SPOILER ALERT: The recap for the "Isolation" episode of "The Walking Dead" contains storyline and character spoilers.
It’s fitting that such a powerful episode would have been written by “Walking Dead” creator Robert Kirkman (the first episode he’s penned since the midseason finale of Season 3), who delivered a few potential game-changers early in this fourth season.
First: We know who killed Karen and David, and she doesn’t appear to be remorseful about it. Yes, she; it was Carol! How far into the episode did it take you to figure it out? Had you guessed before the episode? Or when she urged Rick to go off on his own to talk to a grief-stricken, rage-filled Tyreese? Or when she broke down after Tyreese asked her to look after his quarantined sister?
Or were you blindsided by her admission — a simple, non-apologetic “yes”— when Rick asked her if she had killed the quarantined duo, burning them alive in hopes of keeping the illness from spreading? Clearly, this is the event the cast has been hinting at in interviews, the event that will turn friends into enemies and add to an already volatile situation at the prison.
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Second, the prison community lost 12 people in the attack when Patrick got sick and turned, and Karen and David make it 14… now Glenn, Sasha, little Lizzie, and Dr. S are all infected, and Dr. S has just coughed blood into Hershel’s face. Will medicine, if they get it in time, save them?
Third, and speaking of medicine: Daryl, Michonne, Bob, and Tyreese are off on an urgent mission to see if they can find antibiotics at the West Peachtree Tech vet school. Along the way, they run into (and over) a swarm of thousands of walkers that's revealed when the camera pans out in a very cool, startling shot. The foursome is forced to flee the car on foot and scramble into the woods, but just before that, the car radio had spit out something just as shocking: what sounded like a human voice saying words that sounded like “government,” “survive,” and “alive.”
Among the other highlights in “Infected”:
Rick vs. Tyreese
Rick and Tyreese have so much in common, especially the fact that they’re both terrified of losing their humanity as they do the things they need to do to keep themselves and their loved ones alive. So it was crushing, but completely understandable, that they lost it on each other when Rick met Tyreese’s urgent demand for justice for Karen and David’s deaths with a calm and rational desire to figure things out slowly. In short, they beat the hell out of each other, both releasing grief, anger, shock, and months and months of frustration. As continues to be a major theme of the show, theirs is a violent world at every turn, even for those who make a commitment to keep it in check as much as possible.
In Carol’s defense, there is nothing she will not do to protect the people at the prison. She’s so committed to their basic survival that she’s stealthily teaching the children how to use weapons, and she forces herself to put her emotions aside even in the face of instructing two preteen girls how to kill their almost-zombie dad and, in “Isolation,” when forced to send a terrified Lizzie into quarantine. Carol is one tough chica, and, really, doesn’t the group need at least one person just that tough, just that focused on keeping them all alive? If they’re not alive, what else matters, ultimately?
Also, it isn’t just about keeping the individual prison community members alive for their own sakes. Every loss the group suffers makes them weaker as a whole, at a time when they’re facing this new illness, walkers who seem to be showing up in larger packs, a constant need for new supply sources, and, lest we forget, The Governor, who is still out there, somewhere.
On the flip side, murder? Whoa. She’s a member of the prison community council, and, at least, hers was a group decision to make. Karen and David were quarantined, after all; killing them wasn’t going to do anything about people they may have already infected. And her action took away any chance they might have had to recover, either on their own or when and if Daryl and his group return with medicine.
Inevitably, the rest of the prison group will find out what Carol did, and it will cause a rift. Tyreese isn’t going to agree with Carol’s actions, and it’s tough to see how, or if, he’ll ever forgive her. But what about Daryl? Daryl and Carol are incredibly close, but will he be able to understand or forgive her actions? While trying to convince Tyreese to go on the medicine run, Daryl told him he thought the person who killed Karen and David deserved to take a bullet… will he still feel that way when he finds out it was Carol? Could this be a discovery that pushes him towards someone else — like, oh, say, Beth?
* Grossest scene of the week: Daryl spinning his car wheels not in the mud, but in zombie brains. Braaaiiiins!
* Runner-up: Tyreese emerging from the bushes covered in zombie goop after he fought off a whole mess of ‘em when he got out of the car. Braaaiiiins!
* About that Daryl/Michonne conversation about her running away from the prison under the guise of going off to search for The Governor: It felt like she was about to spill some backstory, didn’t it?
* West Peachtree Tech is not a real university. West Peachtree is a major street in Atlanta.
* Andrew Lincoln, as always, was fantastic in “Isolation,” as was Chad Coleman, finally getting a chance to bring Tyreese front and center in the TV series. But longtime fan favorites Melissa McBride (Carol) and Scott Wilson (Hershel) were also big scene-stealers.
* Poor Glenn. He has been one somber dude the entire season so far, and now, in quarantine, he tells Hershel, “After everything, I’m just taken out by a glorified cold.” Too harsh to actually come true, right?
Tell us, "Deadheads": Who do you think that voice was on the radio? Was it live, or some sort of recording? Will Daryl and company ever make it to that college to see if there are antibiotics there? If — okay, when — they get back to the prison, will Rick immediately tell them about Carol? And which, if any, of our favorite infected survivors are going to make it? All? None?!
"The Walking Dead" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.