Though Season 4 of The Walking Dead has noticeably been a huge improvement over last season, “Isolation” felt a bit lacking and cliché. It was not a bad episode by any means but some things in the episode felt too forced and like it was missing something. However, the overall story is advancing into something bigger than we have seen thus far with the show. It’s just unfortunate that it has to drag its feet in order for us to see the entire big picture. I am a “glass half-full” type of person. If something has at least any kind of redeeming quality to it, I will give it credit no matter what. So you can bet that this was definitely a half-full episode. But without further ado, let’s discuss the flaws first.
I feel as if the writers forget that these characters are in a post-apocalyptic world, filled with flesh-eating zombies and limited supplies. So with this infection spreading to everyone and having little to no medicine, I have to wonder where the group’s other supplies are coming from. For instance, how are they able to still drive cars? Where are they getting the gasoline? Even if I’m willing to accept the fact that they’ve somehow come up with an alternative means of fuel, the even bigger question is the ammo. Not once has there ever been an issue or question about where to get ammunition. I understand that the group is stationed at a prison filled with supplies, but nothing is limitless. It feels as if the writers take a cop-out just so they can focus on other elements to the story and that the audience won’t question anything else. Little issues like this take me out of the moment and are extremely distracting. I find it ironic that they show a painting with a quote that reads, “Smooth Seas Do Not Make Good Sailors.” Though it does tie in nicely to the overall story, the writers need to learn from this statement. Yes, the show gets astronomical ratings every Sunday but that doesn’t mean the show is perfect. I worry that they may be getting back into their comfort zones.
My next problem involves Tyreese. I feel as if he will eventually be developed a lot better in later episodes, being that Karen is dead and Sasha is on thin ice, but he has been acting way too oblivious to those facts. I understand his anger and frustration when he found Karen and David’s bodies burnt to a crisp, but why is he taking it out on Rick? First, he asks for his help to find out who did it and then moments later, he picks a fight with Rick. Tyreese knew the risks in diving into a relationship, knowing full well that there was an infection spreading. Once that reality sets in with him, he blames Rick who was nice enough to include him and his sister in the group last season. Also, why was he just sitting in the car with his door WIDE open surrounded by walkers not helping Daryl, Michonne and Bob? Again, I understand he’s upset but honestly he needs to stop feeling sorry for himself. Then when he decides to actually help, he gets outnumbered by walkers as the other three just leave him to die. Moments later, he escapes off-screen and is unharmed. It just felt more like an easy excuse to keep a main character alive without giving an explanation as to how he leaves unscathed.
Lastly, there’s Carol. Good ol’ Carol. As I’ve mentioned previously, I have enjoyed seeing her character gain more purpose this season. However with last night’s episode, she became a huge hindrance. Why did she think it was a good idea to clean the cistern outside the prison walls with walkers within a few feet? And what exactly was her distraction? Rotating bicycle wheels? Thankfully Rick was around to save her. Then she randomly decides to kill the first walker she sees with her knife when she finally decides it’s a good idea to escape. Seeing her knife get stuck in the walker and struggling to get it out was so incredibly cheesy because it just gave the show an excuse to include something suspenseful when it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. Later on, having it be revealed that she was the one who burned the bodies was hardly a cliffhanger. (More disposable gasoline?) Having lost a loved one herself (her daughter) I simply don’t buy it. Why not burn everyone else who was showing signs of sickness? It just felt anti-climactic to put it lightly.
There’s the bad and now here’s the good. Once again, Rick has been a straight boss this season. I loved seeing him face Tyreese like a man after their scuffle. He’s always been that one character who faces his problems straight on. Even after Rick apologizes to him, Tyreese still has the nerve to make him feel guilty for only just cleaning the water systems rather than finding the “murderer” of Karen and David. He needs to understand that there are more pressing issues at hand and that they were beyond saving. That’s why Rick is there to keep him and everyone else in check. I also enjoyed watching him tell Carol that what she did was stupid (in regards to cleaning the cistern). We’ll see how he deals with Carol next week in terms of the two bodies she was responsible for and how Tyreese will react.
The one character that I give so much credit to is Hershel. He plays the wise-old-man/oracle type and does it very well. He keeps things positive and realistic at the same time. When everyone gets extremely paranoid over a mere sneeze within the group, Hershel is there to keep everyone calm. Things like the flu and a cold are very treatable, it’s just that there are no medical supplies handy. It’s not the illness itself that will kill you but the symptoms. I also like seeing some tension building between him and Carl. Though Carl feels like he has matured enough, he is still just a child to everyone else and Hershel made him realize that. I see Hershel as the Head Coach of the group and Rick as the Quarterback. When the people begin to panic, they are there to keep things in line. I would definitely feel comfortable with these two men as my leaders if I were in a similar situation.
As Sasha enters the isolated cell block, she wanders around and sees everyone coughing up blood, sweating profusely and a few that have already turned. It gives a new meaning to “death row” as the future does not look bright for these people. It felt like a zoo or a freak-show at the circus. It even kind of parallels a real life situation in which one particular lady was swearing up and down that she just has allergies and wasn’t sick. It felt like our world where there are real people in death row who are completely innocent and wrongly convicted. Later, we see that Dr. S and Glenn have the sickness and Hershel is there to give them as much help as possible. It does make me sad to see that Glenn is getting sick, but again, if the writers want this infection to be believable, some of our favorite characters will have to eventually be killed off.
Though I won’t say that nothing happened in this episode per se, a lot of elements felt too unnecessary. However, this episode was definitely not a step backwards but more of a step sideways though it did still excel in the visual department. We’re seeing more and more true intentions of a lot of these characters and it can potentially get ugly really quickly, in a good way. I am remaining very optimistic for this show because it has a chance to be a great season and make up for the mistakes of last season. As of right now, this season is like a jigsaw puzzle without the audience having a clue what the cover of the box looks like. We’re only seeing what we’re being dealt and for the most part, the show is still on the right track. “Isolation” was definitely the weakest of Season 4 so far and I hope that it will remain the weakest once all 16 episodes premiere.
P.S. Still no Governor.