The Walking Dead recap: 'Isolation'
After the last episode ended with so many unanswered questions, one mystery is solved — Carol set fire to Karen and David. (No one cares about David but one more truly dead person means one less survivor in the post-apocalyptic struggle for the human species.)
We know why she did it — to stop the spread of the flu virus. (As Tyreese notes, she didn’t.) We know why she didn’t admit to doing it right away. (Tyreese is not happy.) But what we don’t know are the circumstances in which she burned them as well as the moral rationale she had in carrying out such a brutal action.
For instance, were Karen and David still alive when she set them ablaze? When Rick revisits the “crime scene,” he places his palm over a patch of blood on the door. This seems to indicate that Karen or David reached out to hold the door as Carol dragged them out to the patio. At least one of them must have been alive when she dragged them from their cells and burned them. (Plus, as a guest on Talking Dead following the episode, executive producer Gale Anne Hurd intimated they were burned alive.)
Should Carol have waited until they were dead to burn them? Were they already turning as she moved them? The amount of blood suggests they were very close to succumbing to their flu — or Walker — symptoms. It’s a moral dilemma — perfect for EW Comment Section Debate Club!
Speaking of moral dilemmas, Tyreese and Rick’s interactions highlighted their similar grieving methods (MAN RAGE!) and their different conclusions coming out of such a flood of emotion. Overwhelmed by Karen’s grisly death, Tyreese lashes out at everyone and anyone, striking Rick. No stranger to overwhelming grief/rage, Rick reciprocates and meets Tyreese’s punches and then some. They eventually come to an understanding, but Tyreese is dead set on bringing the Firestarter to justice. He even criticizes the former Sheriff Grimes for being more concerned with collecting water than doling out justice for murderers.
Already unsettled from Zach’s abrupt death before any of the flu virus hoopla started, Tyreese is understandably rattled. But fighting to survive the onset of another deadly virus all the while struggling to survive the Zombiepocalypse seems more pressing than solving the alleged murder of two infected people.
Side note: Although D’Angelo Barksdale and Cutty never had a scene together on The Wire, the small scene between Bob and Tyreese is a Wire fangirl/boy dream. I don’t think D’Angelo would have made it nearly as far as Bob has during the Zombiepocalypse, but I think Cutty would make it through at least as far as Tyreese has. (Wire fans, how would other characters from the Entertainment Weekly‘s Greatest TV Show of All Time fare against the Walker Menace?)
NEXT: A Block may be hellish, but cover your damn mouth!
I almost laughed when Hershel and Glenn talked about how “everything could be okay,” now that the only two known infected people were dead. Yes, everything could be okay. You could win the lottery tomorrow. I could be an android. There’s could — and then there’s reality. The flu virus spreads like wildfire, infecting the survivors of the D Block outbreak and some of the first responders including Sasha, Dr. S, and Glenn. (If Glenn dies, I’m done with the show. No, not really, because that’s ridiculous. I’ll just be really upset.)
The Council reconvenes to determine how to stop the spread of the flu virus and save the infected. Hershel suggests raiding a veterinary school for antibiotics that can help with the flu’s debilitating symptoms such as bursting blood from every orifice. However, the school is 50 miles away from the prison, and there is no guarantee it hasn’t already been raided. Nonetheless, Daryl and Michonne volunteer to lead a team to procure the meds. (Anyone else sensing some vibes between Daryl and Michonne? It may just be the fangirl in me overanalyzing glances a la Downton Abbey, but it is refreshing to see these two interact. They are, at least, kindred spirits.)
The infected are contained in A Block — a dreary, Azkhaban-like cell block where it is hard to imagine anyone can survive. That being said, the infected lack basic hygiene and common courtesy. I’m no obsessive germaphobe, but I know to cover my mouth when I cough. (Elbows not hands!) I know not to smear blood coming out of my mouth onto the back of my hand. I also know not to cough blood into someone’s face! (Dr. S should know better.) For a show that has had more than its fair share of gross-out moments, the lack of common sense hygiene practices amongst the living is some of the worst moments to watch.
With the infected isolated in A Block, the most vulnerable are also quarantined. A quarantine for kids means The Walking Dead: Next Generation is one step closer to becoming a reality. Take note, Teen Nick. While Beth is also in quarantine in order to take care of Judith a.k.a. Little Asskicker, she is not also responsible for taking care of the next gen group. Rick places Carl in charge of looking out for the other children — what could possibly go wrong?!
Rick, Tyreese, and Carol may be unstable, but I think the true ticking time bomb this season is Carl. The return of his gun has brought about the return of his hat. The return of his hat and gun signify the return of his willingness to kill — without remorse. His cold, blank expression is colder and blanker than ever before. My face cringes in dismay when thinking of Carl interrogating Hershel. “I can’t just let you go into the woods by yourself,” Carl tells him. “Let me?” Hershel replies, surprised. Carl believes himself to be the heir of the Ricktatorship. Without Hershel, Rick, or even Michonne to set boundaries, Carl is primed to take whatever extreme measures he deems suitable. If Carl suffers a psychotic break, The Walking Dead: Next Generation may fall under a Carltatorship. They got trouble, right there in the prison community — with a capital T and that rhymes with C and that stands for Carl.
NEXT: Mega Herd versus Giant Badasses
Heavy hitters Daryl, Michonne, and Tyreese (plus Army medic Bob) make up the crew for the meds run. Tyreese reluctantly joins after visiting Sasha, who is suffering in A Block. We still don’t know a lot about Bob, but we’ll have to wait and see whether that’s due to lack of character development or future secrets to be revealed. The Meds Crew is a solid group with only Bob as a possible wild card. (He didn’t do so well at the last run.) But even so, a team with Daryl and Michonne is tough to beat. As such, the writers decided to throw the greatest Walker threat since the first season in their path.
Cruising in Zach’s muscle car, the Meds Crew briefly hear a voice on the radio. Before Daryl can get a lock on the right frequency, strategically placed traffic cone Walkers block the roadway. But they are just the precursor of a herd — A MEGA HERD — of Walkers that have overrun the highway. Stuck on a pile of Walker roadkill, the crew abandons the car and makes a break for the woods. Tyreese hesitates to only go full berserker on a crowd of Walkers. Thinking Tyreese has set himself up to go down in a blaze of glory, Daryl, Michonne, and Bob escape further into the woods. Miraculously, a bloodied but living Tyreese is close behind them. While I’m bummed that the infected will now have to wait longer than anticipated for antibiotics, I’m pumped to see the Meds Crew in action. Displays of moral ambiguity and musings on the human condition are fascinating but so are zombie decapitations.
While I enjoyed how up-front Carol’s confession is at the end of the episode, this is all I can muster up to say about the “stupid thing” she did.
To end on a better note than the utterly idiotic plotting of Carol’s risky, guilt-ridden behavior, Hershel had a standout moment this episode. As the current moral center of the series (still miss you, Dale!), Hershel proclaims his outlook on living through the Zombiepocalypse:
With humanity facing near insurmountable obstacles, is the end inevitable? Is a life solely based on survival a true life? What is the purpose of life? These are heavy questions to contemplate, especially on a show filled with undead monsters. That’s why I love genre fiction — a great work of fantasy, sci-fi, and horror contains resonating elements that sell the fantastical elements that make it “genre.” The Walking Dead stumbles in this regard, often overselling emotionally resonating moments to the point of melodrama. But when it gets something right, it’s moving. Hershel’s fate seems all but sealed but hopefully his magic elderberry tea can save others and his life philosophy continues.
Walker of the week: The tree walker possesses a quiet, tragic beauty. (I know that sounds weird, but it’s a powerful image.)
Questions to consider:
Was Carol right for taking Karen and David’s fates into her own hands?
Is Tyreese right for wanting justice for Karen and David’s deaths?
Should Rick reclaim a leadership role?
Who will die next?
Who is the voice on the radio? What is he or she offering?
When will the mega herd reach the Prison?
Where is the Governor?
Who is the Walker Feeder?! Could it have been Lizzie? What about Bob? (Yes, I’ve been waiting to write that.)