Spoilers dead ahead, this is Series Issues. Do heed the warning, this episode is dark.
The claws come out in The Walking Dead 4×14: The Grove. So far, the progression has been a downwards spiral for each of our surviving teams, some of them luckier than others. This time we’re going to go to a very, very dark place. No, this is not Terminus yet.
Carol, Tyreese, Mika, Lizzie and baby Judith are following the tracks on their way to Terminus, the promised Sanctuary for all. It seems that for every team headed that way there’s been a bit of test in which people have had to confront their demons, some faring better than others. Rick and Carl’s relationship. Michonne’s memories, Rick and Maggie’s separation, Daryl’s past and so on.
But this test is going to be really dark, not only for both Carol and Tyreese but for the audience. If there was an episode of The Walking Dead that was meant for mature audiences only, this is it.
Lizzie asks Carol about her daughter. That’s Sophia, which we knew from several seasons ago. Carol says that she didn’t have a mean bone in her body. Lizzie asks if that’s why she died, to which Carol agrees. Later on, she will repeat the same description to refer to Mika.
The group finds a house in the middle of the forest where they can setup for a while. Mika has to kill a walker all by herself, while Lizzie doesn’t understand the threat behind walkers. Carol even takes Mika hunting for deer to try to toughen her up, but the little girl refuses to shoot at one. They still have food, and Mika suggest they stay in the house.
In a very scary scene, Carol intervenes as Lizzie plays catch with a roaming walker. She doesn’t understand why Carol has to kill her. Tyreese witnesses the scene from afar. Trouble in paradise, and it’s going to come from this little girl.
While Carol and Tyreese are bringing water from the well, Mika discovers that Lizzie has been bringing mice to the walker trapped in the tracks. As Mika tries to draw her away, Lizzie insists that she can hear the walkers – that she believes they want her to become one of them. Then the walkers from a nearby fire (could it be the house that Daryl and Beth burned down?) show up still smoking.
The girls run back to the house, with Carol and Tyreese catching up. The entire team has to deal with the threat, including Lizzie. Carol tries to explain to Lizzie that sometimes we have to do things that change us. If you become a little bit creeped out at this conversation because you think Lizzie might be taking Carol’s words in a completely different context, you’re not alone.
Tyreese talks to Carol about dreaming about Karen. You can tell the guilt is gnawing at Carol. She seems to be dancing around the idea of revealing herself as the murdered, but she manages to say nothing.
As they get back to the house, they see Lizzie standing smiling at them and Mika lying on the ground behind her. Something is very wrong. Lizzie has a knife and blood all over her hands. She has killed her little sister and wants them to wait because “she’s coming back” and somehow thinks seeing her sister as a walker will make them understand her madness.
This show has shown us some really horrific scenes. We don’t get to see Lizzie kill her sister, but the implied scene is more gut wrenching that anything I’ve seen on TV in a long time. Carol asks Tyreese to take Lizzie and Judith inside. When Lizzie says that she was about to turn Judith as well… You can see in Carol’s and Tyreese’s faces that they know this is not over.
Carol and Tyreese talk. Yes, obviously, Lizzie was the one feeding the walkers. No, Lizzie can’t be among other people. No, they can’t split apart. No, they can’t have baby Judith around Lizzie. It comes down to Carol deciding what to do and although it’s unspoken, it’s blatantly logical. In a perfect world, they could’ve done as Tyreese suggest and try to teach her to be a normal kid. In the barren and resource-less universe of The Walking Dead, they have to do what they have to do.
Damage control is up to Carol. It’s not a sense of justice that compels her as she takes Lizzie out for a walk. It’s love, need and desperation taken to its final point. And it’s Carol’s hardest task as she takes out the gun and asks Lizzie, the little girl she also loves, to keep staring at the flowers. We’re spared the sight of her body and her sister’s as Carol and Tyreese bury the two kids.
But Carol Peletier has one more demon to exorcize. She stares at Tyreese across the table and gently slides a gun over to him. Then she confesses and tells him about killing Karen and David, and how she did it because she thought she was stopping the disease from spreading further. She then awaits judgement, and you can tell she also expects this to be her punishment for having to kill a kid. The man across the table forgives her. Tyreese tells her he will not forget and what she has done will be a part of her now. Unspoken is the part of how she also now has to live with the recent events.
Somehow it seems a dark justice and a cruel punishment for Carol as she had to go from justifying a killing she did for protection of the many to killing one of the girls she had taken in as her own. Perhaps that’s justice in the Walking Dead universe. Tyreese might have just administered the worst punishment possible for Carol: she gets to keep living.
Highs: Very emotionally tense episode. We finally deal with the whole Lizzie issue to its resolution, even if the outcome is a messy one. Tyreese’s Carol’s senses of what’s right and wrong are challenged to the core. Controversial, but somehow cruelly fitting resolution to a lot of pending issues on this episode.
Lows: This episode took us to a very dark place were kids are not exempt of receiving or dealing harm. Some sensibilities, specially from audiences used to kids being indestructible, might be hurt. For some, it might be too much to handle.
That will do for now.