AMCs The Walking Deadare usually not the kind of series that give a lot stomach laughs. There may be some laughs during some of its strangeness or occasional put-down, but for the most part it wants to convey the danger and fear that permeates the world of the show. I assume that was also the case with tonight’s episode, “On the Inside,“But it failed spectacularly. Emphasis on the spectacular.
I know I’ve discussed this before (we’re in season 11, I’ve discussed everything before) but apart from random assholes and the saviors, the human enemies of The Walking Dead tend to be ridiculous in some form. That started with Governor (David Morrissey), who kept severed zombie heads in an aquarium in his living room and his zombified daughter in the closet. The latest is Reapers, who plays the zombie apocalypse as if it were a first-person shooter. That Whispers, said nuff. And yet, I think tonight’s new enemy tops them all in terms of ridiculousness.
“On the inside” wanted mainly to be a traditional slasher film, which is a really interesting choice for a show that is primarily a horror drama. It begins with the long-awaited return of Connie (Lauren Ridloff, who was busy making Marvel’s Eternities), still with Virgil (Kevin Carroll) running from zombies and perhaps other creatures into a spooky house for shelter. The troops begin to mount immediately as Connie finds fun old paintings and photos – as if they are from a mansion– with all eyes outstretched. Connie is understandably freaked out, and even more so when she sees a bloodshot eye stare at her from a hole. She runs to Virgil and signs that they have to leave, but he points out that she has not slept for several days and that she is still pretty traumatized to be stuck in a collapsed cave with a bunch of zombies. He suggests that she might see things, but she’s so upset that they check the house again and find nothing … until a door slams and separates the two, and the killer – or should I say killers – begin their attack. Connie is chased through the house, into a basement whose floor is covered with human bones. Some very bad people obviously live here.
I’m assuming that Ridloff, there are deaf in reality, was cool with the episode and felt disability was treated sensitively in the script. But it is so effective at increasing the excitement that it almost feels a little exploitative. When Connie is alone, the episode becomes silent to mirror her, and knowing that she would not be able to sense that someone was sneaking behind her had me on the proverbial edge of my seat. When she sees someone sneaking up behind Virgil and can not say anything, it’s nerve-wracking. And when Connie, who is trapped behind a wall and can only push out to reveal her presence but not her identity, and a panicked Virgil begin to stab the wall with her knife, I mean, Forget it. Yet it is inherently silly to stick them in one “the killer is in the house” -scenario The Walking Dead because there are also countless killers outside the house, but the show breaks it for some real horror. The problem is the killer, or rather the killers.
I call them P.ack because – and I’m literally laughing as I write this – in the 13 years since the apocalypse began, they have gone completely wild. They go on all fours. They speak almost exclusively in growling and barking. They only wear primitive underwear. Through their grunts, they were somehow able to communicate with each other to the herd Connie and Virgil into Death House. I thought it was funny when people in Terminus turned into cannibals about five minutes after the zombie apocalypse started back in season four, but the package takes the cake. I want you to close your eyes and think about how, if the dead walked the earth, at what point you would find it a wise decision to crawl on all fours instead of walking upright. Would it be at some point within the first 12 years? Because that’s where we’re that TWD timeline. Then you might as well ask yourself when to move to an exclusive wardrobe, and also forget how to talk to a dozen people who at one point should have a conversation about which room they should put all their bones in .
Even Connie looks less startled when the package reveals itself. They are stupid as rocks, they have no weapons, they run on all fours, so they are slow, and if they bite you (and they will!) You will not turn into a zombie. The package is least threatening group of evil in Walking Dead universe. Want to know how Connie defeats these nincompoops? She smears some zombie gut on herself and opens the damn house door to let zombies in and the zombies eat them. When Connie and Virgil flee, however, a few more Pack members begin to surround them – only to be immediately brainwashed by Kelly’s snake shot. The two sisters have been reunited, and it is a testament to the actors’ chops from Ridloff and Angel Theory that the scene is as moving as it is given, there are basically people wearing diapers on their feet.
Meanwhile, in the less funny story, Daryl (Norman Reedus) has a hard time with the Reapers. They force him to torture the other Alexandrian they captured, only to double check that they are not still secret in cahoots, which Daryl unfortunately does (but does a lot). When the guy finally tells them about the house in Meridian where everyone was supposed to meet – the actual house, to my surprise, since I pretty much assumed he was going to lie – Pope (Richie Coster) sends a team including Leah (Lynn Collins) and Daryl to check it out. He is able to warn Maggie (Lauren Cohan) this danger is imminent by shaking a power cord outside the house so she, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) and the other guy can hide in the basement. Some shenanigans ensue: Daryl keeps trying to suggest that they search elsewhere and be called after it, then he must scrape a rug over the trap door leading to the basement; and Carver (Alex Meraz) Reaper continues to be suspicious and an asshole to Daryl, and it turns out that it’s because he’s mad, Daryl broke Leah’s heart. Daryl manages to speak loudly and very casually about the Reapers’ numbers and defense, to Maggie’s advantage. Then she and the others escape. It is fine.
What is not fine is that when the troop returns, a brilliant pope waits for those who announce that while they were away, he continued to torture the prisoner until he “got everything [he] penetrated out of him. “Then he whispers something to Carver, who laughs and looks back at Daryl. If I were Daryl, I would have immediately started running in the other direction. Daryl does not do this. But that problem is next week, and today we must honor the memory of the herd that was taken from us too quickly. Farewell to Rex, Buddy, Lady, Lucky, Hooch, Mutt Damon, Mary Puppins, Droolz, Pope Bonipoochie the Third and Arfster. I take comfort in knowing that you are playing pick up in the sky, just with human skulls instead of sticks.
- If you are wondering why there was a hole behind the medicine cabinet mirror for razor blades, some old houses had them back when razor blades were not even. If they were put in the trash, they could ruin a garbageman or curious kid pretty badly, so they were just beaten right into the gap … where they remained forever. There was one in an apartment I rented once. The more you know!
- Virgil has become a pretty good guy. After being a mess for Michonne back in season 10, he gives Connie her knife to make sure she can escape. He says Michonne gave him a chance (by sparing him), which he is sure should be sent to Connie. I’m glad he was rescued.
- If anyone can explain to me why the package was not eaten by zombies within the first three days after their decision to stop walking as humans, I would love to hear it.
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