With only three episodes left in the season, The Walking Dead kills off two characters in anticipation of the season finale. So how did the episode that Robert Kirkman stated was an “absolutely must watch” do?
Let’s bitch it out…
Clearly the fates of little Mika (Kyla Kenedy) and Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) is what most people will be talking about tomorrow, but the heart of this episode, I’m delighted to say, is all Carol (Melissa McBride).
The tone of the episode is set right from the cold open, as we get a beautiful cinematic pan in the kitchen, resting on the eerily idyllic image of Lizzie frolicking with a walker. I loved the simplicity of this sequence as it visually encapsulates what will unfold during the rest of the episode. Normally I would frown on the all the deliberate foreshadowing and callbacks we get throughout the episode (the wildflowers, the window frame, ‘not a mean bone in her body’ etc.) but in this particular instance, it really works. ‘The Grove’ is a character study of Carol and packs such emotional weight because everything slowly builds on what came before. It lays the groundwork, and although it can read heavy-handed at times, it ultimately lays the right foundation. Gimple does it again in the writing department, delivering an episode that gets us talking because it takes the time to contextualize its more shocking moments.
When we see Lizzie standing there bathed in blood, it shouldn’t come as a surprise considering what we’ve seen and heard from her before, both in this episode and ones prior. And yet, the scene plays out incredibly shocking as viewers were likely just as slack-jawed as Carol and Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) were as they stood there, letting it all soak in. And so comes the moment that I’ve loved in The Walking Dead of past seasons – when the question of “What do you do now?” immediately arose. That’s what I find the most enjoyable about the show – the fact that it pushes me to think about what choices I would make if put in the same scenario, even when it’s rooted in such a fantastical place.
Immediately images of sweet little Mika popped up, as she declared that she would never want to take a human life and proudly clung to her childhood innocence. Finding the doll and playing house was overkill in hammering this point home to us, but it served to make her death all the more heartbreaking. I appreciated how the show takes the time to rest on the still reactions of Carol and Tyreese as they discover Lizzie and dead Mika. The scene isn’t rushed, which amplifies the tragedy of it all.
The discussion that follows between Tyreese and Carol is perfectly executed – there are sparing words, yet it’s essential for Tyreese to be implicated in Lizzie’s fate if he’s going to share any kind of screen time with Carol going forward. Even though he doesn’t do the deed, he’s equally responsible for Lizzie, and is only able to forgive Carol for Karen (Melissa Ponzio) after he plays a part in what happens with Lizzie. Tyreese might not agree with what Carol ‘had to do’ for the sake of the group, just as I did after ‘Indifference‘, but he understands it.
Melissa McBride is truly wonderful in this episode – no one does graceful tears like this woman. I can’t say I know Carol as a character, but I’m completely intrigued by her intricacies and how she continues to develop with each episode. I’m so pleased to see how this character has grown since last season, and it gives me hope that we can see such well-rounded, complex development in all of the characters going forward. I never thought I would be wishing for Carol to stick around, but I can’t help but fear that we’re going to lose her after such an amazing and balanced evolution. Coupled with Sasha’s (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Michonne’s (Danai Gurira) development, I’m hoping that we’re finally going to have a good arsenal of the strong female characters going into next season. Fingers crossed!
- The cinematography of this episode is just breathtaking. The scene where Tyreese laments to Carol about his dreams of Karen and the future they’ll never have is masterful. He’s in the background, slightly out of focus, and framed just off of to her left side. Visually echoing Carol’s conscience, Tyreese is perched on her shoulder in his sorrow all while she tries to reconcile the ‘necessity’ of killing Karen. It’s brilliantly done.
- I couldn’t help but chuckle when Tyreese forgives Carol and then in the next breath was adamant about NOT staying in close quarters with her. Even though he’s forgiven her, it’s not enough to stay at the grove even though they have a pretty sweet setup – gas stove and everything.
- The downfall of the grove as a utopia for the group doesn’t bode well for Terminus. Considering the fate of Woodbury, or anywhere the survivors have tried to make ‘home’, Terminus can’t be the jolly place that most people are envisioning.
What did you think viewers? We finally got confirmation that Lizzie was the one feeding rats and cutting up (and displaying) bunnies, but does that mean that she was deserving of her fate? What would you have done if you were in the same situation? Do you think Tyreese and Carol are closer after this ordeal, or once the group reunites (‘cuz you know that’s gonna happen), will Tyreese abandon Carol? Let us know your theories in the comments below.
A gentle reminder that we adhere to a SPOILER FREE zone here, so please keep any plot points from the graphic novels to yourself.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9pm EST on AMC.