The Walking Dead S4, E4: “Indifference” by Dusty

You can read Fremont’s thoughts on this episode here.

What I’m drinking: Apple cider and Fireball cinnamon whiskey.  With Fremont drinking gin and juice (combined with the debacle that was last week’s episode), I thought I’d step up my drinking game this week.  Before long, I’ll be slamming down bottles just a little too hard and drawing walkers right to me.  This is what you’ve done to me, Fremont.  I hope you’re happy.

Seven things that annoyed me:

1. The opening with Carol and Lizzie.  It’s a problem I’ve pointed out before, but it’s worth repeating (mainly because they keep doing it).  The writers have certain points they want to drive home throughout the course of the show.  That’s fine.  The best zombie movies hold a mirror up to society.  However, the best zombie movies don’t feel the need to spell this out to the audience.  Just show a scene and let the audience decide what it means.  Let conversations happen after the episode.  Half the fun of watching something is talking about it afterwards and trying to figure out what you just saw.  Looking for meaning in a small scene.  Looking for the bigger picture in an offhand comment.  Drawing parallels to other shows/movies/literature/etc.  Instead, The Walking Dead decides this isn’t the way to go, so we get things like Carol saying, “We all change,” then cutting to a dead-eyed Rick, staring at zombies.  The only thing less subtle would have been following this statement up with a montage of Rick and Carol doing morally-ambiguous deeds.  “Remember that time Rick killed Shane?  Roll film!”
We get it.  We’re not stupid.  If you want to make a point, make it.  But be confident that your storytelling will get the point across, instead of having characters look into the camera and tell us exactly what that point is.  It’s insulting.
However, if Matthew Broderick wants to show up and talk about who the walrus is, I’m totally on board with it.

2. Daryl’s little passive-aggressive digs at Michonne.  Wasn’t this dealt with last episode?  Daryl is not the passive-aggressive type.  Either she got the point or she didn’t.  Leave it alone.

3. Bob firing his gun at a single zombie (with Daryl & crossbow and Michonne & sword nearby) and no one admonishing him for it.  You’re out in the wild and you know there are zombies nearby.  Why fire a gun?  That will just alert zombies to your location, and you may find yourself in a herd before you know it.  Bob might not be smarter than that, and Tyresse may be too out-of-his-mind to be thinking clearly (unless the conversation is about vengeance, Tyreese ain’t listening), but Daryl and Michonne know better.

4. Carol’s cold logic is fine and all, but it’s getting preachy.  “I’m right.  You’re wrong.  End of discussion.”  I’m also not entirely sure where this new Carol came from.  I guess the change hit her during the months we didn’t see her.  It seems to have appeared out of nowhere, as if it had been carried on the backs of the dozens of new people who now inhabit the prison.
Part of the draw of television over movies is being able to spend more time with characters.  To watch them evolve (or devolve).  We’re not locked in to 90 minutes.  Character development can be slow.  That’s the perk.  However, The Walking Dead seems to have missed this memo, instead deciding to just change characters on a whim.  I’m all for Carol turning into Logic Woman (someone needs to fill that role), but I’d like to see a bit more of that development.  Based on where she was when the series started, we’ve seen her change quite a bit (a fact she talks about during this episode).  This seems to be a pretty logical spot for her to end up in.  But it seems like they skipped over a large part of that development.  Let the characters breathe.

5. Looking for a cure, knowing that zombies can give you zombie-flu without biting you, and not wearing masks or riot gear.  I honestly thought this little reveal was a knowledge bomb (not unlike a Bob Loblaw Law Bomb) dropped by Bob, but it seems that everyone already knew this.
This little medicine-hunting trip could’ve been planned better is my point.

6. Bob’s alcoholism adding useless drama.  If the guy wants to drink, let him drink.  I don’t care enough about his character to really care one way or another.  I can understand if this scene was building up to something down the line, but it really just served the purpose of adding drama to a scene that didn’t need it (“I gotta save the booze from the zombies!  I GOTTA!”).  We already knew he was an alcoholic.  At this point, I don’t care if he’s relapsing.  It felt like I was watching a very special episode of Blossom. But with zombies.  Zombie Blossom.  (Actually, I would watch that.  I hope AMC is taking notes on this.)

7. “I did something.  I stepped up.  I had to do something.”
This was part of Carol’s little speech to Rick.  Yet another example of her high-and-mighty attitude.  She did not “step up”.  She killed two people that didn’t pose much of a threat to the rest of the population in the prison.  Lock them up.  Don’t let anyone visit their cells without taking precautions.  If they die, they can easily be dispatched in their cells.  This flu is still in the early stages.  They don’t know much about it.  And yet, with that limited knowledge, Carol thought it was the best move to burn them before they died.  She may have think that she stepped up, but she made a rash decision based on limited information that may have actually harmed them in the long run (the sooner they looked into this disease, the sooner they could figure out how to treat it.  Burning the bodies of those infected early only sets back the progress in their fight against the zombie flu).  Isn’t that why the council was founded?
That being said, Rick was wrong to just kick her out.  Again, that’s what the council is for.  Even worse than Rick kicking her out on his own accord is the knowledge that next week will deal with the fallout of this.  If there’s one thing I really don’t want to see right now, it’s an episode dealing with Hershel lecturing Rick.
I already know where this is going.  Hershel will lecture Rick.  Daryl will get mad, yell at Rick, and go out to find Carol.  Which he will.  She’ll come back, and it will be tense for a while, but then everything will be okay.  (Also, Carol and Daryl will probably visit PleasureTown together.  Which begs the question: will the unicorns be zombies?)

Two things I liked:

1. I know this was also listed in the annoyances, but I kind of like the new Carol.  To survive in a zombie-infested world, you need to operate on cold logic.  Hard decisions have to be made, often very quickly, and emotion needs to be filtered out.  It’s the only way to survive.  I believe Damon Salvatore refers to this as “flipping the (humanity) switch”.  It can lead to problems down the road (people thinking of you as a monster and eventually becoming alienated), but, in a world with so much death, the number one goal is survival.  You deal with that first, and the consequences later.
Still, I wish it didn’t happen so suddenly, and I wish she seemed a little less haughty about it all.

2. Hearing Sharon Van Etten’s “Serpents” to close out the show.  I love her.  That song is great.  That entire album (Tramp) is great.  If you haven’t already, you really need to pick it up.  You could do a whole lot worse than to spend a night with “I’m Wrong” on repeat.
However, this also kind of doubles as an annoyance.  They ended the episode with Van Etten singing the phrase, “Everything changes,” as Rick looks in the mirror.  I don’t really have to say much more than that, seeing as how I tackled this with more words in the #1 slot in annoyances, but I just thought I’d point it out.

Final thoughts:
Not a lot to like here.  A lot of drama.  A lot of medicine searches (it felt like I was watching the extended version of Independence Day for half the episode.  Perhaps this zombie flu affects the adrenal cortex?  It’s worth looking into).  Very little plot or character development (we found out Bob was an alcoholic, but we already knew that and really didn’t care).  Just a boring episode.  Let’s hope next week breaks them out of this funk.  Although, judging from the “next week on The Walking Dead,” it looks like it’ll be a lot of dealing with sick people.  Goody.  It’s ER with filthy people.

What I listened to while writing this: Appleseed Cast’s Low Level Owl Volume 1.  Dense and dark and atmospheric and beautiful.  It’s perfect for this time of year.