After spending all of last week’s episode outside the prison walls, “Internment” took us back inside the sick ward to see what we’d been missing. Turns out we were missing a whole lot of Hershel being the hero and a whole lot of people coughing up blood.
Rick returned from his drive without Carol, but with a lot of intense close-ups on the watch she gave him. When he gets back to the prison, Maggie’s taking out as many fence walkers as she can alone. At first he dodges her questions about Carol but then he surprised me by telling Maggie everything. I had figured Rick would keep the details of her banishment a secret, but it shows good sense on his part to start letting people know. Otherwise he’d turn into the bad guy again when the truth inevitably came out.
Hershel probably hasn’t slept since he brought himself and those elderberries into the sick ward, and it shows. He’s exhausted, but still does whatever he can to keep spirits up and a sense of order and purpose in the cell block. He helps Sasha and Glenn help out a sicker patient, Henry, by showing them how to intubate him and keep the blood from choking him. And with that, The Walking Dead can officially add “medical drama” to its list of subgenres.
When another patient has succumbed to the illness, Hershel gets Glenn to help him move the body out of the cell block on a gurney for execution. Everyone knows what happens when the sickness takes over, and what Hershel has to do to keep them safe, but he knows it’d be bad for morale to have everyone watch him or Glenn brain someone they were just friends with right in the middle of the cell block.
Maggie comes to visit Hershel at the window, and at some points it’s so dark you can barely see any reflections in the glass, and it looks like they’re standing next to each other. It’s worth noting that this is the second conversation we’ve seen Maggie have with a family member through a barrier—last time it was Beth, through a solid wooden door that kept her emotions away from her sister, and here she and her father can communicate openly. He repeats his mantra of everyone having jobs to do, but they tell each other they love each other, so it’s not as cold-hearted as Beth’s repetition of the same principle made it seem.
Glenn doesn’t come to talk because he’s afraid Maggie will come into the sick ward after seeing how bad he looks; a fair point, as the makeup team has made him look like the specter of death. Actually, props to the makeup team for this whole episode – making people look sickly and turning them into blood-soaked walkers is no easy feat, and the effects have always been this show’s strong point.
Rick’s first order of business is to bring supplies to Carl to give to the others in quarantine. He shuts down Carl’s offer to come out of quarantine and help out, but leaves him with a reminder to have everyone brush their teeth, because that’s totally what Carl wants to hear. Glad parental nagging about dental hygiene is still a thing in the zombie apocalypse. I didn’t even know they had toothbrushes.
Back in the sick cell block, Hershel is discussing things with Dr. Caleb, who is not doing so well. Caleb knows that he’s reached the stage of the illness you don’t come back from, and wants Hershel to focus on patients who still have a chance. He’s got a few IV bags put together, and has a shotgun hidden under his bed, just in case. Hershel refuses to give up on him, but Caleb’s got blood trickling out of his eyes.
Hershel goes around shutting everyone’s cell doors, and a patient stumbles into him, coughing up the last of his own blood. Hershel panics internally, unable to order everyone away so he can do what he has to do. Thankfully Sasha, sick as she is, is still a total badass and brings him over the gurney to help him wheel the body away. He can’t bring himself to stab the poor guy in the face, so he covers him with a sheet before delivering the final blow.
Rick catches him at it through the visitation window, and we find out this is the third patient to die so far. Rick offers some comfort to Hershel, praising his work and reassuring him that what everyone is seeing is the power of Hershel’s perseverance. Hershel still believes there’s a grander plan in place, and I admire his conviction. A lot of people will make light of his beliefs, and while I don’t necessarily share them, it’s so important to his character that he still does. Hershel has never once given up, not on the walkers that used to be his family members, not on Rick, and not on the sick members of their group. He’s one of my favorite characters now, so I have a sinking feeling he won’t make it through the season.
He makes it through the walker attack that happens immediately after his conversation with Rick. I wish they had shown the discussion of Carol and what Rick chose to do about her, but I guess I’d rather have that extra time to marvel at Hershel’s badassery in the face of the walkers that start turning and attacking.
Sasha has fainted in her cell after expending her strength to help Hershel with the body, and he’s too distracted trying to revive her to lock the cell on another woman who’s just turned. He manages to revive Sasha, who utters the usually fateful words about Hershel having taken a stupid chance by coming in here in the first place. Then the walker attacks, and I thought Hershel was a goner, I really did. I spent the rest of the episode just waiting for something awful to happen to him but thankfully he survived the night.
While Hershel deals with the crisis inside the walls, Rick has to deal with the walkers pressing in from the outside. After he lets Maggie run up to the prison to see what’s going on there, he goes and grabs Carl to help him with the reinforcements. They don’t hold, predictably, but we get brief smiles from the father/son team before it all goes wrong.
Rick gives Carl a gun lesson on the fly as they gear up to take down the stampede of walkers busting their way through the inner fence. They’re both pro shots, of course, and they have each other’s backs out there. Between the two of them they manage to kill all the invading walkers, saving the prison from the outer threat. Not bad for a night’s work. I hope this will lead to more of Rick and Carl bonding and learning to work together as father and son.
The inner threat is still raging, as Maggie desperately tries to break into the cell block. Hershel holds his own quite admirably as Lizzie lures an undead Henry away from Glenn. She calls to him like a dog, no fear in her voice until she trips and falls; is that just a result of growing up in the zombie apocalypse or is she the one feeding them like pets at the fence?
Hershel saves her from Henry, tossing him like a sack of flour over the railing and off of Lizzie. A++ to Scott Wilson for doing his own stunts in this episode, by the way. Great acting in all his quiet scenes, and great physical work as well.
Maggie finally busts her way in through the visitation window and shoots Henry without damaging the intubation bag, just like Hershel needed. They use the bag to save Glenn, and Maggie is incredibly stoic throughout the process, and Hershel calls him “son” as he talks him through it, and they’re so clearly a family unit. Remember when Hershel threatened him away from Maggie on the farm? Look at that character growth. I love it.
Daryl’s group makes it back to the prison in time to administer the medicine to everybody who’s still alive but not in time to help with the walker situation. Tyreese is relieved to see Sasha alive, which will hopefully keep him from pulling any more stupid stunts with the walkers. Michonne takes Hershel out with her to dispose of the walker bodies, and Daryl calls him a tough sonofabitch, a compliment of the highest order from him.
Unfortunately, the episode ends before Rick works up the nerve to tell Daryl what happened with Carol, but we were left with a wonderfully sinister shot of the Governor watching everything from right outside the prison walls. Definitely looking forward to David Morrissey being part of the show again, and I can’t imagine what twisted plotline he’ll end up with this time.