After last week’s mid-season premiere focused on the trio of Rick, Carl, and Michonne, “Inmates” expands the focus to the other survivors of the prison while still experimenting with new forms of storytelling. It seems that the producers of the show might be taking a cue from “Game Of Thrones” by separating the cast into geologically separate groups, and focusing on smaller stories. This episode feels like a collection of short stories, rather than part of a longer whole, with each segment providing its own beginning, middle, and end for its characters.
The episode begins with a voiceover from Beth as she reads an entry in her diary from when the group first found the prison. This hopeful memory is juxtaposed with the reality of Beth and People’s Champion Daryl Dixon running away from the ruins of their home, Walkers literally nipping at their heels. After getting far away, they make camp and try to decide what to do. Beth wants to look for survivors, while Daryl appears to be returning to his pessimistic lone wolf tendencies, and thinks no one is left. Beth convinces Daryl to use his tracking skills to find others, leading them to a scene of fresh walker carnage.This segment progressed the undetermined nature of the Beth/Daryl dynamic, and gave Daryl the chance to be his lovable angry self, and still silently apologize when he strays from his ultimately noble path.
The next segment finds Lizzie, Mika, and Tyreese on what looks like the weirdest field trip ever, as they trek through the woods and HOLY CRAP TYREESE HAS BABY JUDITH THERE IS STILL SOME HOPE LEFT IN THE WORLD. Tyreese and the girls stop in the woods to rest, giving Psycho Lizzie enough time to kill three baby bunnies because she’s crazy like that. This further increase the tension when Mika runs off and Tyreese goes after her, leaving Judith with Psycho Lizzie and for a second it looks like she is going to SMOTHER the baby when her crying starts to attracts walkers. But it worked out and no one died, at least not until they find two people fighting off zombies, which turns into the carnage Daryl and Beth later find. Tyreese takes out the walkers when the master of impeccable timing Carol makers her return. One of the fatally wounded people tells the group about a sanctuary further north along the train tracks, and the highly dysfunctional family heads that way. Wonder how long it’ll be before Carol tells Tyreese that she killed his girlfriend.
The final segment returns to the prison, as Glenn wakes up as the place is being overrun by zombies. He surveys the carnage, and stumbles back inside for a brief moment of reprieve. After failing to locate anyone else inside, Glenn straps on a full set of riot armor and storms straight through a swarm of walkers. After Glenn spent most of the season’s first half in a state of semi-conscious fever-induced delirium, it’s great to see him have his own moment of badassery. On the outskirts of the prison he finds Tara, sister of the Governor’s girlfriend and one of the prison’s attackers. Glenn drafts her into helping them escape from the prison Walkers, and she informs him of the deadly results of the Governor’s attack. Upon learning of Herschel’s death, Glenn is more determined than ever to find Maggie. That’s when one small group of walkers attack, and Glenn collapses to ground, his energy apparently sapped. At that moment, a giant army truck rolls up and Abraham Ford, Rosita, and Eugene jump and slay the walkers. The episode ends with the introductions of three characters from the comic who I’m sure will be changed beyond recognition faithfully adapted just like everyone else on the show.
Character Spotlight: Maggie Greene
The penultimate segment follows Maggie, Sasha, and Bob as they make their own escape from the prison. Maggie sharpens her knife, while the other two want to make camp and rest, a suggestion Maggie promptly ignores as she ventures off to find Glenn. Bob and Sasha pursue her, but are unable to shake her focus. After traveling some more, they find the abandoned school bus, the last place Maggie saw Glenn, and they can see it’s swarming inside with walkers. Maggie needs to know who’s left, and kills the walkers one at a time as Sasha opens the door. She can’t hold it closed for long, and half a dozen walkers fall out of the bus. Maggie goes into a murderous rage, and promptly slaughters the monsters. Still not satisfied, she climbs into the back of the bus and kills the remaining walkers. The last zombie is only shown from behind, and bares a strong resemblance to Glenn. Faking out the audience and causing Maggie to have a bit of a breakdown.
Maggie’s disregard for Bob and Sasha might seem callous at first, but makes more sense when one considers the kind of day Maggie has been having. She saw her father get his head chopped off, her sister might be dead, and the last place she saw her husband is now overrun by a dozen zombies. She is clearly venturing to the realm of Post-Traumatic Stress, and the fact that is has taken this long to hit her is amazing given the horrors they all have witnessed. It makes sense that Maggie would be one of the only characters who could suffer like this given that she has more people to directly care about than possibly any other person on the show. After she kills zombie not-Glenn, Maggie tears seem to be a mix of both sadness and relief. Herschel taught his children to hope, and until she has proof that Glen and Beth are dead, she will continue to have hope and believe that they are alive. It’s nice that not everyone on “The Walking Dead” is a complete pessimist.