'The Walking Dead' Review: "Inmates"

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The Walking Dead’ season 4 brings to life its 10th episode, “Inmates,” as Daryl and Beth search for survivors, Tyreese struggles to keep the children safe, Maggie and Glenn follow each other's trails, and several faces, both new and familiar make unexpected arrivals.

Last week’s ‘The Walking Dead’ premiere, “After,” saw Carl struggling to keep himself and his wounded father alive in the aftermath of the prison's destruction, while Michonne returned to her loner ways and searched for signs of life out on the road, so what does the latest episode of season 4 bring?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘The Walking Dead’ season 4, episode 9, “Inmates!”

Daryl and Beth continue making their escape through the woods, as in voice-over Beth writes in a diary to her deceased boyfriend Jimmy, explaining that they’d found a prison, and Hershel had convinced her to hope again. That night by a fire, Beth urges Daryl to pick up searching for other survivors, reluctantly stirring him when she goes off on her own.

The following morning, the pair find several walker corpses, discarded grapes and signs of a struggle, before a walker in a flannel shirt surprises Beth, and the two bring it down. The two next find railroad tracks, wherein multiple walkers feast on several unidentified bodies, before Daryl takes them out, and Beth breaks down crying. That night, Beth burns diary pages to stay warm.

Elsewhere, Lizzie and Mika follow Tyreese through the forest, revealing that Tyreese in fact saved baby Judith from the prison before Rick and Carl found the carseat. A while later around a campfire, Lizzie discreetly slashes the throats of a family of rabbits inside a log before Judith’s cries attract the attention of nearby walkers. Along the way, the girls manage to find and pick a few grapes, before a nearby woman’s screams attract Tyreese’s attention. Tyreese leaves Judith with the girls for the moment, urging them to run should they encounter walkers.

Tyreese follows the screams to the train tracks, wherein a boy and his father (wearing a flannel shirt) attempt to fight off a group of walkers before the son falls victim and the father sustains a smaller bite to the neck. Back in the woods, Lizzie attempts to muffle Judith’s cries, ominously covering the infant’s mouth before several walkers appear, bearing down on the girls. Tyreese goes to help, but is surprised to find Carol with the girls, having seen the aftermath of the prison and tracked them for several days. Still alive, the dead boy’s father urges the group to follow the tracks to a supposed sanctuary. Along the way, Carol covers for her absence from the prison with Tyreese, before the group finds a sign leading to the supposed sanctuary, called “Terminus.”

Sasha patches up Bob’s wound, as Maggie resolves to track down the departed bus with Glenn and the remaining Woodbury survivors. Along the way, Bob reminds Sasha that they need goals to keep living for, as Maggie spies the abandoned bus up ahead, apparently now filled with walkers. Bob and Sasha reluctantly aid Maggie in releasing the walkers one at a time, checking for certain that none of them are Glenn. After the bloodshed, Maggie enters the bus to kill a walker somewhat resembling Glenn at first glance, though Maggie’s subsequent tears quickly turn to a wide grin.

Glenn awakens back at the prison, having apparently gotten off the bus before it left, and passed out on a bombed-out walkway above all the hungry walkers. Finding no other survivors, Glenn grabs the remaining supplies and personal items from the cells inside, suiting up in the riot gear to fight his way out. After pushing through a crowd of walkers outside, Glenn spies a still-living Tara protected behind a fence, too distraught to care about her predicament. Burdened by his conscience, Glenn checks her gun to see that she never actually fired at anyone, enlisting her help for the two to fight their way out together.

Tara and Glenn successfully fight their way to the highway (the same one Maggie, Bob and Sasha passed earlier), as Tara apologizes for her role in the invasion, revealing news of Hershel’s death to Glenn in the process. Glenn admits that he doesn’t want Tara’s help, though he’ll need it to find his “wife” Maggie, before several pursuing walkers arrive on the road. Glenn passes out from the struggle of taking them down, leaving Tara to bludgeon the final walker to death just as a large military truck rolls up. Out steps a burly handlebar-mustached military man, a young Spanish woman, and a portly man fiddling with a walkie-talkie, who chide Tara for cursing at them and ask what supplies they have.

OUR REVIEW:

We have to admit, we were a bit surprised by the polarizing reactions to last week’s premiere, which to our eyes seemed like a perfectly small step to take toward picking up the pieces and providing a sense of momentum to the AMC monster-drama. No one would consider Carl among their favorite characters, for certain, and Chandler Riggs admirably did his best to carry the more dramatic moments of the episode, but “After” at least felt like an appropriately contained way to deal with the fallout of the prison, with a hopeful button at the end to keep things moving along.

‘Walking Dead’ secrecy being what it is, we’d more or less expected the subsequent episodes to take a similar approach, picking up only one, at the most two, of the splintered groups, though “Inmates” takes a vastly different, Rashomon-style approach to catching up with everyone all at once, in a way that felt like much more than we might have needed. And even then, the various vignettes sped through just about every burning question we had about the back 8 episodes, from Judith’s survival, to Lizzie’s rabbit habit, Carol’s return and the Sanctuary. We’ll trust for now that the storytellers have plenty more material and direction for the remaining six episodes, as however satisfying it might feel to have so many answers and character appearances doled out at once, savoring and subtlety seem to have gone out the window.

Along the same lines, following four different post-prison stories naturally leads to a bit of short shrift that suffers for the lacking patience. Daryl and Beth seemed like an interesting pairing of a fan-favorite character with the show’s least memorable one, but despite their focus early on, very little actually arises from their portion of the story, which only sets up a few of the time-tampering story elements, before we necessarily knew that was happening. For instance, it took a second viewing to realize that the walker attacking Beth in the woods was the bitten father we met in Tyreese’s story, or that the grapes on the ground were from Lizzie and Mika. The lingering shot of the animal carcasses in the logs might end up lost on viewers as well, given that we must have missed Lizzie even killing the creatures on our first viewing.

So while Daryl and Beth had little to do, Tyreese’s portion of the story bore the most fruit, at least from a narrative standpoint, revealing Judith’s survival, confirming Lizzie as the animal butcher, returning Carol and placing the five on the path to a sanctuary of sorts. Meanwhile, Maggie, Bob and Sasha’s story seemed to exist largely to tie up any loose ends with the escaping bus, only posing the question of Glenn’s survival, answered after the commercial break anyway. Glenn’s side of the tale only had a bit more to do anyway, picking up a few items from the prison and incorporating Tara into the story on the way out, though we have to wonder if both stories might have been better served without the change in Glenn’s status.

We last knew Glenn to be on the bus, before it mysteriously drove away, so would it not have been simpler to have Tara be the driver, hence the reason for its early departure? What even happened to the passengers aboard the bus, to have stopped in the middle of the highway, and somehow all become walkers without any of the vehicle's doors opening? All either story seemed to set up was that Glenn hadn’t been aboard by the time everyone died, while Glenn only needed to meet Tara before Abraham and his cohorts arbitrarily rolled up, so there doesn’t seem to be any real reason either story became as separated, or altered the flow of time as they did.

It’s a tough pill to swallow, given how much and how quickly “Inmates” caught us up with all the different groups, but we can’t help feeling like the episode itself buckles a bit under the weight of so much story. If nothing else, we’ve got more than a few tantalizing teases to chew on for a week, from the mysterious sanctuary and Carol’s powder keg of a relationship with Tyreese, to Abraham, Rosita and Eugene’s arrival. Just slow your roll, ‘Walking Dead.’ We’ll get there.

Well, what say you? Did you get your fill of thrilling zombie killing?  What did you think about the major surprises and unexpected character arrivals? Check out all our other ‘Walking Dead’ season 4 premiere coverage, and join us next week for another all-new episode recap of episode 11, “Claimed,” on AMC!

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