The Walking Dead, Season 4, Episode 14, “The Grove”

“The Grove”

(All images used in this post are screen caps from AMC’s The Walking Dead, unless otherwise specified.)

Well, people, we have much to discuss, don’t we, with The Walking Dead’s Season 4, Episode 14, “The Grove.”  For those WD fans who have been touched with a bit of the ennui regarding the last couple of weeks’ storylines. we got a bracing slap-up with this latest installment, written by Scott M. Gimple and artfully directed by Michael Satrazemis.

The opening scene of “The Grove” is a spare, haunting one.  It opens with a close shot of a copper tea kettle on the stove, a gas flame burning under it…at first, it made me think it was a flashback of days past, at the beginning of the turn, perhaps…

The shot pans left to the open window, where a clean white curtain dances in a gentle breeze.  We hear the sounds of girl’s laughter outside, and we see through the window’s pane what appears to be Lizzy running playfully around a tree. We lose the figure for brief moments, as she disappears behind the tree or the window frame, then reappears…and then we see, through the window, that there is another figure, but this figure does not run and dance like a young girl…this figure lurches and grabs at the young girl, who evades her easily, laughing.

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“C’mon, Griselda!” we hear Lizzy’s voice beckon, when the walker stops at one point, having lost dim sight or sound of the girl…at the sound of Lizzy’s voice, the walker woman lurches again towards her, getting closer and closer, as Lizzy laughs, dances around the walker…the tea kettle on the stove starts to whistle, piercing through the dreamy, surreal quality of the old timey song that plays somewhere in the house, and the grotesque dance that is happening outside the window, in a sunny grove surrounded by pecan trees.

Cue the Bear McCreary opening title sequence...

Cue the Bear McCreary opening title sequence…

In the next scene, it is night on the  train tracks, near an overpass. Carol sits, holding Baby Judith while Lizzy sits beside her. Mika and Tyrese are curled up on the tracks, sleeping. Carol smiles at Lizzy and tells her it’s ok, Lizzy can go sleep. Lizzy replies that if something happens, she can take Judith.  “I can help,” says Lizzy, looking straight at Carol.

Carol smiles wryly. “You really think you can help me?”

“I know I can, m’aam,” Lizzy replies.

Lizzy then tells Carol how she saved Tyrese by shooting two people, a man and a woman, who were coming for Tyrese in the final prison battle. In remembering this, Lizzy looks down, regretful, “I didn’t mean to shoot her (Alicia) in the head.”

Aside from the opening shot, this statement by Lizzy is the first suggestion in “The Grove” as to how deeply Lizzy’s sympathetic feelings for the walkers really go, as shooting Alicia in the head would prevent her from reanimating into a walker…and for Lizzy, this is a bad thing.

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By this point in the watching, it was like, seven minutes into the total episode, and I had already experienced two or three “Holy crap!” moments…is this what it feels like to be Gimple-slapped? I think so!

Lizzy asks Carol if she had a kid…Carol tells her about Sophia, how Sophia “didn’t have a mean bone in her body.”

“Is that why she isn’t here now?” asks Lizzy, astutely.  Carol regards her, nods, “Yes.” Lizzy asks Carol if she misses her daughter.  “Every day, “ Carol replies.  Lizzy asks if Carol would miss her.  “I won’t need to,” Carol answers, then tries to send Lizzy to bed again.  Lizzy is quick, however, and she sneaks in a goodnight hug before Carol can protest or raise her defenses again:

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In his sleep, on the tracks, Tyrese whimpers, in the grip of a bad dream…

The next morning, Carol is tending to Tyrese’s wound.  Lizzy has found some type of pine sap, which Carol collects with the blade of her knife and applies to Tyrese’s wound to fight infection and bring down fever.  Tyrese asks Carol how far she thinks they are from the Terminus station, the site of the supposed Sanctuary…three days out, four? Carol is not sure…Tyrese then comments on how tough Lizzy is.

“Yeah,” says Carol, “when it comes to people.” When Tyrese asks her what she means by that, Carol tells him that Lizzy is confused about the walkers, that she doesn’t see them for the threat they are…she just sees them as being different.

Tyrese looks over at Mika, who is holding Baby Judith, and asks Carol if she, Mika, is the same way. “No,” replies Carol. “She’s worse…she doesn’t have a mean bone in her body.” It is what she said about Sophia, before, and why Sophia didn’t survive.

Later, as they walk along the tracks, the girls and Carol pass the time talking about the adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. Mika asks if the story had a happy ending. At first, Mika likens herself to Huck Finn, but Lizzy interjects that she feels Mika is more like Tom Sawyer.

“Yeah,” Mika agrees easily, “You are way more like Huck Finn...you aren’t even grossed out by dead rabbits!”  Lizzy shoots a look at Mika, makes the “zip it” sign with her mouth. Mika’s spilling Lizzy’s crazy deets, but the adults don’t notice.

A little ways down the tracks, Carol and Tyrese smell a fire, smoke…it smells like a big one.  (Could it be the house fire that Daryl and Beth set?  On Talking Dead, Chris Hardwick and the guests speculated on this possibility…I really do think the fire and smoke plume in this episode is from the cabin that Daryl and Beth torched.  It seems like the kind of detail that Kirkman, Gimple, and Co. would add to an episode already rich with layers of meaning, nuance, and surrealism.)

Back at the tracks, Carol volunteers herself and Mika to go on a water run, suggesting that Tyrese stay back with Judith and Lizzy.  Tyrese takes Carol’s advice and hangs back at the tracks, playing “I Spy” with Lizzy…there’s not much to see, besides trees and weeds, until it’s Tyrese’s turn, and he spies…a walker, some ways down the tracks, but lurching towards them.

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Tyrese hands Judith to Lizzy and grips his hammer, striding down the tracks towards the walker, ready to take care of it…the walker falls through a weak part of the track and is stuck…Tyrese approaches it, ready to finish it off, when Lizzy rushes up to him, carrying Judith, and stops him. “Sometimes we need to kill them, but not always, “ says Lizzy.  Judith begins to cry, and Tyrese looks down at the stuck walker, and relents to Lizzy’s wishes:

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Don’t kill him, Tyrese…he’s my little friend! Look how cute he is!

On the outing, Mika points out that Lizzy would be able to carry more water, and Carol admits to her that she wanted to take the opportunity to talk to Mika.  When Mika asks her why, Carol tells Mika that she’s little and she’s sweet, “And those are two things that can get you killed.”  Carol goes on to say that while Mika can’t change her small size, she can start to “toughen up” and adapt to the ways of the new world order.

Mika disagrees, saying that she doesn’t need to toughen up, that she can run, and she’s good at running.  Carol stops, grips Mika’s arm. “No,” Carol says, “My daughter ran, and it wasn’t enough…that’s why I taught the kids at the prison to do more than that.”

(Now, I knew on many levels that this was why Carol was being so weird about teaching the prison kids the art of the knife kill, back in the day, but in this episode, we WD fans got many lingering questions answered, and after the watching, I felt a lot clearer about Carol and why she was being so weird and crazy then.

And, btw, in WD time, “back in the day”, when Carol was teaching knifery to the prison kids, that was maybe only like a week ago, right?   Maybe not even a week? Ten days, tops?

Honestly, this whole crazy fourth season has taken place in about a week’s time, if I am calculating correctly, excluding the detour episode into the Gov’s story…please send me a line if I am wrong about this, but am I?

Let’s see…the explodey flu hit, then Patrick died and became Patrick Walker, led a walker riot at the prison…peeps died, peeps became infected with flu, Daryl and the crew made the Vet School Meds Run, while Rick sleuthed Carol’s double-homicide, led her away on the pretext of a goods run, and banished her from the prison with a lovely parting gift, a fully stocked car with a full tank of gas…Rick came back solo (with a lovely parting gift of his own, Carol’s watch), broke the 411 to Maggie, then Hershel, before the prison broke out into another round of walker mayhem.

Then, Rick and Carl shared a father-son walker mow-down moment while Hershel, Maggie, and the at home peeps held down the prison and goodness prevailed, for a moment, anyway…Daryl and the gang returned from their road trip, delivered the meds, and started getting them into sick peeps’ bloodstreams stat while Hershel and Michonne got themselves into an unwanted and much-hated hostage situation with the Gov.

Rick had the dreaded Daryl Conversation, and was about to have the even more dreaded Tyrese Conversation, when they were rudely interrupted by the Gov’s tank blasting a hole into the prison walls…war broke out, the prison got ruined, and everyone who didn’t get killed, scattered…now everyone’s having their own story, with most trying to get to Terminus...and this all happened in about 5 – 7 days’ time, if I am figuring correctly.

Am I right or wrong about this?  Chime in, people…inquiring minds want to know!

If I am right, that is pretty much The Shittiest Week Ever, maybe taking second place to the first week of the zombie apocalypse, where everyone’s lives they had before, and many of their loved ones, were lost forever.)

Anyway, Carol is giving Mika her life-or-death “toughen up” speech, while Mika is holding her own and making a strong case for her belief system, which is falling somewhere in the realm of pacifism and vegetarianism, which I totally respect…but do not fully practice, myself.

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Mika explains her position. “I can kill walkers…I mean, I’ve tried. I’m not like my sister…I’m not messed up.  I know what they are. But I can’t kill people…I could never do that.”  Mika goes on to tell Carol about how the bad people at the prison were right in front of her and Lizzy, and how she, Mika, held up her gun…but couldn’t pull the trigger.

“Killing people is wrong,” asserts Mika. She brings up Karen and David, how somebody killed them…and they were nice. Carol’s mouth, at this, (the first of several in-your-face, Carol, moments in this episode) sets in a tight line as she asks, “What about people who try to kill you?”

“I don’t even wish I could (kill them),” Mika replies.  Carol bends down to get on Mika’s eye level. “People came in and killed our friends,” she says to Mika, emphasizing every word, looking Mika right in the eye.

Mika’s look back is unwavering, her reply immediate, ” And I feel sorry for them.”

Carol’s brow furrows at this.  “Why?” she whispers, genuinely puzzled.

“Because they probably weren’t like that before,” replies Mika. She turns and continues down the wooded path.

As she follows Mika, Carol keeps on. “Sooner or later, you’ll have to do it…you’ll have to do it, or you’ll die….you have to change, everyone does now. Things don’t just work out.”

And at this very moment, the two turn a slight right and walk right into the opening of a stately old pecan grove, with a quiet country home nestled in the center.  It looks peaceful and immediately inviting.  “Look!” exclaims Mika.  She turns to Carol, beaming. “My mom used to say, everything turns out like it’s supposed to.”

I really love Mika in this episode...in Star Wars, she would have been a padawan, a young Jedi in Yoda's training...Lizzy, on the other hand, would have def gone to the Dark Side and been one of the Emperor's disciples

I really love Mika in this episode…in Star Wars, she would have been a padawan, a young Jedi in Yoda’s training…Lizzy, on the other hand, would have def gone to the Dark Side and been one of the Emperor’s disciples

As they all approach the home, walking through the peaceful pecan grove, Carol pulls back a spare, but sturdy, barbed wire half-fence that surrounds the house and yard. “Maybe we can catch our breath here,” suggests Carol.  Lizzy asks if they are still going to Terminus, and Carol replies that maybe they can stay a day or two before moving on.  It seems like an ideal plan, as there is a well full of water, fences, deer that can be hunted, and pecans…as Tyrese says, “You can eat your fill, and then some!”

Mika seems very stoked on this. “I love pecans!” she exclaims, which is a good thing, as nuts are a key protein source for vegetarians.

Lizzy, of course, being a disciple of the Dark Side, spots the large black plume of smoke coming up from the distance, over the tree line…it is a foreshadowing of trouble to come, a course of events unwittingly set into motion, most likely by two wild young people on the run, and falling in love...ouch, Carol, I feel that arrow to the heart for you, girl, but that little killing episode was a total dealbreaker…sorry…sux 4 u. 

Carol suggests they leave the hole in the fence for the deer to come through and, “play it really safe here.”  It’s a good plan, and I am giving Carol mad props for mentally multitasking like a motherfucker right about now.  She’s got the goods.  The New Carol would have kicked Ed’s ass good, and busted a cap in his mean mug, before he ever got a chance to lay another hand on her.  That thought gives me a lot of satisfaction.

Carol and Tyrese approach the door to begin the process of “clearing” the house…they order the girls to stay outside, where they are sitting, Lizzy holding the baby and Mika holding the gun. Carol has deliberately put Mika in charge of this, to force her to shoot to protect if necessary, and desensitize her from all that pacifistic nonsense.

As they rap on the door and go inside, Lizzy begins to look more and more distressed, which Mika notices.  She tries to reassure Lizzy that Carol and Tyrese will be fine, but Lizzy isn’t worried about Carol and Tyrese…she’s worried about the walkers that will surely get killed if found inside.

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Mika and Lizzy get into it, Mika starting to lose her patience and yell at Lizzy that the walkers are not people, when Ol’ Farmer Walker comes lurching out of the house and pitches over the porch railing, landing him right in front of the girls and the baby. He begins to claw his way towards them, and Lizzy falls while trying to back away, clutching Judith and screaming in terror while poor Judith wails helplessly.

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I’m sure at one time, he was a very nice man, living a quiet living on his pecan grove, in his lovely home…

...but nowadays, Ol' Farmer Walker be scary!

…but nowadays, Ol’ Farmer Walker be scary!

Mika fires upon Ol’ Farmer Walker, but it is Carol and Tyrese that finish him off.  This sets Lizzy into a real fit of despair, which Carol cannot understand and is growing impatient with, as she keeps asking Lizzy what is wrong.

Lizzy responds that she doesn’t want to say, and turns away.   Mika fixes Carol a look, like, “What are you, new?” before going after Lizzy.

With the practiced air of someone who has done it many times before,  Mika first apologizes to Lizzy for yelling at her, then puts her arm around Lizzy’s shoulders, quietly urging Lizzy to look at the flowers, focus on the flowers, and count, and breathe.

A troubled Tyrese and Carol look on, as Lizzy and Mika breathe and count together, and Lizzy begins to calm, while the Bear McCreary music twists and turns in the background like the unraveling of Lizzy’s young mind…

Just look at the flowers, Lizzy...focus on the flowers...

Just look at the flowers, like you’re supposed to…

Later, in the evening, Carol and Lizzy are sitting at the kitchen table, shelling pecans. Carol asks Lizzy if she is still upset, and Lizzy tells her that sometimes she doesn’t understand (why the walkers must be killed), “but I am trying to, m’aam, I really am.” Mika runs up to them, beaming and clutching a sweet rag doll with long red yarn ponytails.  “Look what I found!”  Mika exclaims, showing them the doll.  “I’m going to name her Griselda Gunderson!

And with that pronouncement, Mika flounces onto the living room rug to play with her new doll. There is a cozy fire burning in the fireplace, and Tyrese cannot seem to comprehend this long-forgotten feeling of home, and hearth, and comfort.  He remarks on this as he looks around, dazed at the coziness and warmth and feeling of family in the room.

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Whoa…I forgot what this is like…

Mika, ever the sage, tells Tyrese to chillax, stay awhile…

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And then Mika plants the seed in Tyrese’s head by suggesting, “We should live here!”IMG_4107So, Tyrese abides.

The peaceful family feeling is short-lived, because the next scene is daylight, through the kitchen window, with the whistling copper kettle and the macabre game of Walker Tag between Lizzy and her new bestie, Griselda Walker, which Carol spies, disbelieving, through the window.  She rushes out, ordering Lizzy away from her grisly version of a newfound doll, Griselda Walker:

No, no, Carol, Griselda's cool...really! We're new besties!

No, no, Carol, Griselda’s cool…really! We’re new besties!

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“Get away from that walker this instant,  young lady!”    “Noooo, Carol, noooo, don’t hurt my BFF Griselda!  Griselda’s cool, it’s cool, she’s cool!”

Carol, of course, must lay down the tough love, and the blade, into Griselda Walker’s skull, inciting a full-on-fucking-freakout by you-know-who…

“Noooooo! You killed Griselda!”

“She was my BEST FRIEND, and YOU KILLED HER! What if I killed you, huh? What if I KILLED YOU?

“Griselda!” <sob!>

Carol is processing the wack attack...this is way more than teenage hormones at play...this is full-on crayzee!

As Carol, and Tyrese (who looks on from the window) process Lizzy’s full-on wack-attack, it’s pretty apparent that Lizzy is Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs…and Carol suddenly has a splitting headache.

Later, Carol and Mika go out together, Mika carrying a shotgun. They see the black plume of smoke over the treetops, and Mika says black smoke means the fire is still burning…she learned that in science class.  “I miss science class,” she sighs, excepting when they made the students cut up planeria worms.  What an adorable little nerd she is!

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Carol tries to work the “toughen up” angle again with Mika, saying that these days, she’ll have to do a lot worse than cut up planeria worms.  “I don’t gotta,” Mika replies. (Pretty much one of my favorite lines, ever.)  Carol tells her that while Lizzy is bigger and stronger, Mika is smarter about things, that she understands about the walkers while Lizzy doesn’t. “Look out for her,” pleads Carol.  Carol then spies a young deer in the glenn.

“Go on,” she urges Mika, trying to get her to bring down the deer. “Just like I showed you.”  Mika raises the rifle and aims…

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…and then lowers the gun…

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“Nah, can’t do it.”

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She then gives Carol this sweet look and says, “We have peaches!”

Later, Tyrese is pumping well water into a bucket, with Carol. He’s been thinking, tells Carol that maybe they don’t need to go to Terminus, that maybe they can make a life here, at this house. Tyrese is thinking maybe they should stay there.

“I know Lizzy and Mika…I know Judith…I know you, I trust you,” Tyrese says to Carol, who looks down for a moment at these words. Tyrese continues, “I don’t know if I can get that anywhere else.”

Tyrese continues to look at Carol with a sweet, open look.  “We can stay here…we can live here.”

Meanwhile, back at the house, Mika is calling for Lizzy. She sees Lizzy slip off in the back, towards the stables.  She follows Lizzy to the railroad tracks, walks up just after Lizzy pulls a mouse from a box and, holding it by the tail, hand-feeds it to the stuck railroad walker.

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Yum, yum! On Talking Dead, they said the WD effects crew made an edible prop mouse for the walker actor to actually eat, grape jelly in a gelatin casing.

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On the tracks, poor little Mika really tries to reason with her crazy sister, telling her straight up that the walkers are bad, that they want to kill her, that it’s time to stop pretending things aren’t as bad as they really are. Lizzy continues to tell her sister that nobody understands, that the walkers are talking to her, and she thinks they want her to be like them.

“Maybe I should become like them,” Lizzy muses as she holds her hand out to the stuck walker, who tries to chomp at her fingers. I can make you all understand.”

Then, the rustle of nearby bushes heralds the coming of…The Char Walkers.

The latest gift to WD fans from Nicotero & Co., The Char Walkers look like black, smoking demon aliens from some heavy metal planet in the farthest reaches of the universe...

The latest gift to WD fans from Nicotero & Co., the Char Walkers look like black, smoking demon aliens from some heavy metal planet in the farthest reaches of the universe…

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The Char Walkers come lurching down the tracks after the girls, who make it to the barbed-wire fence, screaming for Carol and Tyrese…Lizzy gets through, while poor Mika gets stuck in the wire.  To her credit, Lizzy pulls Mika to safety after a close call with a particularly grabby walker.

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The girls scramble to get their guns and help Tyrese and Carol shoot The Char Walkers in a great walker kill scene that had Jon Sanders, a WD effects specialist, grinning from ear to ear as he recounted the fun they creating the effects of the walker’s brains and bodies getting blown away in a pyrotechnic display of flaming bits of brain and brawn:

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That night, as Tyrese dozes in the cozy armchair in front of the fireplace, Carol and Lizzy once again sit at the kitchen table together while Mika plays with her rag doll, Griselda Gunderson.

Lizzy is staring morosely, and breathing kind of funny, and Carol asks her gently if she is still upset. Lizzy chooses her words carefully, saying that she knows she needed to help with the walkers earlier. It seems Lizzy is upset about killing the walkers, but she also seems like she may be getting it, finally.  It seems that way, anyhow…

Carol asks her if she understands now what they really are. Once again, Lizzy chooses her words carefully, saying that she knows now what she must do. Carol, of course, interprets this as Lizzy finally getting it, that the walkers are a threat and need to be dealt with as such, but Lizzy’s true meaning is much more sinister than that.  Mika pipes up, saying she doesn’t want to kill, she doesn’t want to be mean…Lizzy turns to her sister and looks at her significantly, and says that you only need to be mean sometimes…nobody of course guesses the true import and meaning of her words.

In his armchair, Tyrese tosses and mumbles, in the grip of another bad dream.

The next morning, Carol and Tyrese are walking together. Carol turns to Tyrese, tells him that she’s on board with staying at the farm, of setting up a life there.  Tyrese seems glad to hear this. He says that maybe someday they can continue on, to Terminus, but right now…right now, he is not sure he can be around other people, around strangers.

As he says this, Tyrese leans heavily on a tree…and begins to talk about Karen. He dreams about her every night, and even though the dreams change (in some they are just talking, and in some he actually sees someone kill her, some stranger.) Tyrese wakes, each time, with the feeling like he’s just lost her all over again.

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Poor Carol’s face, as he talks! Melissa McBride delivers another amazing performance, as Carol’s face shows her conflict, and regret, and sorrow, at Tyrese’s words.  At one point, she even turns to Tyrese, about to confess…but, thankfully, she cannot bring herself to do it.

My WD buddy said later, of this scene, that it was good that Carol waited to confess to Tyrese…we both agreed that the outcome would have been way different if she had told him then, in the grove.

Instead, sweet Tyrese tells Carol  she shouldn’t be ashamed about who she is, and gives her a hug…damn, you know she’s feeling like shit right about now.

And then, it becomes…awful. Carol and Tyrese come back to the house to find Lizzy in the front yard, her hands covered in blood, holding a knife. Mika lay dead behind her, while Judith is having some tummy time on a blanket beside Mika’s body.

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As Carol approaches, and reaches for the knife, Lizzy tells them to wait, she’ll change, that she, Lizzy, didn’t hurt Mika’s head or her brain. “Just wait, you’ll see, she’ll change,” Lizzy insists. This is what she has decided must be done to have them see, finally, what she sees about the walkers.  When Carol reaches again, Lizzy pulls out her gun, to hold them off and give Mika a chance to “change.”

When Carol suggests to Lizzy that Tyrese take her and Judith inside, as being out there wouldn’t be safe for Judith, Lizzy tells them that she was about to…take care of Judith, so she could change, too.

“She can’t even walk yet,” points out Carol, who is somehow able to keep calm and talk quietly, and reasonably, to Lizzy without being too confrontational in this moment.  Lizzy nods, understands, has an, “Ok, I’ll wait until she’s older” air about her.

Lizzy agrees to go inside with Tyrese and Judith only after Carol convinces her that she will stay outside to tie Mika up, you know, so she won’t go anywhere. “I’ll use her shoelaces,” suggests Carol, putting on a brave, bright smile and blinking back her tears.

A shaken Tyrese leads the girls inside, and Carol breaks down, crying over little Mika’s body.  She pulls her knife out, tears running down her face.

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Poor Carol!

Later, Carol sits at the kitchen table, staring ahead, while Tyrese tells her that he fed Lizzy and cleared her room of any knives or weapons.  He found a box of mice in her room, and learned that she was the one feeding rats to the walkers at the prison, and that she was also the one that opened up the rabbit’s body and nailed it to the board. She told him was “having fun” with it.

Tyrese, who is looking majorly shell-shocked and creeped out at this point, wonders aloud if it was her that killed Karen and David…but how could she drag the bodies out?

Carol stares down at the table. “She would have let them turn,” she says. “It wasn’t her.”  It’s like Carol really doesn’t even give a shit about that crap right now…she’s got other, more pressing things to worry about in the moment.

Carol tells Tyrese that Lizzy was like this before, that it was already there…she blames herself for not seeing it sooner. She offers to take Lizzy, herself, to keep her away from others. Carol says she won’t be able to sleep with Lizzy and Judith under the same roof. Lizzy is clearly a threat to Judith.

Tyrese tells Carol they’d never make it…he offers to take Judith, but Carol tells him the same thing, they’d never make it…they look at each other.  Carol says, slowly and deliberately, “She can’t be around other people.” She looks at Tyrese, who looks back at her, pained.  Carol wipes away tears.

There is nothing more to say.

Later, as Tyrese looks on, out the window, Carol and Lizzy walk together in the grove, away from the house. Lizzy looks happy and at ease, taking big, high steps over the wildflowers and looking up at Carol fondly.  Carol is keeping it together, saying that they should pick wildflowers for Mika, for when she comes back.  Lizzy agrees that Mika would love that.  Carol soon after begins to break down, and Lizzy becomes upset, distressed at the thought of Carol being mad at  her.  Crying quietly, Carol tells Lizzy to “look at the flowers,” that she, Carol loves her.

And as Lizzy looks at the yellow flowers at her feet, crying, Carol, crying, lifts the gun and pulls the trigger.

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As Carol walks back to the house, she sees a deer in the glenn. She looks at it for a moment, before continuing on to the house. The next shot is of Carol digging, with Tyrese carrying Lizzy’s shrouded body and placing it gently on the ground, beside the newly dug grave.

Later, sitting at the table with Tyrese, Carol has had enough. She confesses to Tyrese, “I killed Karen and David…it wasn’t Lizzy, it wasn’t a stranger…it was me.”  She continues to tell a shellshocked Tyrese that he can do what he needs to, but she was only trying to stop the spread of the disease to the others at the prison.  It takes Tyrese a moment to recover himself…

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But, after he is assured that Karen didn’t know what was happening, or feel pain, or fear, he tells Carol he forgives her…he will never forget, but he does forgive, as he knows what she did is something she feels, and is a part of her, as it is a part of him.  “I forgive you,” he says, and Carol quietly thanks him.

Tyrese says they can’t stay, not now.  The parting shots of Episode 14 show the empty house, the kettle, the armchair, the ragdoll lying at the edge of the cold, ashened fireplace…Tyrese and Carol, with Judith on Tyrese’s back, walk through the grove, away from the home and life that seemed so promising, and down the tracks towards Terminus, as the voice over is of Carol and Lizzy’s conversation, back at the prison:

Lizzy: “I am not afraid to kill…I am just afraid.”

Carol: “You can’t be.”

 Lizzy: “How?”

Carol: “You fight it…you don’t give up, and then one day, you change…we all change.”

It’s been a crazy episode, and a crazy week, all around…so, for this week’s playlist, it seems fitting to feature songwriters who say it, and play it, in a way that nobody else can…enjoy!

Playlist:

Modest Mouse, “Dramamine”

Jose Gonzales, “Down the Line”

The White Stripes, “The Hardest Button to Button”

Iron and Wine,  “Upward and Over the Mountain”

The Walking Dead, Season 4, Episode 10, “Inmates”

“Inmates”

(All images used in this post are screen caps from AMC’s The Walking Dead, unless otherwise specified.)

Those of you who actually read my recent pre-season post, “What Happens After”?  may remember my telling you about The Law of Kirkman, which basically states that Kirkman will do as Kirkman pleases, and Kirkman and Co. can, and will, play with our emotions.

Nothing personal; it’s just how he do…well, he and Gimple and the rest of the WD gang, anyway.

I have wondered lately about how the whole Kirkman and Gimple relationship works…are they like Batman and Robin, or are they more like The Tick and Arthur? Maybe they really complement each other and are actually more like The Wonder Twins, with special rings and shit…I don’t know, but what I do know that they are pretty much kicking my ass right about now.

Back after mid-season finale, when Chris Hardwick asked Robert Kirkman on that night’s Talking Dead about the possibility of Baby Judith still being alive, I really thought Kirkman was scoffing and laughing at us sentimental fools: “There was a lot of blood in that car seat!”  I thought, “Oh, man, poor Baby Judith’s a goner for sure…” My WD buddy’s friend, Neil (the originator of The Crazy Carol Theory) even read some interview where somebody from the show said that it was “unrealistic” for the story line to keep her alive.

Now I know that what Kirkman and Co. were really doing was bluffing… and playing with our emotions.  Now I know why Chris Hardwick yells, “Kirkman!!”

Yesss, Precious, the Kirkman is tricksy, yes it is….it tricks and teases us, yessss it does, Precious….

(Despite my mock protests, I am loving every minute of Kirkman and Co. slapping us up like the baby bitches that we are.)

In Season 4, Episode 10“Inmates,”  Kirkman and Co. proved once again that they are masters of their domain by throwing down five game-changing plot developments in a single episode…Baby Judith is alive, whabam!   Carol is back, whabam!   Glenn wakes up at the freaking prison, and after indulging himself in a brief tearful moment in his old cell, looking at a polaroid of Maggie, he squares his shoulders, gathers supplies, suits up in riot gear to make his escape through the horde of prison walkers, and finds Tara having an existential crisis moment in the fenced garden area..whabam!

And to top it all off like two crazy cherries, Lizzy is a major psycho (as we all suspected), and at the episode’s end, a catalytic and iconic character from the WD comic series, Sgt. Abraham Ford, enters the arena with the line (to Tara), “You got a damn mouth on you, you know that?  What else you got?”

All I can think of to say is, “Thank you, Kirkman, may I have another?”

Inmates”  opens in a haunting sequence showing Beth and Daryl running for their lives through the woods, pursued by a large group of walkers.  Beth’s voice comes over the slow-motion, dream-like sequence, reading aloud a diary entry from their early days of the prison, when Lori was still alive and expecting her baby any day…Beth addresses the diary like an old friend:

“Hey… I know it’s been awhile…I gotta be honest. I forgot about you. After the farm, we were always moving. But something happened…something good…finally.  We found a prison…Daddy thinks we can make it into a home. He says we can grow crops in the field, find pigs and chickens, stop running, stop scavenging…Lori’s baby’s just about due…she’ll need a safe place when it comes…the rest of us, we just need a safe place to be.”

Still running through the woods, Beth is surprised by a walker…She points her pistol and tries to shoot, but is out of bullets. Daryl is there, shooting an arrow through the walker’s head, bashing another walker’s head open with the swift upswing of his crossbow, and planting his foot into the third walker’s belly and shoving it down to the ground. This gives just enough time for him to do a quick touch-check with Beth, grab his arrow from the walker’s skull, and then they must run, run from the walkers, who seem to keep coming and coming.

Beth’s voice-over continues, “I woke up in my own bed yesterday…my own bed…in my own room.  I’ve been keeping my bag packed, keeping my gun close…I’ve been afraid to get my hopes up…that we can actually stay here.  The thing is, I’ve been starting to get afraid that it’s easier just to be afraid. But this morning, Daddy said something…”If you don’t have hope, what’s the point of living?” So, I unpacked my bag….and I found you. So I’m going to start writing in you again.”

Finally free of the walkers, hidden in the underbrush, Beth and Daryl collapse onto the ground, exhausted and winded.  They have been running since the prison’s collapse, and the shot pans in closer to them, as Beth’s voice-over continues:

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“And I’m going to write this down now, because you should write down wishes to make them come true…we can live here.  We can live  here for the rest of our lives…”

Early next morning, before sunrise. Beth and Daryl are sitting on opposite sides of a tiny fire.  Daryl’s face is stony, and it feels like he may be shutting down inside, retreating back into his former persona of a lone tracker/hunter. Beth sits forward, looks at Daryl.

“We should do something,” she says.  No response from Daryl, so Beth says it again. “We should do something.” Daryl just looks up at her, says nothing. “We aren’t  the only survivors…we can’t be….they could be out here…You’re a tracker, you can track…..c’mon, the sun will be up soon…if we head out now…”  Beth stands above Daryl, waiting for him to answer. In response, Daryl does nothing, says nothing.

Beth has had enough.  She snatches up her knife, says, “Fine.  If you won’t track, I will.” She stalks off, and of course, after a moment’s hesitation,  Daryl must get up and follow her.

While I was initially resistant to the possibility of Daryl and Beth getting together, seeing how they interact in these scenes made me realize that I actually like them together. Beth has a brave honesty about her, and she not afraid to speak her mind and call someone out if need be.  But Beth is also young, with an artist’s sensitivity, and I think both her fire and her vulnerability would help to draw Daryl out a little.

Daryl has always had a youthful, childlike way about him, and I could see him being able to relate to Beth as a girlfriend…she is a good combination for him…she has a sweet innocence and openness about her, but she’s definitely seen some shit and has the strength and smarts to have survived this long.  In that way, Beth and Daryl have a lot in common.

And, honestly, while there are many of us out there who consider Daryl Dixon our pretend boyfriend (or, one of our favorite pretend boyfriends), we can’t bogart the Daryl, people. The way I see it, the only thing worse than Daryl having a cute young girlfriend is Daryl not having anybody to love at all…he is way too hot for that.  Daryl deserves love, something sweet to keep him going.  At the very least, Daryl needs a hobby, and saving Beth from walkers seems to be becoming a full-time job for him. Beth is good for him, and if I’m right, I think love is blossoming already between the two. I smell lovers.

I really liked the scene when they find some signs of others, and Beth tells Daryl to have a little faith, and Daryl responds with some shitty remark, “Faith…faith ain’t done shit for us, and it sure as hell didn’t do nothin’ for your father…”

It’s too mean, and they both know it. Beth gapes at him, while he looks shamefacedly back at her. She blinks back tears, turns away from Daryl with the pretext of gathering grapes for the others, who will probably be “hungry” when they find them. Daryl gets this sweet, regretful (totally hot) look:

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Then, in a gesture that is both tender and totally manly, he pulls a clean bandanna from his back pocket, shakes it out, and holds it out to Beth, who is still turned away from him. He gently nudges her arm with the bandanna, and after a moment, Beth slowly turns and takes the bandanna from him, and begins to put the grapes she is gathering into it.

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I texted my WD buddy, I officially approve of Beth as Daryl’s girlfriend, to which she replied, in emoji, a thumb’s up, followed by two hearts.  It’s official:  We approve.

A few moments later,  Beth and Daryl work seamlessly together to kill Pop Walker, who reanimated after getting chomped by the rails. In the times of post-zombie apocalypse (PZA), killing a walker together is like PZA foreplay. Beth and Daryl go down to the railroad tracks to find more walkers, crouched and eating human remains. Daryl makes quick work of the walkers, who are intent on their grisly feast.

Owwww...my head!

Owwww…that hurts!

When Beth surveys the carnage, she a child’s shoe that resembles the shoes Mika was wearing. Beth breaks down in tears.  More shots of Daryl, looking super fine in his sleeveless vest, walking along the tracks, then looking back at Beth, at a loss for how to comfort her:

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Daryl was looking so fine in this scene that I paused the dvr and went to find my husband for a quick

Daryl was looking so fine in this scene that I paused the dvr and went to find my husband for a quick “writing break…” sorry for the TMI, but that man is just damn inspiring.

That night, as Beth and Daryl sit across each other at a small fire, Beth rips pages from her diary and throws them into the flames. We hear her voice-over, reading the last of her diary’s entry:

“We’re not going to die…none of us…I believe now…I believe for Daddy, if this doesn’t work, I don’t know how I can keep going…”

Unbeknownst to Daryl and Beth, the sites and areas they have been tracking were the ones traversed only hours before by Tyrese, Mika, and Lizzy…carrying an unexpected surprise survivor:

Somebody get that man an Ergo baby carrier!

Somebody get that man an Ergo baby carrier…

Baby Judith!  I was alternately relieved and completely freaked out by the realization that Baby Judith was alive…it was like, “Oh, yay!” and “This sucks!” all wrapped up into one. My WD buddy texted,  I am so over worrying about Baby Judith, and then she was gone, for like 10 minutes. I was a little worried at first, but I know how we are about this show…she needed to go process for a little bit.  Been there, done that.

She texted me, once she recovered,  It was so much better for me thinking she was dead.   I get it, I really do.  My WD buddy and I are both moms, and worrying about Baby Judith’s survival brings it all a little too close to home.

I basically decided in that moment that it was time to start drinking in earnest, so I poured myself another glass of pinot noir…I am glad I did, because it was right at the scene where it’s night, and Baby Judith is crying (and teething up a storm, it looks like), and Tyrese is trying to calm the baby…Mika is fearful that the crying will alert walkers, and Lizzy looks down at the log she is sitting on and discovers:

Bunnies!

Bunnies!

And in a silent and horrifying sequence, Lizzy pulls out her knife and goes to town on the bunnies, while the camera holds the shot on her face as she makes quick work of them with her knife:

What the hell, Lizzy?

What the hell, Lizzy??

Well, it seems pretty apparent to me at this point that it was probably Lizzy who was creating the fucked-up rabbit dissection art and feeding rats to the walkers, back at the prison. A couple of my Walking Dead-Obsessed friends have been pretty certain that it was Lizzy who killed Karen and David.  They think that Carol discovered what she did, dragged out and burned the bodies, and tried to cover up for Lizzy, getting banished by Rick in the process…fascinating, right? That would morph The Crazy Carol Theory into a whole new theory, The Crazy Lizzy Formulation.  We all know that Lizzy is crazy…the question is, just how crazy is she?

Pretty freaking crazy, it turns out, as she and Mika are left by Tyrese to stand back-to-back in the woods, Lizzy holding Judith and Mika holding a gun, to defend themselves against potential walkers while Tyrese goes to help whomever is screaming, someone presumably under walker attack.

Poor Judith begins to cry, and Mika pleads with Lizzy to please try to keep the baby quiet.  Lizzy puts her hand over Judith’s nose and mouth, and she starts to get that intent, crazy look as she continues to press down, beginning to suffocate poor Baby Judith.  Meanwhile, a couple of walkers approach Mika and Lizzy, snarling and hissing. Mika’s eyes grow wide with terror and she points the gun up towards the walkers, shaking…

While watching this scene the first time, I actually typed the line, “Oh fuck, Lizzy, don’t kill the baby!”  I would like to take this moment  to nominate Brighton Sharbiro, the beautiful young actress who plays Lizzy, for a “Deadie” for a great performance in this episode, and, in general, for taking on such an intense and complex role as Lizzy.

Down by the railroad tracks, battling walkers, Tyrese hears the gun shot, and when he turns, he is surprised by yet another unexpected survivor:

Carol!

Carol!

I have to tell you, I don’t know if I have ever been so glad to see someone as I was to see Carol in that moment, holding Baby Judith (who looked super-relieved to be away from Lizzy, I might add).  Carol looked a bit nervous when Tyrese rushed up to give her a big hug, but recovered herself quickly enough to lie about her whereabouts when the shit went down between the Gov and the prison peeps.

After the lies and the pleasantries are exchanged, Carol and Tyrese approach the poor bitten father, who is crying over the body of his son, who was bitten and killed by the walkers.

This scene definitely messed me up a bit, as the walkers definitely are scoring some mad kills and general scariness points so far in these mid-season episodes.  The poor young son fought valiantly, but those damn walkers and their singular, undead purpose (to chomp the living) just keep coming and coming…the poor dad tells them to follow the tracks, that there is a safe place there to take the children…they leave him crying over the dead body of his son…he will soon die himself, and reanimate in a few hours as Pop Walker, and get rekilled by Beth and Daryl.

Carol, Tyrese, Judith, and the girls take Pop Walker’s advice and walk along the tracks for a bit, Lizzy and Mika walking ahead, holding hands. Lizzy spots a sign, and they read:

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Lizzy looks at Tyrese and Carol, who give a smile back, but seem hesitant to believe what seems too good to be true.

Meanwhile, Bob is loving being alive, chilling with two fine babes, Sasha and Maggie, getting his shoulder wound cleaned and bandaged up by Sasha while Maggie morosely carves into a large rock and looks at the engagement/wedding rings on her ring finger. Bob allows himself a smile, which Sasha sees. “It’s ok, smile if you want to…I get it, you’re alive…”  It’s actually nice to see Bob lighten up for a change.

Maggie is not giving a fuck about anything right now…she wants to go find Glenn. She tries a, “Nice spot, see ya, going to find Glenn now, and we’ll come back for you.” Sasha and Bob try to talk her out of it, but she will not be swerved from this plan.  She is going to find the bus, and Glenn.  Sasha tries to tell her, “We can’t split up!” as Maggie walks away.  Bob gets up and begins to follow Maggie, and at Sasha’s “WTF?” look, he shrugs and cheerfully echos, “We can’t split up!”

Bob and Sasha have a little back and forth as they walk behind Maggie, and Bob says that he is done with just surviving…he seems to want to embrace truly living for a change. Maggie spots the bus, which has run off the road, and of course, is full of walkers.  (Ha, it’s a busfullawalkers! Drink one if you got one!)

After stopping Maggie from charging right into the back of the bus to see if Glenn is on it, Bob and Sasha help her come up with a system to let the walkers out, one at a time…easier to manage, and less cleanup that way!

Maggie squares off with each walker as they emerge from the bus, one by one, looking majorly beautiful and badass in that fierce Lauren Cohan way she has…

My buddy says Lauren Cohan comes into his coffee shop in Atlanta, and that  she is just as beautiful in real life...even on the run from zombies and grief-stricken, Maggie is gorgeous.

My buddy says Lauren Cohan comes into his coffee shop in Atlanta, and that she is just as beautiful in real life…even on the run from zombies and grief-stricken, Maggie is gorgeous.

One by one, the walkers come out, and one by one, Maggie takes them down:

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The press of the walkers becomes too much, and Sasha and Bob cannot hold them…the walkers come flying out in a rush, and Maggie goes in some inner slo-mo moment as one walker comes lurching towards her.  Bob takes it out with a single shot to the head, jolting Maggie out of her reverie.  She then seems to take all her pent-up emotions out on the walkers, bashing one walker’s head into the bus again and again…

I called this walker Bitch Slap Walker at first, but Talking Dead's name for her, Headbanger Walker, is so much better!

I called this walker Bitch Slap Walker at first, but Talking Dead’s name for her, Headbanger Walker, is so much better!

Maggie still has to know if Glenn is in the bus…so she goes in. The bus seats are covered in blood and gore, and flies are buzzing.  I always try to imagine how it must smell…must be godawful.  There is one male walker at the far front of the bus, hard to see, but with dark hair…Maggie fears it may be Glenn, and upon discovering it isn’t, slumps into a seat and dissolves into a mixture of helpless tears and relieved laughter. Poor Maggie!

And poor Glenn, who wakes to find himself at the prison! My WD buddy texted me, Wasn’t expecting that!

Me neither.

Damn!

Damn!

Glenn gets himself to his old cell/room, and takes a moment to process this…the interior of the prison actually looks pretty solid, making me wonder if it really was such a lost cause after all…it seems a lot better than the prison gang fending for themselves out in the wild.  But, I guess the walls are probably breached somewhere, and the fences are surely shot to shit, so I guess it is time to move on.

Glenn seems to decide this as well…after taking a moment to process it all, he seems to invoke his inner badass, collecting supplies from around the prison (including the makings for a molotov cocktail, thanks to Bob’s bottle of liquor and a working lighter).

I love when Glenn invokes his inner badass…remember the interrogation room battle with the walker, then the battle with Merle, then the escape for himself and Maggie he orchestrated? I am a big fan of Glenn when he goes off.

I also love this part, when Glenn suits up in the riot gear and emerges to fight his way through the walkers and escape the prison:

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Riot Glenn!

Enter Riot Glenn!

After charging the first line of walkers, Glenn finds Tara getting meta in the garden. She is hating herself, mourning the loss of her sister, niece, and girlfriend…she cannot forgive herself for believing the Governor’s lies and blindly following in what turned out to be a suicide mission.  Glenn isn’t having it, tells her he needs her help.  He fashions a molotov cocktail with Bob’s bottle of liquor and buys them a clear line out of the prison.

Once they reach the road (a sign, riddled with bullet holes, warns motorists that hitchikers may be escaped inmates from the prison), Tara wonders how Glenn can trust her, and he basically tells her that he needs her to find his “wife,” Maggie.  They are rushed by walkers, and Glenn manages to kill one but is struggling to fight off the others in his weakened state.  Tara rushes forward and stabs one walker, then bashes another’s head open with repeated blows with the butt end of Glenn’s assault rifle.  In the midst of this carnage, a super-style military Hummer-type truck pulls up…Tara looks up in alarm, and tries to cover her fear with mock bravado: “Hope you enjoyed the show, assholes!”

Leading with his massive chest, assault rifle in hand, Sgt. Abraham Ford steps around to the front of his massive vehicle, flanked by a man and a woman:

Enter Abraham and Co.!

Enter Abraham and Co.!

“You got a damn mouth on you, you know that?” he asks Tara. And then, with a smile at his own private joke, he asks, “What else you got?”

Aw, shit…it’s Abraham! 

Until next week, gang….

Playlist: 

West Indian Girl, “What Are You Afraid Of?”

Of Monsters and Men, “Dirty Paws”

Coldplay, “Clocks”

Season 4, Episode 2, ” Infected”

“Infected”

(All images used in this post are screen caps from AMC’s The Walking Dead, unless otherwise specified.)

I will just preface this post with this: the Season 4 premiere episode of The Walking Dead,  30 Days Without an Accident,” was watched by 16.1 million viewers, with over 10 million of those viewers being in the coveted 18-49 yr old demographic, outperforming all other programs showing at that time, including NFL football. Awesome!

“Infected”

Opening scene: it’s night, and some psycho with a flashlight is feeding the walkers rats through the prison fence. (Later on Talking Dead,  mental mastermind Greg Nicotero explained how they achieved the effect of the walker eating the rat…they used actual rats and “fed” them into an automated prosthetic robot mouth. While no rats were actually hurt during the shooting of this effect, I don’t know if any of us who watched it will ever be the same!)

Now, I know that in my last post, I was leaning pretty heavily towards Bob being the bringer of walker snacks…while Bob is still on my short list of prime suspects, I am also wondering if the walker-feeder may be Lizzy, the cute/spooky tween girl who has a penchant for naming the walkers outside of the fence. She hangs out by the fence a lot, actually, looking out towards the walkers as they hiss and snarl and bare their teeth back at her. By her own sister’s admission, Lizzy’s “messed up…not weak.”

I imagine we will learn about Lizzy, Bob, and everyone a little more as the season progresses.

While the night walkers are enjoying their midnight snack outside, inside the prison, Tyrese is making out with his hot girlfriend, Karen. He’s got the cell all cozy and shit…and then, being the male unicorn of sweetness and sexiness that he is, Tyrese actually sings to her: “got you under my skin .” Our man is busting out all the love moves.

But maybe it’s all just a little too much, too soon for Karen, because she has decided not to sleep over and is going back to her cell.

I was watching this, thinking, “Ummm, wait…whut?”   I was thinking, Girl, you should stay with that big sexy man… and now, you are in the darkest bathroom ever, and that is not great for you!

Of course, the scene is shot amazingly as Karen moves through the bathroom and showers, all dark and inky and shadowy, like a horror movie…and we know who is in there..oh God, here he is, sitting up. Yes, people, Patrick Walker is about to go nucking futs on Cell Block D.

Karen makes it out of the bathroom and retires to her cell, not knowing that Patrick Walker is lurching about a half cell-block behind her. She pulls aside her flimsy curtain and settles down for the night…alone (for some reason I still do not understand).  

Damn, I thought they had doors on those cells… I would be like, “Um, can I get one of the cells with the locking doors and bars, please? Thank you!”

Here’s what happens when you go with the curtain option in zombie prison-dorm life…Patrick Walker is gonna come knocking on your curtain (or, at least until he hears a cough a couple of cells down and goes to investigate):

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Shot of my tv…sorry for the amateur technique…I cannot seem to find the images I want to use online…I thought there was a whole world of computer-obsessed insomniacs out there posting all the pictures and clips I want to use in my blog, but apparently not!

So, I tried to shoot some video of it all going down on my phone…it took about 45 minutes of retakes and rewinds to film Patrick Walker’s first neck chomp on the Red-Shirt guy to Red-Shirt Walker’s roll-over-and-spill-his-guts-out scene.  I then finally got it so it didn’t play upside down on the computer., and then, my blog wouldn’t let me insert it into my post…damn fickle technology!  (My brilliant friend just suggested we try to download the episodes, then use images and videos from that to use for the blog..genius…and probably not legal.).

I did get one shot of Patrick Walker chewing meditatively on some of Red-Shirt guy’s innards:

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Patrick Walker is by far my favorite walker yet…maybe it’s because he is so creepy yet cuddly at the same time.  Maybe it’s because he can really bring the mayhem. Maybe it’s just because that Phineas actor kid plays a really great zombie. He was probably valedictorian in Greg Nicotero’s famed Zombie School. Check out the link about Zombie School on the AMC website:

http://www.amctv.com/the-walking-dead/videos/inside-the-walking-dead-zombie-school

I thought the whole Red-Shirt wifebeater guy getting chomped and spilling his guts on the floor was pretty believable at first, but my best WD buddy wasn’t having it. She texted me, That guy didn’t even move!  to which I texted back,  Patrick Walker chomped him good right in the front of the neck.   She replied, Yeah, but no arm reaction at all?  

Excellent point.  I answered back, Maybe he had an instant heart attack.  Pretty weak, I know, but I really didn’t have anything else. It was kind of not believable, once she pointed that out.  (Ha ha, later on Talking Dead, they refer to the red shirt dude as “Deep Sleeper” in their In Memoriam segment, when they honor the fallen, live and undead alike.)

Meanwhile, the sun’s come up and it’s time to rise and shine at the prison. Glenn wakes Maggie up taking a Polaroid of her sleeping…and who can blame him? I mean, we all have a crush on Maggie, don’t we? I am a happily married woman, and even I am a little lady-gay for Maggie.  Lauren Cohan is stupid hot.  Steven Yeun plays Glenn perfectly as the geek guy who can’t believe he landed a stone fox like Maggie.  You gotta love Glenn and Maggie. They’re so cute and flirty with each other. They manage to keep the zombie apocalypse sexy.

Out in the garden, Michonne is on her horse, ready to ride off on another weird solo adventure…Rick and Carl are seeing her off before starting work on the garden. Before she rides off, Michonne asks Carl why he doesn’t wear his (Rick’s) hat anymore…Carl answers that it’s “not a farming hat”…awww, snap! That’s gotta sting a little, but Rick plays it cool, even when Carl hints at going with Daryl on a run…and then after apologizing to Rick for his resistance to Rick’s new farmer lifestyle, Carl outright asks Rick when he can stop being gun-grounded and get his gun back. Rick doesn’t reply directly, just suggests that Carl add some worms to the slop to give the pigs more protein…I really liked the communication between Rick and Carl throughout the whole episode…by the episode’s end, you see how far they have come in their father/son relationship.

Then the gun alarm goes off, and all epidemic hell is breaking loose at the prison. It’s another wild, great scene…last week, it was raining walkers in the store, and now this week, it’s a walker prison riot.  Season 4 is not fucking around, people!  In one hot and gratifying instant, Rick drops the farmer act and becomes Rick In Charge, ordering Carl to the tower with Maggie and assessing the situation (Cell Block C is clear, Cell Block D is fucked) before running in to battle the walkers in Cell Block D.

The mayhem is so fast, with major carnage.  Rick hands off his shotgun  to someone else and turns his energies to helping get the panicked masses to safety. Glenn pulls off some major ninja-style knife kills, and Daryl saves the little curly-haired boy from Red-Shirt Walker, then saves Glenn from getting chomped by Patrick Walker by ordering Glenn down and shooting a crossbow into Patrick’s brain. “Awww, it’s Patrick,” laments Daryl as they stand over his rekilled form…yes, Daryl, your young fanboy is super dead.

The scene with Michonne and Carl at the gate is great….Two walkers on top of Michonne, and Carl blows the top walker guy’s brains in with one shot…you can see the joy in his face. My buddy texted me, Carl’s still got it ..Yes, he does, just like his dad!

Greg Nicotero said later in Talking Dead that the prison attack casualties totaled 14 civilians…men, women, and at least one child. That is a major theme in this episode, a mother losing her child in the zombie apocalypse.

In one telling scene, Beth is wrapping Michonne’s ankle in her cell while little Judith is seated on the floor, playing with red plastic kegger cups…Beth asks Michonne if there were any children killed in the attack. Michonne nods. Beth wonders aloud what someone who loses a child would be called, “We see all these widows and orphans, but what do you call someone who lost a child?” Baby Judith starts to cry at that moment, and Michonne flinches, gets a pained look on her face, like the sound of a baby crying is unbearable to her. “She always cry?” she manages, her voice tight.

Later, when Beth asks Michonne to hold Judith for a moment, Michonne hesitates before reluctantly taking the baby. She holds Judith at arm’s length at first, unable to look at Judith.

Judith begins to cry, and Danai Gurira plays it so beautifully as she slowly turns her head to look at the baby, then smiles at her and pulls Baby Judith closer to her chest. Michonne’s face lights up as she holds the baby, smiling, then dissolves into silent tears. Beth watches from a distance, realizing (as we do) that Michonne has probably lost a child herself, before walking away to leave Michonne and Judith in their moment together.

My heart felt like it had been torn from my chest watching those scenes…it’s a parent’s worst nightmare.

Daryl and Rick have to go around and rekill all the bitten people…Rick continues to show more and more edge, mixed with his beautiful look of sadness and regret…sigh….sorry, getting totally derailed by Andrew Lincoln…again.

Anyway, Rick and Daryl find a young walker teen shut in his cell…the kid that sleepwalked… Charlie…he wasn’t bitten or scratched, just the bloom of blood around the mouth and streaming from the eyes. Hershel and some young med student guy come look at the body and agree that there is a virus or aggressive flu in the works…a fast-acting flu that basically makes people’s faces explode blood out the eyes, nose, mouth and ears.

Wow, just when you think shit couldn’t get any more fucked up than it already was in zombie apocalypse. Now people can die from some Explodey Flu and turn into a walker literally overnight! Remember Ol’ Bloody Eye, the first walker featured last episode? He had the streaming blood from his eyes…Greg Nicotero said that this flu has changed the overall look for the walkers in Season 4.  Deliciously gruesome, Greg Nicotero.

Outside, digging graves, Daryl thanks Rick for his help in the prison and asks if maybe Rick is ready to come back to being in a leader role in their community…Rick hems and haws, brings up all his mistakes from before…Daryl is having none of it, reminding Rick that he is always there and always solid when the shit goes down…then Maggie comes running, yelling for Rick and Daryl to come help…the walkers are rushing the outside ring of prison fencing, and it’s starting to tip over.  Rick, Daryl, Maggie, Sasha, Tyrese, Glenn are stabbing the horde of walkers furiously (“culling the walkers,” Greg Nicotero calls it…love it!) and pushing back desperately as the fence continues to give. Maggie and Sasha see the dead rats on the ground and realize that someone from the inside has been feeding the walkers.

The fence keeps coming down…and Rick looks wistfully at his garden…he tells Daryl to get the truck…he gathers up the piglets, and they drive outside the prison gates into the mass of walkers.  This scene is so symbolic and sad, with Rick’s face a study of loss and determination as he slashes each piglet that he raised in the hind leg to draw blood and disable it before tossing it towards the walkers.  My friend had such a hard time with this scene…she texted me that the pig scene really messed her up. The music, another work of genius by Bear McCreary, was really haunting and added to the feeling of grief at the loss of Rick’s dream to rebuild a simple and peaceful life at the prison.

Honestly, I am a little on the fence about Carol right now. I totally get that after taking years of abuse by her shitty husband Ed and losing Sophia, she would feel the urgency of needing to teach the kids at the prison how to defend themselves, but I think she’s being a little weird about it,  like not telling the parents and telling Carl, “Don’t tell your father!”  All she’s gotta do is assemble a prison-PTA meeting and tell the Woodbury parents something like, “Look, I know at Woodbury you had Do-Art and Dunkin’ Donuts and shit, but around here, kids need to know how to defend themselves!”

And I’m sorry, but she was totally creepy to let Lizzy try to rekill her own dad…that girl was so not ready for that…she almost unhinged Lizzy, and then later was all like, “You’re weak, Lizzy!” I mean, I’m glad she gets to be a mom again and all, and I know she’s out of practice a little, and now it seems she and Lizzy made up, and Lizzy has a knife now…and I really don’t know how I feel about that.

Love the last scene with Rick and Carl, when Carl tells his dad about Carol teaching the kids the art of the knife kill.  Rick listens, dismantling the pig pen and pouring gasoline over it and setting it on fire.  He thanks Carl for telling him and assures him that he won’t tell on Carol.  He then opens up a tackle box, takes out Carl’s gun, wrapped in cloth.  He unwraps the gun and hands it to Carl.  Then he takes his shirt off and tosses it into the fire…yes!  Shirtless Andrew Lincoln, like a panacea for the soul after such a burly episode.

But, for poor Tyrese, the episode is not quite over. He goes with flowers to visit his sick girlfriend, and instead finds her cell splattered with blood and a big smeary blood trail meeting with another blood trail…he follows the blood trails down the hall and discovers two charred and smoking bodies, a man’s and a woman’s..sitting next to the bodies is a gas can. As he stares down at the bodies, Tyrese recognizes with horror the bracelet that Karen wore on her right wrist.

So, there it is, and here’s a playlist to wrap it all up tight like Carl’s gun.  And this last song is for you, Tyrese…so sorry about your beautiful lady friend!

Playlist:

Submarines  “1940” (Amplive remix)

Rise Against  “Death Blossoms”

Those Darlins  “Waste Away”