...and then, out of nowhere, THE WALKING DEAD came roaring back again. After two extremely limp episodes, the Gimple Gang down their picker-uppers and come back hard with a mostly-keeper of a tale called "Internment." It's not a full-blown classic, but with the exception of the lamer elements, it's just where a passably good ep of TWD should be. Which, of course, means it looks great by TWD standards.
Those lamer elements are some Mazzara-era inanities that plague the ep, almost all of them in the first act. Filler material, most of it of a melodramatic nature featuring Hershel as he tends to
the many afflicted by the mysterious virus. It doesn't add anything to
what's to come except running time and to redundantly set up what the
previous episodes have already set up. Ten minutes in, Rick arrives back
at the prison from his ditch-Carol trip, and Maggie is standing alone
inside the fence spearing zombies congregated in a huge herd
immediately outside it and pressing into it. It's a great, startling
image; a much bigger group of monsters than nearly took out the fence
three eps ago, and as Rick jumps out of his vehicle, that's exactly what
Maggie tells him. This is, by any serious estimation, a dire matter, requiring immediate
attention. Incredibly, Rick basically tells her he'll get to it
afterwhile, and goes off to have conversations with Carl and Hershel!
Telling Hershel what happened with Carol is deemed to be more important
than this. The tale stays with Hershel for a time, as well, further
killing the tension that should be building over the situation at the
Nearly a quarter of the episode passes before Rick gets back to
Maggie. From that point forward, it's full steam ahead, and quite
entertaining television, but why are the idiocies and the wasteful,
inane filler there at all? Why can't TWD finally just flush this goddamn
shit for good and live up to the quality show it is through the rest of
this episode? These are vexing questions.
The rest of the ep is a very fast-paced, suspenseful horror tale.
Night has fallen, and Rick, who has been trying to keep Carl out of
action, is forced to
recruit the boy to help buttress the fence. But the seemingly endless
wave of zombies continue pressing forward, and soon, the makeshift
reinforcements give way and the dread horde comes streaming on to the
prison grounds. Rick breaks out the automatic weapons, reluctantly
passes one over to Carl, and the two prepare to make what could be a
last stand. Meanwhile, inside the quarantined cell-block inside the
prison, Hershel is the lone healthy leg in an isolated cell-block full
of people on their last ones, doing all he can to keep the
rest--including Glenn--alive until the mission to find meds can return.
When his patients die, they reanimate, and with a string of deaths, this
quickly gets out of hand. All of this is pure gold.
Hershel--one-legged, exhausted, and well past his zombie-fighting
prime--stumbles around in the dark trying to deal with an increasingly
confusing horror show around him that goes from bad to worse then worse
I like to see TWD done well, and except for that Mazzara-esque
rot, that's what this was. I don't know what it will take for the series
to finally rid itself of Mazzara-ism once and for all. A tub of Ex-Lax,
maybe? An injection of penicillin? Perhaps an exorcist could be
engaged, I don't know, but I certainly wish someone behind its scenes
would look into it and see it done. Even with the warts on this mostly
solid production, I'd normally still be looking forward to the next
week's installment, but tonight's last note was unfortunately also given over to a particularly
bad bit of Mazzara-ism: a shot of GINO standing outside the fence,
watching our heroes clean up, followed by a preview of next week that
seems to promise a GINO-centered ep. I suspect most viewers will greet
the prospect of this characters' return with the same delighted
anticipation they'd offer a return of the bubonic plague.
I, however, am not as delighted as they are.
 How much filler and idiocy have we had in recent weeks? After the inane bits of tonight's ep, it felt as if TWD had picked up the ball where it was left after the second ep. One could, in fact, almost just pick up the relevant parts of the first few minutes of the third ep (the decision to dispatch the team in search of meds), stitch them together with tonight's ep, minus the inanities, and it would be like a direct continuation that wouldn't lose anything that mattered, except the revelation that Carol was the killer (which would be good to lose), and her fate. Not seeing the mission to retrieve the meds would be, dramatically speaking, somewhat unsatisfying, but nowhere near as unsatisfying as that mission as it was presented.