The Walking Dead episode Isolation seemed focussed upon the message that one is the loneliest number as certain characters end up alone. While the title seems to be referencing the isolation that our survivors are having to endure to keep the flu from spreading, it also means the conditions that the group are living in. If living behind prison fences is not a brutal form of isolation, nothing is. Being surrounded by an ever increasing number of walkers adds to the feeling of being isolated.
The title also refers to several character’s in the show being isolated personally. Starting with Tyreese; losing Karen to a murdering arsonist, has left this gentle giant truly alone. In his enforced isolation, he is a simmering volcano of grief and rage. When he gets separated further from the small group, by being left behind in an overwhelming walker attack, his fury boils over and it’s Tyreese’s “scarlet hammer-time.”
Tyreese is not the only survivor to be separated from the rest of the group. More of them are put into quarantine, Sasha, Glenn, and Lizzie are all isolated from the rest of the group when they catch the new super flu, that killed Patrick and turned him into a bleeding eyed walker. The Walking Dead this season is more than just the danger being from within, it is also about feeling alone in the midst of others.
Rick has been isolated via several different mechanizations. His self imposed role change from walker-killer to tiller of the soil, which has now come undone, and his separation from Carl. The two had joined up as Rick tried to give Carl more than just his gun. After the burning of the pig pen, Rick relaxed on the gun issue and gave his son’s shooting iron back. Only to become isolated again when Carl goes, armed, into quarantine.
Maggie and Glenn, because of his quarantine, are now both in a state of isolation. In the third The Walking Dead episode, one does seem to be the loneliest number for many of the characters. After her separation from Glenn Maggie feels truly alone. She goes to her sister to talk about how upset she is at Glenn being sick. Sister Beth’s answer is to tell Maggie that they don’t have the luxury of getting upset. Not a lot of help there Beth.
Perhaps the only member of the survivors who has always been apart from the main, or at least separate without being too distant, is that Governor-hunter Michonne. Although, somewhat slowly, the samurai wielding warrior woman appears to be less isolated than she once was. She is perhaps the only character who is moving “against the stream” that is separating so many others.
Hershel seems to be walking with his foot in both metaphorical camps. After his initial reluctant isolation, he cannot go with Daryl, Tyreese, and Michonne on their antibiotic run, Hershel later realizes that he can still help the quarantined patients. He, loses his separation and gets Carl to team up with him to get the red berries that he’s sure will help. He is ready to sacrifice his life for the group.
Which brings us to Carol. Despite attempting to become an important part of Daryl’s life, she has always been isolated from the survivors. This quietly intense woman who teaches the children in the group about how to kill with knives and how to survive. Carol has put the survivor and their well being over and above anything else. She is prepared to literally do anything to keep everyone safe.
To prove just how far this determined woman will go, she burnt Karen and David after she realised that they had the flu. It was her isolated effort to protect the group and all the best intentions in the world will not save her from Tyreese if he finds out. Rick already knows because he asked.
Sadly, Carol will suffer even more isolation when she realises that her plan of using fire to purify made no difference at all in halting the spread of the flu. When she realises the fruitlessness of her actions, she will be horrified by what she has done.
By the episode’s end, we still do not know who was feeding the walkers rats. Nor do we know if the medicine group will make it back. Then there is the voice on the radio combined with the still ever-growing numbers of walkers. We also have no idea of what Rick will do with his newly acquired information.
The Walking Dead Isolation shows us that in the survivor camp, one is the loneliest number even when surrounded by other survivors. Despite all the group actions and discussions, the really hard decisions, and actions, are a lonely pursuit. The episode’s title focuses in on the ways that many in the prison are really alone, despite their fellow denizens behind the fence.
By Michael Smith