The Walking Dead has finally returned and these two episodes really set the tone for where I think this series is going. One thing that sort of bugged me about TWD is the realism. For me somewhere around the second half of the 3rd season the show dipped a bit in quality. The dramatic realistic tension the show pulled off masterfully in the Darabont days faded a bit giving way to some story tropes and the characters seemed to have a "business as usual" approach to there situation. However, this season (specifically) from "Too Far Gone" until now the real world drama returned to the series. The events the survivors were enduring seem to really land and have gravity. In the first episode back entitled, "After," we focus on 3 characters: Rick, Carl, and Michonne. I love the way that the writers have slowed the story a bit to let the fact that these people lost their only sanctuary soak in.
Everyone in the cast is feeling the sting of loss and grieving in their own way. Carl is acting out and trying to defy his father. Which did bug me a bit, I mean I get that the kid was angry, but I don't feel that he would naturally take it out on his father, but hey we were all pre-teens once, right? Rick was in a coma which is to be expected after the battle and Michonne reverted back to her old ways of blocking out the world and traveling through it alone. So the first episode back is definitely slower in pace which I thought was a good move on the writers part.
The second episode entitled "Inmates" however was not. Right from the start, our heroes are in a desperate situation. Beth and Daryl are on their own and we get a great opening monologue by Beth writing in her diary when the prison was a hopeful sanctuary. She went on saying how great life was going to be and how the sun was rising in this dark world. She was right, they did make a great community out of the prison, and it did work out for a long time, nearly a year in fact. Of course crazy half blind man had to ruin the party. So I really enjoyed how episode 10 opened. I did have a problem that stuck out like a sore thumb to me. These lead characters have a bad case of main character-itus. Meaning THEY CAN'T GET BIT. It actually made me a little angry that when some random extra fights a walker they get chunks ripped out of them instantly, but when a main character is doing battle with a corpse they suddenly get stricken with Saturday night fever. Instead of biting them, they do a little tango in the woods. I mean seriously that scene with Beth and the attacking walker could have been choreographed a lot better.
But there was a lot to like in "Inmates" specifically Judith. Personally, I wish they would have killed the baby off, that sounds morbid, but the death of baby Judith is a major turning point in the Rick/ Carl relationship. And I assume they will eventually find Judith alive and that cheapens things for me a bit. Also, it seems like carrying a baby around in the zombie apocalypse is going to be a bit of a metaphorical iron ball attached to the story's legs causing the audience to suspended disbelief even more. However, if you were hoping the child was alive, good for you. I'm happy someones glad the lil tot survived. Judith being alive isn't all bad, it did give us what I thought was a great scene with the older sister pulling a "Good Son" and going all psycho on the baby. I'm liking where they are taking that character. Very interesting plus that baby is just too cute!
So Tyreese is on daddy duty taking care of the baby, gets interrupted by screaming survivors, and rushes off to save them. While he's away, the kids get saved from incoming walkers by none other than... Carol! She might be one of my favorite characters on this show because she's really becoming the Ripley of the zombie world. Also, I'm a huge fan of the very cool pairing between her and Tyreese. I personally don't think Carol killed Ty's girl, I think she's covering for Lizzy, but I'm still anxious to see where they're going with that story thread. So they go off together like one big fucked up post-apocalyptic family until they run into a sign pointing to sanctuary. The same strong hold we heard on the radio earlier in the season. Terminous, even the name sounds suspicious. I don't know if I trust this safe haven, having avidly read the ongoing graphic novel, I think I may know where they're going with this, and its nothing good. I could be wrong but the arrive, survive thing sounds a little too convenient to me.
So we also get caught up with Maggie, Sasha and my man Bob. I think it's just the actor, but I love that character. Naturally, Maggie heads off to find her man, and the two follow to help out. They find the bus full of extras and they're all re-animated. Maggie fears Glenn's on there and this leads to a great scene. The actress who plays Maggie, her names escapes me at the moment does an amazing job at doing some trickery with the audience with her great silent acting chops. Although, I loved and hated this scene at the same time and its not really the shows fault. This scene could have been so much more tense if AMC didn't drop the ball and spoil they're OWN show by giving away the fact that Glenn wasn't going to be on the bus. The whole scene felt a bit pointless because in the back of my mind I know Glenn's going to be OK, because we all saw the promo of him laying on the shattered bridge. I mean c'mon AMC how could you drop the ball on that, that's just sloppy! As an actor who is starting to work in this business, I've learned that the marketing department isn't always in communication with the production department, but seriously AMC you really wet the bed on this one.
So we cut to our favorite ex-pizza boy back in the prison. I assume he got off the bus and went looking for Maggie. I was really glad to learn that we were going to get to see the prison again. It really carried a ton of emotional weight to see the home base that we knew and had grown to love for a season and a half in complete ruin. I really felt scared for Glenn seeing him surrounded by the ruble of his home and a couple hundred walkers around him. He makes it back inside and before leaving has what I would say perfect scene of him just quietly looking around his home and really feeling the loss. Again like I said before, I think Gimple and his writing staff are consciously taking the time to let the emotional beats land. While letting the audience take time to soak in the destruction and devastation these people are going through. After that we get to see riot gear Glenn push through an army of zombies. Something taken straight out of the comic! I love when they do that stuff. He also finds Tara which I think is a pretty cool pairing, Tara is starting to grow on me a bit I'll admit.
Once the two escape the destroyed prison they get to the main road. And I think this will be the last time they show the ol' corrections facility. It really was a fantastic set, great location, and the show did the prison story arc right in most parts. It felt like its own character and seeing it in pieces felt like we lost an old love. By the end of the episode, the two run into a trio of popular comic book characters, and seeing these three got me really excited! We are now entering a whole new chapter in The Walking Dead, and its staring to feel fresh and brand new again, and brings me back to the days of season 1. I'm super excited to see where they go from here, the balls in Gimple's court now that we're done with the prison, we can move forward, really see what Gimple does with a fresh new chapter in the zombie saga. So all in all, I'm giving episode 9 "After" a 7 out of 10. I liked the Michonne's stuff especially the dream sequence and I hope in the future we get to see some more flashbacks with her. And I liked most of the Carl story even if his interactions with his father felt a bit disjointed for me. I'm giving episode 10 "Inmates" a solid 9 out of 10, could have been a perfect episode if it weren't for the few problems I had. What did you guys think of the first two? Leave your reactions in the comments below and I'll see you all next episode!
Written by Isaiah Mueller