So far we’re 3 for 3 in good episodes this season; well done, Gimple. “Isolation” is one of the slower turns that we’ve seen in a while for The Walking Dead. Fortunately, it was a well-used slowness, one that developed characters badly in need of it while not being boring or meaningless.
In order for the story about the plague wreaking havoc in the prison to work, the audience has to care about what happens to more than just Rick and co. To that end, background characters are finally being given more agency, which allows the audience to get to know them outside the context of being cannon fodder. (It also allows us to grow attached to and then grieve the loss of characters we care about without having to whittle down the core group of Rick, Carol, Daryl, Michonne, Glenn, Maggie, Hershel, and Carl.)