Spoilers if you haven’t seen tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead (“Isolation”)!
Last week’s episode left us wondering who killed Karen and the other sick guy. Tonight’s episode answered that question, and put many of the major characters into harm’s way in one way or another. It also served as a reminder that there’s no time to freak out anymore. Everyone has a job to do, even if that job is just to keep breathing until medicine is on the way.
Last week, it was minor characters falling ill to the flu that’s taking live. This week, Sasha, Lizzie and Glenn joined the rest of the infected people in quarantine, leaving Maggie to panic and Beth to remind her that they all have jobs to do. Beth seems to have put up a wall around herself that allows her to carry on in the face of tragedy. Of course, doing that will probably prevent her from forming any kind of strong emotional bond with anyone. I have to wonder how she’d react if something happened to her father or sister… or Judith, for that matter. Beth seems to have made it her sole purpose to care for that baby. What will she do if something happens to her?
While Beth puts up a wall, Maggie, on the other hand, has taken a different route to sanity amidst all of this zombie chaos, and that’s Glenn. The benefit to such a close relationship with another person is experiencing all of the human moments she and Glenn share together. They get to live, if only during the times in between when things are falling apart. And as a viewer, I'm grateful for that. This series is at its most exhausting when it seems like all anyone's doing is trying not to die. But the down side to this approach for Maggie is if Glenn dies, Maggie will probably be wrecked.
I don’t think Glenn’s going to die though. Hershel’s risking his own life to care for the sick people. Maybe his elderberries will do the trick to keep them hanging on while they wait for the antibiotics they hope Daryl, Bob, Michonne and Tyreese will bring back. Or maybe it’s just the sight of Hershel there that’ll do it. Hershel’s very presence in the sick area should be an indication to them that they haven’t been sectioned off to get sicker and die. There’s hope that they might get better. Meanwhile, Hershel’s a saint for putting his life on the line to comfort those people, but I also think he made a good point when he told Maggie and Rick that they’re all risking their lives just by living. They need a reason to live for.
Hershel’s approach is a bit different from Carol’s more practical way of viewing things. Carol was the one to torch Karen and the other guy. She confirmed that to Rick at the end of the episode. No explanation was given, and her seemingly indifferent response (next week’s episode is actually titled “Indifference”) suggests she’s not remorseful over the decision. But we did see her lash out at a barrel of water earlier, which I think is an indication that she’s upset that her efforts were for naught. My guess is she did kill Karen and the other guy, believing that the longer they lived, the longer they kept the virus alive. She assumed they’d die anyway, so better sooner than later. I think she shot them and dragged them out back and burned them to try to squash the virus. It didn’t work though, and now she has to live with that.
We may find out exactly what happened next week, but that’s the theory I’m going on for now. And given the way she’s been acting this season, with her practical, survival approach to everything, it wouldn’t surprise me if this was all an effort to fix the situation. Intentions aside, it’s not going to bode well for her if Tyreese finds out. Between losing Karen and having Sasha sick, Tyreese seemed suicidal tonight while road-tripping with Michonne, Daryl and Bob.
The foursome hit a patch of walkers while hearing chatter on the radio that might be actual human voices. That “patch” of zombies turned into a complete and total zombie-palooza. Seriously, those walkers up ahead were all-out convening. No idea why that’s happening, nor did we get any update on the radio chatter, but after the car got stuck on a zombie-pile, the group had to run for it. Three of them did. Tyreese stayed behind, seeming to want to wait in the car. Or wait to be killed once the zombies noticed he was there. Eventually, the sound of Bob’s screaming drew him out of the car, and Tyreese began to fight as many walkers as he could. It was looking like he was overcome by them, until he showed up later and caught up with Daryl, Michonne and Bob. Somehow he managed to fight his way out of that mess, covered in guts, presumably without getting bit, which was an impressive feat.
Tyreese’s efforts may have been an act of heroism, but they may have also been an act of suicide that he eventually decided to fight through and eventually survive. Maybe he needed to get a bit closer to death to rediscover his survival instincts. The fight with Rick at the start of the episode didn’t really do that, but the zombie battle hopefully did. Or maybe he’s just that determined to get this mission done and save his sister. Regardless, he wouldn’t be the first person putting his neck on the line for the group. As I mentioned, Hershel’s letting sick people cough blood on his face. He also went beyond the fence to collect berries. Carol, too, left the confines of the fence at one point.
People are taking risks now, and it seems like now is the time to do that. Sometimes it’s good to wait a day. Sometimes waiting a day only makes things worse. It’s exciting to see some characters taking action, rather than trying to play it safe, which probably isn’t an option anymore.
Special effects moment of the night: the tire of the car shredding that pile of zombies, including one walker’s arm. Gross-cool.