Sunday, October 27, 2013

Review: The Walking Dead "Isolation"

Non Spoiler Review:
As the flu turns into a full blown epidemic, the council isolates the sick from the healthy. Daryl and Michonne set off in search of antibiotics while Rick looks for answers on who might have killed David and Karen. 

Isolation was far more subdued than the previous weeks, focusing on the characters and how they deal with the critical health situation. While some might find it too low key, it was an interesting contrast to find the formerly safe haven of the prison very much a prison now. The episode ends with a revelation that opens up a host of additional problems. 

I enjoyed this one, because it succeeded in conveying the seriousness of the situation and the new normal at the prison. But I don't think the show can get away with too many of these overly chatty episodes. But that's not to say it was all talk either—there was a decent action scene later on. The series continues to run strong, opening up multiple plot threads to address later on once this flu (hopefully) is resolved.

Spoilers Now!
Tyreese shows Rick, Daryl and Carol the bodies and demands Rick find who did it and bring them to him. Rick tries to calm him down but Tyreese ends up punching him, and Rick viciously beats him down until Daryl pulls him off. 

Hershel tends to Rick's hand afterwards. After losing twelve in the initial outbreak, they've now lost Karen and David killed in cold blood. Bob finds Tyreese digging graves, suggesting he go get checked out by the doctor, but Tyreese refuses until he buries them. Bob lends a hand.

Sasha has come down with the flu and goes into the quarantine cell block. Dr. Caleb is already sick himself. The rest of the council discusses the outbreak, but Glen finding himself showing symptoms already. They need antibiotics and Hershel knows of a veterinary college 50 miles away that would have the medication they need. Daryl and Michonne elect to go. In the meantime they'll separate the most vulnerable from the rest. 

Tyreese finishes the graves and Rick comes over to pay his respects and apologizes. Rick thinks the guilty party might be trying to stop the spread of the disease. Tyreese warns Rick that if he doesn't act, he will.

Carl goes into isolation with the rest of the kids. Beth remains in seclusion with Judith. Maggie sits outside her door confiding in her that Glen has it. Beth assures her they all have their duties in their time of crisis. Daryl and Michonne enlist Tyreese to come with them on their supply run, but he wants to stay and keep watch on the sick ward. Daryl assures him no one will get into the ward without other people seeing them. 

Lizzie falls ill, too, and Carol escorts her into quarantine. When she asks Carol to tuck her in, Carol sends her in alone, telling her Glen can help. After she leaves her Carol breaks down.

Hershel has an idea and gets ready to head out into the woods but is stopped by Carl, who won't let him leave by himself. They go together, and Hershel searches for elderberries to make tea to alleviate some of the symptoms. Carl stands watch, and they note how peaceful the woods are. They find a decomposing walker lying next to a tree, and another wandering slowly with a leg hold trap on her. Hershel tells Carl there's no need to shoot them and disturb the peace.

Tyreese assures Sasha they're getting medicine and joins with Daryl, Michonne and Bob. He asks Carol to look in on Sasha. Carol confides in him how sorry she is about Karen's death, and after he leaves she breaks down and angrily pushes the water barrel over. 

Maggie berates her father for not staying in quarantine, and instead going into the cell block to try to treat the sick with his tea. Rick doesn't want him risking his life either but Hershel lectures them both that he might be able to save lives and right now everything they do is a risk.

Rick goes on to investigates the crime scene. Carol goes outside the fence to clear the water supply hose but finds herself surrounded. Rick notices and comes running. He's angry that she went out on her own, but with people falling sick she wanted to get it done while they still had a chance.

On the drive to the veterinary college, Daryl assures Michonne he would come along with her in her search for the Governor had the trail not gone cold. Michonne wants it known that's she's not abandoning them when she goes out on her long sojourns. They suddenly hear a voice on the radio, and then abruptly slam on the brakes when they find the road full of zombies, and over the hill the college is swarming with a herd of thousands. Backing up, they get stuck on a pile of bodies so have to make a run for it. Tyreese stays in the car until Bob screams at him to get out. He goes on a blind rampage with his hammer and is quickly surrounded while the others run into the woods to regroup. They're surprised to find Tyreese emerge after awhile, exhausted. 

Rick reminds Carol it was stupid of her to go out by herself. She sacrifices a lot for the group, he muses, and wonders if there is anything she wouldn't do for their people. No, she says. Rick then asks if she killed Karen and David. Yes, she admits, and walks off with her water.

The Verdict:
While not the most exciting episode, Isolation did deal with the quarantine and the idea that the wilderness is perhaps a more safer refuge for everyone at the moment. Characters got paired up with some good scenes together—Maggie and Beth, Hershel and Carl, while Tyreese finally got some extended screen time with the others.

The giant herd was a satisfying large scale set piece to end the show on. It will be interesting if that whole excursion is a failure and (according to the previews) it falls on Carol and Rick to get supplies. Daryl, Michonne, Tyreese and Bob are without a vehicle and stranded anyway.

There's also the matter of the mystery radio signal that's completely overshadowed by subsequent events. Something to look forward to later. And the Governor remains a phantom only talked about rarely even in name at the moment, so I'm sure his return will come when we least expect it.

Carol's casual admission to the crime speaks to quite a change in her outlook. But were Karen and David already dead, or did she murder them outright? That's critical in how Rick deals with this, as he has to decide if he should bring it all out in the open or maintain the secret (especially from Tyreese). I prefer the latter, as the show hasn't dealt with a heavy secret since Shane and Lori's affair, and I think the threat of that reveal would be a nice addition to everyone's stress. However, that all relies on Carol not being crazy. While I can see her decision to kill Karen and David, that would not explain the rat feeding to the walkers, which suggests another culprit remains on the loose.

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