The Walking Dead Watch: “Isolation”

Glenn is in a bad way — and a huge zombie horde approaches

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Gene Page/AMC

English actor Andrew Lincoln as The Walking Dead's Rick Grimes.

If last week’s episode of The Walking Dead gave us some mysteries and crucial details in the opening scenes, this week’s beginning was a bit of a ruse. We picked up right where we left off — with two mysteriously charred corpses that once belonged to Karen and some new guy whose name wasn’t that important (David, for those keeping score at home). Tyrese is pissed, naturally, and takes it out on Daryl and Rick, initiating a fight, where it looked like Rick was headed back to Crazytown.

That didn’t happen, nor did Tyrese remain a hulking angry mess. In the grand scheme of things, the fight didn’t accomplish much, other than to give Tyrse a Raging Bull look for the entire episode. A friend of mine with a great eye for television plots put it best when she observed that Rick needed a sprained hand so Hershel could give him a talk — yet another time we see Hershel the Philosopher or Hershel the Would-Be-Martyr run through the episode.

But during that early chat, we heard as close to a theme as we’ve seen this season. Hershel tells Rick, “Everything we’ve been working so hard to keep out, it found it’s way in.”

“No,” Rick replies, “It’s always there.”

He was far more right than even he knew. During the medicine run to the nearby veterinary college — with Michonne, Tyrese and Bob packed into a muscle car — Daryl hits one walker, then another on the road. At first, this didn’t seem like a huge problem: Since when was that ever  an issue? But then the camera pulls back to reveal a wide-open valley filled with perhaps the biggest walker horde we’ve seen yet. There were thousands of them, maybe tens of thousands, far more than the group that descended on the farm at the end of Season 2. It’s a sign of how bad things have gotten outside of the gates while the group was creating a civilized little colony. No wonder hundreds of walkers pile up on the fences each day; there are hundreds of thousands of them roaming the countryside.

The enemy outside, though, will have to wait, because most of Episode 4 focused on the enemy within. Only a day or so since Patrick died and caused mayhem in cell block D, half of the camp is sick — mostly new people who’s names we barely know: cannon fodder, if you will, to the approaching hordes. But Glenn is also now infected, lending a sense of urgency to the need for medication. We don’t really care how many of the new folks are killed off (callous as it sounds, it’s also true), but Glenn is an original member of the group. He’s a key asset, both to the group and to the story. Right now, his life hangs in the balance — and help is nowhere in sight.

Given the reveal at the end of the episode — that it was Carol who killed Karen and David and burned their bodies — it’s worth asking, somewhat rhetorically, if she would have done the same had it been Glenn who was infected. Carol has grown and developed as a character in a very short time, something we were hoping for when this season started. But she’s also proven impatient and impulsive, personified in her nearly deadly mission outside the wire to fix the water hose. A tough Carol is a good thing, but the Carol we’ve seen so far has the potential to cause a lot of problems. If the episode’s closing scene is any indication, she doesn’t care. When Rick asks her if she was the one who killed Karen and David, she responds — without hesitation and barely a pause: “Yes.” Now that Rick’s somewhat back in cop mode, it’ll be interesting to see what he does, now that he knows the truth.

Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.), Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) - The Walking Dead _ Season 4, Episode 3 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Gene Page/AMC

And now for a hail of bullets:

First, an Apology: Winston Churchill is said to have once remarked that the United States and the United Kingdom were two great nations divided by a common language. Last week, when discussing the new breed of zombies, I pointed out that they moved faster than a walk, but didn’t quite jog. I then tried to name them by combining the words walk and jog. Some British friends pointed out that the resulting word is a racial slur. My sincere apologies.

Zombie-Kill Report: Episode 4, with lots of dialogue-heavy scenes, was light on the zombie kills. Carol’s outside-the-wire foray to fix the water hose (ill-advised as it was) did serve as a nice slash-and-scrape to break up the rather pedestrian pace. We saw some real action when the medicine mission ran into the zombie horde. Daryl and Michonne were in top form and we know that Bob can shoot (he was an Army medic, after all), but the big surprise was Tyrese. After appearing to just give up, he was surrounded by walkers and I thought he was a goner. But the man can work the hatchet, and when he stumbled into the clearing in the woods, exhausted and covered in zombie guts, I wasn’t totally surprised, but certainly relieved.

All Grown Up: We said at the beginning of the season that we’d be watching Carl closely. After so many years of fighting and running, it wouldn’t be a stretch to see him having some issues. But with each new episode, Carl seems increasingly mature, to the point where he’s become a budding philosopher. So it is that he ventures into the woods with Hershel, and after letting a couple of zombies go, he replies to Hershel’s observation that all seem so peaceful, he tells him: “It was. Can’t be like that all the time.”

But He’s Not Alone: Maggie is obviously upset that Glenn has been sent to quarantine to ride out the mysterious illness that, so far, no one has survived. Little sister Beth kept her focused on what was important. We saw in Episode 1 that she’s become stoic (or numb) to too much emotion, but now she’s stepping up to guide the family. It’ll be interesting to see if that continues.

Poorly-Named Fast Aombies Aside: There is still little consensus on whether Patrick and company were a new breed of zombie — or just seemed faster and more with it than most walkers. Do they have higher abilities, or was I delusional?

Was Carol right to kill infected people for the greater good? Let us know in the comments.