Episode Title: “Isolation”
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Director: Dan Sackheim
Previously on “The Walking Dead”:
At the rate things are going on “The Walking Dead,” the prison survivors may be decimated before the Governor (David Morrissey) can return for his revenge. Ol’ One Eye is briefly mentioned this week, just to remind us that he’s still out there.
There may still be a rat at the prison, as the person who fed rats to the walkers is still unknown to both the audience and the survivors. But the murderer of Karen (Melissa Ponzio) and David (Brandon Carroll) has been revealed and I highly doubt that this person was the saboteur. Although the end result may be the same. The unity of the prison survivors has been shaken and now Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) has to decide what to do about the murderer in their midst.
Full spoilers lie ahead for “Isolation,” so you should probably skip this review if you missed last night’s episode of “The Walking Dead” or else someone else will come down with the superflu.
Prior to this episode, I wouldn’t have guessed that Carol (Melissa McBride) could commit murder, yet she coldly admits to it Rick when he confronts her. Carol’s guilt was a little obvious during her brief scene with Tyreese (Chad Coleman) and her subsequent meltdown. But it was still stunning how nonchalant she was about it with Rick. Carol would do anything for the prison survivors, even if it meant killing two of their own to prevent an outbreak.
The worst part is that Carol’s rash actions were doomed to fail from the beginning and it was all for nothing. The illness spreads to several of the former Woodbury residents and even to a few of the primary characters. On most TV shows, you can reasonably assume that half of the main cast won’t be killed off. But this is “The Walking Dead.” There’s a very good chance that at least one of the characters we care about won’t survive the outbreak.
In the midst of this, Beth (Emily Kinney) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) get their first scenes together in a long time; which will hopefully remind the audience that they’re sisters. Both sisters alternately cling to the platitudes their father taught them in order to find some comfort. But Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson) truly practices what he preaches to his daughters. They aren’t platitudes to him. When Hershel realizes that he can do more for the sick and dying, he simply does it. Hershel doesn’t even flinch when he’s directly infected by the illness.
While Hershel has become the moral compass of this series, Carol has abdicated her moral high ground for expediency. There’s nothing she won’t do for her extended family, even if it means killing two people or locking away Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) with the other infected survivors only a day after agreeing to look after the girl like she was her own.
It’s not as if Carol feels no remorse, and she gets a ringside seat for the fallout when Tyreese and Rick viciously attack each other in the wake of Karen and David’s murder. It’s clear that Tyreese loved Karen and that his rage can’t be contained. The problem is that Rick’s not exactly stable himself and he seems to snap during their fight. Only Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) manages to keep a cool head while expressing sympathy for Tyreese and the murder victims.
On second viewing, there’s another level to that scene. Carol hears Daryl condemn the murderer’s actions. So when the truth inevitably comes out, she knows it will come between them. There’s a very similar scene in the “Walking Dead” comic book series in which Rick and Tyreese came to blows over Carol, but in very different circumstances. However, the Rick and Tyreese of the TV series don’t have the deep friendship that they fostered in the comic book series. Their relationship on the TV show has been frayed from the start, since Tyreese met Rick in the middle of his mental breakdown.
Rick tries to apologize and smooth things over, but Tyreese is more interested in finding Karen’s killer. He’s obviously not going to let this go… and why should he? Someone he loved was needlessly murdered. David and Karen deserve justice, even if there’s little of it left in this world.
To make matters worse for Tyreese, his sister, Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) is one of the latest victims of the outbreak. In one of the standout sequences of the episode, Sasha takes a harrowing walk into the quarantined cell block where the sick and dying members of the group await her. And soon enough, Glenn (Steven Yeun) joins her in isolation after coming down with the symptoms as well.
Bob (Lawrence Gilliard, Jr.) finally gets a few moments of character development this week, as he silently helps Tyreese dig graves for Karen and David. And during the escape from the herd of walkers, Bob screams at Tyreese when he seems content to die in the car. Clearly, Bob has come to care for Tyreese as a friend. Perhaps that means that Bob isn’t the saboteur at the prison.
The zombie horde that threatens Bob, Tyreese, Daryl and Michonne (Danai Gurira) was another impressive threat. But the more intriguing part is that they heard a distinct voice on the radio before they ran into trouble. When Tyreese was hopelessly surrounded during their escape attempt, it was another callback to the comic book series. I wasn’t expecting his survival to be revealed until next week’s episode, so it was a nice touch that the TV series only waited until after the commercial break to resolve that cliffhanger.
On the homefront, Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) demonstrates just how far he’s come when he insists upon accompanying Hershel outside of the prison and when he actually listens to Hershel as they run across a pair of memorable zombies. During season 3, Carl would have shot the zombies regardless of what Hershel told him. And it has to be said that the moss zombie and the female walker in the bear trap were both among the best zombie designs of this series. They may have been an indulgence of the show’s zombie FX team, but it’s good to see that their creativity hasn’t run dry after four seasons.
So far, the fourth season of “The Walking Dead” is off to a strong start. Something to keep in mind that two major characters died in the fourth episode of season 3. I wouldn’t be shocked if that tradition is revisited again next week.