Thursday, 31 October 2013

S4x3 - The Walking Dead: Isolation

Aired 27/10/13 on AMC

Angst and anger, thy name is The Walking Dead. Jeez, this was not a cheery episode. Season 4 continues its journey of becoming more of a character based show than before, and this episode was full of dying sick people, temper tantrums and stone cold solutions, with only a sprinkle of action to top it off.

It started off at the crime scene from the end of the last episode with Tyreese, Rick, Daryl and Carol standing over the burned bodies of David and Tyreese’s lady friend (who is apparently called Karen. Who knew?). Tyreese was very confrontational with all of them and ended up cracking Rick across the jaw a few times after commanding the former sheriff to solve the case, but Rick wasn’t having any of that and proceeded to go a bit crazy and pound the living daylights out of Tyreese. That’s what you get.

Tyreese’s anger continued throughout the episode, and I’ve watched enough TV shows to know that when a character is in the anger stage of grief, they are either completely badass or completely irritating. Tyreese was the latter. He buried the bodies, huffing and puffing along the way and then decided he was going to stand guard over the quarantined sick people, which now included his sister Sasha. Eventually he realised that this wasn’t really helping and went with Daryl, Michonne and Bob to go and get meds. But when they encountered an army of Walkers who promptly swarmed the car, he just sat there for a bit while the others got away, before taking his anger out with a machete. Just when it looked like he was a goner he came bundling through the trees, looking a bit weary, but alive.

I get that when you’re angry your ability to make sensible decisions is a bit clouded, but when it happens to a TV character it bugs the hell out me. They spend an episode making stupid decisions, annoying the crap out of everyone, before finally having the life-saving epiphany at the end. Frustrating, but also a sneaky TV trick as it gets you more invested in what’s going on, as you desperately want it to go back to how it was. The Tyreese situation was no exception.

While he was busy being angry at the world, more and more people were coming down with the Walker-inducing sickness, and unfortunately this included Glenn. After some pretty heavy storylines last season, so far Glenn and Maggie haven’t had much going on, except the pregnancy scare in episode one. But Glenn has been there since the beginning and is one of the show’s most beloved characters, so if he dies there are going to be a lot of angry viewers. But that’s one of the beauties of The Walking Dead: just when you think someone is safe, they are either seriously injured, left behind or they die.

Perhaps the most developed character since the beginning is Carol, who went from being the meek wife to an abusive husband, to a possible love interest for Daryl, to the complete badass who will do whatever it takes to protect the ones she loves. That includes burning two people to stop the spread of the sickness. That’s right, Carol is not just someone who teaches children how to use knives, she’s also now a murderer, despite her good intentions. In this world, surviving is the number one priority over everything, including moral decisions. Did she do right, even if it didn’t work, or has she just turned into a cold blooded murderer? Either way, it made her a lot more interesting than she’s ever been so I’m good with it.

Carl is coming up to a close second on character development, as this episode showed that even though he’s regained some child-like qualities, he is more mature than the majority of adults in the real world. Stuck with the quarantined kids, he catches Hershel sneaking out and completely shatters any notions that he is still the little kid from season one as he berated Hershel and insisted that he go with him. Also, his break from using a gun has apparently worked as he didn’t needlessly shoot a Walker and walked away instead. He’s so grown up, bless him.

Although there wasn’t as much action as there usually is, Isolation was still pretty significant, if for nothing other than learning more about the characters. It was a necessary episode to set up future ones, with the majority of the prison dying in isolation, the med retrieving group stranded in the woods and Rick left to deal with the knowledge of what Carol did. All of these will inevitably lead to some good storylines.

I also want to mention the cinematography, as some of the shots were damn near beautiful, like Hershel and Glenn silhouetted on the prison walkway, or the camera slowly zooming into Beth’s face during her and Maggie’s talk through the wooden door. It made up for the lack of action and I will be very happy if these types of shots continue throughout.