‘The Walking Dead’: Is This the Bleakest Season Yet?

Published 9 months ago by

Lauren Cohan in The Walking Dead Internment The Walking Dead: Is This the Bleakest Season Yet?

[This is a review of The Walking Dead season 4, episode 5. There will be SPOILERS.]

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Since Scott M. Gimple officially took over, The Walking Dead has been on something of a bleak streak, taking Rick and the other survivors down an ever darkening and seemingly hopeless path, and putting familiar faces in a whole new kind of peril – the kind where people in an already pitiless world choke to death on their own blood before trying to chomp down on their former caretakers and eventually forcing an old man to break down and cry in the prison cell that’s become his temporary home.

In terms of giving the storyline a sense that something is truly at stake, while demonstrating the writers can also generate a different kind of conflict for the survivors, season 4 has certainly been a success. The flu, the quarantine, and, certainly all the choking on blood has been a new trick for the series this season, and it has managed to give several different characters a brief moment in the spotlight. And sure, there’s a pervasive darkness to the show that simply needs to be there all the time – otherwise it wouldn’t be called The Walking Dead, right? The only question, then, is: How much longer can the series sustain this level of darkness before even the most ardent fan begins to cry out for a shift in tone?

That’s definitely hard to say, as season 4 began with some of the best character work (and ratings) the series has ever seen, and, even through all the bleakness, it has still managed to deliver some compelling character moments from Rick, Carol, and Hershel that will hopefully lead to more from them down the line. So, maybe shifting the setting back and forth from the prison to the veterinary college, and focusing on a more diverse group of characters in a more evenhanded fashion has helped some to overlook some of the tonal issues that have sprung up in the last few episodes. One thing’s for sure: the storytelling is certainly improved this season, but like the fence Rick is constantly trying to mend and fortify, a new weak spot has emerged in the form of its relentlessly bleak tone.

Scott Wilson in The Walking Dead Internment The Walking Dead: Is This the Bleakest Season Yet?

On the plus side, despite their dreariness (and the occasional questionable actions of one or more characters), the episodes so far this season have all been constructed in such a way that the pacing feels swifter, more urgent, and certainly more entertaining. The flu that swept through the prison was a worrisome plot for the show to develop, as bringing in something like a deadly flu virus could easily have become a plot sink the series had no intention of resolving until after the winter hiatus. So, in that regard, season 4 has legs where perhaps seasons past might have become mired in dealing with a viral outbreak inside a confined and terrifying space.

And now that Team Daryl has made good on securing the necessary medicine for the survivors in the prison, it’s time to move on to the next soul-crushing storyline, as ‘Internment’ ends with a not-so-subtle tease of the Governor’s return. From the looks of it, Philip didn’t find his smile while he was away, so The Walking Dead can get ready for a different kind of drama to rain down on the prison and the former citizens of Woodbury.

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151 Comments

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  1. Tiffany Lafferty

    It’s the apocalypse. Not supposed to be Sunshine and Merriment!

  2. Kris Jeffry

    Walking dead episodes!

    Slow start
    Drama
    Zombie attack
    Drama
    Cliff hanger

    Haha

  3. Aleksander Mendes
  4. Flo Heissler

    actually this episode was one of the best if not the best of all TWD episodes! I m still blown away by the intensity (and the acting) this episode delivered

  5. Wow, you guys are being a bunch of Negative Nancies. Everything had plot holes, without them there (generally speaking) wouldn’t be story. Just enjoy the show for what it is

    • @AmazingFantasy#15, you know, you and others toss this phrase around a lot “for what it is”. it is like you not only accept mediocrity or worse, but encourage it.
      I suppose you’re the kind of person that would remain in a loveless relationship, a dead-end job, etc. It is people like you that allow a continuance of mediocrity or worse. To be honest, I saw nothing wrong with this episode or season so far, though I don’t always feel that way.
      Life, TV, etc. is full of ups and downs. sometimes good, sometimes not so good. does the good outweigh the bad? then I could see a reason the decision would not be so easy. if the bad outweighs the good, the way you imply here, this is why America “is the way it is”. Do I accept that? no, not really. and that’s why I’m doing something about it because I demand higher. However, if you are paying nothing to watch it, then you get what you pay for. Watch it or don’t. But don’t defend mediocrity or worse. Of course, this is EXACTLY what the Simpsons and Family guy represent. And given their large following, this is exactly how America views itself and can relate, and therefore are content to accept life for ‘what it is’.
      Not me. I have not bought any DVDs of The Walking Dead because it doesn’t meet my standards to re-watch. I am content to see it once a week but that is enough. Kind of like choosing pizza or pasta or some other type of food that you shouldn’t eat often, but in moderation is acceptable.
      But this episode was good.

      • Yeah, and you suck!

      • @realist, its just a tv show.

        • @Bill

          Yes, it is. very astute of you.

          • @Realist
            I don’t get what that entire rant was for, I was defending the episode/series because I like it and had been seeing alot of negative comments.

  6. Read the comics this show is far from bleak awesome keep up the good work

  7. Albert Eugene Cooney

    I never had thought it slowed down at all. You can actually see rick in the first nice and relax because he was getting his humanity back.. Now he put the guns back on around his waist you can see him get pulled back down. I pretty sure that what they where intended to do. I still think it far the best thing on TV. TWD rocks .. The only i am craving are/ and i want see is what in-between seasons !

  8. giving the show to a writer was a great move

    • I agree. The guy isn’t the best writer but at least he understands how to set things up. Catch that at the end with Michonne and Hershel? It sounds like Hershel is taking over the Tyreesed spot. If so, then I can only assume that will also cause more “chatter” around the fans which is what AMC and the showrunners want. More chatter means more interest which means for viewers and thus leads to high ratings. AMC/TWD wins in the end, lol

  9. Great episode, great performance by Scott Wilson. I can’t wait till next week’s episode with the Governor as it looked like he burns Woodsbury to the ground.

  10. Drew Drury

    The show is great! How can you get tired of zombies?

  11. What the f*** does this mean? Is it a comedy? It’s the end of the world. I can only see the show ending one of two ways, everyone dies, or whatever brought the zombies back stops and the dead drop dead, leaving a depleted humanity to rebuilt and repeat the same mistakes.

  12. That was the best episode yet

  13. This show is always good except for the scenes with Carl. KILL OFF CARL!!!!

    • If only there were an unlike button. Carl is one of the most important parts of the show for me.

      • Dude yes. He’s had so much growth! I love his character now!

    • Really? Did you have a bad relationship with your Father? The relationship between Rick and Carl is one of the things that elevates the show beyond being just a simple zombie slaying fest. The look on Rick’s face when Carl throws him a magazine and the scene where they are eating the peas said more than hours of dialogue could.

  14. Hahaha hey Screen Rant, I think you are the ONLY ONE who thinks the show is too bleak.

    • True! So not comprehensible!
      Too slow …maybe, somtimes … too boring and lukewarm … maybe, sometimes … too much pathetic soap opera, too less authentic/ plausible action and suspense … sometimes … too much fillers and stretching subplots and scenes … for sure at the moment … but too bleak?
      Hell, NO!!!

  15. Amiga Lidia Jimena Colorado Jiménez checa el video ….

  16. Yupi!!!!! Porfín regresa el malvado gobernador!!!! Gracias amigo! Adrian Roman igual lo aguanto y veo el capítulo al rato jejejeje

  17. Ed Exia

    I’d like to see a dream sequence where we get a thriller dance from the zombies.

  18. Hell no, this season is the best yet and I really liked season 3.

  19. Glad the Governor is back

  20. The upside, I don’t think Carol really killed those two, I think Maggie did….and I think Carol just took the fall trying to keep the place together.

    • I actually see where yo going with this, when maggied asked Rick “she said she did it?” I like your theory a bunch.

      • maggie*

        • Yeah…the whole thing was very odd…like she was more surprised that Carol confessed than that Rick kicked her out..and then again her reaction when Rick told her he trusted her and she would not do something like that…then my last odd thing is how she did not want to go into the prison when there were gunshots where Glenn and Hershel were. Rick had to convince her.

          • She did want to go into the prison where Hershel and Glen were…she just didn’t want to leave Rick on his own until he gave her the okay. Did you miss her frantic efforts to get in once Rick gave her the go ahead? Watch it again. I think you misinterpreted the scene with Rick. And in my opinion, Carol did it. End of story.

            • I don’t buy that Carol did it. Its really against her character. Killing zombies is one thing but its really against her nature to be that monsterous, especially considering her husband and how unlike him she is.

              I am sorry, but if I was mentally married to Glenn I would not wait for Rick…Rick certainly would not have waited for Maggie’s okay if Lori had been in there. Makes no sense to me.

              Everyone is so willing to believe that Carol has become a cold blooded killer with no history behind her and nothing changing her into it. Maggie on the other hand had Glenn and Hershel to worry about and her possible pregancy.

              • It wasn’t in her character, but, in this episode especially, an it seemed to have been building to this, she’s become so cold as a character, like an me or them type thing, yknow?

            • @Robert O’Dell “End of Story?” what kind of comment is that?, especially when you preface it with “And in my opinion”. So your opinion is end of story? Opinions are for discussion, not to end discussions. everyone here is agreeing/disagreeing and it is not ‘end of story’. if one opinion were ‘end of story’ there’d be no discussion. I like the discussions I see here, different theories and such. I did think for just a second, why did Maggie say it like that. But then she might just be shocked. But then these other posters might be right and Carol might have covered for Maggie. Who knows? Who knows now, anyway. I, for one, will be tuning in next week to find out. I think these differing theories help fuel discussion and thought. Now I doubt my initial belief that Carol did it. If she did not do it, then why did she protect someone else? Hmmm…

              • Your interpretation of end of story is incorrect. When a person uses the phrase in a debate such as this it is meant to convey that the person using the phrase believes what they have said to in deed be fact. I was not in any way shape or form trying to cut off further discussion on the matter (as if I could) but merely stating that as far as I am concerned, Carol did it. Didn’t intend to offend anyone’s sensibilities. End of story.

                • “And in my opinion, Carol did it. End of story.”
                  so you translate that to mean “in my OPINION, Carol did it. That is FACT”.

                  This is a contradiction.
                  That’s like saying ‘There’s a ladies meeting for men only. The admission is free so pay at the door. there are plenty of seats so sit on the floor. I come before you to stand behind you to tell you something I know nothing about.’

                  • Whatever. I explained it, you don’t get it. I don’t really care. I think I’ll just move onto more substantial discussions. END OF STORY!

    • …or not. Did you miss the part where Rick applied his detective skills to determine the person who burnt the bodies had a cut hand? Carol had a cut hand, Maggie did not. What about the fact that Carol lost it after Tyrese asked her to watch Sasha for him because he trusted her? If Carol was the killer then that scene works beautifully.

      • I totally agree and have stated such. I believe there is nothing beyond the reveal that Carol did it for the reasons you pointed out as well as how her character has been shown to have hardened over the duration of the series.

    • Interesting theory. The scene with Rick and Maggie is really suspicious. But it isn’t out of the character of Carol to do what she confessed doing. On the other side it’s also not out of her character not doing this, but confessing it for some reason. Then I wonder why she leaves so easily … leaving behind the girl … not telling Rick who really did it?

      And for Maggie it would be a real twist of character. It would require some explaining if Maggie did it… because it would be a drastic change of her passive TV characters as well as her comic book character (which she so far pretty much comply with). But maybe she didn’t do it … but just knows who really did it? This again raises many other questions …

      However, the reaction is interesting … could be a twist in the future … but maybe, Carol just did it?
      We’ll see …

      What we see here is that the last (4.) episode was a good one (no filler), while this one is 90% made by stretching sideplots and 10% carrying forward what happend in the last episode.

  21. It’s actually been picking up.

  22. It’s not bleak… It’s getting boring and predictable… I’m also gonna need a little hope… If any

  23. I’ve enjoyed this season for the most part, but this episode was fantastic! Absolutely the best episode in a while. And I’m so glad The Governor is coming back, I thought he was a great villain last year. I can’t wait to see what they do with him this season :)

  24. At least zombies continue to be a threat this season.

    Last season felt more like Revolution than The Walking Dead.

  25. I loved last nights episode..one of my faves!

  26. The comic has been going over ten years and there’s no slowing it down , the tension is definetley still there. I feel the tv show is following the same route, and as for bleakness I wouldnt have my zombie apocalypse any other way!

    • On the comic, I disagree. I think it’s as boring as reading an old Sad Sack and every issue deals with approximately fourteen minutes of World Time. I really can’t stand the muddy art any more and the current plot line is just a rehash of the Governor plot line….Also, A TIGER!? Get outta here.
      Still, I read it, when I’ve got nothing to do.

      • I’m reading the comic book too and disagree with “Negan’s the rehash of the Governor plot line”. At the start of the story arc I would have agreed … always the same … but it isn’t. Of course Negan is a “tiger” again, but totally different than the Governor: He’s not mad, he’s very rational … but very greedy for power, his own self-interest and ready to defend his leading role with brutality … but also with negotiation and trial (if it means submission under his primacy).

        But more important: The comic book is very character driven and the development of Rick (as well as Carl and the group) is going forward – totally different than before. In the comic book the story arcs and plot lines collude much better than on TV:
        - Woodburry/ prison/ Governor: first time Rick and the group realized the Walkers aren’t their biggest troubles, unleashed mad men are! They totally lost against the Governor.
        - Hunters: The Hunters thought themselves bad asses, thought themselves “tigers” … this story arc for the first time showed: Rick and his group now got bad asses themselves. They handled the Hunters easy!
        - Alexandria Safe Zone: We see Rick’s group as really bad ass guys, they know how to survive … they take over the Alexandria Safe Zone … not by force, but it’s pretty clear … nobody can match them. So it’s better for all of them. The readers really think: Rick and his group are a cool bad ass group. Rick believes, he can handle the walkers and he can handle everything.

        - Negan: Then Negan came … Rick started to take on Negan’s gang. He really thought himself and his group so bad ass to take on Negan. And here again the twist: what a silly decision, such an overestimation of the groups capabilities … it costs the life of Glenn!

        So on a very character driven level it’s not always the same.

        And contrary to the TV show the group isn’t portrayed as a bunch of lucky losers … although the do some stupid things in the comic book do, especially Rick.

      • I’m reading the comic book too and disagree with “Negan’s the rehash of the Governor plot line”. At the start of the story arc I would have agreed … always the same … but it isn’t. Of course Negan is a “tiger” again, but totally different than the Governor: He’s not mad, he’s very rational … but very greedy for power, his own self-interest and ready to defend his leading role with brutality … but also with negotiation and trial (if it means accepting his primacy).

        But more important: The comic book is very character driven and the development of Rick (as well as Carl and the group) is going forward – totally different than before.

        In the comic book the story arcs and plot lines collude much better than on TV:
        - Woodburry/ prison/ Governor: first time Rick and the group realized the Walkers aren’t their biggest troubles, unleashed mad men are! They totally lost against the Governor.

        - Hunters: The Hunters thought themselves badass, thought themselves “tigers” … this story arc for the first time showed: Rick and his group now got badass themselves. They handled the Hunters easy!

        - Alexandria Safe Zone: We see Rick’s group as really badass guys, they know how to survive … they take over the Alexandria Safe Zone … not by force, but it’s pretty clear … nobody can match them. So it’s better for all of them. The readers really think: Rick and his group are a cool badass group. Rick believes, he can handle the walkers and he can handle everything.

        - Negan: Then Negan came … Rick started to take on Negan’s gang. He really thought himself and his group so badass to take on Negan. And here again the twist: what a silly decision, such an overestimation of the groups capabilities … it costs the life of Glenn!

        So on a very character driven level it’s not always the same.

        And contrary to the TV show the group isn’t portrayed as a bunch of lucky losers … although the do some stupid things in the comic book do, especially Rick.

        Though this article may fit both the TV Rick as well as the comic book Rick:
        http://www.wired.com/underwire/2013/11/walking-dead-recap-indifference

        I don’t fully agree with this article, but it’s kinda funny and hit some points. ;)

        • No. There’s a tiger in the book. It’s dumb.

  27. epic ep. was holding my breath the entire time. govner is back hell yea!!

  28. The show can keep it’s bleak tone for a long time as far as I’m concerned. They are finally keeping the show true to the circumstance….and this episode ends with none of them giving up. They fought through another serious crisis and refuse to just lie down and die. That’s a hopeful message. …And, in order to survive in BOTH the A and B story, they needed to work together. To be a social animal. That’s ALSO hopeful.

    Kudos. Great episode.

  29. Great. The Governor is back. ZZZzzzz….

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