As last week took a closer look at Rick and Carl’s relationship and Michonne’s backstory, this week focused on where the rest of the group members are and how they got there. And though they are all scattered, their paths did almost cross. But even if it’s not time for the whole group to reunite, this episode did give us some very important reunions.
This year, the opening sequences have been pretty creative, and this episode was no exception. We hear Beth narrate (though her version was not nearly as compelling as when Brian – The Governor – Heriot did it in 4.6) an old entry from a journal she kept. It was a time of hope – when the group had just found the prison. As Beth talks of having her own bed again and how hopeful Hershel is about their new home, we see the juxtaposition in action as she and Daryl are running through the woods to escape a cluster of walkers. Beth is restless; she wants to do something to track the others. She is taking a page out of her deceased dad’s book and is trying to hold out hope that her friends and sister made it out alive. It isn’t an easy stance, and Daryl, depressed and spent, isn’t really buying into it.
Meanwhile, Lizzy, Mika and Tyreese are in the woods, also trying to evade walkers. After we see Tyreese, who has his back to us, we get a great reveal that Judith Grimes is alive. Now, I have to digress a moment to say I actually cheered at this scene. Since the mid-season finale, I was holding out hope that Judith really was alive. I just didn’t want the show to kill off the baby. After Hershel, it seemed like too much. I’m happy that they took a more positive route and decided she was tucked away safely in Tyreese’s arms the whole time.
Tyreese is stressed with the responsibility of keeping himself and the three girls alive. The scene when he’s asking a crying Judith what it is she wants and Mika is freaking out because there might be walkers close by provided a very relatable moment. Anyone who takes care of children on a regular basis can appreciate how stressful it is trying to get from here to there with crying kids, and that’s without the threat of zombies eating your brains.
When Tyreese leaves the girls to go assist some screaming people because “they might be from the prison” it’s a very questionable choice. Not because Lizzy is a burgeoning psychopath who likes to kill bunnies and almost smother crying babies, because Tyreese doesn’t know that (even though we do), but leaving two little girls and a baby alone in the walker-infested woods, even for just a few minutes, doesn’t seem like a wise decision. Luckily, though some walkers do shuffle up to the girls, Carol is back and comes to the rescue, having gone back to the prison and tracked Tyreese and the girls down from there. The way this scene was shot provided another great reveal, and quite frankly, it was good to see Carol again.
Tyreese thinks so too, and the look of relief on his face says it all. Not only is a prison group member back, but now Tyreese has some help taking care of the girls. Of course he doesn’t know Carol killed Karen, and it will be interesting to see how that revelation plays itself out. But for now, the small group travels together, and happens upon a sign, promising “those that arrive, survive” in a placed called Terminus. At last we get a reference to the mysterious Lost type transmission over the radio that Michonne and her group heard on a supply run back in 4.4. But Terminus sounds a bit too much like Woodbury already.
We see even more of the prison survivors as Sasha, Maggie and Bob are resting along a creek, patching up Bob’s bullet wound. Maggie wants to go look for Glenn (who was last seen on the prison bus), so she has the bright idea to split up and go searching for him. Geesh, haven’t these people learned anything about the zombie apocalypse by now? No splitting up! But Bob and Sasha follow Maggie at Bob’s urging, and the three come upon the broken down bus. Maggie decides she has to know if Glenn has turned into a walker, so they devise a plan to get the walkers off the bus one at a time. While it’s understandable Maggie needs to learn Glenn’s fate, she put Sasha’s, Bob’s, and her own life at risk. However, her decision did give us the powerful scene where she cries/laughs with relief after stabbing the last walker, realizing Glenn isn’t among them. As for the “good people” on the bus that died (aka prison extras), we didn’t know them, and the three of our group members didn’t seem that affected by it either, so moving on…
It turns out Glenn got off the bus and stayed at the prison to try and help, passing out before it was all over. Glenn wakes up at one of the guard towers seeing the prison is in ruins and is now overrun by walkers. When he goes inside and finds his cell, collapsing onto the bed, it seems that all the fight has gone out of him. But then that Polaroid he took of Maggie catches his eye and motivates him to forge ahead. He packs some supplies and dons some riot gear, bursting out the door through a gigantic herd of walkers. This scene is the kind that forces us to say “Ok show, I’ll file Glenn getting swarmed by hungry walkers but pushing past all of them without so much as getting knocked down in the same folder as cars that never run out of gas or supplies (be it food, formula, or antibiotics) that are readily available on post-looted store shelves.”
Glenn makes it almost all the way out when he spots Tara inside another fence, looking like she has given up. She hasn’t attempted to escape or fire a shot out of her pistol (though she didn’t open the gate and invite the walkers in either, so she still retains her self-preservation instinct). Glenn convinces her to go with him, and they fight their way outside the prison walls. Tara ends up saying (about herself) what the audience is thinking, and so in her self-deprecation the writers acknowledge that this character has some atoning to do. She also spills the beans to Glenn about Hershel, and Glenn tells Tara he needs her help to find Maggie. Tara does help Glenn when they come upon four walkers and after killing the first two, Glenn stumbles, suddenly overcome with exhaustion. I guess he was feeling rested and rejuvenated when he barreled through – oh a ginormous horde at the prison, but now he’s having a hard time? Tara assists by killing one of the walkers, and then after summoning the strength to kill the last one, Glenn passes out. Tara kills a walker who happens to shamble by, and we get an interesting shot of her (with her gaze on the camera in front of her) speaking to three people who just emerged from a military vehicle. I have since heard that this is the famous Abraham and his companions from the comics (though I adamantly stay away from the comic storylines for fear of spoilers) and that these characters will play an important role in the future storyline.
This episode was faster paced and more action packed than last week’s, which in one way made it more exciting. However, where “After” excelled in taking its time showing us the psychological journeys of Michonne and Carl, “Inmates” had too many people to catch us up on, and so didn’t provide as much opportunity to get inside the character’s psyches.
Despite its flaws, The Walking Dead has always done a good job of making me care about these central characters (with an exception occasionally). I actually want them to keep fighting. I want them to make their way in this post-apocalyptic world – together.
Having Carol and Judith back makes this second half of the season feel more hopeful. However, we all know that hopefulness in The Walking Dead is dangerous territory to tread, both for our characters and the audience. But in this point in time, the members of the group are coming close to finding each other again, and baby Judith lives. And that’s good enough for now.