The Walking Dead S4 Ep5 – “Internment”

Hershel sits in his cell in the quarantine block.

In an episode that is chock-full of gunfire, walkers, and tension through the roof, it’s still the little things that really get to you. Hershel is running around in A-block, trying to keep everyone alive long enough to see Daryl’s group return with the medicine, with little more than tea, a breathing tube, and an emergency shotgun. Meanwhile, Rick and Maggie are out at the fences, trying to keep it from collapsing under the weight of a growing zombie mob.

You know that the overwhelming moment is coming, the second where suddenly everything starts going wrong at once, but you don’t know when that moment will get there. So like Hershel just keeps making his rounds and Rick just keeps shoring up the defenses, you just keep watching and waiting on the edge of your seat as the little things – a woman dead in her cell with the door open, a man insisting his son is just sleeping, Sasha collapsing, Glenn fading fast, yet another zombie pushing on the fence – continue stacking up.

Herschel tries to lighten the mood.Plot-wise the episode only moves forward about an inch, but the show does a superb job at drawing out the drama without ever being boring by really focusing on specific characters and how they’re dealing with the pressure that living in an apocalyptic world puts on them. I was really happy to see Hershel shine as the man of the hour.

Stuck in quarantine, he’s struggling to keep up with a task that keeps demanding he go against a lot of the things he stands for. It goes against his nature as a doctor to let anyone die, but the other doctor, Caleb (who is on the brink of death himself), insists that “if you’re not ready to lose one of them, you’re going to lose them all,” echoing Carol’s earlier idea about sacrificing a few for the good of the group.

It goes against his nature as a gentle man to kill, but you can’t avoid that forever in the zombie apocalypse. There is a particularly sad scene where he is having a hard time knifing a recently deceased patient, and he has to pull a sheet over the corpse’s head in order to finally do it. It also goes against his nature to give up hope, but there’s so little of it anymore and so many people have already given up. He tells Rick he still believes there’s a plan, that there’s a reason for all of the terrible things they’re going through, and there is definitely a sense of either insane desperation or absolute dedication, or maybe even both, in his words.

Carl asks his dad if he can help.And then the moment arrives for Hershel, and all hell breaks loose as three of the dead reanimate, one threatening Glenn (who is also starting to cough up a lung) and little creepy girl Lizzie, another attacking Hershel, and a young son-turned-walker taking a bite out of his dad and causing him to shoot a woman who was trying to help Hershel. Rick sends Maggie in to help her father and calls on Carl to come help him keep the fences up.

After three seasons of being some combination of helpless, bratty, and scary, it’s about freaking time Carl step up and start to mature. I’m really glad he took to wearing the Rick’s hat again, because it shows he has faith in his father, and foreshadows his future as a leader of the group, though probably not for a couple years. Still, he’s making good progress, shaking off the moodiness he had at the beginning of the season, and somehow managing to balance his dad’s desire for him to live a “normal” life and his own desire to help his dad and be of use. He seems finally ready to take on the more active role that was given to him a little too early in the third season.

The role of annoyingly creepy child seems to have been passed over to Lizzie, who continues to be weird and disturbing, and also doesn’t seem to be at all sick, even faking a little cough for Hershel. I’m not sure what she’s doing in the quarantine area, but it can’t be anything good. She’s always where she shouldn’t be, staring down at a puddle of blood or at a dead body like she’s just waiting for it to twitch so she can kill it. And yet she still thinks walkers are somehow sentient? Her decision to try and lure the zombie hovering over Glenn away from him “like a puppy dog” is simultaneously genius (because it saves Glenn) and stupid (because she’s walking backwards and trips, almost getting eaten herself).

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