AMC‘s The Walking Dead Indifference TV Show Review. The Walking Dead: Season 4, Episode 4: “Indifference” fit its title in so many ways. With the Veterinary School expedition overdue, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Carol (Melissa McBride) were set to head out on a supply run. Rick geared himself up, for their quality time together, with visions of Carol’s dirty deeds. Carol chose to gear up Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) for her absence. Thus was established how the two would approach the day’s events.
As for Daryl’s (Norman Reedus) expedition, there was a lot of ground to cover (after their run in with the mega herd), both geographic and personal. Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman), convinced they were already too late, continued to give in to mindless rage. Despite some flirtation, Michonne (Danai Gurira) was still getting grief from Daryl over her constantly leaving, trying to pick up the Governor’s cold trail. Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) addressed issues left over from his surviving previous groups; that, and his substance solution to quiet moments that rack his nerves. He questioned his own reliability, given his addiction, and voiced responsibility for Zach’s death; but Daryl gave him a pass. Michonne had words with Ty, over his anger issue, but wound up questioning her own preoccupation with the Governor. All of this was set aside when they went about collecting what they needed, Walkers hot on their heels. That was, until Bob risked his life – and briefly threatened Daryl – over what turned out to be an unrelated, personal pack load.
Rick continued his internal evaluation while Carol matter-of-factly tried to get him to accept the pressing reality of their situation (and her actions, accordingly). They stumbled across a survivor couple, Sam (Robin Taylor) and Ana (Brina Palencia), who, while in poor physical shape, were eager to earn a place in the group. As they had apparently passed Rick’s “3 questions” test, Rick wanted them to lay low, until extraction, but Carol seized on their eagerness, putting them to good use in harm’s way. It was over this difference – Rick’s concern for their safety versus Carol’s concern over their usefulness – that matters around Karen and David’s mercy murders were discussed. Carol rejected Rick’s communal ideals. She saw inaction, in the face of clear and present danger, and decided to fill the void. She saw a new reality of survival of the fittest, which had no room for the weak, the infected, or ineffectual idealists like Rick. If her stated views did not make up his mind, her indifference to the outcome of Sam and Anna’s assignments surely did. Fearful of what her suspension of conscience could mean for the others – his children, in particular – Rick banished Carol. Between the stated threat to the group, Ty’s threat to her, and her own hard-knocks outlook making her outcasting a viable option to Rick, she agreed to go.
The fourth “I” titled episode of the season provided some sizable questions with its answers. Questions of Bob’s place within the group, after risking everything for his own needs; the future of Lizzie and her sister; Rick having to face Ty and the others; most of all, the future of Carol. Will she reappear as the next Governor, the new Merle, the new Lennie, or something entirely new? There was a lot of Alpha Dog behavior on display, this episode; with Daryl literally brow beating Bob into submission, and Carol taking cues from Rick’s hesitance to assert her own authority. Carol had argued, in vain, to take the girls with her, but it was unclear whether this was out of personal attachment, or concern over their incomplete training. Momentary or not, the loss of a key figure, from the show’s original cast, should have been monumental, the resolving of her deeds not reduced to a scandal cover up. Unfortunately, much of these points were overshadowed by what has become the tone for the show.
A real sense of dread has set in, thus far this season, and it has not been a good fit. I have come to believe that the key to The Walking Dead‘s success has been a balance of hope and terror. Displays of character strength, in the face of fear of the unknown, with sudden breaks from and compromising of humanity in the face of certain death. Such dynamics gave the series both momentum and direction. Whether running from Walkers, confronting other survivors, or in-fighting over the future of their own lives and souls, the characters of The Walking Dead were always on their toes. Even when they were not on the run, they were always wary of what lay around the corner; always ready to fight or flee. At this point, in season four, they have been in a seeming struggle with death, itself, and have collectively thrown up their hands. This has been a threat they could not shoot or stab their way out of, so a degree of helplessness is understandable; but this has been bordering on a collective morass.
The sad fact is that this has not been a morass over insurmountable odds, but over comfort zones. Everyone had settled into one vision or another of life at the prison. Rick wanted to farm, Ty wanted a romance, Carol wanted a training site for the future defenders of all of the above. What we have since been presented with was an array of reactions to those prospects threatened or taken away. Worse than Rick’s deliberation, Bob’s chemical dependency, Carol’s culling or Ty’s blind rage, was acceptance. Everyone involved had simply accepted the situation as it has unfolded, and have been scrambling to salvage something to make the new normal go down smoother.
We got a long glimpse of this, last season, with Rick’s withdrawal over Lori’s death. That turn took Rick out of the ongoing story, and amounted to a drag on season 3. I had hoped that drag was noted, and that some assurance was given, earlier this season, that it would not be repeated. Well, apparently it was more contagious than the current outbreak.
I still expect the prison arc to end, and a return to the show’s run and seek roots. Until it is vindicated, in hindsight, by future events, I have to say (sadly, without irony) that indifference was all I took away from this episode. That very well may have been the point, but is this really the kind of point the show should be making?