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    This week’s episode of The Walking Dead, “Inmates,” was written by Matthew Negrete and Channing Powell and was directed by Tricia Brock. The episode is stunningly structured and contains some happy surprises and answers some burning questions. The episodes two big reveals are that Judith IS alive and the return of Carol (Melissa McBride). Interestingly, Brock also directed “Indifference” this season which Negrete wrote – the last episode we saw Carol in.

    No doubt some people were anxious last week to know what had happened to their favorite characters. This week answered all of those questions and almost felt like we didn’t get quite enough of anybody. However, whereas last week focused on the internal struggles of Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Carl (Chandler Riggs), this week’s episode focused on the others fleeing from the prison, and the frenetic pace was a nice mirror to what the characters were experiencing. There were a number of long shots that made the characters look very small and vulnerable as they are thrust back out into the world. I also loved the way they all kept crossing each others’ paths.

    The episode begins with Beth (Emily Kinney) and Daryl (Norman Reedus). We hear Beth’s voice reading her journal. In contrast to the horror of the present, we hear a hopeful Beth from when they just arrived at the prison and her hope that they could live there safely forever. And we have a final word from Hershel (Scott Wilson): “If you don’t have hope, what’s the point of living.” She goes on to say that you should write down wishes to make them true. Later, however, we see her ripping pages out of the journal to help start a fire – her wishes going up in smoke.

    It’s Beth who insists they must do something because they can’t be the only survivors. Daryl is closed off. He’s lost the only group in which he’s ever felt that he was important, that he was actually almost a celebrity in back in the first episode this season. They find footprints and we see the dead baby rabbits in the log. Daryl says the footprints are 4 or 5 hours old. Beth is still in nurturing mode and gathers grapes because “they’ll be hungry when we find them.” Daryl is uncharacteristically cruel to Beth when he reminds her that faith didn’t save Hershel. They work together to bring down the walker that attacks Beth, however. After finding a tiny shoe – which looks a lot like Mika’s (Kyla Kenedy), Beth finally breaks down. It almost looks like Daryl thinks about leaving her, but he goes back for her. The final scene with them sitting at another campfire – after going the other way than the others down the railway tracks – has another excerpt from Beth’s journal: she muses that if the prison doesn’t work, she’s not sure how she could keep going.

    We next pick up the story of Tyreese (Chad L Coleman), Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino), and Mika. The first shot is terrific as Tyreese turns to reveal he is carrying Judith. Tyreese is clearly not an experienced babysitter. Sharbino continues to impress as Lizzie is revealed to be increasingly unbalanced. We see her killing the baby rabbits, not letting anyone else see. Was she the one experimenting on the animals back at the prison? Tyreese is the one person who may be able to put those two things together. When Judith starts to make a fuss, Lizzie tries to quiet her by holding her hand over her mouth. Sharbino is really impressive in this scene as her face goes completely lax as she is absorbed by killing Judith. In fact, she is in a virtual trance, now even defending herself or Mika against the walkers attacking them.

    It’s pretty ironic when Mika apologizes for not being like Lizzie. Mika reacts the way a normal little girl would. Both Lizzie and Carl have been irreparably changed by the things that they have seen and been forced to do. Mika is the only one who can really get through to Lizzie at this point.

    I loved the way this segment shows how all the clues that Daryl found were left. It’s Tyreese’s blood on the leaves and the girls’ grapes that he finds crushed. Tyreese kills the walkers near the tracks that Beth and Daryl find and the last man they talk to, who tells them to stay on the tracks and sends them to Terminus, is the walker who attacks Beth. We never do learn whose shoe was left, however.

    It was wonderfully ironic when Tyreese hugs Carol and is obviously so relieved to see her. Carol had clearly been on her way back to the prison despite Rick’s orders to stay away. She tells Tyreese that they can’t go back, however, so I wonder if her plan all along had been to simply come back for the girls.

    The next segment picks up with Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr), and Maggie (Lauren Cohen). Maggie is determined to find Glenn (Stephen Yuen) at any cost. We see Maggie without her body armor for the first time in a long time and it makes her look even more stripped down and vulnerable. Sasha has mostly given up hope and has gone into survival mode. I was actually surprised that Bob was the one who was happiest to be alive and was the most hopeful that others had gotten out. Bob, like Hershel’s words to Beth, sees that life has to mean more than just surviving.

     They pass the same burnt out car on the road as Glenn and Tara do in the next segment. They find the bus which is full of walkers – but there’s no sign of Glenn. Cohen is wonderful in this scene – going from determined, to shocked, to rage, and finally teetering on the edge as she goes from crying to laughing in relief that at least Glenn isn’t on the bus and turned.

    The final segment shows us what happened with Glenn. He apparently went back for Maggie and passed out because he’s still not well after just recovering from the virus. Glenn, like Maggie is determined to find her. I loved him going back to their home – just as Beth did in the voiceover – and gathering what he could of their life – he goes into survival mode. But the thing that gives him the most strength, purpose, and hope is the picture he took of Maggie sleeping – at peace. It is this hope and faith in the love of others that is carrying them all forward at this point – and it’s a nice echo of the themes from last week’s episode too. When everything you have is taken away, what is left? Yuen is wonderful in this episode. He allows himself to break down before taking what he needs to survive – but he also takes Hershel’s watch and Maggie’s picture.

    The scene with Glenn just pushing his way through the walkers is amazing. He sees Tara (Alanna Masterson) and almost leaves her. He goes back because, like everything else he’s gathered, he may need her to help him get to Maggie. Tara is completely shell-shocked and guilty over what she’s done. I have to say that I started liking the character a lot more in this episode. We also learn that Lilly died after killing the Governor.

    Glenn doesn’t know about Hershel’s death until Tara tells him. The devastation on Yuen’s face in this scene is another wonderful layer to this performance. He immediately thinks of Maggie and takes strength from her and Hershel’s exhortation to believe. The episode is nicely bookended by Hershel’s words of hope – from Beth and Glenn, underscoring that he truly was the great man that Glenn says he was.

    I have to admit that it was straining my credulity that Glenn was able to fight his way out of the prison after having just woken up from passing out because he was still weak from being sick, so I actually thought it was more realistic for him to finally collapse. The final scene is the first appearance of Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), Eugene (Josh McDermitt), and Rosita (Christian Serratos) who readers of the comics will recognize. Having not read the comics (yet!) my gut reaction were that Eugene is creepy and Abraham is going to be as ruthless as the Governor. Or are they from Terminus?

    It felt to me that the episode actually unfolded backwards in time. We see two nights with Daryl and Beth, one night with Tyreese and the girls and no nights with either Maggie’s or Glenn’s groups. I would suspect then that Glen and Tara were first on the road followed by Maggie. We already know that Tyreese was 4 or 5 hours ahead of Daryl and Beth. It will be interesting to see if they all end up at Terminus.

    What did you think of the episode? Were you happy to see Carol and Judith both alive? Do you think Lizzie is going to be big trouble? What do you make of the new characters? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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