AMC’s The Walking Dead Inmates TV Show Review. The Walking Dead: Season 4, Episode 10: ‘Inmates,’ picked up the pace, from last episode, in revealing the fate of the prison assault survivors. In doing so, “Inmates’ not only accounted for the mid-season cliff-hanger, but brought additional characters into the mix (old and new), and even managed to set up what may be in store for the rest of the season. Not bad, for a single episode’s work.
An opening monologue from Beth (Emily Kinney), a bittersweet journal account of the prison’s initial promise, represented her determination to keep herself alive in a way that truly counted. Partnered with Daryl (Norman Reedus) since the prison scramble, the pair had gone from dodging bullets to running from Walkers. With death a constant reminder (represented, at one point, by Vultures circling above their resting place), Beth resolved to find other survivors. Daryl did not share in this passion, but would not let her set about it alone. Leaving the Vultures behind, they were off to make a difference. For Beth, it wasn’t enough to just survive. This might not have seemed the case with Daryl, but Daryl has anything but a fragile psyche. He had also clocked his fair share of charity causes, so he did not need to share in Beth’s optimism to fight her battles. Ultimately, he may have figured a bad end would be an experience she needed to learn, first hand, from. A bad end there was, and learn a lesson she did. Beth resolved to carry on her father’s belief.
This introductory act was actually set at the tail end of the second act’s events. The fact that Beth and Daryl’s tale would turn out to be a prequel to some of the episode’s events – but only revealed as such in hindsight – helped set a sense of scale. At no point was it made clear how near or far each party was from the other, either in terms of time or space. Daryl and Beth were clearly following the trail of another group of survivors (I will consider Beth as the distraction that allowed Daryl to miss at least one… disturbing trail marker); but starting with the next act, it was made clear that the parallel narrative, of the previous episode, would be replaced by a dis-jointed series of resets.
Reset to the previous day, and sisters Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) & Mika (Kyla Kenedy). When last seen, the girls were attempting to escape the prison with baby Judith, but Judith’s carry case was later found empty and blood stained. Clearly the sisters made it out, but not without incident. There were more than just those three girls, when they first set out. Well, whatever may have happened since, the pair seemed to have traded up. Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman), last seen being rescued by a Lizzie kill, had caught up to them. The blood on Judith’s carriage was his; Judith was now in his care. An infant Human has none of the built-in survival instincts of, say, a wolf pup, or a fawn; so Judith constituted an omnipresent liability, both as a homing beacon for Walkers, and a constant source of anxiety for Mika. Lizzie, of course, had her own views on liabilities….
Lizzie, Mika, and Judith winding up under the protection of Tyreese was no small coincidence. There was a clear juxtaposing of the show’s weakest with its strongest; but also a clear contrast between gentle giant Ty, and Lizzie’s tightrope walk between nietzschean survivalist, and outright sadist. The real point of the pairing, however, had to be the fact that both the children and Ty had major ties to the act’s big character reveal. The real tension, for this act, came from Ty’s limited understanding of what he had gotten himself into. He had no idea what he had on hand, in terms of Lizzie, nor did he appreciate the encounter, with the revelatory character, for what it actually was.
With a major player now in tow, the party was made aware of the next stop in the ever changing, ever growing map of The Walking Dead landscape. The train tracks, featured prominently in promos for season 4.2, were now more than just symbolic, they lead to a promised sanctuary. I suppose it was left to the viewers, for the time being, to divine any deeper meaning behind the name of this new destination: Terminus.
Reset to time and place unknown, with Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), and Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) staking out a potentially ideal spot to make camp. Maggie, of course, wanted to pick up on the prison’s bug-out bus’ trail, while it was still hot. Bob, as part of his waning charm offensive towards Sasha, reinterpreted Sasha’s insistence they stick together, and all three set out. Having found the bus stopped across the road, the would-be escapees within now all Walkers, Maggie was determined to have a dangerously close look at each one. She needed to know whether her search for one escapee, in particular, would be ending there, or remain ongoing.
Reset to the prison, and Glenn (Steven Yeun). At some point during the prison scramble, off-screen, Glenn had left the bus in search of Maggie. Apparently, one of the tank rounds pumped into the prison left him unconscious; he awoke, dangerously close to serving as a piñata for Walkers, and left behind by the others. After taking a moment (too many people have been killed in their sleep, at the prison, to have made this a good idea), Glenn got his biter-proof riot gear on, and set out to find Maggie. He was mostly clear of Walkers when he noticed a hold out from Governor Brian’s assault force.
Tara (Alanna Masterson) had checked out of the assault the moment Governor Brian executed Hershel. By the time the confrontation hit maximum violence, she had given up, altogether – locking herself inside a utility cage. It is unclear how much of the carnage she witnessed, from there, but it was more than enough. Once Glenn talked her out of her cage, the two came to an understanding. Glenn was willing to overlook Tara’s part in the assault, and her complicity in Hershel’s death, because he needed help in finding Maggie. Tara, dealing with her own losses, and wracked with guilt over Hershel, may have seen an opportunity to atone.
Altogether, Maggie and Glenn’s respective quests to find each other was not as strong as the second act (“Dr. Ty & The Little Women”). By the end of Glenn and Tara’s tale, however, and to close out the episode, there was one more major reveal.
The beauty of the last two episodes was that they leveled the playing field. With no indication given, at the end of the mid-season finale, as to the fate of the scattered cast, every appearance constituted a reveal. The confirmation of an old cast member’s survival carried as much weight as a new character’s introduction (in the case of the second act’s reveal, much, much more). Combine the two flavors, and those revelations added up to an episode guaranteed to make even the most jaded fan smile, at least once (if not break into a fist-pumping outburst of affirmation).
By effectively wrapping up the fallout narrative in two episodes, rather than a larger arc, the series has set a much faster pace towards season four’s ultimate outcome. Add to this the episode’s final reveal – arguably the most relevant to source fans, since the first glimpses of Michonne and the prison – and there is much to expect from the rest of the season. For all the excitement three new characters are likely to cause source fans, I think uninitiated fans stand to benefit the most. With nothing but series history to go on (a history that introduced such gun wielding “saviors” as the Governor, and a list of compromised sanctuaries), these new developments will likely inspire apprehension. That apprehension can only help in building a sense of tension and suspense. For a show like The Walking Dead, there is no better way to keep running than maintaining a high level of suspense.