I admittedly didn’t care for the exposition in last week’s mid-season premiere of Walking Dead, so it wouldn’t have been extremely difficult for tonight’s episode to be an improvement – and thankfully, Inmates delivered.
The opening sequence – which focused on Beth and Daryl – started out a bit slow. But as someone who has never been a big fan of Beth as a character, it was eye-opening that the ‘soundtrack’ of their flight was her reading a diary entry that she’d written when they first arrived at the prison.
It was also interesting to see that despite some of what she’d written in her diary, Beth of all people was trying to be optimistic, while Daryl had clearly ‘gone cold’ again. I’ve enjoyed the ‘softer’ Daryl, but at the same time it was hard to miss the more realistic Daryl – and it seems that he’s fighting with himself over what he wants (or perhaps needs) to be right now.
From Beth and Daryl we moved on to Tyreese, Lizzie, Mika…and JUDITH! Not that I’m overly surprised that the baby isn’t dead – I outright assumed that wasn’t the case – but these weren’t the people I expected we’d find her with. I will say that their scenes had me on the edge of my seat, if only because traveling with a baby (who keeps crying, of course) in the middle of the zombie apocalypse seems like it would be one of the worst things ever. I’d like to give Tyreese a big pat on the back for handling it as well as he did, but when he ‘pulled a Rick’ – leaving the girls and the baby alone in the woods while he went to check out the screams that he heard – it was certainly a big facepalm moment.
Even more so when Lizzie had her psychotic moment with Judith. She wasn’t just trying to keep the baby quiet; you could see in her eyes that she knew Judith was hindering them, and in that moment there was very little remorse in her actions.
Thankfully, though, help arrived in the form of…Carol! Of course Rick never had the chance to tell Tyreese that Carol was the one who killed Karen; in fact, most people (including Tyreese) didn’t even know that Rick had kicked Carol out of the prison. Their reunion was suitably awkward, but the fact that Carol so easily lied her way through an explanation of how she survived the attack was a very solid reminder of the recent developments to her character.
At this point, it’s hard for me to decide whether Carol ending up with Tyreese of all people is surprising or predictable. But we’ll see more of them soon, as they make their way up the train tracks to what is supposedly another ‘safe place’.
Inmates kept up a good pace by moving on to a third group of survivors – Maggie, Sasha, and Bob. I still can’t get a read on Bob, and this episode didn’t help much. He was doing a lot of manic grinning and generally being a weirdo in this scene, though the fact that he was key in keeping their little trio together is certainly something to note (I guess I have to give up on the idea that he’s just a red shirt with a slightly drawn-out story line).
Despite the fact that it seemed impossible that they would catch up with the bus, they find it anyway…and it’s full of zombies. I’m wondering if we’ll ever find out what happened there, but this scene made for a great way for Lauren Cohan to give her acting chops a work out. Everything from her reaction to first seeing the bus, to her taking care of the zombies as they spilled out of the back, to her reaction when she killed the last of them, was amazing – and certainly a huge improvement on Beth’s over-the-top crying at the beginning of the episode.
Sadly, as frustrating as it was, it also wasn’t a surprise that Walking Dead still hadn’t let go of the prison. Thankfully, Talking Dead mentioned that this was the last thing filmed at the prison, and I definitely have my fingers crossed that this is the case. However, I can almost forgive the return to the prison in this episode, if only because it was for Glenn. And he continued to prove how awesome he is by packing supplies and donning a riot suit before attempting his escape – and then on the way out taking Tara with him as well!
Of course, that little alliance was quickly clarified as being based on need and nothing else, though it was nice to see Tara prove her worth when she saved Glenn from the walkers at the very end. Still, as a comic book fan just about everything else that happened in Inmates was overshadowed when that truck rolled up and we got that absolutely perfect shot of Abraham, Rosita, and Eugene. While I’m sure there will be differences between the show and comic versions of these characters, this was seriously one of the best new character entrances Walking Dead has ever given its viewers.
I for one hope that the show can keep up this pace, because more episodes like Inmates will quickly overshadow the weakness of After.
Author: Tara Lynne
Tara Lynne is an author, fandom and geek culture expert, and public speaker. She founded Ice & Fire Con, the first ever Game of Thrones convention in the US, and now runs its parent company Saga Event Planning.
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