The Walking Dead is a show that tends to take its time. It’s never quite fit into the gut-punching, big-moment-every-week mold of many of its contemporaries. Instead, it tends to provide several bursts of action in any given episode, interspersed with quieter, slower scenes devoted to gradual character and story development. This is what made last night’s “Internment” so special. Rather than the usual few scares thrown in to shake people up, “Internment” took several big, action-packed set pieces and used them as the episode’s centerpiece.
Far and away, the performer of the week has to be Scott Wilson as Hershel. We’ve seen Hershel come close to the end of his rope before, but the rope didn’t actually disappear until last night. As Hershel struggles to help the survivors of the group who are infected with a deadly disease, he chooses to remain hopeful, even in the face of utter misery. But when the disease claims several lives and a number of his patients turn, he is forced to kill them in order to save the ones who still have a chance. It’s a tense, masterfully crafted fight sequence. But Wilson’s best moment is when it’s all over; having saved as many of the ailing as possible, Hershel tries to pick up his Bible, and take solace in the one thing that has always gotten him through. Except he can’t. His faith has been shaken, not just in God, but in himself; in his abilities as a doctor, in his choices as a leader, and in his once unwavering optimism. And as everything with Hershel is going on, Rick enlists an all-too-willing Carl to help him shoot down an onslaught of walkers invading the prison. It’s unclear in the aftermath if Rick is proud or wary of his gun-happy son, but either way, it was a viscerally exciting scene.
However, even after all that, the biggest moment of “Internment” arrived in the last few seconds of the episode, when the Governor made a brief appearance, staring vengefully at the prison. While I honestly didn’t think he would show up until the show comes back in 2014, it’s nice to see things moving along a bit sooner. The Governor is not only a decent villain, but one of The Walking Dead‘s better characters ever, and his presence should inject some much-needed life (pun intended) into the show.
Discounting one too many heavy-handed music choices, “Internment” is probably The Walking Dead‘s best so far this season, helping to re-energize the show after several languid episodes.