The Walking Dead: 4.05 - Internment
Spoilers! Spoilers! Spoilers! Do not read on if you don’t want to know anything about episode 5.
After a character building start to Season Four - which you can read about here - things finally start to ratchet up a bit. Following last week’s road trip and the surprise departure of Carol - she’s going to come back though right? - we return to the confines of the prison and a dual thread between Hershel inside the quarantine zone and Rick and Carl outside it.
Really though it’s all about Hershel this week. Arguably the only completely moral character on the show, Hershel can sometimes be pretty annoying, handing out his pearls of wisdom, sitting in judgement, and advising, all while not really doing a lot. ‘Internment’ brings this all together and gives us a turning point for Hershel. As the virus in the prison gets worse and starts killing people off it’s revealed that Hershel has never killed a Walker. The Walker offing has been left up to others until this point, with Glen and Sasha doing the deed so far inside the infected prison. That Hershel is not keen to get his hands dirty just reinforces the opinion that he lacks the stomach for the world he’s now in. To its credit though the show plays its hand steadily, with the situation worsening and Hershel’s helpers dropping like flies due to the disease. His first kill, of a Walker, is laden with remorse, covering the face of the dead before bringing the blade down only adds to the sense that a part of Hershel is now gone. The disbelief plastered across his face after being given the news that Carol, previously his peer in the morality stakes, has murdered innocent people is one of the moments of this series so far. Hershel is a man on the very edge, having placed himself in danger, and helping those he cares about fight for their life, he knows at any second things will turn but carries on. His breakdown in the final scene inside the prison is heartbreaking.
Whilst Hershel’s had a straightforward character development trajectory Rick’s journey has been all over the place. From murdering his best friend to being unable to save his wife, and recently to being a peaceful farmer. It’s been a long time since the real Rick has shown his face but we’re beginning to see him back. After dispatching of Carol last week, packing her off in a car not killing her, he’s back to the prison this week to break the news. Still riddled by self doubt he’s constantly questioning his actions with others, luckily they’re got their own problems to deal with so aren’t about to worry about him. There’s finally some bonding with Carl, they build a fence, somewhat unsuccessfully, and mowing down Walkers in a hail of semi automatic gunfire is The Walking Dead equivalent of fishing. A scene at the end with a switch of focus from Rick’s gun on his belt to the freshly picked pea pod in his hand is a bit heavy handed.
One of the great things about this show is that all the characters are at risk all of the time. Already this season we’ve seen Patrick and Zach bite the big one, then there’s the shock of Shane, Lori, Andrea, Merle, any of the other main characters that have left our screens. That’s why the tension is so ramped up when people are placed in peril, Sasha and Glen were struck down this week and you really felt the race against time to get them drugs. There’s no other show on TV where you feel the characters are constantly at risk, except maybe Game Of Thrones.
And finally, there he is. The Governor is back.
New episodes of The Walking Dead are on Fox (and Fox HD) every Friday, and repeated throughout the week.