The Walking Dead S4 Ep5 – “Internment”

Hershel sits in his cell in the quarantine block.
Rick and Carl team up to take down a herd of walkers.

I like to call this the “father-son bonding moment of badass.”

Carl’s chance to prove himself comes when the zombie mob proves too much for the fence to hold back, and he and Rick have to retreat and bust out the big guns. No running off on his own, no heroic antics, he actually turns out  to be a great partner for Rick. A quick little shot of  him tossing his father another clip of ammo  shows us how well the duo work together, and the sound fades out a little as the camera lingers on Rick’s face as he watches his son calmly face down a crowd of walkers with a semiautomatic rifle. He’s finally starting to understand that his son is growing up and deserves to be treated as such.

Inside the prison, decisions are being made in a split second, with Maggie shooting out the visitation window to get into the block, Hershel taking a page out of Lizzie’s book and luring the zombies elsewhere to shoot them (not because he’s stupid, but because he doesn’t want the other patients to see him do it), and then wrestling with a walker for the breathing tube and bag still stuck in his mouth. Maggie has to either risk her father getting ripped to shreds or shooting the walker and hitting the bag, meaning Glenn will die. Thankfully she manages a head shot, and father and daughter work together to stabilize Glenn and get him breathing again.  They share a moment, similar to Carl and Rick’s, with the father realizing that it will necessary for his child to face danger if both of them are going to survive.

Maggie and Herschel stabilize Glenn.

A similar “father-daughter bonding moment of badass.”

So far on the show, most of the scenes between dad and his kid have been been between Carl and Rick, whose relationship has been pretty strained since the beginning. It’s really refreshing to see Maggie and Hershel as another example of a father and child who are still mostly get along and make a great team. Hershel’s inclusion of Glenn into his family (he calls him “son” when trying to get the breathing tube down his throat) is also really heart-warming, and the fact that they’re both on the council suggests that each man really respects the other. I’m a little curious about Beth though, who was shown to have gotten a little insensitive and has also been really isolated from her family, due to always taking care of baby Judith. The only time we’ve seen her talk to her sister this season was in the previous episode, through a door between the cell blocks. Where does she fit into the family if she’s hardly ever around them?

At last Daryl, Michonne, Bob and Tyreese make it back with the antibiotics, and Hershel is able to let himself rest. His fight to keep other people’s and his own spirits up has clearly worn him down, however, and he quietly cries, unable to bring himself to read his Bible. Still, he’s more than earned the title Daryl gives him in the morning as a “tough sum’bitch.” Even though the real fallout over Carol’s banishment is postponed until at least next week, Hershel’s character study proves more than satisfying enough to carry a whole episode. I’m concerned for him though, because he seems to be giving off a ‘martyr’-like vibe, and given the big reveal in the seconds right before the ending credits, I’m really afraid the only reason the writers have given us this episode is to make it hurt more if/when he dies. (Please don’t die! I’ll cry…)

Since Dale died back in season 2, Hershel has somewhat taken over the role of moral compass for the group, and his insistence that everyone keep their hands busy and their hopes up when death is constantly just a minute away serves as the other side of the coin to Carol’s new ice-cold outlook.  The writers have done a great job at balancing both views; neither is seen as more or less “right” than the other. And Scott Wilson’s performance as Hershel is just as poignant and compelling as Melissa McBride’s as Carol. Those two characters seem to functioning on two ends of a spectrum and the last shot of Rick with Carl in the garden eating peas, with his gun on his hip suggests that he is finally starting to figure out where the middle of it is and take back his leadership position.

We’re just going to have to wait see whether his new confidence in himself is going to be enough to face the Governor.

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