When we last saw our survivors, Rick narrowly escaped some very bad dudes, Bob and Sasha connected on a deeper level, and Glenn got some new traveling companions in Abraham's crew. Daryl and Beth bonded, but when Beth was kidnapped after they got separated, Daryl ran into Rick's very bad dudes. Meanwhile, Carol returned just in time to help Tyreese take care of three kids, baby Judith included. And almost all of our survivors appeared to be headed for the same place -- the "Sanctuary for All" called Terminus.
In this week's episode, "The Grove," tragedy rocks Carol's group of survivors, and several big questions are answered. Read on to find out if this episode of The Walking Dead
can deliver that mix of sweet zombie action and rich character development we crave.
The Walking Dead: What Does it Mean to Be a "Good" Person? >>>A Shockingly Powerful Episode
There has been a lot of hype surrounding this week's episode. It has been talked up as one of the show's darkest, most disturbing episodes to date. I am both pleased and saddened to say that it definitely lives up to that hype. I thought I was prepared for the events in this episode, since I am familiar with the source material, but there are enough changes to the storyline that I am genuinely shocked by what goes down. There are only five characters featured in the episode, and two of them are dead by the end credits.
Melissa McBride gives an outstanding performance. While this is not a surprise given the work she has done on this show in the past -- think back to her prayer/confession in the church in early season 2 -- she really elevates this episode to a new level of heart-wrenching. The young actresses who play Lizzie and Mika -- Brighton Sharbino and Kyla Kenedy -- also give incredible performances in this intense installment. The material is very challenging, but all of the actors deliver the emotion required to really drive this storyline home.Carol Becomes a Mother Again
The episode begins with Carol telling Lizzie about Sophia. She tells Lizzie that Sophia was sweet and that she did not have a mean bone in her body. Lizzie correctly assumes that this is why Sophia died. Lizzie asks her if she misses Sophia and if she would miss her if she died. But Carol does not think that is going to happen to Lizzie. Despite what Carol said earlier this season about not being their mother, it is clear that she loves Lizzie and Mika as much as she loved Sophia.
The next day, Carol finds something to treat the infection in Tyreese's wound, and it gives them a chance to talk about the girls. Carol tells Tyreese that Lizzie does not see the walkers for what they are, but merely thinks they are "different." Carol then describes Mika in the same way she described Sophia, and we know horrible things are about to happen.
Carol takes Mika away from the others under the guise of helping her find water, but she really just wants to talk. Carol tells her that she will have to toughen up if she wants to survive in this world. Mika says she is not like her sister and that she understands what walkers are. But she also says that she cannot kill people. Mika believes that killing people is wrong, and she does not think she could do it even if those people were trying to hurt her. Before they can continue with their conversation, they stumble upon an abandoned house that looks like a good place to rest until they are ready to move on.Lizzie is the Walker-Feeder
While Carol and Tyreese clear the house, Lizzie and Mika are left to look after baby Judith. When a walker comes upon them, Mika kills it to save the others, but the walker's death upsets Lizzie. The next day, Carol catches Lizzie playing with a walker like it is her friend. Lizzie is devastated when Carol kills the walker to save her, claiming that killing a walker is the same as killing a person. Carol tries to get through to her, but Lizzie screams at her that she does not understand.
Later that day, Tyreese tells Carol that they should consider staying at the house, partly because he is not ready to be around other people. He trusts his group, and he believes they can make it work. While Carol and Tyreese are chatting about their future plans, Lizzie is out feeding a walker. We finally have confirmation on who was feeding the fence walkers, something Lizzie admits to later in the episode. While Mika tries to explain to Lizzie that the walkers are not her friends, Lizzie considers letting the walker bite her so she can show everyone that she is right about them.
But when one walker turns into several -- many of whom were burned in that fire Daryl and Beth started a few episodes back -- Mika drags Lizzie away. The girls make it back to the house, and Lizzie finally has to kill some walkers in order to protect the group. Later that night, Lizzie tells Carol that she knows what she has to do now. And this is where things get very dark.The Fates of Lizzie and Mika
The next day, Tyreese opens up about Karen's death and the dreams he has of her. He believes a stranger killed Karen, and Carol does not correct him, though she clearly feels a tremendous sense of guilt for the pain she caused him. When they return from their bonding session, they find Lizzie standing over Mika with a bloody knife in her hands. Lizzie has killed Mika so she will turn into a walker and convince the others that walkers are okay. Despite her horror, Carol manages to talk Lizzie down and asks Tyreese to take Lizzie and Judith back to the house. When are they gone, Carol breaks down, but makes sure that Mika will not turn the way Sophia did.
After they put Lizzie somewhere safe for the time being, Carol and Tyreese try to figure out what to do with her. Carol knows that Lizzie cannot be around other people and they certainly cannot leave her alone with Judith. They discuss several possibilities, but soon realize that there is only one way to keep everyone else safe from a child who does not understand murder.
Carol takes Lizzie outside, while Tyreese stays with Judith. Lizzie realizes that Carol is mad at her, but she still does not understand why Carol is so upset. Lizzie thinks Carol is angry because she pointed a gun at her, not because she killed Mika. With tears in her eyes, Carol tells Lizzie she loves her, raises her gun and kills Lizzie. Later, Carol and Tyreese bury both girls.
That night, Carol hands Tyreese a gun and tells him the truth about what happened to Karen. After she explains her reasoning for killing Karen and David, she tells Tyreese to do what he has to do. Tyreese asks Carol several questions, including whether or not Karen suffered, before he makes a decision. Tyreese pushes the gun aside and tells Carol that he forgives her. He will never forget what she did -- and they have both been changed by it -- but he forgives her. They decide that they cannot stay in that house anymore, so they pack up their things and head out, presumably for Terminus. Answers and Discussion
We get a few major answers in this week's episode. We learn the identity of the walker-feeder, how Tyreese would react to learning the truth about Karen's death and whether Lizzie and Mika were the show's version of Ben and Billy. Most people guessed that Lizzie was the one feeding the prison walkers -- and we certainly had plenty of evidence to point to that before this -- but I still think the reveal works. It makes sense with everything that came before, and it results in the realization that Lizzie was too far gone even before we met her.
Tyreese's reaction to Carol's confession also makes sense, given everything they went through in this episode. Aside from the fact that Carol is possibly the only person he has left in the world, I think Tyreese also comes to an understanding about who Carol is, thanks to what happens with Lizzie. Tyreese now understands that Carol does what she believes she has to do in order to protect the group. While he may not agree with that and he certainly cannot forget that she killed the woman he loved, he accepts it enough to offer her forgiveness.
As many book fans expected, the Lizzie-Mika storyline this season was inspired by the Ben-Billy arc from the source material. There are quite a few changes, but certain scenes are pulled directly from the books. I remember reading that storyline about a year ago and wondering if the show would go there. It is such a traumatic and tragic storyline, but it is also necessary when telling this kind of tale. As is pointed out in this episode, the walker-filled world changes people. And when those people are children, the effect is even more extreme. I think it also goes to show that Carl is pretty well-adjusted for a kid growing up in the zombie apocalypse.
What did you think of this week's episode? Did you suspect that the storyline was heading in this direction? Do you think there was any alternative to how Carol dealt with Lizzie? If you have read the books, what did you think of the changes from the source material? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.
The Walking Dead
airs Sunday nights at 9pm on AMC.(Image courtesy of AMC)