The Walking Dead, S4E10, “Inmates” by Dusty

What I’m drinking: Atwater Vanilla Java Porter.  Like last week, I went to Blue Stallion Brewery for my Walking Dead viewing this week.  While Blue Stallion doesn’t brew this beer, they had it on tap this week and it sounded delicious, so I gave it a shot.  It was amazing.  I’ve tried quite a few porters, and this is one of the better ones I’ve ever had.  Smooth, with a great vanilla flavor and a strong dose of coffee.  The flavors complimented each other perfectly.  I’m looking forward to drinking more of these in the future.
As a bonus, Atwater Brewery is in Detroit.  For those of you who don’t know (which is probably most of you), I was born not far from Detroit, and lived in that area off-and-on as a child.  Most of my pro sports teams are Detroit based, and I still have quite a bit of family up in that area.  Every time I see something awesome based in Detroit, it makes me happy.  If you’re in that area, definitely look them up, for this beer if nothing else.  I’ll be looking for more from them.

Eight things that annoyed me:

1.  Daryl went from resident badass to a depressed guy who can’t take out a single old-man-zombie in record time.  I really liked the dynamic between Daryl and Beth (in the brief time we got with them), but Daryl moping around seemed really out-of-character for him.  It was only a few days prior when he found out Rick had exiled his best friend and sexual-tension-partner, and he barely batted an eye.  I realize they all recently went through something traumatic by losing the prison, but Daryl is a stronger person than he was shown to be here.

2. Lizzie & Mika.  I just don’t care for them.  I know they were in the entire first half of the season, but I still don’t feel like I know them at all.  (Besides Lizzie being a psychopath, I guess.)  However, I’d be on board with a Surburban Commando-type episode with Tyreese. Feed the remains of the zombies to a warthog, Tyreese.  It’s what Shep would want.

3.  Lizzie chiding Tyreese with the line, “You yelled at her and now she’s gone.”  No.  Mika is a stupid kid, and that’s why she ran.  She heard a twig snap, and decided the best option was to run into the woods.  Because she’s a stupid kid.  You leave Tyresse and his long-handled hammer out of this.

4.  Lizzie trying to kill Judith (aka, Little Ass Kicker) at the expense of saving Mika.  Priorities, Lizzie.  If you really want to kill a baby, wait until the walkers are clear.  This little episode pegs Lizzie as a full-on psychopath, but not one that is helpful in a zombie apocalypse.  She’s like the calzone of psychopaths: pointless.  I doubt she makes it through the end of the season.
However, this brings up an interesting point about babies in a zombie apocalypse.  I realize I may sound a bit heartless here, but this is a question worth asking: at what point do you cut a baby loose?  I know it’s a hard decision to make, but traveling with babies is not conducive to surviving in a zombie apocalypse.  They cry at inopportune times.  Their needs are many.  Their dietary needs are highly specific.  At what point do you say, “Screw it.  Keeping this adorable baby alive isn’t worth jeopardizing the entire group,”?  After all, if the group dies, the baby dies.
Still, you have to be a pretty heartless bastard to say, “Let’s kill this baby,” zombie apocalypse or no.
One more point on Judith: she has barely cried since she was born, and yet she decides to cry at this exact moment?  It’s an easy way to create tension.  Yet another example of the lazy writing that plagues this show.
I’m also a bit confused as to how Judith aged so quickly.  She looks like she’s at least doubled in size since the prison.  Those grapes and berries must be loaded with growth hormones.

5.  The recurring “we don’t know if anyone else got out” conversation.  We get it.  We don’t need to see every single group have the same conversation.

6.  Sasha saying, “we have the water to our backs,” as an example of how they’re safe from zombies in their location.  The problem is that there’s no current in the water.  Zombies aren’t allergic to water.  They’ll just walk right through it.  You’re better than that, Sasha.

7.  Looks like it’s heading towards another, “Let’s go to a fortified place and stay there for a bit,” plot.  I don’t really know what else is there is to do, but it all feels a bit formulaic at this point.  I’d be perfectly fine with a couple different groups surviving in the wild for a little while.  Each group would have their own style and dynamic.  It would give a different feel to each episode, which it sorely needs at this point.  When I saw “TERMINUS” pop up, I groaned.  Let’s not go through this again right now.

8.  Glenn lighting a car on fire and assuming zombies will flock to it.  Zombies won’t walk towards a fire when there are humans nearby.  That’s true in every zombie movie I have ever seen, and it’s also true in this show.  In numerous scenes, there have been fires and explosions, yet the zombies always focus on the humans.  Yet, for some reason, they go for the fire in this scene.  What’s different about this time than every other time there has been a fire or explosion?

Nine things I liked:

1. Great opening.  I loved Beth’s voiceover while her & Daryl run through a field and kill zombies.  It was beautiful.  A little cheesy and out-of-character for the rest of the show, but it was still pretty well-done.
I’m a big fan of Emily Kinney in general (and not just because she sings the occasional Tom Waits song).  Nice to see her act a little more than the first half of the season allowed her to.  Here’s to hoping she becomes a bigger part of this season.  (Although she could definitely improve on her crying.)

2.  Finding out that Judith is still alive.  I wasn’t looking forward to 4 episodes of, “Is the baby still alive?” speculation.  Two episodes in, and they’ve already established that The Governor is dead and Judith is alive.  I’m glad they got those reveals out of the way early.

3.  The way the episode was structured.  I loved seeing the aftermath of a scene, then going back and seeing what actually happened.  It was an interesting way to show what the characters have been doing since the prison blew up.  This episode was far more compelling than last week’s, due in no small part to the storytelling technique employed here.  With as lazy as this show is sometimes, it’s always nice to be reminded of the peaks it can hit when everything is clicking.

4.  The triumphant return of Carol.  The embrace between her and Tyreese was a sweet little moment.  And she stopped burgeoning psychopath Lizzie from killing a baby.  Huzzah!
I know there will be a lot of drama with her down the line, but I loved how they brought her back into the fold.  Melissa McBride was great in this scene.  She didn’t know what Tyreese knew, so she was kind of eyeing him sideways the entire time.  A really nuanced performance from her in limited screen time.

5.  Two lines from the Maggie/Sasha/Bob group, both highlighting different ways to think about the apocalypse.

“You can’t go back to the graveyard.” Sasha said this.  It’s a plea to leave the past behind.  Worry about the future.  Worry about survival.  Worry about the people that are currently with you, not those who have been with you.  It’s a cynical way to look at the world, but it’s also a realistic way to look at it.

“Maybe we didn’t survive just to keep surviving.”  Bob said this.  Granted, he said it as a sort of pick-up line, but I still liked it.  Even in a zombie apocalypse, there’s more to life than just trying to survive.  There are still things in life you can enjoy.  It’s okay to laugh.  It’s okay to live.  Maggie already knew this.  Sasha needs to learn.

6.  Maggie’s hysterical crying-turned-laughing fit after not finding Glenn in the bus.  Great performance by Lauren Cohan.

7.  SWAT Gear Glenn.  He looked like an action figure.

8.  The scene between Glenn and Tara near the end.  A well-acted scene all the way around.  Tara breaking down and apologizing, and Glenn just barely keeping it together.  I didn’t really care one way or another about Tara before this, but I’m rooting for her now.

9.  I loved Abraham and his crew (Eugene and Rosita) in the comics.  And, while they didn’t get a guy quite fat enough to be Eugene, the mullet should make up for it.  Really looking forward to seeing them in action.  (Then again, I said the same thing when Tyreese showed up, and they still haven’t done much with him.)

Final thoughts:

I really liked this episode.  It was a huge improvement over last week.  We got to see what happened to quite a few people from the prison.  It moved along really well, there were some great performances, and I loved the storytelling technique.  There was an energy to the entire episode that I haven’t seen in a non-action-packed episode in a long time.

Added note: I’ve seen the preview for Need For Speed quite a bit recently.  I’m just going to pretend it’s the story of what happened to Jesse Pinkman post-Breaking Bad.

What I listened to while writing this: St. Vincent – St. Vincent.  Probably my favorite artist currently working.  This is something different for her.  She leans more heavily on synths than guitars, but it’s still terrific.  She has some tremendously dense arrangements here, and her voice is amazing.  She really knows her way around a melody.  She has a beautifully nuanced singing style, even in her harshest songs.  It’s not my favorite album of hers, but it’s still fantastic.  I’d be shocked if it doesn’t end up in my top 5 albums of the year.