Last week someone set fire to Tyreese's girlfriend Karen. This week, Tyreese goes all Hulk-style on Rick and Daryl. Tyreese's anger at everyone besides the person who killed Karen is ironic, but it also shows the best of what The Walking Dead can do with the many characters it has at its disposal: there are so many ways that the drama can develop that it's hard not to get excited when there's quite obviously some sort of emotional explosion on the horizon.
You'll notice that I used the word "excited" in this review for "Isolation" early on; that's because this episode is clearly one of the best I've seen in The Walking Dead's later seasons, and it's surely the best of season four. See, for a while the show has sort of been hobbled like the zombie against the tree in "Isolation," but this episode has given a clearer idea of where things are heading this season. I don't think that the flu epidemic going on right now will be the entire course of this season, but at least it's giving the characters an impetus to do something.
That's a good thing, because The Walking Dead cannot always rely on the stupid decisions of its characters. With the epidemic, the characters (namely Daryl and Michonne) must go out to the outskirts of their safe zone to find antibiotics and medicine. This makes sense, because for the most part any pharmacies close to the prison will have been picked over. That this idea is clearly defined and realistic makes for good television and great pathos, forcing the characters to make choices and find their inner will to fight for the cause - good on you for figuring it out, Tyreese!
"Isolation" does still depend on some bad choices. Carol to the rescue for that one - I hate to say it, but she's kind of becoming the new Andrea of the group. We find out something pretty bad about her this episode, but even worse than that, she tries to resupply the camp with water on her own, risking not only her own life but Rick's in the process. The sacrifice makes sense in a way, but it's also not as well-scripted as having to search for medicine.
Can we talk, just a minute, about how badass the scene with the huge horde of walkers was? Normally I'm not impressed by a lot of the walker attacks, if only because they tend to utilize the same effects and actions over and over again. But Daryl's slide down the car and Tyreese's sheer force dominated this episode, and applause for the special effects team on that one.
There's mention of a radio signal in this episode, and this is how I think we'll see the rest of season four play out. The radio signal sets up an interesting concept - is this something that Rick and company will like to find out more about? Will they try to regroup with people at the radio tower? Whatever the case may be, having Daryl, Michonne, Tyreese, and Bob out on their own brings back memories of season one, where no one was safe anywhere.
But there's also more danger within the jail. The Walking Dead thrives on paranoia, where the characters, and in turn the audience, don't know who will turn next. This epidemic is making that happen, and it's often difficult to see who else might drop dead and then turn into a walker.
"Isolation" does everything I've needed The Walking Dead to do: it sets up a clearer path for the season to follow; it introduces the tension that the first season had with danger around every corner; it has split up the group a little bit without requiring too many stupid plot twists; and finally, there's some immediate danger. "Isolation" is one of the best episodes of TWD I've seen in a while, and hopefully the plot continues to advance as solidly as this installment.