After last week’s Carl/Rick/Michonne outing, I figured we would get a few more weeks connecting with all the other survivors and seeing them develop a little bit more. In the 4.5 premiere, we learned a lot about both Carl and Michonne’s changing mental landscape, how Carl wants to be tough but still needs his dad, and that Michonne is evolving into a more social creature.
But this week, “Inmates” was a bit more of a brutish affair. We did indeed catch up with all the other fleeing crew members, but if there was more than a whiff of character development in the air, I couldn’t seem to locate it.
Rather, it was a plainly laid out series of events that simply showed that yes, everyone is alive and yes, they’re all sort of near each other. Jamming in the locations of literally every other cast member meant there was almost no room for anything other than zombie killing.
“What if we sing to the zombies?”
We’ll kick off the series of rather confusing timelines with Beth and Daryl, who simply spend their time running through the woods, killing zombies, making campfires, and brooding. I love Daryl the badass, but Daryl the character has never been particularly compelling if I’m being honest. The same goes for wide-eyed Beth, and honestly nothing of value would have been lost if all their scenes were cut from this episode. I like the pairing of them together, but not if it’s going to continue to be as awkward as this.
The most interesting group is Tyreese, the two little girls and now Carol, who we learned circled back to the prison right as the shit was hitting the fan. Now Tyreese is traveling with the crazy ass little girl that killed his girlfriend, and the woman who helped cover it up that Rick thinks committed the crime herself. Oh, I’m sorry, is that supposed to be a secret?
The Walking Dead is really bad at surprises. Lizzie being a little monster has been hinted at for eons now, and the revelation that Carol was covering for her is sort of a “no duh” moment at this point. In case you weren’t sure, this episode she helpfully almost smothered Judith to death, who in another shocking turn of events, is actually alive. Did anyone seriously believe the baby was dead other than Rick and Carl? Like, that wasn’t even close to a mystery, and again, this show is not good at keeping secrets.
Someone learn how to braid these girl’s hair properly.
The third non-surprise of the evening was that Glen is alive. I’ll admit it was sort of compelling scene as Maggie cleared the bus of Woodbury walkers as she tried to find Glen, but it was pretty clear if they were going to kill Glen, this certainly wasn’t going to be the way they were going to do it. Making it a commercial cliffhanger whether Glen was alive or not absolutely indicated that he was, so there was no real tension there, as good as Lauren Cohan’s acting was (she’s one of the only convincing cast members these days).
Glen’s story was the most perplexing, as we see him wander around the prison packing a bag for a solid ten minutes, followed by an explanation that he got off the bus without anyone seeing “to help” and then woke up unconscious on a ledge. I feel like a few pieces were missing from that story, and it was sort of a bullshit explanation.
Glen meets up with the only new character we got out of the Governor’s storyline, what’s-her-face’s sister, what’s-her-face. I still don’t know her name, only that she’s a wannabe cop, a lesbian, and chickened out during the fight. Since Lori and Andrea are dead, it seems the show absolutely had to seek out a new annoying female character for us to roll our eyes at, and even though it’s early, she seems to fit that bill. The show has male villains we hate, but female characters that are just irritating and useless, and that’s depressing. They don’t need a token annoying female on staff at all times, and I hope that what’s-her-face doesn’t slide into that same, tired role now.
“Oh God I am so hungover.”
More confusion abounds in the very end of the episode when somehow a giant military truck sneaks up on her and Glen, and out comes Abraham, a new comic character flanked by two other comic characters, all of whom look very much like comic characters. I know next to nothing about any of these people because I gave up reading the comics as they became increasingly confusing as the show veered in and out of the source material. The show and comic share loose overarching plot framework, but all the details are jumbled, so I don’t want to read ahead and think someone’s going to die when they won’t, or vice versa.
Even from one line, Abraham seemed a bit cartoony, but I’m always curious to get to know new characters. I’m also interested in whatever this new promised sanctuary town will be like, and what Abraham has to do with that. It can’t just be Woodbury 2.0, even if that’s what it sounds like so far.
Once again, while the Walking Dead has its brief flashes of brilliance, as a rule it can underwhelm pretty consistently, and this week made last week look like the Breaking Bad finale in terms of quality. I’m tired of jumbled plotlines and fake surprises, I need to be truly shock and awed. But honestly, I’d rather be moved by the characters than stunned at their deaths. That would be the biggest surprise of all.