'The Walking Dead' S4 Ep5 Recap: Cellblock Tango (or Greatest American Hershel)
"Being a hero takes a lot out of you." You can say that again, Hershel, you stubborn hobbled superstar you! Watching last night's "Internment" ep of The Walking Dead wasn't such a leisurely stroll through the park, either! Just when my razzing of an uneven Season 4 was reaching fever peak -- GADZOOKS. That was the most gripping, gnawing hour so far, pure hell-breaking-loose adrenaline from start to finish. The whole thing -- from the burbling where's-Carol tension to Hershel's seemingly hopeless fight to combat the Super Flu to Glen almost dying to THE RETURN OF THE GOVERNOR (if only for a teasing few seconds) -- was a thrill ride.
Even more impressive, the show's most volatile, and for that matter interesting, characters were all but absent; Daryl, Michonne and Tyreese (oh, and Bob, seemingly sober) didn't return to the prison until the ep's vaguely comforting end -- that is, until ol' Psycho Cyclops showed up, promising a don't-miss show next week. Hershel, played by the awesome Scott "Where's my Emmy?" Wilson, reinforced the writer's point this season: In the zombie apocalypse, you don't give up until the end, yours or others. That justifies Rick's decision to boot Carol, who jumped the gun on two lives, out of the fun bunch. Of course, Rick hasn't told Carol's boy Daryl yet, which was a sly creative move. Sure, the One Eyed Gov is dangerous, but D. Dixon might go ballistic when he finds out she's gone. Showrunner Scott Gimple loves making us wait.
The Walking Dead is at its best when it's chugging full-tilt-boogie but still moving story and characters along. Last night was a prime example. Here are a few killllller moments:
* Not only did Carl get his hat back, the hellraiser got his hand on an automatic weapon. WHEEEEE! As the prison was erupting inside, the fences were coming down outside. (The gang can't stay here much longer, which is good news for all of us.) So Carl's Dad gives his boy the gun, a quick tutorial (duuuuudde, your boy's GOT this) and they start mowing down the herd. But the coolest thing? Carl leads the assault -- Rick is the one who follows, startled but proud.
* Pistol-packing Maggie -- Hershel's daughter, Glen's fiancee -- has to make a choice between saving her father who's grappling with a zombie or potentially not-saving Glen by shooting a breathing tube in said zombie's mouth. (If you haven't seen the episode yet, well, long story.) What does Maggie do? She takes the shot: kablammo. We see her caring for a recovering Glen at show's end, but there wasn't much indecision when she pulled the trigger, was there?
* Hershel heals the sick, saves a little girl, slays zombies -- all basically on one leg. Get this guy on the Avengers!! After a brutal night, Daryl points at Hershel and says, "You're a tough sumb----." And what does the old-timer say as he's walking away John Wayne-like? "I am."
* After a high-octane hour that would have been a gem without a final twist -- the Governor returns. Did the writers wait too long to bring him back? Maybe. But lordy, it was good/bad to see the old nutter again. As if a deadly flu, encroaching monsters, unstable power struggles, Carol's whereabouts and related horribleness all weren't enough to break your survival spirit -- now Rick & Co. have a new fight with a dude whose idea of chilling out is tending to his severed-head aquarium. In the nick of time, things just...got...interesting.