This week, The Walking Dead delivered what is no doubt the best episode yet of season 4. The first thing it does right is make the episode Hershel-centric. Here is a great character who has been shamefully underused since season 2. With all his screen-time and sentimental scenes this episode, I was convinced he wouldn't survive to see next week. Fortunately, I was wrong, and we got an episode that is tense, satisfying, emotional, and actually pushes the plot along!
This episode was written by long-time-producer-and-first-time-writer of the show, Channing Powell, and directed by cinematographer David Boyd, who also helmed 'Arrow on the Doorpost'. Powell's script is solid and the emotional scenes are poignant without being too heavy-handed or obvious (something this show is plagued by). It also looks quite nice - I especially liked how it opened silently on rustling leaves. These moments of beautiful calm, punctuated by intense violence, make this episode a memorable one. I also want to mention the shot of the dogs picking at the zombie because it's a perfectly eerie image we have not yet seen - and where have all the dogs been?!
I couldn't find a screencap of the actual dogs so here's the Night of the Creeps zombie dog.
When we think of Walking Dead badasses, it's usually Daryl or Rick who come to mind, but 'Internment' shows us what a badass Hershel truly is. I love how sassy he is this episode, with the spaghetti joke, his emphatic "Hell yeah!" to Michonne, and that sass-filled response he gives Daryl:
Daryl: "You're a tough son of a bitch."
Hershel: "I am."
He tries so hard to keep up morale and shield these people from their inevitable dooms, which is an under-appreciated type of heroism in this world. So is jumping into a metal hammock with a live fucking walker to get an oxygen bag! Santa's got balls of steel! Despite all that, he still struggles to put down a zombie, which was a really beautiful scene. That and his breakdown at the very end (the first time he's cracked open that Bible in a while) were incredibly moving. If you love that song at the end as I do, this is it:
Meanwhile, Maggie and Carl finally got to be interesting again this episode. While Rick eye-fucked stuff and things, those two were kicking ass and taking names! My favorite Maggie moment was when that cell block walker leaps in front of her and she does not remotely hesitate to put a bullet in his head. Her moments with her father were pretty moving, as well.
Hershel: "I told you not to come here."
Maggie: "I had to - just like you."
Hershel also had that really tender moment with Sasha after he saves her life. He may be an old fool but they'd all be fucked without him. With all his selfless deeds and risky brushes with walkers, I thought for sure he was a goner this episode. I really thought it would be that zombie he hesitated to euthanize - the irony of him getting attacked while trying to hide the death from everyone else just seemed too perfect for this show to pass up. Thank goodness it proved me wrong - Hershel lives to tell more pasta jokes!
Meanwhile, Carl gets a bigger gun and a ton of XP. Rick's face as Carl effortlessly mowed down zombies with an assault rifle was priceless. I also enjoyed their father-son chemistry this episode:
Carl: "Dad, you can't keep me from it."
Rick: "Yeah, but it's my job to try."
And that pretty much sums up Rick in a nutshell, and reiterates why he is the Anti-Carol. I was glad to see Rick be honest with the others (well, some of them) about Carol's absence, but I guess we won't see Daryl's much-anticipared reaction for at least another episode or two. I expect he'll be pissed and go after her, which will likely tie into the Governor sub-plot. On the topic of Carol, I just want to say - watching that one guy gurgle and choke violently on his own blood in the cell block? Yeah, Carol's mercy kills suddenly don't seem so bad, do they?
So, aside from the emotional stuff, we got one of those rare "oh SHIIIIIT!" moments when the fence finally gave way and a pack of walkers rushed the prison. No thanks to Daryl & co (good timing, guys!), the survivors get the attack under control and Glenn narrowly escapes death from the sickness. How funny was Lizzie talking to that zombie like a pet dog? I still say that chick is NUTS. That cough sounds fake as fuck, and little girl, WHY ARE YOU PLAYING IN A DYING MAN'S BLOOD?! When she asked Maggie, "Is it over?", I seriously wondered if she meant Glenn's life! That girl gives me the heebies. My Ben/Billy theory still stands. Where is that sister of hers anyway?!
Quick note: the makeup and zombie extras were top-notch this episode! A big kudos especially to the ones who got sacked by Rick!
So the episode ends with that shocker moment that totally made me go "squeeeee!" when the Governor shows up! Finally! Based on the preview, I suspect next week's episode will be all about the Gov and what he's been up to since we last saw him. Oh, and apparently this happens:
Overall, I have no real complaints about this episode, and if next week goes the way it appears, I will be happy. Hopefully the tide is turning and now begins a great half-season! With the prison perimeter breached, I assume they'll be moving on to a new location, thank god.
Finally, as usual, here are some funny reactions to 'Internment' from Reddit: