‘The Walking Dead’ Discussion: By God, Now We’re Getting Somewhere

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I had concerns after the first act of “Inmates,” the second episode back after the desolate midseason finale of The Walking Dead. The problems I had with the midseason premiere had not been immediately alleviated, namely the lack of hope. Where was this show headed? What was the point? Besides regrouping, what could we look forward to besides more grim despair, more zombie killings, and more character deaths? The second, more hopeful act in “Inmates,” however, addressed some of those concerns.

The pairings the writers have set up this season offer a few interesting dynamics, although I’m not thrilled with the pairing of Beth and Daryl, an odd duo of numbness (Daryl) and illusory hopefulness (Beth). Beth’s voiceover narration from her journal doesn’t help matters, both because it was out of character for this show and poorly written.

The opening act also didn’t establish much, except that Beth and Daryl were together (which we already knew), that Daryl had the zombie apocalypse blues, and that Beth — in her crying scene — clearly comes from the CORAL GRIMES school of acting. My concerns were that “Inmates” would be like last week’s episode, featuring Beth and Daryl walking for 42 minutes until they stumbled upon another prison survivor. It was a relief, then, to see Tyreese open up the second act, and a bigger relief still to find out at the end of that second act that it appears that Beth and Daryl are close behind (Tyreese’s act ended with Tyreese, Lizzie, and Mika leaving the same scene of carnage near the railroad tracks that Daryl and Beth stumbled upon at the end of their act. The timeline is a little confusing. The important thing, however, is that Daryl is very near a reunion with Carol.)

That second act turned things completely around for the episode. Seeing Tyreese meant that it wouldn’t be the Beth and Daryl show all episode, and more importantly, we learned that the Internet theories were right: He was fleeing the prison with Judith in his arms (although, she’s aged several months in the hours since they left the prison). Judith almost didn’t make it out of the second act, however, after psycho Lizzie nearly killed her had Carol not stumbled upon them as the walkers were approaching. Lizzie’s psychopathy lends more credibility to the theories that she was both behind rats, and probably behind the burning of Karen, as well.

But was is psychopathy? Or was Lizzie being the practical survivor Carol taught her to be? Judith’s screams were endangering both her and Mika, and while smothering Judith to death seems crazy, from a very practical standpoint, maybe it’s the pragmatic thing to do? All I know is, she’s a cute baby, and the more we see her, the harder it will be to lose her.

Speaking of Carol, Tyreese still doesn’t know that Carol took the blame for killing Karen, so while he was clearly excited to see Carol, Carol was not as excited to be seeing Tyreese, which led to an uncomfortable reunion, where Carol must have wondered whether Tyreese was going to hug her or stab her. Why was Carol walking back to the prison when it burned down, anyway?

Maybe the best part of that act, however, was that it gave the latter half of the season a point: They’re going somewhere, specifically Terminus, which is either an apocalyptic utopia, or a trap designed by cannibals. Either way, I expect that Terminus will be the ultimate reunion point for the remaining survivors.

The third act revealed that Maggie, Sasha, and Bob were still alive, and on the hunt for Glenn. They found the bus he was on, and while everyone on the bus was dead, Glenn was not among them. So much for the Woodbury survivors. Maggie, however, was devastated because it appeared that she believed that one of the walkers on the bus was Glenn (unfortunately from a dramatic standpoint, most of us knew he wasn’t, because we’d seen promo trailers and pictures from this episode which clearly showed that Glenn was alive). While that will make ultimate Glenn and Maggie reunion even more sweet, it probably also means an episode or two of Maggie in histrionics.

Where was Glenn? As we saw in the fourth act, he’s still back at the prison, having passed out in a very opportune place where the walkers couldn’t reach him. Out of necessity, he joined forces with Tara, who was feeling remorse about the fact that she’d been part of the Governor’s clan. Glenn, nevertheless, took her under his wing, which paid off in the end when Tara saved Glenn from the walkers just as Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), Eugene, and Rosita drove up. Abraham looks like a guy who owned a lot of beer koozies before the apocalypse. I have a good feeling about him, although we don’t know whether Abraham and his cronies are friend or foe. Is Abraham from Terminus? Are we positive that Glenn survived (I didn’t see scenes from next week, but I’m 99 percent sure he’s fine)?

… and with that, it appears that all the main cast members are alive and accounted for except for Lilly, who we haven’t seen since she shot the Governor in the head.

“Inmates” definitely picked up some momentum, although there is some question over whether the series can maintain it. Much of momentum in “Inmates” was driven by reintroductions, the reunion with Carol, and the reveal of Judith. If they handle it right, they should be able to extract some dramatic interest out of the pairings in subsequent episodes, the reunion of Daryl and Carol, and the reunion of Maggie and Glenn. It should be interesting to see how Tyreese, Carol, and the psychopath get along until Carol’s secret is revealed. Glenn and Tara also have a compelling dynamic thanks to the arrival of Abraham. I am not as intrigued, however, by Beth and Daryl; Beth just seems like dead weight at this point.