THE WALKING DEAD Recap – “Isolation”

     October 27, 2013

the-walking-dead-season-4-andrew-lincoln-slice

While last week’s episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead dealt with the initial shock of a new and deadly illness spreading amongst the survivors, tonight’s episode dealt with the ramifications of the disease.  Like the title suggests, certain groups of people are being isolated into different areas: the young and most vulnerable are under strict quarantine, while those showing signs of illness have been separated from the rest.  Some of tonight’s best performances were turned in by actors playing characters who were isolated in an emotional sense, a strong theme that continues to form the backbone of this season.  Hit the jump for my recap, and to find out what happens if we don’t get a tomorrow.

the-walking-dead-isolation-chad-l-coleman

The cold open had a nicely layered reveal of first Glenn (Steven Yeun) digging a grave, angling to show Maggie (Lauren Cohan) beside him, and then pulling back to reveal more gravediggers and many, many graves.  This shot served not only to isolate Glenn (which made more sense as the episode went on) and to show his place amongst the other members of the group, but also to remind viewers of the potency this new disease carries with it.

Two of the casualties of the disease were Karen and David, two survivors who had come down with symptoms and were isolated, only to be found later by Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman).  Their burned bodies strongly suggested that someone in the camp had done it, likely out of a misguided attempt to prevent the disease from spreading.  Luckily, audiences did not have to wait long to find out who did it.

And that little mystery brings me to two of tonight’s standout performances from both Coleman and Melissa McBride.  Let’s stick with Tyreese first since he opened up the episode in a rage and went after the group’s de facto leaders, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Daryl (Norman Reedus).  Tyreese’s anger and frustration over the death of his girlfriend was only compounded when his sister, Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), fell ill and was separated from him.  At first, Tyreese could only vent those frustrations by angrily digging graves alone and mouthing off to Rick.  Later, he put his temper to good use by joining a raiding party, whereupon they were beset by a horde of Walkers, which Tyreese dispatched in a bloody rage.  That’s great for Tyreese, but does not bode well for our next character.

the-walking-dead-isolation-melissa-mcbrideCarol, who has been featured quite a bit in just the first three episodes of this season, is the glue that holds the survivors together.  She’s clearing out their waterlines and tending the gardens, while teaching students the proper way to use a knife and encouraging them to toughen up in the face of certain death.  It seems she’s willing to go much further than that to protect her new family, however, as Rick asks her point blank if she murdered Karen and David, to which she confesses at the close of the episode.

So we’ve got Tyreese experiencing self-inflicted isolation because of his rage and Carol experiencing her own version out of the desire to do anything necessary to survive.  Meanwhile, Hershel (Scott Wilson) is having his own crisis of faith over whether to follow his own orders and remain quarantined, or to follow his training and attempt to help those who are sick in order to buy them time before the group returns with antibiotics.  Hershel had some great moments in this episode and Wilson nailed the delivery, as always.  However, he’s starting to get a bit like Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) did in his final days, waxing philosophically and taking unnecessary risks in the hopes of being useful before his final, and hopefully peaceful death.  I’m worried for Hershel, but I’m pleased that Wilson is getting his due screentime.

There were a few other character moments that played off of the isolation theme, most notably Glenn’s physical isolation from the group due to his symptoms, which in turn isolated Maggie from everyone in her family (Beth was quarantined with baby Judith, and Hershel breaks quarantine to help out in the infirmary).  Beth (Emily Kinney) still worries me, as her lines suggest she’s becoming more and more detached from her humanity.  Rick was showing signs of getting himself back together, but loses it for a second when Tyreese tests him.  Daryl and Michonne, two characters who were loners by definition before, now seem to work better as a team, which is an interesting twist.  Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) proved mildly useful in this episode, but is still just kinda hanging around…

the-walking-dead-season-4-rick-hershelRating: B+ - While there was a lot of great character work on display, and the episode had a good balance of drama, action, gore and surprises, it wasn’t quite as visceral as last week’s effort.

Zombie Kills: 52, mostly during the road scene

Human Enemy Kills: 0

Casualties: 0

Best Kill: Tyreese’s rage kills on the road

Best Effect: Rotting root zombie

Odds & Entrails:

Glenn: “If it’s Walkers, if it’s people, we can do something, we can fight. But this … I’m just digging graves.”

Michonne on Daryl: “He’s already given me fleas.”

Anyone else feeling some Michonne and Daryl chemistry?  That can’t sit right with Carol, but based on her latest behavior, perhaps Daryl should stay at a safe distance.

Rick: “We have to save lives. We have to keep this place going.”  Tyreese: “You worry about that. I’ll worry about what’s right.”

“Smooth Seas Do Not Make Good Sailors” – Picture hanging in Hershel’s office

the-walking-dead-season-4-posterHershel: “These last couple of days, you might be safer outside those walls than in.”  Carl: “No, we’re not.”

Hershel: “Every time you go outside, you risk your life. Every drink of water, you risk your life. Even when you breathe, you risk your life. Every moment now, you don’t have a choice. The only thing you choose is what you’re risking it for.”

Beth: “Dr. S. is sick and … we all got jobs to do.” Maggie: “We’ll deal with it, right?” Beth: “We don’t get to get upset.”

Rick: “We decided to do that tomorrow.”  Carol: “We don’t know if we get a tomorrow?”

That wheels-in-motion Walker distractor was pretty clever, much more clever than Carol knocking over the group’s last bit of water or Dr. S. (Sunkrish Bala) coughing blood directly into Hershel’s eyes… C’mon, guys, you’re both medically trained professionals.

Hershel to Glenn: “Keep this on your forehead. Veterinarian’s orders.”

It’s going to be interesting, to say the least, to see how Carol’s big reveal at the end of tonight’s episode plays out over the coming weeks.

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