The Walking Dead: The Grove

Back by popular demand, Ms. Hillary Bauer will once again be offering Episode-by-Episode reviews and recaps for TV’s most beloved Zombie Apocalypse Thriller: The Walking Dead. So hold on to your butts folks, there are walkers abound!

Here’s Review #14:

This week on The Walking Dead, I CRIED SO MUCH.  I should have known better.  As soon as The Walking Dead makes you like a secondary or tertiary character, they’re doomed.  I would like to start by saying that, for the record, I have been calling Creepy Lizzie, Creepy Lizzie since the first time she was on screen.  I am an excellent judge of character and I always knew that she was messed up in the head.  I even referenced the homicidal triad, for God’s sake.  Well, unfortunately I was more correct than I wanted to be and I have a lot of feelings about it.  Let’s just delve into what is indisputably one of the most upsetting 44 minutes of television The Walking Dead has ever given us.

We start off in a farm house with a kettle boiling and a weird phonograph playing in the background.  So we have a working gas line and some sort of power source.  Does that mean flashback?  Generally, The Walking Dead doesn’t do flashbacks, but last week they did for some reason, so who knows.  We pan over to a shot of the backyard and there are two bodies running around.  One of the figures is moving very deliberately and we can hear a child laughing.  But the other is stumbling around in slow motion, so it’s unclear if it’s a walker (which would mean it’s present day) or a clumsy playmate.  Either way, the music makes it eerie.  Can I put in a request for “G.U.Y.”?

We’re spending this week with Carol, Tyreese, and the little ladies, so we open on them taking a break at night on the railroad tracks.  Carol is keeping watch with Lizzie by her side while the others sleep.  Carol tells Lizzie to get some sleep, but Lizzie insists that she can take Judith and help if anything goes wrong.  She also weirdly insists on calling Carol “ma’am” which sounds awkward and forced.  Lizzie asks Carol if there will be other kids in Terminus, to which Carol responds “maybe” in her very best mom voice that parents bust out when they want to be noncommittal but not crush dreams.  Props to Melissa McBride for having the mom voice down to a T this episode.  If she wasn’t talking about zombie apocalypse logic, I feel like I would be learning from her right now.

Carol specifically answers Lizzie’s question by saying that there might be kids if their parents kept them safe, like Tyreese kept Lizzie safe.  To which Lizzie responds, “lol, I shot two people and saved Tyreese’s ass.”  She does show some remorse, but not for killing them.  Lizzie is specifically upset that she shot Tara’s army girlfriend in the head.  It’s not an odd thing to feel bad about on the surface; I probably would too.  But, as will soon be revealed, Lizzie apparently just feels bad that the dead lady couldn’t come back as a zombie.  We’re only about four minutes in and Lizzie is already being a little freak.

Lizzie asks Carol if she had any children (a question that seems like it should have come up sooner).  Carol tells Lizzie about her sweet Sophia who “didn’t have a mean bone in her body.”  And that’s what killed her.  When Carol says that she misses Sophia every day, Lizzie asks if Carol would miss her.  Carol answers that she won’t have to miss Lizzie.  So say we all, Carol.  So say we all.

The next day, Carol and Tyreese wonder how far out they are from Terminus.  Tyreese thinks they may be three or four days out.  Seriously?!  At the rate time has been passing in the second half of this season, we aren’t gonna get to Terminus until 2016.  They also talk about Lizzie and how she has people killing down pat, but she’s really confused about walkers.  She just thinks they’re… different.  Generally I’m all about inclusiveness, but I might not be open-minded enough to include decaying flesh in my rainbow of togetherness.  Tyreese asks Carol if Mika is the same.  Carol says that she’s worse because she “doesn’t have a mean bone in her body.”  Foreshadowing, you are a cruel bitch!

The group keeps on keepin’ on down the railroad tracks for a bit chatting about when Carol used to read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer to the kids.  Mika decides that Lizzie is more like Huck Finn because she’s ok with dead rabbits.  (Those poor baby bunnies!)  The group takes a break so that Carol can find some water.  That leaves Tyreese alone with Lizzie and Lil’ Ass Kicker, when they see a walker stumbling in the distance.  Tyreese goes to see what’s up when the walker falls on the tracks and is rendered immobile.  Tyreese goes to kill it anyway, but Lizzie stops him saying that she knows that sometimes they have to kill the walkers, but sometimes they don’t.  Tyreese looks a little bewildered, but lets railroad walker be.

This scene is oddly reminiscent of when Hershel expressed the same idea to Carl earlier in the season.  Hershel watched Carl gun down a teenage boy in season three.  So when he and Carl were alone in the woods, Hershel took the chance to give Carl a little life lesson and stopped him from killing a walker who posed no threat to them.  The difference is that Hershel was trying to get across a message of general non-violence, while Lizzie is coming to bat in defense of walkers and only walkers.

Carol and Mika are off in search of water, but really it’s just a cover so that Carol can try to talk some sense into Mika.  Carol tells Mika that she needs to toughen up, because being able to run wasn’t enough to save her Sophia.  Mika says that, unlike her sister, she would have no problem killing walkers if she was a better shot.  Her hang up is killing other people.  Even when the bad people came into the prison and killed basically everyone she knew in literally the entire world, Mika couldn’t pull the trigger.  She even says that she feels bad for them, because they probably weren’t killers in the pre-apocalypse.  Damn, Mika.  That is one hell of a moral compass you have for an eight-year-old.

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Why does she keep just a tiny bit of her hair in a ponytail?

Just as Carol is telling Mika that she has to change because things don’t just work out anymore, a cozy farm house jumps out at them and yells “eff your lesson, Carol!”  They gather up the rest of the group and decide to catch their breath on the cute little farm if only for a few days.  They have well water, pecans all over the place, and the potential to hunt deer.  I’m allergic to nuts and grossed out by well water and hunting so it’s not my idea of Mecca, but it’s pretty sweet digs by their standards.

Carol and Tyreese go into the house to clear it of zombies, leaving the three girls outside.  Lizzie is obviously distraught, so Mika tries to work out why big sis is upset.  It’s not that she’s worried about Carol and Tyreese or the dead baby grave she’s staring at.  Lizzie is upset that Carol and Tyreese are likely going to find a walker inside and kill it.  That makes sense.  Who cares about dead babies anyway?  As Mika tries to get across to her sister than walkers are just corpses that can move (what’s so confusing about that?), a walker makes his way out the side door and goes after Lizzie and Judith.  Mika to the rescue!  It takes three bullets, but she manages to land the head shot before Carol and Tyreese come running out.

Carol praises Mika for saving the other two girls and then turns to the visibly shaken Lizzie.  Lizzie won’t say why she’s upset, but she does confirm that it’s not because she was scared.  This walker loving attitude has really come out this week.  Sure she’s been crazy all along, but Lizzie has never cried over someone killing a walker before.  I feel like it’s getting a little too heavy handed.  Mika goes to her sister and tells to “look at the flowers like [she’s] supposed to,” and then they count to three together.  Sooo, apparently people did know Lizzie was crazy before the zombies.  That is not an eight-year-old talking; that is a tool learned in long term therapy.  I kind of feel like this is something that dad could have included in his dying declarations.  “Take care of my daughters.  P.S. Lizzie has a pretty serious dissociative disorder.”

That night, everyone is playing house and playing out what I assume happened in all the Little House on the Prairie books since they seemed too boring for me to actually read.  Carol and Lizzie are cracking open pecans that they apparently felt like gathering after the near death scare that afternoon and talking about their feelings.  Lizzie promises that she’s trying to hate walkers as much as everyone else, but sometimes it’s hard for her.  Then Mika runs in with a doll that she found and proudly names her Griselda Gunderson.  It’s really adorable so I feel like kind of a jerk for making fun of Mika… but what the hell you doin’ naming your doll Griselda?!  Anne.  The appropriate name for a red head raggedy doll is Anne.

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I guess she’s creepy enough to be a Griselda.

The next morning, Carol is boiling water on the stovetop which is probably a big deal considering she probably hasn’t been able to use an actual burner in at least two years.  I have one that works, but I probably haven’t used it in two years either.  She hears laughing outside and sees Lizzie frolicking with a walker.  Hey, it’s the opening scene!  Turns out it was a walker after all and not just the uncoordinated kid in the neighborhood (aka me as a child).  Creepy Lizzie side note: she calls the walker Griselda.  If the doll didn’t need a new name before, it does now.

Carol rushes outside and pushes Lizzie aside so that she can stab zombie Griselda in the head.  Lizzie goes full on tantrum and freaks out on Carol yelling about how zombie Griselda just wanted a friend and how would it be different if Lizzie killed Carol.  Carol presents her counter-argument: death.  Tyreese hears the commotion and just looks out the window with the “bitches be crazy” face that has been rightfully stuck on his face for 90% of the season since the prison raid.

Carol is out hunting deer with Mika, who is carrying a gun that is literally 2/3 her size.  They see the smoke from a fire that they smelled earlier.  Mika says that it’s still burning because the smoke is black.  Science.  You guys!  Remember a couple of weeks ago when they showed us how close Team Tyreese was to Daryl and Beth with berries and dead bunnies?  The fire is the still house burning down!  I was pre-tty proud when I pieced that one together.  If I’m right.  If not, forget I said anything.  This is a good example of how close to another person you can be without being able to find them in Zombieland.

Carol gives Mika another toughen up talk and tells her that even though she isn’t as strong or cutthroat as her sister, Mika is smarter.  Carol’s tough talk is interrupted by a deer that she tells Mika to kill.  The way Carol encourages Mika in the mom voice is creepy.  It’s like she’s teaching Mika to play piano or do crafts.  But despite Carol’s gentle tone, Mika can’t pull the trigger on Bambi.  Mika reassures Carol that it’s ok because they have millions of peaches for free.  Apparently Mika plans on being the only vegetarian in Zombieland.

Mika goes looking for Lizzie and finds her feeding a mouse to the railroad track zombie that she stopped Tyreese from killing earlier.  It’s super creepy and weird.  But then it gets even creepier and weirder.  Lizzie says that she can hear them and they just want her to change and be like them.  At this point, I’d allow it.  She offers her hand to the walker and I would be totally ok with a walker Lizzie going off into the sunset.

But Lizzie’s sacrifice is interrupted by some more terrifying walkers.  A group of crusty, smoldering walkers comes out of the tree line and sends the girls running.  Apparently Lizzie only likes her zombies chilled and decaying.  The girls run back to the farm house screaming, which brings Carol and Tyreese running.  Mika gets stuck on the fence, but after Lizzie frees her from a near biter attack, the two join the adults in shooting up the field.  Mika, who earlier declined to use her gun, is avid to join in on the walker killing; but Lizzie is just kind of shooting in no man’s land, which draws Carol’s attention.  After we’ve spent a metric eff ton of ammunition, the fire zombies have been put down and we get to have a mini group hug.

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Guys!  Guys!  They’re fire walkers.  Get it?!

Side note:  If it was the still house burning, Beth and Daryl’s middle fingers to the past kind of unexpectedly have turned into middle fingers to their fellow heroes.  Ain’t nobody got time for fire zombies.

Later that night, Lizzie and Carol are back at the table of truth.  Lizzie is distraught about having to kill the zombies at the farm fence, but is adamant that she knows what has to be done now.  Mika listens in on the truth bombs the table is dropping and says that she doesn’t want to be mean.  The cutest pacifist EVER.  The girls confirm that they aren’t sick of pecans, so Carol takes them to make her grandmother’s baked pecans.  Again, these would kill my allergic ass, but the sentiment is very sweet.  Plus, Carol gets to use the mom voice as it was originally intended and it gets to be adorable instead of creepy and unsettling.

Carol and Tyreese go out for a walk to talk about grown-up stuff.  Carol tells Tyreese that maybe they could just stay at the comfy farm house for a while before going to Terminus.  Tyreese goes on a very self indulgent tirade about him dreaming of Karen and his nightmares and how on bad nights, he sees someone killing her.  Yes, it is sad that your girlfriend died.  But I still maintain that Tyreese could not have been dating this woman for more than a couple of weeks.  Sir, you are complaining to a woman who lost her (admittedly abusive) husband and daughter.  At a certain point, relativity has to come into play.

Alright folks, now comes the serious part of the recap that you knew was coming.  Carol and Tyreese come back to farm house and find a bloody Lizzie, knife in hand, standing where the three little ones should be.  There’s really no gentle way to say this.  In a misguided attempt to show everyone that walkers aren’t so bad, Lizzie killed Mika.  We see Mika’s blood stained, white face; but almost as a recognition of how horrible this scene really is, The Walking Dead doesn’t make us see the actual wound or Mika turn into a zombie.  Lizzie pulls her gun on the two adults begging them to let Mika change.  Carol talks Lizzie off that particular ledge and sends her off with Tyreese before breaking down in tears next to poor Mika’s body.

In the argument of who got the short straw, Carol and Tyreese are in a dead heat.  Having to stab a dead child in the head or being stuck with a ten year old murderer are the options in the worst ever game of “would you rather.”  Tyreese takes Lizzie to her room and clears it of anything sharp as well as confirming that Lizzie was the one feeding rats to the walkers at the prison and splaying the rodents on boards.  (Called that one, bitches.)

The grown-ups try to figure out what they can do with Lizzie now.  Carol initially suggests that since they can’t have Lizzie and Judith under the same roof, Carol could go away with her.  Tyreese points out that that would be a suicide mission.  Then, lest Carol get too noble, they realize that Tyreese and Judith can’t make it on their own either.  Lizzie can’t be around other people.  Carol does what needs to be done and takes Lizzie out to a field where she can look at the flowers.  Lizzie is upset about all the wrong things and offers a teary apology for pointing a gun at Carol.  Carol tells Lizzie that she loves her and puts her down.

There are a multitude of reasons why this scene is upsetting.  Two children are dead.  Carol has now lost three charges.  But the thing that jumps out, at least to me, is the issue of untreated mental health disorders.  Lizzie had obviously been diagnosed with and was in treatment for a dissociative disorder pre-Zombieland.  Given the level of her pathology, Lizzie may even have been medicated.  Deprived of that support system, Lizzie would have been struggling in a state of immense confusion.  I’ve called her Creepy Lizzie from the start, but I send her off as Troubled Lizzie.

After digging graves for the girls, Carol and Tyreese retire to the farm house to apparently do a puzzle.  Carol slides Tyreese a gun and then tells him that she was the one who killed Karen and David to stop the spread of infection.  I kind of take issue with this.  Carol is a survivalist.  If she thought that she was never going to see Rick (the only person she ever told) again, she wouldn’t reveal this if Tyreese was her only hope of staying alive.  Luckily, Tyreese is a survivalist too and his reaction is perfect.  He does some serious face acting and goes through all the stages of grief in 45 seconds.  Tyreese says that he knows that he forgives Carol but knows that neither of them will ever forget.

No real cliffhanger of the week this episode.  Carol and Tyreese decide that staying at the farm house is outskies, so they decide to ease on down the road to Terminus.  From the preview, it looks like we get about 66% of our cast back though.

One more before the finale, friends!

 

 

S04 E01: 30 Days Without An Accident Review

S04 E02: Infected Review

S04 E03: Isolation Review

S04 E04: Indifference

S04 E05: Internment

S04 E06: Live Bait

S04 E07: Dead Weight

S04 E08: Too Far Gone

S04 E09: After

S04 E10: Inmates

S04 E11: Claimed

S04 E12: Still

S04 E13: Alone

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