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The Walking Dead: “Inmates”- A Dull Placeholder

After last week’s intensive character piece on Carl and Michonne, The Walking Dead took a step back in quality while giving us an increased quantity of storylines with “Inmates.” Considering there are still thirteen characters (counting baby Judith and the heretofore missing Carol) who were unaccounted for after last week’s episode, I’m willing to cut the show some slack with the methodical nature of “Inmates.” After all, there are quite a few storylines that need to be picked up again. But part of me wishes we had been given the chance to check in with some of these characters last week, so that “Inmates” doesn’t feel so much like a series of quick snapshots of how the rest of the gang are faring without any real substance.

To parse through the various stories, I’ll take things from the top. The first group we check-in on is the unlikely duo of Beth and Daryl, who are, frankly, two of my favorite characters (something I never thought I would ever be saying about Beth, but like Carol, she has really grown since her introduction). Beth and Carl are really very similar characters, in that they are young teens growing up in a world of violence and death. Watching Beth change from a meek girl into the cynical killer she has become has been one of the more interesting arcs of the series. Putting her with realist Daryl is a brilliant stroke of genius by the writers. The characters play off each other perfectly, with Daryl being sensitive enough not to tell Beth that he doesn’t think Maggie, Glenn, or anyone else from the prison is still out there to be found and indulging her need to search for them (“You’re a tracker, right? So go track!”). That being said, their storyline didn’t really go anywhere. They are still out in the woods with no one else around them.

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Moving onto Tyreese, Lizzie, Mika, and Judith (who is, as I’m sure everyone predicted, still alive). Tyreese is good with the girls, but probably not the best parent out there. Leaving them alone in the woods to try (and fail) to save some redshirts? Not the best move. Lucky for him Carol (!!!) happens to be hanging out in the woods and comes running to save her little protégées. After a joyous reunion (remember, Tyreese was never told that Carol was the one who killed his girlfriend), the gang sets off to find “Perminus,” a camp that claims to be a safe haven. Now this storyline at least gives us some movement. I’m sure Perminus is not going to be the safe haven it claims to be (if we learned anything from Woodbury, it should be this lesson). And I’m sure Tyreese will find out about Carol’s actions at some point (that was quite the tall tale she offers regarding where she’s been). But I am so glad to have Carol back. Welcome back Carol!

Continuing the trend of moving chess pieces on the board is the chunk of the episode with Maggie, Sasha, and Bob (who I had forgotten was still on the show). Nothing at all happens in this section of the episode. Bob is still flirting with Sasha. Maggie doesn’t find Glenn on the bus (whose riders are now all dead). So, it was a pretty dull ten minutes. And, considering the previews for this week’s episode were very clear that Glenn is still alive, this chunk could have easily been shoehorned into last week’s episode.

Finally, the last section of the episode is dedicated to Glenn, who apparently never left the prison. A quick aside about Glenn. Honestly, Glenn is quickly becoming one of my least favorite characters because he almost never does anything useful. He is indecisive and gets quickly overwhelmed. And I still haven’t forgiven him for being a complete neanderthal after Maggie was almost raped last season. Sure, other characters on the show do dumb things. But few make critical errors with the consistency that Glenn does. Magically, he constantly manages to survive his idiocy. But I want to see the Glenn from the early series, who takes well-thought out actions and doesn’t just rush headlong into stupid choices.

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Unfortunately, Glenn is still the same short sighted and slow acting character this week, as he takes a good ten minutes to suck it up and make a break for the exit of the prison. At least he stops to rescue Tara (remember her?) before he gets away. Although, I guess he does give decent pep talks.

The Glenn storyline also introduces us to three beloved characters from the comics (well, I guess one beloved character, one liked character, and one not-so-liked character). The only one we really get the chance to meet is Abraham (he’s the one with the suspicious mustache- because in horror stories, mustaches are definitely suspicious), but I suspect we’ll get an introduction to his two companions next week. My major hope here is that the series does a better job with Abraham than they did with the Governor.

“Inmates” is a placeholder episode. And it does its job by letting us know where the remaining characters are. But it doesn’t tell us much more than that. No one of note dies (which, considering the number of bullets flying in the prison assault, is nothing short of a miracle), and only two of the four stories results in any actual forward movement within the story. I have to say it was a pretty disappointing episode. Hopefully Abraham and company can spice things up a bit.

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Final Thoughts:

— Did anyone else think that Lizzie was going to smother Judith? Because it certainly looked that way to me.

— I can’t decide if I want Tyreese to find out about Carol, or if I want the show to just pretend it didn’t happen- at least until Rick comes into the picture and blabs. And we all know he will. Because Rick is the worst.

— I’m proud of little Mika, who still seems to be a relatively normal child. At least compared to her sister, Carl, and Beth.

— I really loved the Beth diary voice overs.

Rating
6.0
Pros
  • Introduction of Abraham
  • Carol returns
  • Strong Beth story
Cons
  • Lack of a significant death
  • Two stories that didn't do anything
  • A lack of cohesion

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About / Bio
TV critic based in Chicago. When not watching and writing about awesome television shows, I can be found lamenting over the latest disappointing performance by any of the various Chicago sports teams or my beloved Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Follow me @JeanHenegan on Twitter.

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