The Walking Dead – Isolation
by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)
Like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead is adapted from previous source material. This review is not meant to compare similarities and differences between the show and comic. It’s meant to be read purely as a take on the episode as it stands.
That being said, SPOILERS AHEAD.
“You find out who did this and you bring them to me.”
In moments of sickness, there are a myriad of treatment options, the first (and often most important) being quarantine. The isolation is geared at keeping the illness from spreading further than it previously would have. The problem with quarantining those already feeling isolated emotionally is that you proactively deal with a burgeoning physical problem by compounding what is already an ongoing mental problem. It’s no secret that in this world you have to be very careful who you trust and consort with which is why finding a group of people with a likeminded thought process is welcoming.
What’s not welcoming is splitting everyone apart, regardless of how useful it may be in preventing further death. It’s natural that people start getting suspicious for no reason whatsoever; enough so that aspersions are cast and characters are questioned. The mystery behind the deaths of David and Karen prove that point. When the safety of settlers is threatened then mass hysteria sets in and it’s every person for themselves. The epidemic is frightful enough that it tests the fabric of the group’s cohesion and brings previously level-headed leaders to rather emotional ends.
For instance, saying Tyreese is a big dude is a great understatement. The fact is though he is big and his punches have some heft behind them, felt firsthand by Rick as a prime target for his grief at the violent loss of his blossoming love Karen (alongside David). The fact that Rick and Tyreese came to blows wasn’t really built up to at all, save for the spontaneity of the moment and the emotion coursing through Tyreese and his fists of fury. Everyone has lost someone in the world of The Walking Dead and knows what it feels like, but it’s still extremely sobering when it happens.
There was a nice touch with Rick moving his sidearm and holster to his left hip in light of is damaged right hand (as opposed to his right hip). His hand is broken from pummeling Tyreese, meaning he’s got to compensate by learning to shoot with his left hand. It’s a simple act that’s not enough to convince Tyreese though about the impending lawlessness he perceives as preparing to sweep through the settlement. It’s a lawlessness matched only by the sickness in terms of ferocity, both of which are more than capable of tearing apart the group at its foundations. Tyreese challenges Rick to capitalize on his past profession as a cop to investigate the crime and find the perpetrator and Rick makes a rather startling discovery that it’s possible the two were alive when they were dragged out or someone with a wounded hand opened the door.
Pairing Carl and Herschel together in the quarantine was very random to say the least. They represent two ends of the age spectrum, yet Carl still feels the duty to try and stop Herschel from venturing outside into the forest for what is presumably a natural remedy. Kudos to Carl for stepping up and offering to escort Herschel into the wild though. The venture offered Herschel the chance to school Carl with yet another reminder that violence isn’t always the answer when faced with a Walker. Carl’s maturity continues to be on display, forced to grow up much quicker than he should have. It’s a necessary trip considering the rapidly declining state of the settlement and the hopeful arrival of some antibiotics.
Those antibiotics are coming courtesy of a veterinary college about fifty miles away. Daryl is taking a crew along with him that includes Tyreese, Michonne and Bob, all of whom desperately seem to want to find something that could help fight the sickness. There’s irony in Daryl (brother of former racist Merle) in a car with three people his brother would despite, yet Daryl has clearly proven that in this world you stick with people you trust, regardless of what they look like or who they were in a past life. Tyreese clearly has a lot of anger from his past life he’s tapping into, as evident by his sheer rage amidst the zombie horde the group finds itself in the midst of.
From a story perspective, “Isolation” was pretty slow. It spent a lot of the time shining a spotlight on how—despite the fact that there are others around—it doesn’t take much to still feel alone. So far this season, each episode has lived up to the billing of its title, offering unique, psychological looks at everyone involved. Those views include the rather surprising reveal at the end regarding Carol killing Karen and David, proving her desire to do whatever it takes to keep the group alive and thriving. What was probably more revealing was how little emotion Carol displayed in admitting to Rick the confession. She’s been so hardened by everything that it’s not surprising based on her character that she did what she did. The more surprising thing is—again—the lack of emotion in coming clean about it. That’s one of those pieces of humanity that are lost when facing humanity at its most coarse and primal. Survival instincts kick in and decision-making is threatened.
Rick now knows the truth and it’s on him whether or not he decides to tell Tyreese. Tyreese, Michonne, Bob and Daryl are currently dealing with their own truths, all of which involve a whole lot of zombies and a plan that’s going off the rails almost immediately (despite the faint glimmer of hope in hearing a live broadcast on the radio). Things at the prison are falling farther and farther into despair, with Herschel throwing caution to the wind in his hopes of curing the sick, Glen facing the illness and Carol turning a blind eye to personal safety. Things aren’t good there and they’re certainly not going to get better.