by Thom Yee
Carol has quietly become one of my favourite characters in The Walking Dead. Starting as a put-upon housewife, she’s one of the few characters who’s grown stronger and steadier over the course of the series in spite of having lost her husband and daughter (plus zombies being everywhere). This is in sharp contrast to her comic book counterpart who gradually goes nuts and kills herself, leaving her daughter behind (and yes, in the comics, Sophia is still alive and well and doing nothing of consequence). She even temporarily hooked up with Tyreese. Somehow, I don’t think that’s going to happen on the show.
“Isolation” deals with the aftermath of the virus’s discovery as it quickly engulfs the prison and even lays claim to an important character: Glenn. Having discovered the remains of Karen and David last episode, Tyreese goes nuts on Rick and Daryl, swearing that Rick needs to find who killed them. A plan is hatched by the council to raid a veterinary clinic 50 miles away for its antibiotics to treat the growing quarantine population. And that’s the setup.
My first thought as the episode began ran towards how poorly run the quarantine seems to be. I don’t know quarantine rules, I don’t have anything approaching advanced medical knowledge, but I did watch most of Contagion. Aren’t you supposed to, like, wear masks and stuff, like, all the time? And not just let sick people walk around coughing all over the place, or not let them go off by themselves — feverish and barely able to navigate — and just assume they’ll make it to the quarantine themselves? Or not give sick people a big hug?
Meanwhile, Tyreese’s post-Karen descent into madness has at least broken him out of his “I don’t want to fight” funk, but he’s still a character we don’t care about. It was good to see Tyreese killing walkers as one-fourth of Daryl’s antibiotics expedition (along with Michonne and Bob) later in the episode, but the emotional ringer Tyreese is going through in “Isolation” rings hollow as he’s still not a character we sympathize with. His insistence on personally digging graves for Karen [and David] despite the injuries he sustained fighting Rick at the episode’s opening displays where he’s at emotionally, but we still don’t feel what he’s feeling.
The twice aforementioned Daryl and Michonne-led supply run of course goes awry when the group is forced to abandon their vehicle as a massive herd of walkers blocks their roadway and their car becomes over (and under) run by walkers. Watching the group fight their way out of the car, it really makes me wonder why there’s a lack of investment in long-range hand-to-hand combat weapons. With the exception of Michonne’s katana, there’s always a lot of short knives, but few bats or axes. I never felt this more than watching Bob fight walkers once he was out of bullets (or choosing not to use them) as he was forced to coldcock walkers with his pistol. Seems to me everyone’s a lot safer when they’re not putting their hands and arms close to walker mouths and teeth.
The big revelation of the episode is who killed Karen and David. Based on the construction of this review, you might be able to guess who did it. And the way the episode is constructed also makes it pretty obvious. All I can say is it fits, and, to me, it shows a commitment to at least some level of organic character growth. And I really, really appreciated the way the episode ended with a simple, small confession. It wasn’t a drawn-out, emotional spectacle, and thankfully, because of this episode, the plot point itself doesn’t have a chance to become a drawn-out bore of a storyline.
Somewhat excited to see next week’s episode.
The Walking Dead “Isolation” final score: 7.5
Items of Note:
-It feels like there’s a lot fewer people at the prison now than there was in “30 Days Without an Accident”. Even excusing for recent deaths, we’re close to being back to only seeing main characters. It almost feels like they blew their extras budget on that first episode. But extras don’t usually cost money, do they?
-I forgot Maggie and Beth were related. That whole family’s messed up. Who knows what was happening with that Hershel family before we caught up with them?
-Bye bye Dodge Charger. We hardly knew ye.