The Walking Dead, Ep. 4.05, “Internment” – entertaining but not completely satisfactory

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The Walking Dead, Season 4, Episode 5: “Internment”
Directed by David Boyd
Written by Channing Powell
Airs Sundays at 9pm ET on AMC

About 20 minutes into “Internment,” and I couldn’t help but think I was missing both Michonne and Carol greatly. Both actresses have been at the top of their game all season, and it helps that the writers have done such a wonderful job in building (or rebuilding) their characters. But thankfully “Internment” focused on another character I love, Hershel. Scott Wilson is a great actor, and arguably one of the best in the long list of names in the cast, but this is the first time his character has taken front and center in an episode since he first appeared back in season two. And boy did he shine.

The episode was centered around the idea that Hershel would do whatever it takes to help those infected with the flu. He’s a man of faith and a man of medicine, and so Hershel doesn’t just want to save their lives, he’s hellbent on maintaining their souls as well. He quotes John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley saying, “A sad soul can kill you quicker, far quicker, than a germ.” And that sentiment seems to sum up the season’s central theme: The Walking Dead isn’t just about surviving anymore, instead it’s about finding ways to feel alive. Hershel’s believes that without hope there’s nothing left. He’s not living in denial, nor turning a blind eye; he’s simply not giving up.

 

In playing with the conventions of the horror genre, and with the show’s tradition of giving characters the spotlight just before killing them off, Hershel seems a goner from the start of the episode. But boy times have changed; and now with Scott M. Gimple taking over as showrunner, the series sidesteps losing a major player via the walkers, and instead mounts a body count using nameless characters we just don’t care about. With Glen’s life fading fast, Hershel finds himself in a situation spun out of control. With the infected quickly turning, Hershel is left to remember the last words of wisdom spoken by his colleague Caleb: “If you’re not willing to lose one, you’ll lose them all.” The uprising of walkers proves overwhelming, even for Hershel, setting him up to do something he’s never done before. Hershel, for the first time in three seasons, finds himself stabbing the undead through the skull. His performance is powerful and effective, and while at the end of the day, Caleb’s advice is sound, Hershel at least knows he tried his very best to save everyone. His spirit lives on.

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There is plenty of walker action on display this week, but not all of it entirely works. While the nail-biting suspense within the walls of the prison will have viewers at the edge of their seats, Rick and Carl’s outrageous machine gun attack on hundreds of walkers seems a bit silly. It also raises one obvious question: Why didn’t Rick use the machine guns to stop the walkers before the fence came tumbling down?

Now five episodes deep into season four, viewers must be wondering when Rick will once again take over and lead. His actions in both “Indifference” and “Internment” clearly point in that direction, but for some of us, this isn’t good news. Rick Grimes has remained the least interesting character for two full seasons, and now with Carol gone, and Daryl unwilling to take on the responsibility, no one seems fit to command. Tyreese is still a borderline pacifist, despite his hatchet wielding madness last week; Michonne barely speaks; Hershel hesitates to knife the living dead, and Glenn and Maggie are far too in love. The final shot sees Rick and Carl in the garden, and both with guns by their side. It seems Rick is remembering Carol’s advice, and understands that he can be a farmer, but not just a farmer. If Rick Grimes is to take the lead once more, he needs to find a balance in doing what is right and what is needed. Carol and Hershel’s recent actions are two differing extremities of which he can exemplify.

Other thoughts:

I love the opening montage of Rick driving past that lone walker being devoured by dogs.

Hershel’s arc works in parallel with Rick’s story, as both fathers try desperately to keep their children safe.

The Governor is back, and far too soon. This season has done fine without his character. Why bring him back now, or ever?

With The Governor back so soon, I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of Carol.

I’m looking forward to seeing how Daryl reacts to Rick’s decision to banish Carol. I’m just not sure I need to see the confrontation. I’ll be ok with just the aftermath.

I’m glad to see Maggie is back to her badass self.

I’m glad Hershel is an advocate of reading, and Tom Sawyer no less!

So is Lizzy a long lost relative to The Governor, because she sure does treat the walkers like pets, much like The Governor does.

Daryl: “You’re a tough son of a bitch.”

Herschel: “I am.”

I’m guessing The Governor isn’t the person responsible for feeding the rats to the zombies since they were fed from the inside of the prison. This must mean he has an inside man.

Don’t forget to listen to our Walking Dead podcast. New episodes drop every Monday night, with a different special guest each week.

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