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A common complaint I heard regarding last week’s The Walking Dead episode “Indifference” was that there wasn’t enough action and that too much time was spent on Rick and Carol just talking. While I certainly don’t share that viewpoint, I’m betting those fans who were miffed last week absolutely loved “Internment,” this week’s offering from the series. We are treated to another heart to heart between Rick and Herschel, but, aside from a few additional conversations waxing poetic on how to deal with a sick ward full of soon to be walkers, this episode is high on body count, low on meaningful discussions.
Frankly, I am a bit disappointed with “Internment.” Not because it was light on character development and heavy on the zombies and death. But because, after placing two central characters (Glenn and Herschel) and two peripheral characters (Sasha and Lizzie) in mortal danger from the virus, the only ones who die when the dominoes begin falling are redshirts (including the Doctor, who we barely have gotten to know over the past few weeks).
It’s certainly possible we’ll lose Glenn or Sasha next week, but spending three episodes dealing with this deadly virus and losing no one of consequence (save for Carol, but I still believe she will be back some time in the future) cheapens the whole storyline. Why is the virus important to the story arc? It caused Carol to show the lengths she would go to protect the group, which in turn got her expelled from the group (a move that is backed by Maggie, and presumably Herschel, when Rick tells them). It made Sasha and Glenn extremely sick. It allowed us small glimpses into Michonne and Bob’s backstories. Other than that, there isn’t all that much to show for the storyline.
Now, if both Glenn and Sasha die next week, I guess that makes the virus more of an impactful story arc. Likewise if Daryl has a particularly volatile reaction to Rick’s banishment of Carol, it lends additional oomph to the story. But, since the heightened tension of that story will likely be replaced with the revelation that the Governor is lurking outside the prison, I have a hard time believing that the virus story will continue (although, the medicine will cure the virus, but presumably, the virus itself is still out there, making the potential for reinfection still there, right?).
Even though I am a bit miffed with the episode and its slaughter of the unimportant, the episode is an excellent showcase for Herschel and his portrayer Scott Wilson. Herschel has had a heck of a season from a character development standpoint. Like with Carol, it’s hard to imagine this is the same man we met back in season two. The isolationist farm veterinarian who didn’t want to see his family have to deal with the new and violent world has been replaced with a wizened but not jaded survivor. As he tells Daryl at the episode’s end, he’s still here. And he’s thriving.
One of the most interesting aspects of Walking Dead is which characters prove themselves in this new world and which fall victim to the new way of life. It’s almost always those you would assume would fail, like Carol, Herschel, or Beth, that continue long past when others who would seem most suited are killed. Perhaps that’s because watching these “weaker” characters grow and change is more interesting than seeing the “strong” thrive. But whatever the reason, the show is all the richer for it. While it may be some time before we see Carol again (and, yes, I’m totally on Team Carol), I’m hopeful that we’ll continue seeing these “weaker” characters grow and change for the rest of the season.
-- I know I mentioned it briefly above, but how does this virus really work? Will the antibiotics cure it and create immunity, or just clear up the current symptoms? Because unless it creates immunity (and, from my limited medical knowledge, I don’t think those particular antibiotics do create an immunity), the threat of the virus should still be out there for the foreseeable future.
-- I’m eager to see Tyreese and Daryl’s reactions to Carol’s banishment. And poor Mika and Lizzie’s as well.
-- I’m amazed (but thankful) Herschel has emerged healthy from his stint as prison doctor.
-- So, the Governor has returned. I have to admit, I expected he would remain off-screen until the midseason finale. It looks like he is alone. Could he be the one baiting the fence? Or does he have someone on the inside helping him? Bob?