In Its Most Desperate Moments, 'The Walking Dead' Relies On Girl Power

Feb 16 2014, 10:12pm CST | by

If last week’s episode of The Walking Dead was all about Carl becoming a man—whatever that means in the post-apocalypse–then this week’s installment, “Inmates,” is all about girl power. And it gave us some of the most deeply moving moments in the series.  (Spoilers for The Walking Dead up to Episode 410)

From a housekeeping point-of-view, Episode 410 had a straightforward function: telling us who got out and where they ended up.

The guardedly good news is that things aren’t quite as grim as it might seem to our hearty band. The members of the core group who survived the battle all managed to escape largely uninjured and indeed seem to be in small groups wandering in the woods only yards from each other.

But this episode is far more than just exposition, and the credit has to go to the strong women at the heart of each of those groups.

We start out with the odd couple of Daryl and Beth. Daryl has the best combination of skills and attitude of anyone in the group, and he finds himself teamed up with Beth, arguably its most fragile member. But Beth has been down this road before. Back on the farm, she tried to kill herself, but found the strength—indeed, the hope—to try to turn the prison into a home. And in the wake of seeing her father beheaded, she’s still summons the strength to burn a page from her diary. But not the whole thing.

The action cuts quickly to Tyreese’s Day Care Center. He’s caring for Mika and Lizzie and, yes, Baby Judith, who’s missing her bloodied car seat, but is otherwise none the worse for the experience.

And Carol.

The Walking Dead had one of its strangest and most divisive moments in the first half of season four when Rick summarily exiled Carol from the group. Judging from the feedback from Forbes readers at the time, it seemed that the audience was not only divided between Team Rick and Team Carol, but very deeply so.

Showrunner Scott Gimple, though, didn’t dwell on that conflict; Rick and Co. had to turn their attention to the disease that was wiping them out and the looming threat from The Governor.

It seemed likely that Carol would return eventually. But when?

Gimple couldn’t have picked a better moment. Hearing a gunshot and expecting the worst, Tyreese returns to find that the girls are not only alive, but found their foster mom. A moment of melodrama, maybe, but one that was deeply earned. (Tell me that you didn’t tear up just a little.)

And it was tempered by the knowing look on Carol’s face as Tyreese hugs her. Days  ago, Tyreese would have killed her with his bare hands for what he did to Karen. Hours ago, Lizzie and Mika saved Tyreese’s life using skills that Carol taught them. But now he’s simply happy to see a friend and someone who can help him keep these kids safe.

Bob, for his part, finds himself drowning in the estrogen of Group Number Three. Sasha has skills and she’s focused on survival. Maggie’s every bit as much of a bad ass, but she’s got a loftier goal than living until tomorrow: Finding Glenn.

When they clear the bus of walkers and discover Glenn isn’t among them, Maggie doesn’t quite know whether to laugh or cry. Lauren Cohan, who’s imparted some real depth into the character of Maggie, nails this big moment.

The final group is made of up a haggard Glenn and a nearly catatonic Tara.

She’s horrified by what she’s seen and wracked with guilt over her part in it. Glenn’s also on a mission, too, so there’s no place for old grudges.

“’I’m a piece of shit,” Tara says to him. “Why would you want my help?”

“I don’t want it. I need it,” he replies.

And that’s where this group stands. They’re bent but not broken, as desperate as they’ve ever been, but still clinging to hope. And this time it’s the women who are providing the momentum. Some, like Beth, are providing a reason to believe. And others, like Tara, a knife plunged hard and firm into a walker’s skull. When walkers want your brains, both are totally necessary.

Please follow me on Twitter: @avincent52

Source: Forbes Business

 
 

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