I’ve been reviewing The Walking Dead for well over a year now, and if any of you have read my past reviews, I have consistently given the show very high marks. However, with last night’s episode, that is about to change. So, for the die-hard Walking Dead fans who are reading this review now, brace yourself because this review doesn’t exactly put the show in a very good light, at least so far in Season 4.
I didn’t write a review last week primarily because I wanted to see where this super-flu storyline was going, and I didn’t want to give the episode a less-than-stellar rating until I got a better view of the big picture. While last night’s episode “Isolation” gave us the 411 on this mysterious virus, including who killed Karen and David last night, unfortunately it didn’t change my opinion – in fact, it lowered it even further. The main objection I have with this new arc is that it seems so contrived. It almost feels like they had to come up with something to act as a “filler” until the Governor’s big return, which isn’t supposed to happen until mid-season. It also appears to be a very convenient way to get rid of some of the Woodbury defectors. After all, there will come a day when Rick and his group will leave the prison and move on. It’s not feasible to have 50-60 people to be moving as a group, and it feels like this flu was just cooked up to get the group back down to manageable size. A second thing that is very bothersome is the fact that virtually no one in Rick’s core group has been infected (yet). Sure, Glenn (Steven Yeun) is now sick, but people like Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) who had direct contact with those who had been infected somehow magically is showing no signs of the illness.
Another big let-down in this episode is the infamous “horde” scene that fans have been buzzing about for weeks. Even I was super-excited, but in the end, the scene turned out to be one of the most anti-climatic of the entire series. For those familiar with the comic book series, you will know that there is a scene where Tyreese (Chad Coleman) completely loses it after his daughter, Julie, commits suicide, and blindly attacks a massive group of walkers with only his hammer as a weapon. After Karen’s death, I was so hoping they would incorporate this very powerful and pivotal scene into the series. And, while I was very happy that they did, it appears that the sole purpose of the monster horde was to enact this critical Tyreese moment, and after less than 2 minutes, the group had escaped, including Tyreese, and they were on their merry way. If there ever was a buzz kill, this was certainly it. The only hope I have is that maybe this horde will be revisited once the group returns to the prison. We should remember from the Pilot that walkers don’t naturally congregate in very large groups like this. It’s almost as if those walkers had been corralled in that location. If that is the case, who did it? Also, just how far from the prison is this horde? If it’s relatively close, I’d be very worried about those walkers migrating and invading the prison. No matter how many reinforcements they put on the fences surrounding the prison, nothing will be able to stop a herd of that magnitude.
Well, that’s enough of the negative – let’s move on to some of the positives of the episode. One of the best parts of this episode, as well as the previous one, is the character development of Carol (Melissa McBride). I am absolutely loving what the writers are doing with this character. In the comics, Carol never really grows into the strong, independent woman as is depicted in the television series. Even after the death of her abusive husband, the comic-book Carol never was able to really stand on her own. She remained the “needy” type who felt worthless without a man in her life, and this ultimately led her to commit suicide. TV series Carol has certainly come a long way. She doesn’t feel the need for a man by her side (even though she would certainly jump at the opportunity if Daryl were to offer), she’s not afraid of a single thing, and she doesn’t hesitate to take matters into her own hands, including killing Karen and David for the good of the group. As Merle said last season, “You’re not the quiet mouse afraid of her shadow, like you were in that camp”. No shit. Unless your name is Andrew Lincoln, I know no one is safe on The Walking Dead, but I really hope Carol stays around for a while.
Another character that I really enjoyed watching in this episode was Hershel (Scott Wilson). As much as I love Hershel, the fact remains that his days are numbered. While he is doing fine within the confines of the prison with his prosthetic leg, he’s not going to fare very well if the prison is attacked, and we know that day is coming because the Governor is still out there. We know that, and I’m sure Hershel does too. He decides he’s not going to spend what could be the last moments of his life hiding in an office in the prison, and instead, steps up to help the sick after Dr. S is infected. Kudos and plaudits to the writers for the development of this character. Hershel’s days may be far and few, but if that happens, he will go out as a hero.
All in all, I thought this was a fair episode. I certainly don’t think it’s on par with the episodes from previous seasons. However, on the upside, this is only the third episode of the season, and there is still time for things to turn around. The Walking Dead is still by far my favorite television series, and I am confident that will happen in due time.
Critic Grade: B
Most memorable quotes and random thoughts
- After everything, I’m getting taken out by a glorified cold—Glenn
- He’s already given me fleas – Michonne on Daryl
- Keep this on your forehead. Veterinarian’s orders – Hershel to Glenn
- 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. — Hershel
- Good sailors aren’t made on calm seas – picture hanging in prison office
- I wonder what Rick is going to do about Carol. If he tells Tyreese Carol is the one who killed Karen and David, Tyreese may try to kill her, or at the very least, insist that she be exiled from the group. But, if Rick keeps quiet, Tyreese will continue pushing to find out who the culprit is. Very tough situation.
The Walking Dead airs on Sunday nights at 9/8c on AMC.