This week on The Walking Dead, we fill in the gaps and get some significant insight into Carol’s (Melissa McBride) character development. So how did the third episode in a row without Rick (Andrew Lincoln) fare?
Let’s bitch it out.
Three episodes in a row without Rick – that has to be some kind of record. But The Walking Dead is stronger for it as show slowly becomes more of an ensemble piece right before our eyes. Although ‘Consumed’ follows Carol and Daryl (Norman Reedus) exclusively, this really is McBride’s episode to shine. Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite fond of our little trailer park prince, but Daryl is so much more interesting when he’s a badass-ing it in the show’s action sequences. His brooding during the dramatic moments doesn’t seem to measure up as strongly.
The dialogue is sparing throughout the episode, but the show’s visual storytelling is simply stunning at moments. Many of them came in short bursts like the shot of Carol looking out the window when they first arrive at the abandoned women’s shelter. In beautiful tableaux, I love how the camera lingered ever so slightly as we see her reflection looking back at her, somberly representing the woman she once was. No words are needed but the moment speaks volumes.
Many of the flashbacks that gave us glimpses of Carol’s internal struggles during the key points of S4 to remind us of her evolution. At face value they may seem hokey and redundant (I confess I found myself thinking that), but the cumulative effect works. As they appeared again and again, I realized Carol has developed so incredibly over the latter part of S4 and into this season – it was enlightening to see her inserted into those moments that prior to this episode, we only pictured in our minds. To see Carol burning the bodies of the infected, her reaction in the car after her banishment etc. – all of it reminds us that Carol has become fully developed and complex character that doesn’t exist in two-dimensional boundaries (and even more bonus points because she’s a woman). McBride makes the most of these moments – the strength of emotion conveyed should be applauded.
I couldn’t help but think back to last week’s episode where I’m assuming the same effect was attempted with Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) but wasn’t nearly as successful. We’ve been with Carol long enough now that we can go through the journey with her, whereas I continue to feel distanced from Abraham. His flashbacks had little to no emotional resonance in comparison. Even throughout this episode we see the complexity of Carol’s character. It’s left ambiguous as to whether or not she was going to kill Noah (Tyler James Williams) after he robbed them of their weapons. But in the next act, Carol pleads with Daryl to save his life proving she’s a big ol’ bucket of shades of grey, and I for one, find that refreshing.
Overall the pacing of ‘Consumed’ hasn’t matched the forward momentum we saw in the opening episodes, but I was grateful to bask in the melancholy that both Carol and Daryl are carrying, both of them desperately trying to leave what was past in the past. But despite their emotional baggage, we witness plenty of genuine displays of their loyal friendship, which quickly offsets the episode’s moody and depressing overarching tone. We get the utility of finding out how Carol ends up in the hospital and confirmation that Daryl and Noah are the ones who ultimately meet up with Michonne (Danai Gurira) back at the church, but the episode gives us so much more than simple plot setup. It’s a different kind of episode, but one that stands out quite strongly nonetheless.
- The episode also sets up the ‘quest’ that will play out for the rest of this season: getting Beth (Emily Kinney) out the hospital and battling the baddies within. I’m hoping it will play out more interestingly than a simple hospital takeover or decimation, as we’ve already seen that with the prison and Terminus. I do however, don’t think our group is going to be settling down anywhere in the near future – so whatever the outcome, it will likely be a ‘grab-Beth-and-run’ situation.
- One thing is made crystal clear to us – there’s no chance of a Daryl and Carol hook-up (boo). The bunk bed sleep over was the perfect moment to explore this, but alas, nothing happened. Besides, Carol tells Daryl that she initially saw him as a boy, which has to be the biggest turn-off ever.
- I love how descriptors are so perfunctory in the apocalypse. First we got ‘kid with the hat’ and ‘chick with the sword’ and now we simply have ‘blonde girl’.
- What did you think viewers? Did you prefer a moody episode like this one or a more action packed offering? Will the group be successful in rescuing Beth and Carol from the hospital? Will Abraham and his group find their way back to the church or swoop into the hospital battle just in the nick of time? Is any one still wondering when and if we’re gonna get more Morgan (Lennie James)? Sound off in the comments below.
A gentle reminder that we adhere to a SPOILER FREE zone. Please keep any plot points from the graphic novel that may potential spoil the direction of the show to yourself.
The Walking Dead airs at 9pm EST, Sundays on AMC.