The Walking Dead Review “Isolation” S4E3

So after thinking it over the past couple weeks, as all our Walking Dead favorites begin coughing, and then bleed out of their eyeballs and die, that maybe we should all pay better attention to our health and hygiene. Around flu season, especially, people! Every time I see a coworker cough on their hand then shake with it, or a passer-by sneeze into thin air, I want to pull out my kitana (which I carry with me everywhere, for obvious reasons) and chop off their diseased heads. Thanks for listening, and take your vitamins. I also wanted to talk about this big SPOILER right now, because there are some things said before the reveal that mean something totally different now that we know: Carol killed Karen and David, Rick found out, and Carol don’t give no shits about it. Holy crap. “Isolated” begins with Glenn and Maggie giving each other deep looks as the group begins digging graves for all the deceased in the previous episode, proving there’s still romance in the post-apocalyptic world. We get a good picture of how screwed everybody knows they are. Disease is an enemy you can’t really fight, and I think the group realizes this.

Tyreese, however, doesn’t care about disease. He only wants revenge for whoever burned the bodies. It’s sad to see him reel from this; when Rick and Daryl try to console him, though, he lashes out at them, punching Rick pretty damn hard in the face. It’s a scene that is supposed to pay homage to the prison fight scene, which is ironically about Tyreese hurting Carol by him cheating on Carol with Michonne. In the comics, it felt like an emotional climax that sadly had two good friends come to blows. However, in this instant, it felt nothing more than the portrayal of an angry black man, who lost his temper and got beaten up by a white cop. It felt completely out of character and I didn’t understand the need for the violence at the time. I might be a little out of pocket for thinking that way, but it is always an issue when it comes to race in television; even the best shows aren’t immune to criticism, however subtle it may be. Either way, it was the means to an end, as we realize that Farmer Rick is dead, and the Sheriff is back in town; it’s a hell of a way to open up the episode.

Police brutality doesn't die with the apocalypse, unfortunately.
Police brutality doesn’t die with the apocalypse, unfortunately.

We come back to Tyreese furiously digging graves for Karen and David. Bob politely tries to convince him that he needs to get some attention for the ass-whoopin that Rick put on him (albeit in a more polite way).  In a “brothas gotta stick together” moment, Bob helps Tyreese dig. We also find out that everybody is sick: Sasha, Dr. Submarine and Glenn (noooooo). Herschel comes up with a plan to snatch some supplies from a nearby Veterinarian College, and boldly decides that he should lead the way. That is, until Daryl hilariously reminds Herschel that he has a peg leg, and Herschel defeatedly offers to draw a map for them. Daryl, even though he’s always willing to step aside for Rick to lead, takes care of business when he needs to. Rick apologizes to Tyreese for going all LAPD on him. Tyreese is surprisingly cool with it, but is stern in demanding that Rick finds out who did it. Tyreese begins to get angry with Rick when he feels like Rick isn’t doing enough to look for the killer, saying “I’m starting to get that murder is OK in this place now.” It reminds me of the the rules that Rick set up in the comics. IF YOU KILL, YOU DIE. I’m starting to think that this will be his first plan of action upon returning to power. However, seeing as they’ve already killed dozens of people already, I’m not too sure about that. Daryl gets ready to go on the trip to the vet with Michonne and Bad Luck Bob when he decides that Tyreese would be a great addition to the team. Daryl says that he feels that whoever killed Karen and David will “have a bolt put in ’em.” I wonder how Daryl would feel about it if he knew his own sweetheart was the one that did it. Like a walker’s corpse, the truth floats to the surface sooner or later. In a great piece of symbolism, the painting in the hall has the words “Smooth Seas Do Not Make Good Sailors” written on it as Herschel tries to decide what to do with himself. As an obvious leader of the group, Herschel must feel pretty damn useless in this situation. He makes it harder on himself by gathering natural remedies in the forest so that others may feel better. He’s a truly good man and I suppose that is what scares me. As the moral compass of the group and then-Summer Santa of the group, Dale was the next target destined to be mowed down. I wonder how much longer the group, and the audience, will have the pleasure of Herschel’s company. Herschel gives an Emmy-worthy speech to Rick and Maggie later that was one of the best of the series.

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On the other hand, Carol’s “do what needs to be done” attitude, has her shove Lizzie into the sick room and lock the door behind her. This makes her just as strong, if not stronger than Herschel, but on the other end of the spectrum. Tyreese has an extremely sad moment with Sasha, as brother realizes that sister might die, and that going out with Daryl is the only way to really help the situation. Bob, not forgetting the shitstorm he caused in the premiere, asked Daryl if he should really be coming along. Daryl responds by having him read the label of a mediation that I do not dare repeat. It’s a pretty funny moment that finally shows Bob’s usefulness. Back at the yard, Carol is filling up water when Tyreese creepily stands behind her and waits for her to turn around and scare the crap out of her – what horrible post-apocalyptic etiquette! You’d get cut doin’ some shit like that around me. Tyreese kindly asks Carol to look in after Sasha (nooo!) because of how much Carol cares about the others. After Carol apologizes for what happened to Karen, Tyreese’s lips begin to quiver and he hurries away. This makes her feel like a total jerk and she responds by throwing the entire water supply on the ground. Smooth move, Carol.

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Next, we have the grandest scale of walkers ever. As Daryl, Michonne, Tyreese and Bob run into a herd of almost 10,000 walkers (which we learned from a video on AMC.com that they are actually 100 actors digitally changed into 10,000)! When they get stuck, spinning out Zach’s Dodge Charger’s (RIP) tires over a mountain of corpses, they take off on foot. With Michonne and Daryl fighting their way through the crowd, Bob begins screaming at Tyreese, who is looking like a kid that was forced to go to Home Depot. He just won’t get out of the car. As walkers overrun him, Bob is forced to leave with the others. In a great nod to his comic book gym slaughter, Tyreese somehow makes it out of the carnage and back to the group. How about that zombie distraction device that Carol built? Pretty cool! But what follows is not cool at all. While cleaning the cistern out, Carol is overrun by walkers. She manages to kill a few, but looks horrible doing it. I think Melissa McBride might need a stunt double for any actual zombie killing that is done.  Rick confronts Carol about  Karen and David, and she calmly admits to killing them and then walks away. What does this mean for her relationship with Rick? Will he tell the others? Will she keep killing? And is it really immoral?

It's like going to a Grateful Dead concert out here!
It’s like a Grateful Dead concert out here!

Lots of changes will happen in the upcoming episode, and I’m really worried about Sasha (not Glenn, there’s no way he’s not gonna make it) and Bob. Things will only get worse before they get better, and it will be just in time for the Governor to reappear. Hush Comics gives “Isolation” a B. Very little action and a severely out of place brawl between Tyreese and Rick hurt this otherwise thoughtful and character defining episode.

written by Sherif Elkhatib

All images credited to AMC Television

The Walking Dead Review “Infected” S4E2

Fresh off the heels of the Season 4 premiere, the second episode, “Infected,” keeps the party going with plenty more gore and thrills, but I feel that the story is finally picking back up. Right off the bat, PETA is pissed. Some sick fuck in with a flashlight is feeding the walkers mice, face first. Now we know why they’re all congregating to one area of the fence. It’s a pretty nasty way to start the episode, but they cut to a scene of Tyreese flirting with Karen, even trying to woo her with his rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” This scene disturbs me for multiple reasons. Aside from the fact that we just saw a walker bite off a rat’s head like a gummy worm, and that the song’s title is not very PC for a post-apocalyptic make-out session, it’s Tyreese’s singing that made me feel uncomfortable. Chad Coleman may look like Curtis Mayfield, but he sure can’t sing like him. The former badass from The Wire is playing a badass TWD character, but he is so incredibly soft in this scene that it innately bothers me. On the contrary, it’s nice to see him being such a gentle man, because we know it won’t be long until Captain Hammer steps up.

No, no, no. Not Tyrese, TYREESE.
No, no, no. Not Tyrese, TYREESE.

As Patrick takes a stroll into Cell Block D, he makes a meal of some guy with a dastardly-looking mustache for what seems like hours. All the things you thought would happen at the end of the last episode do. There’s nobody to yell for help; it’s basically an all you can eat buffet for Patrick and his new recruits. Completely oblivious, Glenn and Maggie are sleeping in what looks to be Flame’s stable. Who knows what kinda kinky stuff they were up to the night before. As Rick and Carl, who has abandoned his Sheriff’s hat because it’s not a farmer’s hat (can you smell the BS in the air??), tend to the housewife duties of keeping after dirt and cucumbers. Shots break out in Cell Block D as the crew sprints into action, no scene more glorious than Steve Yeun’s flowing hair. Michonne, in a moment of weakness while sensing that the others are in danger, blindly runs back into action and is overwhelmed by walkers, spraining her ankle in the meantime. Until Carl “Fuckin” Grimes grabs a rifle and puts down a walker in time to save her. He used the gun for good and, by God, he likes the power back in his hands!

Who wore it better?
Who wore it better?

In the commotion, Daryl snatches a shotgun from one of the people nervously firing away and hands it to Rick. Subtle humor aside, the cell block scene is painful to watch, as many innocent people are slaughtered, but there are no characters of importance that die. Except for Mr. Samuels, leaving his two fucked-in-the-head daughters in the care of Carol. In some stupid logic that only Carol would have, she decides that the best way to toughen up these girls – Book Club obviously isn’t doing it – is to have the first person they practice on be the father. “You have to hurry up before he turns.” Jesus, Carol, have a heart. It may have been forever ago for us, but just about a year ago, she lost her own child and is trying to start fresh by preparing Mika and Lizzie for what Sophia was not. Also, enter Dr. Subramanian, or Dr Submarian as we will address him from now on. The West Georgia Correctional Facility Braintrust, with the help of Dr. Submarian, discover that an aggressive flu strain is causing people to over-pressure internally and bleed out of their orifices and die. Pretty messed up. As they decide how best to quarantine the problem, Karen and Tyreese frolic down the hallway, with Karen coughing along as she goes. Yeah, she’s a goner. As they separate Karen and another Woodburian, David, Carol and Daryl talk it out, with Carol asking Daryl if he’s okay. In typical Daryl Dixon fashion, he responds, “Yeah. Gotta be.” That is a leader, ladies and gentlemen.

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By the fence, Carol confronts Lizzie about being a total wuss by, ya know, not stabbing her dad in the head. In a fit of anger, Lizzie gets upset about Nick being dead. Ya know, nametag walker? Lizzie’s younger sister tells Carol, “She’s messed up; she’s not weak.”  This sentiment is particularly revealing for Carol; she too was once messed up, because of her relationship with her abusive husband and because of her missing daughter, Sophia, who turned out to be a Walker.  But now, Carol is strong, and she never really was weak.  Meanwhile, Daryl gives mad props to Rick, asking him to take back position as a leader. Just as the two reach in for a big hug (or not), Maggie brings to their attention that the entire prison fence is giving way to a herd of walkers. Rick, albeit reluctantly at first, gives in to his killer instinct and starts jabbing walkers in the face through the wall.

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Next, we have a moment that gives Beth a point in my books (Note: that puts her at a total of one point). She’s in the cell block with Michonne tending to Judith. Michonne is so angry with herself for letting herself get hurt and being “stupid.” Earlier, when Lizzie was called stupid, it was for caring for Nick. Does caring for somebody make you weak in this world, or is it just stupid? Michonne has always been the warrior, the asset – but she’s never been in the role to really care about others or feel part of a family. Beth says, in her finite wisdom, “when you care about people, hurt is part of the package.” It must have really hit hard at home with baby Judith, as she begins balling. This is where we notice Michonne’s first real weakness – crying babies! Judging from her reaction, there is definitely a more underlining issue there. Back at the fence, the walkers are breaking through, with so many pushing up against the fence that they begin making Walker Waffles out of the closer ones. Rick knows there is only one thing left to do. In a hilarious scene where Carl creating a makeshift cross for Patrick, only to discover that he was a “practicing Atheist,” Carol probes Carl to see if he’s told Rick about her Book Club. She doesn’t say it, but she might as well be head of the zombie apocalypse “Stop Snitchin” campaign; she tells Carl to lie not say anything to Rick.

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Beth begins to sing a lullaby to Judith, and Judith in turn thanks Beth by spitting up all over Beth. In a deeply sentimental moment, Michonne caresses baby Judith and begins sobbing into her. I don’t know who hurt her, but I wanna punch them in the face! Michonne has never been this vulnerable – in the show or in the books, and I feel a much deeper connection to her as a character. Is that why she’s been constantly going on runs? Is she trying to avoid being around Judith? It’s an issues that won’t go away and one that will hopefully see answers soon.

I knew it was gonna happen. The piggies just gots’ta go! Strike two against PETA. Rick lures the walkers down the road with a trail of piglets. It’s pretty much the saddest that’s ever happened in this show. As Rick cuts the last pig to lure in a batch of walkers, a splooge of blood hits him in the face, sending shame through him like a two dollar hooker after getting a moneyshot. Carl does the right thing and tells Rick what Carol is doing, but in a surprising move, Carl sticks up for literacy and tries to keep the Book Club alive. In an act of faith, Rick rewards Carl by giving him his gun back. He then rewards the entire female viewer population by giving them a good, long look at his abs – a bit gratuitous, but still hilarious to me.

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The episode ends with poor ‘ol Tyreese going to bring Karen some freshly picked flowers (wuh-chhh). Instead, he sees a trail of blood leading to two freshly burned bodies belonging to Karen (as evidenced by her Rock, Paper, Scissors bracelet) and presumably David. Before everybody starts freaking out, let’s consider the possibility that this was warranted. Patrick turned within half a day of feeling sick, and we don’t know that Karen and David weren’t headed down the same path. Second, who did it? Only a select few knew about those two, so my guess is either Herschel or Bob. The rest of them were on screen the whole time. Herschel because he cares more about the safety of the original group than of the Woodburians, and Bob because we’ve had two black men coexist in The Walking Dead for two whole episodes now; it’s time for one of them to go! Just kidding, Bob seems to be one of those guys who always tries to help the situation by making it worse.

Hush Comics gives The Walking Dead’s “Infected” an A. With Rick and Carl finally coming out of their shells, and Michonne opening up some deep scars, there’s plenty to look forward to. However, Carol’s insensitive advances towards Lizzie and Mika and Tyreese’s over-romantic advances to Karen kinda feel out of character, although they do serve a larger purpose. With the whole group snapping back to reality, it’s setting up something big and I can’t wait to find out what it is.

written by Sherif Elkhatib

All images credited to AMC Television