Compared to just about any other season of The Walking Dead, this one is just whizzing by, which is exactly the way it should be. Unlike, say, the search for Sophia, plot points aren't being beaten to death. Now, in one fell swoop, we've solved the mysteries of the missing Judith, Carol's exile, and the rat killer all quickly and satisfyingly casually.
Also, as we talked about last week, the decision to break up the band and put the members of the group out in the wild was also good one — individual performances are shining, characters are actually developing — and running.
"Inmates" hits those same notes. Even in the opening scene, Beth's diary-entry voiceover underlines how great the loss of the prison is at the exact same time she and Daryl make a breathless escape. It's all very efficient. The Beth/Daryl team-up is, indeed, the depressing buddy-cop film we were hoping for, but we can't really tell which one is actually sadder. Really, they need to find some people soon — this is just a little too dark. Watching Beth burn diary pages as Daryl sinks into himself is a bit much, even for The Walking Dead.
We loved watching Tyreese with Lizzie and Mika. He's become the series' gentle bruiser, making him the perfect babysitter — well, except for that whole thing where he left the kids alone and Lizzie almost suffocated Judith. She's turning out to be quite the rat-killing, bunny-executing little psychopath, isn't she? Fun! Oh, and think of this, given the way Walker World is, there's probably an entire generation of precocious killers growing up just like her. More fun! Carol sure knows how to raise them. Welcome back, mom. Have a fun time explaining to Tyreese why you were exiled in the first place.
You know, we've never really cared much for Sasha and Bob. They've always seemed so sad sack, prefab, and one-dimensional, like they were patients on a very special episode of ER. Now that they're playing back-up to Maggie, we're still kind of iffy. Bob needs to stop with the positivity and smiling. It's freaking us out more than the walkers.
Maggie's first time in a leadership role is a fantastic view into who she is. She follows her heart, no matter how dangerous, impractical, or gory it gets. Stabbing a bus' worth of undead ex-friends just to confirm if Glenn was alive? That, friends, is true love, even if it is a very cavalier way to treat the other survivors in your group. You're being led by a monomaniacal Southern belle, Bob — stop smiling.
As Steven Yeun told us earlier this week, "If you had a running tally of who gets shit on the most, it’s definitely Glenn." Yep. "Inmates" doesn't see much of a change in that. Actually, this time, his predicament is so extreme, it's downright funny.
It also brings us back around to the same sort of resilience Glenn showed us in season three when he took down a walker using only a chair. The guy dives into an entire mosh pit of walkers and still takes time out of his busy day to rescue someone who was trying to kill him the last time he was awake.
By the way, we couldn't be happier that Tara's alive and, most likely, joining the group. Not only has this series needed a little queer representation in its cast of characters, but she's got this odd mix of arrogance and complete overmatched vulnerability that we like. She seems genuinely scared, which a lot of the cast doesn't any more (not even lil' Lizzie). Also, she brings the baggage of being on the governor's side and the death of her family and her girlfriend. Lots of stuff to work with there. Good addition.
Now the big questions: What's this Terminus, and who's this sergeant fella? A second Woodbury and a new Big Bad? Probably. Frankly, we're a little concerned. Seeing characters seduced by grumpy dictators wasn't all that fun the first time. Matter of fact, watching Andrea take, like, an entire season to realize how awful the governor was became agonizingly boring. Watching this guy in fatigues adopt Glenn isn't something we want to see. He's very easily emotionally manipulated and just lost his "father" and wife.
But, hey, Glenn is basically the Superman of Walker World. Maybe the series' official punching bag can handle it.