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The Walking Dead - On The Inside - Review

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  The Walking Dead “On the Inside” was written by Kevin Deiboldt and was directed by Greg Nicotero. This episode goes full-on horror movie – at least with one storyline. I’m finding the jumping around between storylines a bit frustrating, but I’m sure it is helping them to manage the large cast and covid restrictions. Once again, the title does work well on several levels – referencing Connie (Lauren Ridloff) and Virgil’s (Kevin Carroll) encounter with the feral people in the house and Daryl (Norman Reedus) as being the man on the inside of Pope’s (Ritchie Coster) group as well as Maggie (Lauren Cohen), Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), and Elijah (Okea Eme-Akwari) being inside the house when it’s being searched. Of course, on a deeper level it’s also referring to what’s happening emotionally within each character too. Let’s take a closer look…

As the episode opens, Connie and Virgil are running headlong during the night, presumably away from walkers. They come to a fork in the road. Connie wants to keep running, and Virgil wants to hide in a house. They are attacked as they try to get in and neither seems to have any weapons. We’ve definitely joined them in the middle of something. They get the door open, and Connie kills the walker that’s on top of Virgil. The house is quickly surrounded by a horde as Connie leans against the door, clearly terrified. It’s obvious she’s been severely traumatized by her ordeal getting away from the cave.

Meanwhile, Kelly (Angel Theory) isn’t waiting for the others to get a search party organized and has clearly taken off on one of the horses as soon as she heard that there had been word of Connie.

It’s the next day in the house and Connie – but mostly Virgil – explore the house. We see that Connie has a tiny scrap of paper with a map of the area on it. She’s in a room with a bunch of hunting trophies. Virgil now has a knife as he clears each room. When Virgil returns to Connie, he tells her that the house is safe and she needs to sleep as she hasn’t in days. This was a nice touch as we wonder if Connie is hallucinating due to sleep deprivation…

Virgil promises to keep watch while she sleeps, and he promises that they’ll find her home. Connie is adamant that it’s not safe, so Virgil throws himself in a chair to grab some sleep himself. As Connie peers out of the boarded up window, she has a flashback from the cave. Connie tells Virgil that she’s going to search again.

Connie makes her way upstairs and ends up in the bathroom. She looks in the mirror, and clearly hasn’t lost her sense of humor as she says “Don’t you look delightful?” I loved that so many of the scenes with Connie have no sound – to mimic what the world is like for her. She removes a bottle of pills and shakes it – we don’t know whether there’s anything in it because there is no sound. By presenting something that should have sound, it actually works to deepen the silence and draw our attention to it. That way, when she sees the eye looking back at her and we get a blast of loud music, the jump scare is totally intensified – it’s a brilliant scare – and the best the show’s had in a long time!! Connie runs away! Who wouldn’t?!?!

She runs straight to Virgil and tells him that they are not alone – the thing you never want to hear in a horror movie! I also loved that there is a giant stuffed hyena behind Virgil as she tells him – and it’s grinning like someone just told a joke. And of course, Virgil is reluctant to believe her. In her panic to tell him, he can’t understand her. When she tries to write it out, she is in such a panic that she breaks the pencil, so she grabs his knife and carves on the wall: NOT ALONE. 

Kelly finds a dead horse and destroyed campsite. She rummages around and finds a slingshot and then Connie’s notebook. It has the notes Connie and Virgil exchanged, telling of Connie’s escape from the cave and Michonne leaving to look for someone. Kelly takes Connie’s bag. Theory is really good in this scene as she realizes that Connie is close.

Back in the house, Connie is trying to show Virgil what she saw, but of course, there’s nothing to see. He’s clearly convinced she’s hallucinating from lack of sleep. Virgil wants to give the house another sweep, but Connie insists that she’s not staying there. She walks out with him following and the corridor is cut off by a sliding door! 

        Again, the sound is cut off as Connie is alone again. Ridloff is just fantastic here. I loved her feeling the door – and the terror on her face and in her body movements as she hugs the wall and tries to look everywhere. The only sound again is a whoosh when we see something flash behind her. She feels some reverberation in the wall and takes off and there is some kind of feral human on all fours after her! She runs into the nearest door and slams it shut. She’s at the top of some stairs, holding the door shut with her foot while the thing on the other side pounds on the door.

I was really worried that Kelly was going to get the cute little pinto pony killed like in The Never Ending Story. Every horse-person I know hates that kid! Luckily, the horse just dumps her in the mud, and suddenly, Carol (Melissa McBride), Rosita (Christian Serratos), and Magna (Nadia Hilker) are there. Kelly shows the others what she found and tells them something’s not right. Kelly insists that Connie is out there and scared and needs her. She’s not wrong!

Connie heads down the stairs and finds the floor of the room in the basement strewn with bones. It’s silent until a jar is knocked from a shelf as the “people” are yelling and banging. As she jumps in a vent, the music picks up again – it’s the only sound we hear. Connie ends up between the walls – in what is clearly the same set that Nicotero used for an episode of his other show – Creepshow! Connie is also startled by eyes staring back at her again through a hole in the wall.

Meanwhile, Virgil now believes her as he is also being chased by the feral people. This whole sequence reminded me of an old Supernatural episode with feral people living in the walls of an old house who people discover/disturb when they move in. So, let’s not forget that Virgil isn’t exactly the picture of mental health either. Connie manages to get to the other side of the room Virgil is in. She’s banging SOS on the wall ass he watches Virgil. It’s horrifying that as she watches, she can see a feral creeping up behind Virgil. Virgil is totally focused on her because he thinks she is the threat. 

Connie watches helplessly as Virgil fights for his life. Connie tries to claw her way through the wall. Again, we only have sound when we are getting Virgil’s perspective. He does win his fight, and then goes back to the wall. Connie is still trying to get through when Virgil’s knife comes through narrowly missing her. Connie finally manages to get a hand through and Virgil finally realizes it’s her and helps get her out.

Carol, Magna, Rosita, and Kelly show up at the same place where Connie and Virgil had to choose. I was sure that Kelly chose the direction Connie wanted to go – which is away from the house.

Back in the house, it’s night again. Virgil is shocked. He’s never seen people this far gone and they herded them there like prey. Virgil promises to get Connie out – they’ll run for it. He tries to give Connie his knife. He tells her that whatever else happens she’s got to keep going. She tells him no and won’t take the knife. This is a great scene. Connie keeps insisting she’s not going to let him give up. They’re going to stay together. Virgil tells her that he has to do it. Michonne gave him another chance to make up for the things that he’s done. She put him on the path to find Connie. If Connie can find her family, it will make up for what he did. I loved that she made him make the sign of together, together – with each other’s hands.

The two make a run for it and are doing ok until Virgil is attacked and knifed badly in the back. They manage to get to the front door. The ferals are stalking them on all fours. Connie coats herself in the guts of the walker she killed when they first got in. She gets Virgil behind her in the corner and opens the door, letting the walkers in to kill the ferals. It’s a brilliant gore-fest! Unfortunately, it’s too late for Virgil…

Connie gets Virgil out of the house, but there are still a couple of ferals following them. Connie leaves Virgil to try to stop them, but Kelly and the others are there and take them out. Connie can’t believe her eyes, and again Theory is wonderful in this scene. She walks up to Connie signing that she’s sorry. Connie just shake she her head and opens her arms, taking her in in a hug.

Back with the Reapers, Daryl and Pope watch as Carver (Alex Meraz) tortures Frost (Glenn Stanton) by pulling his fingernails out. Frost was a great character, and I really wished we’d seen more of him and his backstory. Pope asks Daryl if it bothers him to watch, and Daryl tells him that he’s done worse. Pope wants him to put his money where his mouth is and take a turn. Carver isn’t happy at all. Frost has been severely beaten, but he steps up and protects Daryl by taunting him – he’s clearly not going to endanger Daryl. Leah (Lynn Collins) is watching in the background. Daryl immediately puts Carver in a chokehold. Not pleasant, but being choked out is likely the nicest thing he’s had done to him all day. Carver interrupts to say he’s going to have a problem if Daryl kills him – which is clearly Daryl’s plan. It’s clear that Frost is going to die one way or another and least this would be quick and relatively painless…

But Daryl releases Frost when Carver calls him out on it because now it wouldn’t look like an accident. He tells Carver he knows what he’s doing. Daryl asks Frost to give up the location of his friends. Frost tells him to go eat shit and Daryl punches him. Carver interrupts to say he’s already gone through these steps. Pope suggests taking pieces, and Daryl asks for a knife. He takes off his vest – nice symbolism as he removes his “wings” before doing something he really doesn’t want to do. Daryl tells Frost he’s the best shot he has, and Frost asks if they’re friends now. Daryl tells him it’s because he’s holding the knife – and once again, Frost protects Daryl. Daryl hasn’t seen it, but Carver has pulled his gun – he’s clearly intending to shoot Daryl if Daryl tries anything. Frost tells Daryl that his buddy is the one holding the gun, warning him. Daryl punches him and tells him to shut up.

This is a fabulous seen between Reedus and Stanton. Daryl tells him no one has to die, but we see Carver look sideways at Pope – who’d given the signal to Carver to follow through if Daryl doesn’t. Frost tells Daryl to go to Hell – and gives him permission to do what he has to do. Frost has to know he’s a dead man anyway, but if he has any chance, it’s through keeping Daryl alive. When he takes the finger, Leah flinches. Daryl keeps pressing for the location and threatening to take another finger. Frost finally gives up the yellow house. Daryl asks if it’s enough. Pope sends Leah with a squad to check it out, including Daryl, which Carver is not at all happy about. One look from Pope shuts him up.

As the squad moves up on the yellow house, it’s still not clear if Frost has given up the right house. Leah directs the team as they go in. Carver asks Leah if he’s supposed to believe that Daryl has his back. She tells Carver that’s her job. Daryl manages to send a signal to Maggie by setting some wires moving. The squad clears the house, and it’s not the right house. Daryl wants to stick around to make sure, but Leah insists that they look around the rest of the town and breaks the group up to search.

Carver, Leah, and Daryl break into another house, and they find some wet rags. They split up to clear the house. Daryl sees a hatch not quite covered by a rug. When the other two come back, he suggests that they went out the back and he can track them. Carver wants to know if he’s in a hurry to leave. Carver wants to know what the hurry is. Daryl didn’t want to leave the last house. Daryl then gets in Carver’s face and says it’s not on him if they lose them. Leah tells them both to stop and radios for a perimeter check. 

Leah sends Carver upstairs, and tells Daryl he’s either with them or not. Daryl says fine. What does she want him to do? She says to stop pissing off Carver as that usually ends badly…

Carver comes back from upstairs, and Daryl insists that they must have run. This is brilliant on his part. He tells Carver, they must have run because they didn’t have enough people with them. They must have realized that Carver’s group had 20 people, was well armed and hand walls. He gives Maggie all the information he has while she’s listening in the basement. Carver asks what his point is – and Leah interrupts to say they should go. Caver and Daryl get up in each other’s faces again and Leah tells them to stop.

Carver then says that they “both know what this is.” It’s some veiled reference to someone else that Leah lost. Leah asks if Carver thinks he’s looking out for her. He tells her always, and she brings up the fire – when Pope locked her in. She’s clearly not happy about that at all! Carver tells her to wake up – everything now is a test. He also tells her that Daryl is never going to give a shit about any of them. And this is one of Reedus’ best performances in the entire series. He says Carver’s right. He doesn’t give a shit about any of them. Except Leah. He’s there for her. He admits that he’s made mistakes, but he wants to do better this time. He also admits that Pope scares the shit out of him. He doesn’t want to be face first into the fire under his boot. But he’s ready to trust him if Leah says to. Leah says they’ve wasted enough time and it’s time to move on…

And then Carver sees the trap door. The fling it open, but it’s empty. We see Maggie and the others escape from the basement and run off.

The group gets back and Pope is waiting for them. Carver tells him they were there and got away. He tells Pope that he’s sorry – and it’s clear everyone is worried about Pope’s reaction. Instead he laughs at them for it. Leah says she thought he’d be disappointed. He tells her that the day was a success because he continued to torture Frost after they left. Pope tells them he wasn’t very talkative, but he got everything he needed out of him. He looks directly at Daryl as he says this, but Daryl doesn’t give anything away. And then we cut to Frost, who is now a walker tied to a tree. Daryl looks at him, keeping his face impassive. Pope puts his arm around Carver and they walk off together, leaving Leah with Daryl on the outside…

So Connie is finally back with the group. It will be interesting to see her reunion with Carol and whether she harbors a grudge. Did Pope learn anything about Daryl from Frost? I’m betting he didn’t. But is Daryl driving a wedge between Pope and Leah and is that going to be a problem for both he and Leah? It definitely seems likely that things are going to come to a head between Daryl and Carver. Great performances here from Reedus, Ridloff, and Theory. Collins is doing a great job showing how tough it is for a woman in this kind of military setting. I really loved Nicotero’s playing with silence, sound, and music to ramp up the scares. Definitely one of the scariest episodes they’ve had in a very long time. What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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