“Inmates” raises a lot of questions.

Is Beth anybody’s favorite character? I like her more than a majority of the viewing public. She’s sweet, with strong ties to characters I also like, with her sister being Maggie and her strange friendship with Daryl. Beth also has more character development than most of the characters on this show. She’s gone from naive to suicidal to cold-hearted (remember when her friend died and she barely cared?) to the caretaker of the group.

The biggest problem with her character is how little her presence is felt. She’s seemingly pivotal at times, such as her role as Official Judith Babysitter and the only family Maggie has left. However, her role on the show as a whole is barely felt. Do any viewers wonder where she is when she’s not on the screen? Would any of the characters, besides Maggie, feel her loss? Was the first vignette in “Inmates” an attempt to get viewers to feel for Beth, even in a few brief moments? Or was it preparing us for her looming demise?

Was anybody relieved that Judith is alive? Her survival was predicted by many eagle-eyed viewers who saw Tyreese holding something small as he ran off in the finale. Although, I have trouble with the idea of watching kids die, even if it is the reality of the world, Judith’s survival may actually be a burden on the show. All the characters are constantly going to have to take care of the baby, ensuring that she’s always fed and safe. If she’s too loud, as Lizzie and Mika learn, she could lead walkers straight to any location. Plus, it’s not exactly fun to watch after the first time. I’m not saying that psycho Lizzie and her crazy eyes have the right idea about killing the kid to get rid of the burden, but Judith doesn’t have the potential to be a fun character

Would The Walking Dead be a better show if the group stayed apart? I loved the vignettes format of the episode. Instead of going back and forth to different storylines, the show just stayed with a group of characters until commercial break, before moving on to the next group. It felt less rushed than other episodes.

First we follow Beth and Daryl escaping from walker after walker through the woods, with Beth clinging to her journal like she’s 12 years old (Beth even writes as if she’s speaking directly to the diary, which most people stop doing when they hit puberty).

Tyreese, Mika, psycho Lizzie, and dumb baby Judith are also traipsing through the woods, trying to survive with a dumb crying baby. They meet up with Carol, who quickly catches on that Tyreese has no idea that she killed his girlfriend. A dying man tells them to follow the railroad tracks to a sanctuary called Terminus, which he made the mistake of leading. This magical sanctuary is clearly going to be filled with psycho, rapist, militant sociopaths because that’s who survives in this world. Hopefully the plot won’t be a retread of the Governor’s camp.

Next up is Maggie, Sasha, and Probably-Evil-Bob. Maggie is devastated by the horrific death of her father and her separation from Glenn. They find the bus that Glenn was on and find that all of the nameless prison extras are dead. They kill them all and that’s basically it.

Glenn, apparently, got off the bus before it took off. I don’t remember this happening on the show or what reason Glenn had to get off the bus. (Wasn’t he still sick and weak?) He’s still at the prison, which has calmed down considerable since being the sight of mayhem and horror only a few hours (days?) before. His vignette consists of him finding a new outfit, lying down in his room for a little bit, and finding Tara, the lesbian sister who part of the Governor’s fake family. Tara’s sister died off-screen (Tara tells us so) and Glenn is informed that Hershel dies. (Wasn’t his reaction baffling? He barely cared.)

The episode allows the characters to each get a moment to shine. I liked Beth’s overly precious voiceover, Maggie’s happy breakdown over Glenn being missing from the bus, and the reemergence of Tara. However, the problem with this format is that barely anything happens. There are a few plot-moving moments. Carol pops back up. Terminus is set to be the new group destination, should they get back together. Sgt. Abraham Ford, a buff dude with a well-groomed mustache, shows up at the prison to probably make Glenn and Tara’s lives hell. Everything else is quiet nonsense. There’s lots of running through the forest and stabbing people in heads. There’s barely any dialogue and even fewer reactions to the horrors they witnessed in the prison.

So, should The Walking Dead cut the fat? Would the show be better without extraneous characters, whose sole purpose in life is to react to the main characters? Couldn’t Maggie’s scene be done without the assistance of Sasha and Ben? Glenn may be weak, but is it logical that he’d hang around with Tara after she just helped destroy the safety of everyone he loves? Which one of these non-essential characters earned the screen time they took away from Rick, Carl, and Michonne? I’d wager that the show would be better overall if the cast got much smaller. Keep them apart all you want, but for the love of God, let them do something with the screen time they have.

Other Musings:

  • Carl, Rick, and Michonne all felt so much more vibrant on the screen than the rest of the cast. Everyone else seemed almost dull, even as they were stabbing walkers in the face.
  • Daryl barely said anything in his miniscule screen time.
  • A few lines of dialogue reminded us that Mika knows how insane Lizzie can be. I’m actually enjoying the potential of these characters, but I’m not looking forward to the moment Lizzie decides to try to kill Judith again.
  • Tara: “I’m a piece of sh!t. Why would you want my help?”
  • After Lilly’s badass moment of shooting the Governor in the head, you’d think she’s get an onscreen death scene. But Tara just mentions in passing that she saw her sister surrounded.
  • Ford: “You got a damn mouth on you. What else you got?” God, I hope that’s not a rape joke.