I'll start off by saying that I take back what I said last week about Carol being the ideal leader for the group. I'm all for clear-headedness, but her cold hearted pragmatism in burning alive Karen and David, as revealed in that quietly horrifying final scene with Rick, is simply monstrous. Then again, it's easy to say such a thing in hindsight, knowing that her attempt to stem the spread of sickness didn't work. Isolation was a powerfully absorbing episode that charted how illness decimated the prison, and the frustration felt by those alive at their inability to make a difference unless they take drastic action.
The two charred corpses spotted by Tyrese sparks off a side to him not seen before, as he's overcome with bestial fury at the murders and ends up coming to blows with Rick. To say he's been a dull personality so far in the show would be an understatement, but here he was interestingly used as another example of the festering frustration and anger that lurks within the group.
It's reared its ugly head before, with Merle, Shane, the Governor and even Rick himself descending into madness and violence when confronted by the loss of loved ones and the futility of their situation. Herschel notes that, "Everything we worked so hard we've tried to keep out has got back in," only for Rick to retort, "No it's always been there". Zombie movies are normally used as representations of death, but here the sickness spreading throughout the camp is symbolic of the inherent frailties all humans suffer.
It's a rapidly spreading contagion. We don't care when all the characterless inhabitants of Cell Block D begin collapsing, but when we see Glenn start coughing it's genuinely frightening. Carl, Hershel, Maggie, Beth - they all feel the frustration and helplessness as loved ones get sick from an invisible enemy that can't be fought. We get to see Carl suited up with Sheriff's hat and silencer as he ventures outside, alongside Hershel who is adamant on helping those in quarantine, despite risk of catching the disease. As he declares in his usual wise way, "I can save lives, that's reason enough to risk mine".
Stuck in the Blood
Daryl, Michonne, Tyrese and Bob also go off and risk their lives by driving out to find medical supplies. It's testament to how engaging this episode was that I hadn't noticed the lack of zombies until this point. But sure enough, the travellers find the road blocked by hordes of the undead, and in another of the show's inventive flourishes find the car stuck on piles of walkers, unable to gain traction as the wheels furiously tear apart a zombie's head.
Tyrese languishing in the car alone, surrounded by zombies, before suddenly waking up to the situation and exploding in to a violent frenzy, echoed Peter Washington's contemplation of suicide before he rushes off to the helicopter at the end of Dawn of the Dead. I'm glad he appears unscathed, because through the trauma he suffered we finally see an interesting hidden side to his character. If he does return to the prison, it will be fascinating to see what is sure to be a fiery showdown with Carol.