Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Walking Dead: 4.10 "Inmates"

And once again, we’re a week late on our Walking Dead posts. I’m going to give up on saying we’re one week late, and instead say we’re offering up weekly previews to the upcoming episodes. We meant to post this on a Sunday!! Because people liked our epistolary approach last week, and because we will always be in very different geographical locations, we thought we’d continue that format.

Dear Josh,
Well, we Canadians like to think we’re a hardy bunch, but occasionally this weather gets us down. In my case, it was looking up on Saturday to see a hole in my ceiling above my bookcase and realizing that my beautiful cathedral ceilings slope down on one side against the house, where the snow has been melting off and on for the past three months, sliding down the main roof and creating a massive ice rink between the two. It was inevitable that it would come through. But maybe, in the end, we are hardy, since I was out there knocking down icicles and my husband got right up on the roof, shovelling the whole thing off and then proceeding to work his way through three feet of ice up there. The leak has stopped. The hole in my office ceiling is huge and ugly. Ah well. I guess it could have been worse, right? RIGHT?! 

Yeah, I could have had walkers up there. 

On to this week’s Walking Dead! Another well constructed story, I thought, where we catch up on the remaining groups, each split up to have their own focus: 

-Beth and Derle
-Tyreese, Mika, and Lizzie [Borden]… and Judith!! You called it! And Carol!! I called it! :) 
-Maggie, Bob Stookey, and Sasha
-Glenn on his own
-Glenn plus Tara

Each story had its own theme, and yet each one overlapped with the others. They didn’t necessarily happen in chronological order, which is the best part (Tyreese and the girls leave the grapes behind that Beth and Daryl find), but show how each member of the group separated, yet they all follow the exact same path out of there. Beth and Daryl’s story opened with a voiceover of Beth writing in her diary months earlier, reminding us what a young girl she was and still is, and yet at the same time how much she’s grown up since writing that naïve entry. Tyreese has his hands full with a baby that won’t stop crying and two little girls who handle stress in very different ways. Maggie has one goal and one goal only, and that’s to find Glenn… and when she eventually kills a walker with black hair and black shirt, it looks like she thinks she actually DID find him and just killed him. Glenn wants to find Maggie, but must work together with a girl who had helped the Governor, the very man who’d put them all in this mess in the first place. 

I think the Tyreese story was the one that intrigued me the most, although I was pretty much on the edge of my seat for a lot of it. Lizzie is clearly the one who had been dissecting rats in the basement of the prison, and now, as Judith is frantically crying and Mika is begging Lizzie to make her stop, I seriously thought we were about to have a M*A*S*H moment there. Thank god Carol showed up when she did. At the end of the first half of the season I said I thought it would be great if Carol would meet up with Tyreese’s group and have to deal with that awkward moment of wondering if he knows what she did, while he’ll be leaning on her as a friend not knowing what she’d done. And sure enough it looks like that’s how it’s going to play out. How long before they’re reunited with the others and Tyreese discovers what happened? Until then, I’m thrilled to have Carol back and think it’ll be an interesting storyline (although I’m always a tad disappointed when things play out as I suspected; I like surprises far more). 

What was your favourite storyline? 

Whoa. There’s an icicle outside my office window that’s as big as I am. Gulp. 

Take care,

Dear Nikki,
Well, our vacation is over, I am sad to say. Mostly sad, anyhow, because to be completely honest, five days at Walt Disney World is about as far as one can push the happiness before something breaks. The truth is that for every attraction in each of the parks, there are roughly fifteen stores filled to bursting with things your children MUST HAVE PLEASE PLEASE DADDY OR I’LL JUST DIE. Couple this profoundly aggressive marketing with the physical strain of kids who are walking six or seven miles more per day than the norm, then multiply by the cumulative mental stress of said kids being a preteen brother and sister prone to goad one another to physical violence for fun (and with a frequency that would make Desmond Hume cry like a newborn), and you can imagine how quickly the potential for emotional eruption balloons from most likely to nigh-inevitable. That, I will not miss.

But hey – the bloodless parts were terrific.

We drove back on Monday, and I was right back to work on Tuesday, so I’ve just finally had a chance to catch up on this week’s episode. The vignette approach did a good job of getting us up to speed on everyone else from the core group, but using such a fractured structure wasn’t able to offer much in the way of substance, dedicating only ten minutes or so to each pocket of survivors. As for Beth and Daryl, we saw that the youngest Greene is trying hard to stay hopeful, and her presence is forcing the youngest Dixon to keep his usual cynicism in check, at least to a point, but there wasn’t much more to their interlude than that. The Maggie, Bob and Sasha section showed just how hard Maggie is taking the uncertainty surrounding Glenn’s fate, and Lauren Cohan was great. However, while the whole bus sequence was torturously tense, it was pretty much the full extent of their story this week. Both of these were solid enough sections, but they were also rather cursory, and neither revealed more than what we assumed to be true anyway.

The Tyreese and Glenn scenes offered more meat, if not necessarily surprises. Baby Judith is alive after all, and more important, little Lizzie is proven to be our amateur surgeon, just as we suspected. So funny that you invoked the M*A*S*H finale, because that is exactly what kept coming to mind as I waited for the tow-headed psychopath to suffocate poor Judith to quiet her. Glad that’s not what happened, but it still provided the most intense moments of the episode this week, I thought.

There is a similar storyline from the comics that I suspect we might be seeing set up here, a sad interlude involving two brothers named Ben and Billy. I won’t discuss specifics to prevent possible spoilers, but suffice to say that things get very dark. This show has never shied away from the awfulness, but murderous children will certainly take things to a new level, and I’m very interested in seeing how far they’re willing to go.

Speaking of the comics, we saw a few other nods to the source material this week in the last-minute introduction of several characters immediately recognizable to anyone who knows the source material, not to mention allusions to the ‘sanctuary’ we heard about over the car radio back in the first half of the season. The poster that Tyreese & co. find posted at the train tracks is labeled with the same word in its statement: ‘SANCTUARY FOR ALL, COMMUNITY FOR ALL. THOSE WHO ARRIVE SURVIVE,’ alongside a map with a location marked TERMINUS. Locals know that Terminus was the original name of the city of Atlanta, which first came into being simply because it was the spot chosen for the end of the railroad line into the southwest. To this day, ‘terminus’ is the name used for train or bus stations that serve as a final destination – the end of the line. Is that what it will prove to be for our survivors? And how are we to take the implication? Comforting, or ominous?

Well, I’d best get back to work. Hope things turned out ok in your study, as I can’t immediately think of many more terrifying word strings than “hole in the ceiling above my bookcase.” Even typing it made my throat clench up.

Dear Josh, 
Yes, I’ve got stacks of books on the floor near my fireplace and away from the hole in the ceiling as we continue to melt the ice from the roof (one week later, still working through it). And just in case that sentence also scared you, it’s no longer a working fireplace. :)

Your trip sounds remarkably like mine last January when we took the family to Disney World. I think that place is meant to drive parents completely batty by the end of it. Here was my account of my husband’s griping throughout the day.

I’m writing this from Niagara Falls, where we’ve taken the kids for the weekend. The Falls themselves have partially iced over, which looks amazing.

And you’re right about the Sanctuary. It’s unclear if it’s safe or a trick, but in a scene last season when Daryl, Michonne, Tyreese, and Bob Stookey were out driving they heard a woman’s voice on the radio saying, "Those who arrive, survive." This is clearly the same place. I’m intrigued and excited about what that holds.

It looks like both of us zoomed in on the same story being the most intriguing, which means the others were just pushing the story forward. For me, the best thing about this episode was the non-linear format. Daryl and Beth pass by a log and the camera holds on it. I thought it was focusing on the grey fungus growing on the side, and took it as clever symbolism: the fungus is a living thing feeding off the dead, but in the rest of the world the dead are feeding off the living. Only later did I realize that wasn’t fungus at all: it was the dead bunnies that Lizzie was methodically killing (and not offering up to eat). Then we see the shoe lying by the walkers in the Daryl scene. Later, the camera zooms in on Tyreese’s shoe and it looks identical to the one on the ground. This sort of storytelling created more suspense and intrigue than if they’d told it straight.

I’m sitting in a McDonald’s with the kids right now watching the Canada vs US hockey game. People are swarming in from the street just to watch it, buying coffee so they can stay. I love being in Canada during the Winter Olympics. So far we’re up by one with only a couple of minutes to go. Yesterday someone posted on my FB wall that the loser of this game has to keep Bieber. Fingers crossed it’s you guys. ;)

Any final thoughts on the episode?
P.S. Looks like you get Biebs, woohoo!!! "Baby, baby, baby, oh..."

Dear Nikki,
Niagara Falls sounds like a lovely way to spend a family weekend. Never been there myself. However, I did once visit a McDonald’s in Montreal, and let me tell you: you’ve never had a McMuffin until you’ve had a saucisse McMuffin avec oeuf.

I think we’ve covered the high points for this episode, but there were a few other notable developments we haven’t brought up. Foremost was the return of Lilly’s sister Tara, who is now accompanying Glenn along with the as-yet-unnamed new faces from episode’s end. I know you weren’t a big fan of her character during the Brian’s Song storyline, but I was glad to see her just for the connectivity her appearance provides. We discussed the narrative issues I had with the show’s attempts to redeem Philip Blake, but despite my eagerness to put those events in the rear view mirror, I still welcome a messier, more plausible denouement than the brisk economics of ‘Hershel’s dead; prison’s gone; on the road again; the end.’ I don’t really understand why we’re given such a hasty dismissal of Lilly’s fate, with Tara merely telling Glenn about how she saw her sister passively overwhelmed by walkers – suicide by zombie, in essence, as escape from the multifold tragedy her life had become. This seems like a scene that belonged in the midseason finale rather than offered up in an offhand walk-and-talk exposition dump. Nevertheless, I was glad to get even these small measures of persistence beyond the practical necessity of running the survivors out of the prison, and I hope Tara isn’t back just to serve as cannon fodder for upcoming conflict.

Speaking of sacrificial lambs, this week’s confirmation that Lizzie is indeed behind all the ritualistic bunny slaughter has made me reconsider a theory I’d first dismissed out of hand back when the subject first came up. Namely, is is possible that Carol confessed to Karen’s murder just to cover for Lizzie’s burgeoning psychosis? The idea that Carol killed Karen as an act of simple, icy pragmatism was and is largely acceptable, but it still feels out of character to me, regardless of the changes her personality has sustained over time. This notion of her lying to protect her surrogate daughter seems more plausible now than I originally believed, and I think it’s something to keep in the backs of our minds as the situation further develops.

You guys have a safe trip this weekend. And congratulations, by the way, on Canada’s decisive hockey victory over the US team in the Olympic Games! After thirty-plus years, you’d think we would be getting used to it by now. But while it’s true you are the undisputed continental champion in many respects (please see: maple syrup production, immigration, universal healthcare, Gino Vannelli fan club membership), we still kick your butt in per capita hot dog consumption. So there.

Beth, after spending the day at Disney World with two children.

Dear Josh,
And do you ever rock that skill, my friend. It’s the morning of the gold medal game of Canada vs. Sweden, and every Canadian was getting up crazy early (on the west coast, 4 a.m.) to watch the game… which we won, of course. Special exemptions have been made for the bars to allow people to drink in the morning. Which prompted me to ask my husband why we’ve put these arbitrary restrictions on ourselves; if you have a beer with breakfast, you’re an alcoholic. If you have a beer with dinner, it’s normal. Hm. As someone who doesn’t want a beer with either, I guess I can’t really weigh in either way!

Just wanted to say one last thing, that we did actually discuss the option that Carol was covering up Lizzie murdering the people, at first dismissing the idea because there’s no way Lizzie could have dragged the bodies outside and doused them with gasoline, but later offering it as a possibility if Lizzie did the killing and Carol was the one who dragged them out and burned them. It was one of the early fan theories, and now one that’s gaining more ground after this ep.

Looking forward to this week’s installment! Yay Team Canada!!


Efthymia said...

So, Lizzie is a psychopath. And it now looks highly probable that it was she who fed the rats to the zombies.
Dammit! I was getting attached to my Carl theory...

Ah, Glenn, once again he was amazing. I don't understand why there's "If Daryl dies we riot" but not "If Glenn dies we riot". This is the guy who got Rick out of the tank, and managed to get around the city without being eaten, and got willingly in a well with a living zombie to try and help the group, and discovered the barn full of zombies (true, because he was trying to have sex, but still), and fought a zombie while tied to a chair, and in this episode planned and executed an excellent exit from a zombie-swamped prison, and all this while still maintaining his humanity and morality and altruism. He is awesome!!!
I guess I'll have to resign myself to the fact that he is the Walking Dead's Arthur Weasley -hopefully that also means that the shows writers find it impossible to kill him off like J.K. Rowling found it impossible to do so with mr. Weasley (and Robert Kirkman, you stay away from TV Glenn. Forever.).

Rebecca T. said...

GAH! I hadn't considered the Ben/Billy connection with Lizzie/Mika. Wow that would be ... dark.

I was so excited to see Carol back and, especially, with Tyreese's group.

I thought it was an amazing episode, but I would have liked just a little bit more meat in a few of them - particularly the Darryl/Beth storyline. I think there is some fascinating things that could develop with the two of them wandering together.

My fear is that they are going to bring them back together too quickly. I hope they take their time to give us a little more exploration of these characters in their mini groups before the big blow ups inevitably occur.

Also really fascinated with the Tara addition and really hoping that Glenn gets better. Quickly!

Page48 said...

Offloading the Biebs to the US in a hockey game would redefine the "Miracle on Ice".

Suzanne said...

Wow, I hadn't thought of the theory that Carol was covering up for Lizzie's killing. Great theory, and it makes a lot sense. I also like how you highlighted her name Lizzie in connection with Lizzie Borden.

I agree with Efthymia, Glen is awesome. I am so glad he survived.