Things take a turn for the worst this week as the survivors continue to face a “glorified cold.” As more and more people get sick the characters begin to face the possibility that everything they have built at the prison might come crumbling down. “Isolation” is all doom and gloom with little in the way of zombie action and is possibly the most mixed viewing experience of the season so far. Robert Kirkman (The creator of The Walking Dead) produces the script this week and he does a tremendous job of really letting the characters fall apart. Granted it is a little over the top in places, but on the whole “Isolation” is a enjoyable character piece.
Tyreese is thrust into the spotlight and is perhaps the weakest link of the episode. Chad Coleman is a little erratic in his portrayal of Tyreese. Coleman shines in the quieter moments, when Tyreese interacts with Sasha or initially refuses to help Daryl. He’s vulnerable and on the edge, which works for those scenes. However Coleman manages to make Tyreese’s outburst at the beginning and moment in the car seem far too dramatic. To be honest all the actors involved in the tussle at the beginning of the episode are over playing the melodrama. In fact the conflict was so exaggerated that it lost any of its intended impact.
A lot of the scenes in the episode do loose their impact due to the lighting choices of director Dan Sackheim. People are drowned in shadows and reveal powerful emotional moments with dramatic turns into light. Glenn’s reveal that he is ill is easily the best example of this. It is all very over the top.
However there is a lot of good here too. Daryl and Michonne’s interactions are great and the chemistry between the actors makes them very watchable. Carl and Hershel’s moment in the woods forwards both characters as they struggle with being sidelined by the rest of the group. In fact Scott Wilson’s performance as Hershel is easily the best of the episode. Wilson is so sincere as Hershel that it is hard not to connect with him. As always Rick is entertaining due to Andrew Lincoln’s performance. His struggle with his responsibilities and his sanity are interesting plot points for Rick, however one hopes that his character moves past this soon as the show is in danger of over-milking these elements.
But much like last episode it is Carol that stands out. She continues to be engaging and complex. She is an entirely different character from what she was. The reveal that she burnt the bodies was expertly handled. Melissa McBride’s delivery in that scene is so calm that it actually makes Carol utterly terrifying. She is certainly the character to watch out for.
“Isolation” is inconsistent, but enjoyable. It moves the group into a situation that will ensure that there will be plenty of drama and zombie action in the coming episodes. It is nice that we got an episode dedicated to the characters as oppose to constant zombie action. Although a lot of the scenes fall flat and come off as exaggerated melodrama, there are a few that are truly great. For now it looks like season 4 is still a little rough around the edges.