The concept of the prison as safe haven of security was a great idea - and on plenty of levels it has worked in contrasting with the way Woodbury was run in The Walking Dead Season 3.
It even turned into the growing and thriving community complete with farmers, doctors, story time and a democratic council.
But much like how The Walking Dead Season 2’s farm adventures ended up, the location has become such a place of safety and complacency (Rick became a farmer, c’mon!) that the sickness which swept through was necessary in terms of adding some real problems for the characters.
If walkers can’t get through the fence and just stand around outside while inside buffets and singing can take place, how is that compelling or scary?
The flu that everyone seems to be getting does add a fresh dynamic, allowing viewers to see just how well characters could deal with it, such as scenes where Hershel helps with his tea or Carol kills two people to stop the spread.
And while I’m still looking forward to seeing the repercussions of the fast-moving sickness, “Indifference” proved just how much more exciting and interesting the show can be when the characters are back on the move... revolving around environments that are ripe with scares and possible tension... focusing on a smaller group of survivors to care about, rather than just adding a whole bunch of newbies, yet never giving them anytime to be anything other than background or zombie chow.
I really almost wish Rick, Daryl, Michonne, Tyreese and Bob didn’t have to go back.
The hour, while essentially just another time the characters went on a run for supplies, felt different and new. And sure, it divided time between two factions, but I cared about both and wasn’t bored by either.
Daryl and his crew were still on their mission to get medicine, but I enjoyed seeing them work together, having some time to bond and chopping a walker or two down to size.
And I was thrilled when after I rolled my eyes at Tyreese refusing to let go of the walker for a stupid move, Michonne called him out on it. She understood his anger, but was perfect in saying that those stupid decisions cause unnecessary problems. Moreover, her conversation helped her realize she no longer needed to hunt The Governor (and in some ways, much like the prison, I wish he too would be done to move onto something else.)
There was also time for Daryl and Bob to chat about surviving. And while Bob’s need for the drink felt like a shoehorned-in theme to add problems for his character, his confrontation with Daryl was great.
The way Daryl stood up to Bob putting his hand on his gun over the alcohol was fantastic and I’m sure it took plenty of restraint not to just throw him into the clamoring walkers below. Daryl may act like a nice guy, but he's no pushover.
Now, why the group didn’t go back the way they came in (or did they?) and instead incited the obligatory walker chase, I was glad they couldn’t just kill the walkers with bleeding eyes for fear of infection. There were even a few good scares. And we know walkers can’t climb.
But it was the Rick and Carol side of things that proved to be truly engrossing. I was surprised that they hadn’t really confronted the issue of her killing Karen and David, and I kept thinking they would drag it out over a bunch of episodes until a Tyreese blow up. And yet, Carol couldn’t understand why Rick hadn’t said anything either.
I liked her rationalization for her action. Did she go full dark side because of it? Did she make the wrong decision even if she thought it was for the good of everyone else?
And while the theme of change was heavily reinforced throughout the episode, it was great to listen to Carol talk about Sophia and Ed, learning to fix a dislocated shoulder based off her abusive past or the obvious fact that she wasn’t the same person anymore.
I half expected Rick to keep the secret.
But the introduction of new characters, ones that actually had me also interested and hoping they would survive, put the Carol dilemma on the back burner.
The explanations as to why they hadn’t used a gun (they weren’t very good with one) or a knife (too risky with only two people) felt spot on. We’re so used to all the characters we see as expert shots or weapon wielders that we forget it’s not as simple for everyone.
And while I was bummed the one girl was eaten, I’m hoping the guy survives and winds back up with the group. There was something about his personality that had me wanting to know more.
But with him not making it back in time, I just assumed that Rick and Carol would leave and that would be that. Sure, another cold Carol decision (Rick spent a lot of time just looking at Carol and the things she said, did over the episode), but it seemed like the obvious move to make.
So, I was pleasantly surprised (disappointed it happened to Carol) the show through me for another loop. Rick sent her packing.
He knew he couldn’t trust her, Tyreese would kill her and no one at the prison would want her, let alone leave the kids to her. It was a crazy moment that I couldn’t believe was happening and had nothing to do with walkers ripping her apart or a last second twist like Rick fumbling with the radio and flipping his car before the credits.
It was all about the change and the way the characters grow and continue to grow with their experiences, decisions and actions. And not every one is going to have a happy or positive outcome because of it.
So was it the right move for Rick? What will the other characters think?
Ultimately, it was a fantastic way to close out The Walking Dead Season 4 Episode 4, even if I wish Carol didn’t have to go. I’m a bit indifferent over the use of an actual song rather than just the usual instrumental, but it’s clear that these characters still have a lot to experience and struggle to deal with.
While it was a rather somber way to conclude things, it was a good for the series. If anything, this season is in for a positive change (seriously, I'm ready to get out of the prison) and one that keeps looking better and better.
Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.