'The Walking Dead' Recap: Season 4 'Inmates'

By Chris Baggiano,

“Inmates” now makes two episodes The Walking Dead has used to catch up with the survivors of the prison attack. Luckily, “Inmates” cast a much wider net on the characters leaving less time for the more boring stories, which helped the show progress a little quicker. Still, it seems as though a few of the characters, and audience, may be in for a rough time of wandering through the woods.

The first grouping of characters is Beth and Daryl. Beth’s journal entry from when they first arrived at the prison opens the episode as the two sojourn through the woods. Daryl seems pretty dejected about the prison but true to his character he presses on. Beth is much more hopeful, or at least is clinging to any shred of hope she still has, that they will find some of their former group. Their segment ends when they dispatch of a couple feeding zombies on the side of some train tracks and start walking down them. Beth’s journal segments really hammered the importance of the prison home, just in case the audience forgot. Nothing shattering happens here, as there is very little interplay between Daryl and Beth.

For those looking for shattering events the next segment, featuring Tyreese, with a mere flesh wound, and the two girls, Lizzie and Mika, more than delivered. First it is revealed that Tyreese is the one who took Judith. After this, however, Tyreese’s parenting and reassuring skills leave a lot to be desired. The segment stalls for a moment until Tyreese leaves the girls, complete with a wailing Judith, alone in the woods to investigate some nearby screams. This decision makes absolutely no sense at all. He comes across the same train tracks that Beth and Daryl came across but it is clear he has arrived before they did. There are a couple survivors being attacked by zombies and he enters the fray.

More interesting, however, is what is going on in the forest as Lizzie muffles her sister’s cries about an oncoming horde of zombies as she tries to silence the crying Judith. Lizzie is the more survival-minded of the two girls but it is creepy to see Lizzie seemingly focusing on silencing Judith so well that it looks like she’s trying to kill her. Then there’s a gunshot, which Tyreese hears, and after he dispatches the last zombie and all of a sudden the three girls and Carol appear behind him. Carol doesn’t tell him about her excommunication from the prison and then the remaining survivor tells them all of a settlement down the train tracks that will accept them.

The Tyreese segment clearly brings up some interesting aspects but it is disappointing that his time with just he and Lizzie and Mika ended so quickly. It would have been an interesting dynamic to explore with those three working together and becoming an unlikely team. The possibilities of the girls distracting zombies, or foraging for supplies as Tyreese fights off oncoming zombies could’ve been fun for a couple more episodes. Unfortunately the writers also saddled him with Judith so none of that could have happened. Now the audience will have to wait and see what this new settlement, Terminus, offers and if Beth and Daryl meet up with Tyreese and Carol or they have another near miss.

The last two segments focused on the separated star-crossed lovers Glenn and Maggie. Maggie is with Sasha and Bob and they tag along as Maggie goes to search for the bus that Glenn was on last time she saw him. Quickly finding the bus stopped on the road they see that everyone on it has turned into a walker. Maggie must know if Glenn was on it, however, so they open it up and dispatch of all the zombies until Maggie goes in and kills the last one. The audience is left to wonder whether Maggie’s hysterical crying/laughing is a result of her having just killed Glenn until…

…Glenn wakes up at the prison. How he was able to get off the bus and find his way to the top floor of the prison is a mystery but so be it. Just as hell bent as Maggie is to find him, he decides to stock up and search for her. Clad in riot gear he comes across Tara, the Governor’s girlfriend’s sister, and decides to bring her along with him. After Tara tells Glenn that the Governor killed Hershel and Glenn rallies her to not give up a huge Army truck sneaks up behind them with three random Army survivors.

The Glenn and Tara segment offers up a world of possibilities for the show to go down. It is clear what the new survivors bring to the table in terms of story, hopefully an entire origin episode isn’t one of them. And their arrival brings about all sorts of questions. But another opportunity may have been destroyed with their inclusion. While most fans wouldn’t want to see another love triangle included in the show – the Rick-Shane-Lori was so poorly executed and dragged on far too long – but it could have been interesting to see Glenn and Tara grow close as he searched for Maggie. In fact, having Glenn grow close to anyone aside from Maggie would be a good change of pace for the character. Instead the much flashier decision to bring in new survivors probably gets rid of any chance for Glenn and Tara to grow as close as they may have otherwise.

“Inmates” was definitely a hit or miss episode but at least it wasn’t the slog through teenage angst that last week’s “After” was. It introduced some, possibly, interesting new places and people and allowed the audience to check in on the rest of the prison survivors. It should be interesting to see how the writers juggle the different storylines and character groupings throughout the episodes and how those episodes are formatted. To say that “Inmates” invigorated The Walking Dead wouldn’t be totally true but it at least means the rest of the season won’t be mired in woodland jaunts, surviving “close calls” with random walkers.

image courtesy of AMC

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