bummed her sister Lilly, the one who actually put the bullet in the Governor's brain, got an off-screen death (or maybe that means Lilly is still alive) but I like that Tara is still alive, still around to deal with the consequences of her actions and put a new flavor into the group dynamics.

And just when Glenn and Tara finish dealing with some walkers, we meet three new characters, who pose almost motif-style to end the episode. My wife didn't like their introduction. I've read the comics, so I was delighted to see them. Abraham, Rosita and Eugene should be around for a while, although the TV show has shown plenty of willingness to stray from the comics, so who knows what their presence will really mean.

So for our final six episodes of the season, we have a nice road-map. More than one group, I imagine, will find their way to Terminus, and the show should be able to hop around and keep the action moving. Rick, Carl and Michonne are our Group #5, so they can pick and choose air-time easily. For my money, Steven Yuen and Laurie Cohan are getting better and better as Glenn and Maggie. The show started off not great with its female characters, but Maggie, Michonne and Carol are all interesting, and Sasha, Tara and Beth can still turn out that way.

I like the comic-book way how characters rarely change clothes or even hairstyles. Sometimes, just once, I'd like Daryl to slick his hair back.

It remains like Lost to me. Not the best show on TV, but still one of the most must-see addicting.

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