Plot: The Prison is destroyed and the survivors have separated into randomly formed groups. Now they must do whatever they can to survive without the protective walls they called home. Will they find each other or is all hope lost?
In many ways, “Inmates” was the exact opposite of last week’s “After.” “After” was an incredibly slowed down episode that gave us an intense focus on Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Carl (Chandler Riggs). Many viewers felt like that episode was a too slow. In contrast, “Inmates” flew by at a breakneck pace, focusing on everyone else who survived in increments divided by commercial breaks. Each individual story had set reasons to exist and once those were fulfilled we hopped right into the next story. Since we didn’t get a ton of time with the separate groups, the writers had to make sure “Inmates” didn’t get bogged down by trivialities. There were also little breadcrumbs peppered in throughout connecting future stories. It was this ramped up paced and swift story telling that gave “Inmates” a leg up from the mid-season premiere.
Daryl and Beth
“Inmates” opened up with everyone’s favorite tracker and no one’s favorite singer running away from a pack of walkers. It was a very action-focused story that was popularized with a narration by Beth (Emily Kinney). This was a great way to start off the episode but it’s obvious that Beth and Daryl (Norman Reedus) drew the short story straw. The ultimate purpose of this was to both show how these two survived and to lay the groundwork for future events. This inevitably left me wanting a bit more from these two. When “Inmates” drew to a close I found myself readily remembering everything that happened except for what these two went through. The truth was, there wasn’t much to remember and that’s disappointing. We got our required focus on Daryl and Beth and the writers left it at that.
Tyreese, Lizzie, Mika, and Judith
This story was an obvious step up from what we saw prior and was easily my second favorite of the night. Last time we saw this group, Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) and Mika (Kyla Kenedy) straight up killed two people to save Tyreese (Chad Coleman). Now Tyreese is trying to be a good protector for Lizzie, Mika, and the death defying Judith (I never believed she was dead but it was still exciting to see Tyreese hold Lil’ Ass Kicker). This story had some quality walker killing, but was easily overshadowed by two major events. One was the increased insight into how Lizzie is clearly heading down a psychopathic journey. When she puts her hand over Judith’s mouth to muffle her wailing, you get the sense that she is okay with suffocating this poor baby. There’s no guarantee that all children will turn out as well as Carl (all things considered, that kid is doing awesome mentally) and I’m glad the writers are exploring the other, more terrifying outcome of developing in this world.
The other big moment for this story was the outstanding return of Carol (Melissa McBride). Her surprise save of Mika, Lizzie, and Judith was enough to make me very happy. Over the course of Season 4, Carol went from waste of space to super badass and I legitimately missed her involvement. Bringing her back in Tyreese’s story was amazing as well considering we know what Carol did and how Tyreese never got a chance to learn. In fact, it was easy to forget that Tyreese never found out Carol was exiled. I can’t wait to see how this unfolds and this new dynamic gets a big thumb up from me.
Maggie, Bob, and Sasha
Just like Daryl and Beth’s story, this one was somewhat lacking. Yet we did get a sense of fulfillment afterwards as it resolved a big question from the mid-season finale: What about that bus filled with extra survivors? We last saw Glenn (Steven Yeun) on that bus so naturally Maggie (Lauren Cohan) wants to do everything she can to find it. It doesn’t take long for them to find said bus, but it has now become a walker death trap. This leads to a really high octane slaughter with Maggie, Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), and Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) killing walker after walker. What do we see at the end? Nothing! Maggie collapses laughing because she realizes Glenn’s not on the dead filled bus and is still alive. Plus, now we have officially removed every random survivor Rick (Andrew Lincoln) either brought in from Woodbury or joined between seasons. That enough is a win for me.
This was, by far, my favorite story of the night. In what was definitely a shocking revelation, we see that Glenn is still at the Prison. The guy never left! He wakes up in a crumbled, smoking mess with walkers everywhere. As Carol herself said, the place is a graveyard now so you know no one is going back for him. This meant that Glenn had only one choice: he had to fight his way out. His emotional journey from believing everyone is gone to holding onto that last shred of hope that Maggie is alive was beautifully portrayed by Yeun with as little dialogue as possible. Glenn’s renewed hope causes him to pick up some surprisingly walker resistant riot gear and push his way through. But what does he see on his way out? It was none other than Tara (Alanna Masterson), a survivor from The Governor’s (David Morrissey) army. Honestly, I was all set to put any character introduced during those two Governor focused episodes away for good but the writers apparently feel otherwise. I can guarantee no one out there thought, “Alright! Tara is alive!” but that’s what we have now. Let’s just hope she can evolve into a character we actually care about since we’re stuck with her.
The episode ended in a big way in Glenn’s story with the introduction of Sgt. Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz), Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt), and Rosita Espinosa (Christian Serratos). Their inclusion in this season was teased way back when and they really couldn’t have come at a better time. These three characters, especially Abraham and Eugene, were integral to getting us where we are today in the comics so TV only viewers should get ready. With these three here, big things are going to happen.
“Inmates” was basically a flood of answers and reveals. Carol is back, Judith is alive, extra bus characters are dead, and we got a solid connection between the “Those who are alive, survive” radio chatter from “Isolation” and a new place called Terminus. It’s safe to assume that Abraham and his crew are from Terminus and it looks like they’re the ones to bring all of our characters together. We can also assume that the separate story arcs are going to blend together from this point on which is all well and good. Two episodes out of eight are enough for me. If every character got similar focus to “After” we’d have a really boring season!