The Walking Dead
“The Same Boat”
March 13, 2014
So, remember how during the raid on the Sanctuary one of the Saviors pulled an alarm and Maggie and Carol heard it from outside and Maggie lost her damn mind and was all, “I GOTS TO SAVE GLENN!!!” before Carol told her, “Uh, no”?
Right, so, immediately after this, Carol sees someone behind Maggie and shoots him, but only wings him, causing Maggie and Carol to argue for a hot second on whether or not to kill him. This time wasted bickering is how his buddies are able to capture the two of them and use them as trading pieces with Rick.
Meet: Paula (a.k.a. Alicia Witt), Molly, Michelle (a.k.a. Maggie Part 2) and Donnie, the winged man, all fellow Saviors who managed to escape Rick’s carnage. Having captured Carol and Maggie, they see from their perch in the woods that Team Rick has captured that motorcycle guy, “Primo,” who apparently is the Saviors’ medical expert and why they don’t just murderize the women right then and there. Instead, they call down to Rick via the walkie, alert them that they have “a Carol and a Maggie” and promise to get back to Rick later to negotiate an exchange. Maybe.
They cover Carol and Maggie’s heads and walk the through the woods. Walking through the woods, walking through the woods, walking through the woods, talking on the walkie to another group of Saviors arranging to meet at the “safe house.”
However, the safe house isn’t exactly safe, having filled up with walkers the last time the Saviors used it, apparently, and they have to make a few kills before tying up and gagging Maggie and Carol. As Maggie Part 2 carries away Chekhov’s gas cans, Molly drags away a dead walker but not before Carol can snatch a dropped rosary from the walker and slip it into a pocket. They then, stupidly and not for the last time, leave Carol and Maggie alone while they clean up the walker situation outside.
As soon as they leave, Maggie begins sawing away at the duct tape around her wrists. Carol, upon hearing that the gunfire has stopped, begins — oddly — hyperventilating underneath her gag. When Team Paula returns to the room, Maggie points out that Carol needs to have her gag removed, and Paula and Molly are like, “What a wuss. How’d you even survive this long?”
In response, Carol pulls out the rosary beads and begins rolling them between her fingers, and they’re like, “oh my god, really?” Paula asks Carol if she’s really afraid to die, and Carol pleads that it doesn’t matter what happens to her, just don’t hurt Maggie and the baby. Team Paula is all, “OH SURRRRRRE…” but Maggie confirms that she’s about 2 months along. Maggie Part 2 calls her stupid for getting knocked up during the zombie apocalypse, but Carol points out that it’s never smart to get knocked up, women die in childbirth all the time. Team Paula make a bunch of “your baby is going to be a zombie snack jokes,” to which Maggie defiantly announces that she’s at least choosing something.
Meanwhile, Donnie, the winged man, isn’t doing so great, and the stress of the situation drives this Molly woman to smoke. When Carol asks her to think about the baby, and Maggie Part 2 nods in agreement, Molly puts out her cigarette, calling them a “bunch of evangelical second graders.” Carol warns her that “those things will kill” her, to which Molly pulls out a bloodied handkerchief. “Already have,” she says. “I’m a dead woman walking. We’re in exactly the same boat,” thereby giving us our title and theme for the episode.
Donnie’s isn’t doing much better, and Maggie warns that he has less than 30 minutes before he bleeds out — his nerves are dying right now, she saw it when her father lost his leg.
Maggie adds that if they think this Primo guy can help Donnie, they need to make the trade with Rick sooner rather than later, and Team Paula is like, “Hmmmm….”
Donnie, however, is an eye for an eye kind of fellow, or in this case “an arm for an arm” and he demands that they shoot Carol in the arm.
Paula refuses, because she’s not an idiot and she knows that Maggie and Carol are their insurance against Team Rick, so Donnie punches her. Maggie begins kicking at Donnie, who in turn kicks Carol, who in turn knocks Donnie out.
Donnie finally silenced, Maggie Part 2 takes Maggie to another room for some questioning, demanding to know where Maggie’s community is. When Maggie refuses to divulge anything — because seriously though, they’ve already revealed they won’t smoke in her presence for the sake of the baby, what are they really going to do to her? — Maggie Part 2 assures Maggie they Team Rick aren’t the Good Guys.
Maggie notices that one of Maggie Part 2’s fingers appears to be missing, and she asks about it. Maggie Part 2 explains that she got caught stealing gas to go look for her boyfriend. Maggie wonders if she ever found him, and Maggie Part 2 explains that he’d been “blown up,” and there wasn’t much left to find.
Maggie notices a tattoo reading “Frankie” on Maggie Part 2’s arm, and asks if that was his name, but Maggie Part 2 explains that no, Frankie was her father. She was going to name the baby after him. When Maggie expresses her condolences, Maggie Part 2 is all, “pfft.” When Maggie calmly explains that she isn’t planning on dying today, Maggie Part 2 is all, “Yeah, that makes two of us, and one of us is wrong,” because she doesn’t know who she’s dealing with. (Or maybe she does.)
Meanwhile, in the other room, Carol thanks Paula for protecting her from Donnie, before adding that her husband used to beat her, too. Paula is all, “I’M NOT LIKE YOU. QUIT ACTING LIKE I’M LIKE YOU. I COULD KILL HIM ANYTIME I WANT.” Carol returns to her rosary beads and Paula asks if she really believes in “that crap.” Carol explains that her faith helped her through the loss of her daughter, and Paula promises that she’ll be reunited with her again soon.
Rick checks in on the walkie, and Paula, buying time until her backup can arrive is all, “I said I’d contact you,” before reminding Rick that she hasn’t agreed to an exchange just yet.
Once off the walkie talkie, Carol assures her that she doesn’t have to do this, to fight, and Paula reminds her that Team Rick just killed all her people in their sleep, of course she’s going to fight.
Carol protests that they “didn’t want to,” which isn’t much of an argument as Paula points out, because they did. And why? Carol explains that Paula’s people ambushed hers and was going to take everything they had and kill them, to which Paula and Molly are like, “AHHHH, SO THAT’S WHAT HAPPENED TO THOSE IDIOTS!” Paula points out that Team Rick seemed to have had the upper hand in that explosive exchange, so why not stop? Carol explains that their people said they were working for this “Negan” who sounds like a straight-up lunatic and it freaked everyone out, to which Molly explains, “Sweetie, we’re all Negan,” but breaks out in a coughing fit when Carol asks what that means.
Carol eventually asks Molly for a smoke and Molly calls her out for it, just before sharing a cigarette. Paula notes that Carol is so weak and afraid that she can’t even stick to her own principles, to which the Carol we all know and love peeks out and warns, “You don’t want me to stick to my own principles.”
But Paula doesn’t know who she’s talking to, and begins telling Carol this whole long story involving boiling water and eggs and coffee and how she was a secretary in D.C. when everything went bad and she got trapped with her boss instead of with her husband and four daughters and her boss was the first person she killed to save herself and she stopped counting after she got into the double digits and blah blah blah, long story short: she’s an egg not coffee.
Carol points out that the people Paula is with are killers — which, considering Paula just explained that she has literally killed too many people to count, is not much of a point — Paula reminds Carol that her people JUST KILLED A BUNCH OF PEOPLE IN THEIR SLEEP. “You’re the one who’s really afraid to die, and that’s what is going to happen if you don’t work this out,” promises Carol. To which Paula counters, “Oh yeah? And you’re going to be the one to do it?”
Paula calls to Rick over the walkie and suggests a meeting spot, and Rick agrees to see her there in 10 minutes. The moment she’s off the walkie talkie, Paula is like, “Wait, that was too easy…” and notes that there wasn’t any static over their call — suggesting that Team Rick is closer than they claimed to be. Paula is preeeeety sure they’re about to be ambushed, and no amount of Carol promising that Rick is a man of his word changes her mind. Paula checks with the backup Saviors who say they are still a few minutes away, and decides they need to make a break for it, sans Maggie and Carol.
So Paula and Molly leave Carol alone in the room, where she promptly sharpens the rosary, cuts the duct tape off and makes her escape. She goes to the room where they’ve left Maggie, and suggests that they just try to slip past their captors, but Maggie’s like, “NOPE. THAT’S WHAT GOT US INTO THIS MESS IN THE FIRST PLACE.” And so, with a sigh, they go back to the room where Donnie was left and find that he’s already dead and in the process of turning. They tie him to a pipe and leave him there to attack Molly when she walks through the door. Which he does! And then Maggie finishes Molly off, leaving the carnage for Paula to find. She’s not amused.
As Maggie and Carol make their way out of the safe house, they discover that Team Paula has rigged up a gauntlet of impaled walkers as a means of keeping Carol and Maggie in and Team Rick out. As they consider what to do about this little trap, Paula sneaks up from behind, shooting and delivering a soliloquy about all the things she’s had to do to survive this long. Maggie urges Carol to shoot Paula, but instead Carol urges Paula to just run. Meanwhile, one of the impaled walkers shimmies his way off his pole, distracting Carol and Maggie long enough for Paula to scurry away.
As for Maggie Part 2, she comes out from wherever she was and Maggie attacks her. Fight fight struggle fight and Maggie Part 2 slashes Maggie across the belly. It’s only a flesh wound, but it’s too close for Carol who, without a moment’s hesitation, shoots Maggie Part 2 in the head.
They then discover a wounded Paula in the hallway with the impaled walkers, who laughs at Carol and her “little bird” routine. If she was capable of all this, what was she so afraid of? “This,” Carol answers before throwing Paula onto one of the walker spears where her face is promptly eaten.
R.I.P. Paula. You were a badass — and you weren’t wrong.
That’s when the Saviors check in with Paula via walkie. Carol gets on, does her best Paula impersonation and instructs them to meet her on the “kill floor.”
While they wait, Carol confesses to Maggie that she’s killed 20 people, and that none of this would have happened if she’d just killed Donnie in the woods, too. But Maggie instructs her not to think about it, they’re “almost done.” That’s when the Saviors walk right past them and into the kill floor where they were told to meet Paula. Instead, Carol lights a cigarette, throws it onto the gasoline soaked kill floor and locks the door behind her, immolating a few more of Negan’s men. Because if anyone knows her way around a can of gasoline and a light, it’s Carol.
And with that, Maggie and Carol make their way out of the slaughter house where they find Glenn, Daryl and Rick about to come in for them. Daryl hugs Carol, crushing Caryl shippers’ hearts everywhere, and tells him she’s not OK; and a stunned Maggie tells Glenn she “can’t anymore.” WHICH IS WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE STAYED PUT IN THE FIRST PLACE, DUMMY.
Rick points out to Dr. Primo that his friends are all dead…
… so Dr. Primo might as well start talking. One last time, how’d he get the bike? Dr. Primo insists they found it, so Rick moves on to Question #2: Was Negan in that building the night before or was he here? Dr. Primo, realizing that Rick has no idea who he is even looking for, declares that HE is Negan and they have a whole lot to talk about. Instead, Rick shoots him in the face, causing Carol to squeeze her rosary beads so hard her hand bleeds.
WOWOowowoWowoOW this episode.
Look, as much as I enjoy The Walking Dead, and I do enjoy The Walking Dead, I would be the first to complain that nuanced character development and strong writing is not exactly its forte. Gore and big explosions and brooding? It’s got those in spades. But let’s be honest: most of the time when the show attempts to go for profundity, it comes off as talky and boring and nothing much happens. And as far as character development goes, aside from a few select members of Team Rick, the writers don’t feel the need to really flesh out the characters’ emotions and motivations or even their personalities beyond a two-dimensional comic book sketch. Before you get all angry with me for saying that, tell me what, exactly, is Rosita’s personality? Exactly.
Fortunately, Carol is one of the characters whose comic book path the writers have decided to diverge from, which I believe gives them more room to develop her story and round her out. There is a reason Carol is a fan favorite and it’s not just because she is a killing machine. It’s because her character has grown from being a timid broken mess into woman whose spine is made of steel — and these changes were organic, real. We witnessed them and they made sense.
And so it is with this episode: we add another layer to Carol, one of regret, of doubt — and it feels real, it feels earned. This episode could have been facile. With the obvious paralleling of Carol to Paula and Maggie to her doppelganger, the similarities were maybe a little ham-fisted. Yes, yes, Paula and Carol are both mothers of girls who have suffered some domestic abuse along the way and who have, like the proverbial egg, become harder in the proverbial boiling water. And yes, Maggie and Maggie Part 2 are both young women who look remarkably alike who have recently been pregnant. But thanks to sharp writing and strong acting, what could have been a lazy writing device becomes something more. It’s not just that Carol sees herself in the tough-talking Paula, it’s that Paula also recognizes herself in Carol — or who she believes Carol to be. It’s not just that Team Paula doesn’t want to kill Carol and Maggie because they’re negotiating chips: they don’t want to kill them because they recognize themselves.
Carol plays up the “old” Carol act for Team Paula, the same routine she played for the Alexandrians upon arrival into their community. However, it’s when Carol realizes that Paula sees something of herself in “old” Carol, and she sees something of herself in the ruthless Paula, that Carol loses some of her normal, “survive at all cost” resolve. Carol has recently been shaken: Sam’s death has filled her with guilt, and Morgan’s pacifist message is rattling around in her head. She can still kill the monsters, but after her experiences in Alexandria she has come to realize actions have consequences and that not all “others” are one-dimensional villains. In fact, they might just be people; they might be just like her.
And that’s the beauty of this strong, and very female-centric episode (kudos to writer Angela Kang). Maggie, pregnant and having just been reunited with her husband after a nightmarish episode, has a one-track mind: kill or be killed. But Carol, who could have single-handedly taken out Team Paula at any point, begins to realize that killing is easy — it’s too easy — and after everything Team Rick has done, they now all have blood on their hands.
The Walking Dead airs on AMC on Sunday at 8/9 p.m.
This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Chron.com.