The Walking Dead
March 16, 2014
Inside a well-kept kitchen, a kettle begins to scream on a gas-lit range, while just out the window there appears to be a child playing tag with … A WALKER? WHAT ARE YOU DOING? HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND?
Well, yes, maybe, but this is something of a flash-forward, and not another flashback, so we’ll get to that later. Cue the theme song.
Carol and New Sophia #1, Lizzie, stand guard on the tracks while Tyrese and New Sophia #2, Mica, sleep nearby. Lizzie offers to watch The Baby so that Carol can rest, and while Carol certainly appreciates the offer, she rejects it, thank goodness, because we all know how Lizzie would keep The Baby from disturbing everyone’s sleep.
Lizzie wonders if there will be other children at Terminus, and Carol supposes there will be, that is if their parents kept them safe like Tyrese did with Lizzie and Mica. Lizzie corrects Carol: she saved Tyrese. She shot and killed a man and a woman rescuing Tyrese back at the prison. Lizzie is careful to note that she didn’t mean to shoot the woman in the head. Carol, not understanding Lizzie’s concern, assures Lizzie that she had to do what she had to do. THAT’S NOT WHAT SHE MEANT, CAROL.
Lizzie asks Carol if she had children, and Carol explains that she did: a daughter who didn’t have a mean bone in her body, which is why she’s not here today. Lizzie asks if Carol misses her daughter, and then wonders if Carol would miss her if she were gone, but Carol promises that she’s not going to have to miss Lizzie because foreshadowing.
The next morning, Carol smears some tree sap on one of Tyrese’s arm wounds, Mica tries to warn everyone that Lizzie has some peculiar ideas about the walkers but no one listens, and they spot smoke in the distance from the cabin fire that Daryl and Sister started which will help all those obsessed redditors with their maps and timelines. Also, they talk about Huck Finn and rabbits.
They take a breather so that Tyrese can rest a bit while Carol looks for water, which is is, of course, the moment when a walker comes stumbling in their general direction. Tyrese goes to confront it, but before he can kill it with his hammer, the walker falls and gets himself tangled in the tracks. Somehow. Tyrese is ready to deliver the fatal blow, but Lizzie stops him, insisting that they don’t always have to kill the walkers. YES. YES YOU DO, LIZZIE. WHAT ARE YOU EVEN TALKING ABOUT, LIZZIE?
Carol takes Mica out with her to look for water, and to try to warn the girl that she needs to toughen up some. Her sweetness will get her killed in the world they live in now. Mica insists that she doesn’t need to be tough, she can run, and she can kill walkers, she knows what they are, she’s not like Lizzie. However, Mica couldn’t bring herself to kill people — the bad people were right in front of her at the prison, but she couldn’t pull the trigger. Apropos of not much, really, other than plot! Mica brings up the fact that someone killed Karen and David back at the prison, and they were nice people, Carol. Mica insists that she doesn’t even wish she could kill. In fact, she feels sorry for the people who attacked them at the prison: they probably weren’t bad before all this happened. But Carol isn’t impressed by the wisdom of children and all that, and warns her that things have changed, and that one day, sooner or later, she’s going to have to get over her adorable aversion to murder.
That’s when Carol and Mica come upon a farm house nestled in a pecan grove, and Mica announces that her mother used to always say that everything works out the way its supposed to. And then Tyrese and Carol and Lizzie and Mica and The Baby lived there happily ever after, the end.
FINE. NO, THEY DIDN’T.
Tyrese and Carol go inside the house to clear it, leaving The Baby in Lizzie’s arms and Mica with a gun. So of course a walker comes scrambling out the back door at the children. But Mica is handy with a gun, and shoots in squarely in the head. Yay! Right? Yay? But instead of being grateful, Lizzie bursts into tears, confusing Carol and Tyrese. Lizzie would rather not say why she’s so upset, leaving it up to Mica to calm her, and directing her to count the flowers “like [she’s] supposed to.” Uh … do whatsa now?
That evening they settle into the house: Carol and Lizzie shell pecans while Tyrese relaxes near the fire and Mica plays with a doll he found for her. Tyrese suggests that they just live here, and they do and they live happily ever after, the end.
Except not at all. The next morning, Carol puts on that kettle we saw at the beginning of the episode, and looks out the window to see Lizzie playing “Tag, You’re Ate” with a walker. Carol rushes outside and kills the walker to Lizzie’s pained howls of protest. She was her friend! They were playing! Carol didn’t have to hurt her! CAROL DOESN’T UNDERSTAND!
Well, that can’t be good.
Later, Carol takes Mika out deer hunting, and Mica notes that the nearby fire must still be burning, because the smoke is black. It will turn white when
they pick a new pope the fire goes out. Mica adds that she misses science class, except for the times when she had to dissect worms. Carol is still harping on her “toughen up” mantra and insists that Mica needs to be prepared to do worse than cut open a worm or two. Lizzie might be bigger and stronger, but Mica is smarter, and she’s going to have to look out for her sister. A deer emerges from the woods, and Carol encourages Mica to shoot it, but the girl can’t bring herself to do it, because what part of SHE DOESN’T WANT TO KILL DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND, CAROL?
While pumping water from the well, Tyrese suggests to Carol, again, and more seriously this time, that they just stay here: he knows the girls, he knows Carol, he trusts them. He doesn’t know the people at Terminus and also irony.
Meanwhile, Lizzie, followed by her younger sister, returns to the tracks walker with a snack: a mouse, which he greedily accepts. Mica is understandably alarmed by this, and reminds her sister that it wants to EAT HER, but Lizzie insists that it just wants her to “change” and maybe she should “change.” With that, she holds her hand out to the walker to nom, just as a bunch of fire walkers emerge from the woods.
Screaming screaming screaming, and Tyrese and Carol rush to their aid. Shooting shooting shooting, and even Lizzie shoots the fire walkers, contrary to her previous anti-killing-walker policy.
Back at the house, Lizzie is shaken but admits that she had to help stop them. Carol is pleased by this, and asks if Lizzie understands what the walkers are now. Instead, Lizzie responds that she “knows what [she has] to do now,” which, no ma’am, objection non-responsive, that’s not what Carol asked. Carol blah blahs some more about how it’s scary and ugly but that this is the price of growing up in this new world, while Mica continues to whinge that she doesn’t want to have to kill people. TOO BAD. And then everyone cracks some more pecans and they live happily ever after, the end.
But wouldn’t that have been a better ending? YES. IT WOULD HAVE.
The next day Tyrese suggests again that they stay, plant some food, find a car for an escape in the event they need one. It doesn’t mean they won’t go to Terminus one day, it’s just that he’s not quite ready to be around other people yet. Tyrese then tells Carol about his recurring nightmare involving Karen and watching some stranger kill her (COUGH COUGH), and Tyrese declares that the whole world is haunted now. Carol suggests that maybe the dead aren’t haunting them so much as teaching them that they can live with what they have to do to survive in this world. Tyrese then insists that Carol never be ashamed of who they are, she’s doing right by the girls, right by everyone. OH TYRESE, WITH THE DRAMATIC IRONY, YOU ARE SERIOUSLY KILLING ME HERE.
To break the tension, Carol tells Tyrese a stupid deer hunting joke her awful husband used to make involving deer testicles. (Beer nuts cost $1.79; deer nuts are under a buck. Har har.) And then they lived happily ever after, THE END.
Fine. It’s not the end. But I hope you enjoyed that little humorous interlude because NO MORE LAUGHS FOR YOU.
That’s when Tyrese and Carol return to the house where they find the most chilling scene in Walking Dead history: Mica is dead; Lizzie is standing, waiting for them, covered in blood and brandishing a gun; and The Baby is playing on a blanket in the background.
NO. NO. NO. NO.
Lizzie pulls the gun on the adults and insists that they have to wait — she didn’t hurt Mica’s brain, so they have to wait for Mica to change and then they’ll see, they’ll finally understand. Carol convinces Lizzie to surrender the gun by agreeing to wait, per Lizzie’s request, and then orders Tyrese to take The Baby inside, as it is not safe for her here and, also, AYIEEEEEEEE. Lizzie informs them that she was just about to help The Baby “change” too, but Carol, thinking on her feet, points out that The Baby can’t walk yet, so, you know, maybe KILLING HER isn’t a good idea. At least not yet. Lizzie accepts this and goes inside with Tyrese and The Baby, leaving Carol to take care of Mica.
When she joins them in the house, Tyrese informs Carol that he cleaned out Lizzie’s room and found a bowl of mice, which helps him put together that she must have been the one feeding the walkers at the prison. Carol mentions the rabbit they found in the tombs that had been eviscerated, and decides that this must have been Lizzie*, too, prompting Tyrese to wonder if Lizzie was responsible for Karen and David’s deaths. Good guess! says Carol.
Let’s go with that! Mystery solved! Carol points out that Lizzie isn’t responsible: she would have Karen and David turn, after all.
Tyrese and Carol are then left to decide what to do. Tyrese suggests that he take Judith and leave Carol with Lizzie, but Carol is like, ARE YOU CRAZY? I’m not sticking around with that by myself! Nope, there’s only one answer, according to Pragmatic Carol: Get the matches.
Carol takes Lizzie out to the field to “pick some wildflowers for Mica for when she comes back.” Ahem. Lizzie notices that the smoke from the nearby fire has turned white, and Carol explains that it means the fire is finally out. Lizzie picks up on Carol’s rather glum tone of voice, and asks if she’s mad at her for pulling a gun on her, and Carol assures her that she’s not. So go pick some flowers, Lizzie, everything works out the way it’s supposed to. And while Lizzie cries over the flowers, Carol does what she has to do.
As Carol returns to the house, she locks eyes with that deer that Mica couldn’t bring herself to kill earlier. Because deer = symbolism, bad stuff happening to kids in this damn show.
That night, after burying the sisters, Tyrese and Carol are completing a puzzle together when Carol finally decides it’s time to come clean. She shoves the gun across the table at Tyrese and announces the truth: she was the one who killed Karen and David. Carol explains that she was trying to contain the illness, and Tyrese, who has had quite the day so far, grips the table to contain his fury. He asks if Karen knew what was happening, and if she was scared, and Carol promises him that she wasn’t, before urging Tyrese to do what he needs to do. But Tyrese resists taking the gun, symbolically left beside a puzzle piece — the last piece of the puzzle if you will — and shooting Carol. He can forgive but he will never forget. It’s part of her now, and him too.
And with that, they decide they can’t stay at the farm house any longer, it’s time to head on to Terminus. And so they do while Lizzie’s voice explains that one day you just change … we all change.
YIKES YIKES YIKES YIKES YIKES.
In a very dark show about very dark things that is not afraid to kill off anyone, man, woman or child, this was by far the darkest episode yet. What’s interesting is that while it was dark, personally I didn’t find it quite as emotionally devastating as a lot of viewers did. Maybe because I had read enough about the comic books to know that Lizzie had a parallel character in Ben, who kills his own twin and is ultimately executed by Carl, and thus wasn’t entirely surprised when Lizzie killed Mica, ensuring her own death. Maybe it’s because I’m an emotionless monster.
But I think it what it was, was that I actually found the closure on this particular storyline satisfying. Lizzie and Mica were surrogate daughters for Carol, replacing Sophia who had already been lost, making it that much harder for Carol to follow through with her new-found pragmatism. But additionally, in a way, the girls’ deaths weren’t in vain: Tyrese was implicit in the decision to kill Lizzie, but he didn’t do it himself; instead he watched Carol do the near-impossible. Thus, when Carol confesses killing Karen, Tyrese is now in a place to understand why she did it, to understand her pragmatism and devotion to the greater good, and he is able to forgive her for having to make that difficult decision. It allowed both Tyrese to move on from Karen’s death and for Carol to (somewhat) move on from Sophia’s. It was a gut punch, but it was a necessary one: As Lizzie and Mica’s mother always said, everything works out the way it’s supposed to.
There were a number of symbolic moments in the episode, notably the deer and the puzzle piece and the cabin smoke. But what I found more interesting is that this is the fourth iteration of a recurring theme — this is the fourth time we have seen a group find what they reasonably think is a suitable new home for themselves, only to be driven out by other threats: hunters, walkers, one-eyed dogs, existential dread. The writers need to bring our heroes back together for plot purposes — and to emotionally manipulate us with big happy reunions, don’t kid yourselves. But there is a recurring theme here: there are no safe harbors in this new world, and, to paraphrase one Jack Shephard, “Live together, die alone.” This was illustrated in a smaller way in this episode when Carol rejects the notion that Tyrese leave with the baby, reminding him that he wouldn’t survive alone. And he probably wouldn’t. They need each other. There’s strength in numbers, not just physically — although that is certainly the case — but emotionally as well.
Before we move on from this dark chapter, a couple more things: here is an interesting visual breakdown of the foreshadowing of this episode in a previous episode; and here’s a little brain cleanser. You’re welcome.
So, onto Terminus.
Let’s just hope it’s all it’s cracked up to be.
*This actually puts an end to one line of theorizing which suggested that Bob was the one who had eviscerated the rabbit that was found in the tombs, as a means of doing his own experiments to try to find a possible cure or cause for the zombie virus. The rest of the theory — that Bob is immune, or even the cause of the virus itself — is still in play, and it’s a really cool idea. Which, of course, means it won’t pan out.
The Walking Dead airs on AMC on Sundays at 8/9 p.m.
This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Tubular.