‘After’ was Rick’s, Carl’s and Michonne’s episode, ‘Inmates’ everyone else’s. The recurring shots of a sign with the words “Hitchhikers may be escaping inmates” on it was a playful touch: literally everyone we saw fleeing the prison two episodes ago was accounted for, hiking through the woods looking for each other, food or a place to stay the night. ‘Inmates’ was a chain of segments, each about a couple of The Walking Dead‘s characters, and it worked well: it answered a lot of questions and introduced the motivations of the different groups, so we know what they’ll be up to moving forward. A cliffhanger additionally introduced some new characters to the mix, but it’s way too early to say anything about these three. Let’s instead focus on our mainstays.
‘Inmates’ started out with its best segment: Beth and Daryl running through the woods, escaping from and fighting of walkers. This was juxtaposed with Beth’s voice-over, which narrated a letter she’d written in prison, expressing the hope that, finally, she and her group had a place that would last forever, putting an end to a life of survival and insecurity. It worked really well, partly because of the writing, partly because Emily Kinney and Norman Reedus made the disappointment and exhaustian palpable, relying on body language and glances to subtlely emote.
Tyreese’s segment was up next and it was the weakest by far: this comic book favorite once again acted like a total idiot, leaving the three girls under his care (yes, unsurprisingly Little Ass Kicker is still alive) alone in the woods while he ran to rescue two complete strangers. It was in itself a moment to roll your eyes at, but it got even worse: the two men fighting off walkers were completely and painfully incapable (just badly written or also badly choreographed?), and Tyreese proved once again that when he pulls out his hammer, he can’t stop hammering, even when the people he cares about are screaming like their lives depend on it (which is actually the case). The subsequent “Carol Ex Machina” didn’t help either. The only moment of real tension came from Lizzie, who’s not quite sane and in a moment of panic (was it?) smothered baby Judith to keep her quiet. But once Carol showed up it was dropped and there was no mention of it again this episode.
Next up were the two segments which basically were about Maggie and Glenn trying to find one another, which resulted in Maggie literally killing a busload of walkers and Glenn playing rugby with some back at the prison. Maggie was with Sasha and Bob, who are by the looks of it part of the next attempt at a romance plot, and Glenn ended up with Tara by his side. What was mostly weird about these two segments is how healthy Glenn and Sasha were, while they were incredibly ill when we last saw them. It’s these kinds of continuity errors/sudden unexplained solutions that have always chipped away at The Walking Dead‘s solidity, as well as the inability to effectively come up with real surprises. An example of the latter was the instance where Maggie killed the last walker in the bus, while the camera didn’t show us his face; it’s such a common way to fool the audience, that it has lost all its power to misdirect. Glenn’s survival wasn’t called into question because of it, his survival had become a certainty.
It’s always taking the easy way out that keeps The Walking Dead from being one of the better shows. This week’s writing and direction were too lazy most of the time, taking away from the moments that actually worked wonderfully. 5/10