The Walking Dead Review: The Same Boat

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By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

The Walking Dead is adapted from previous source material. This review is not meant to compare similarities and differences between the show and comic. It’s meant to be read purely as a take on the episode as it stands.

That being said, SPOILERS AHEAD.

“You’re one of those.”

Carol and Maggie found themselves in quite a spot at the end of the last episode and that spot gets worse in “The Same Boat.” The group of captors is connected to the Saviors and their method of operation shows a few things about the group. It was already made clear that they were sitting on a small arms stockpile, but now it’s clear that they’re very well organized and communicate. To this point, Rick’s group has largely dealt with groups who were generally localized in terms of their organization, so it’s interesting to see a new group as well-connected as the Saviors are.

The episode also paid a lot of attention to Carol and Maggie. Carol slips back into the pre-apocalypse version of herself, cowering behind her lack of self-confidence and lamenting the loss of her daughter. The irony is that the role she relied on to help her through the situation is the exact role she chided in the Alexandrians. Carol’s ability to play that card so convincingly is pretty masterful and clearly presents her as a naïve, weak individual scared of dying. Carol is—of course—nothing like that.

Carol has been through her fair share of trials and tribulations, all of which have shaped her into a ruthless and cunning survivor. Carol knows exactly what buttons to push in what situation that give her the advantage and she’s not afraid of taking that advantage. In fact, for as much as she was a prisoner, she certainly did a lot of interrogating, getting more information about Negan and the Survivors. What’s not quite entirely clear, though, is whether or not Carol is actually playing them or having a crisis of conscience.

Carol’s transformation throughout the series has made her do things she wouldn’t have done otherwise, but she did them in order to survive. It’s clear that one of her fears was becoming like the Saviors, reaching a point where killing no longer has any emotional impact on her. Carol offered the lead captor the chance to run on multiple occasions while Maggie wanted otherwise, but Carol admitted herself that she felt she was slipping. For as much as she’s been through, this was clearly the most damaging to her psyche because she made the realization that the group is becoming more like other killers. The crescendo of Maggie’s killing instinct juxtaposed against the decrescendo of Carol’s was a great look at how much the situation really affects people psychologically.

There’s a fine line between surviving and killing. Rick’s questions focus on that line as far as when to cross it and for what reason. At this point in their lives though, the time for peaceful resolution to situations is at an end and Rick’s point-black execution of the prisoner might be the final straw for Carol. What’s interesting is that it was just a few episodes ago that Carol was confronting Morgan about his pacifist approach to the apocalypse as being weak and leading to unnecessary loss of life. Ever since finding out Maggie was pregnant, Carol has had a change of heart about the value of life.

Maggie and Glenn have been the pure, good guys of the show that everyone’s rooting for. They’ve been split apart and sought each other out on a few occasions now, so it makes sense that Carol finds hope in their relationship. The problem is that The Walking Dead prefers the bleaker side of things, which means that either Carol isn’t much longer for the world or either Glenn or Maggie will see meet their fate by the end of the season. The Survivors are formidable and operate as a well-oiled machine, the likes of which Rick’s group has yet to deal with. “The Same Boat” essentially offered a future glimpse at what Rick’s group will likely become if they keep on their current course.

The show first started off as one about survival, but it’s gradually moved into something akin to an ongoing game of King of the Hill. Rick’s group is focused on preemptive strikes now, as opposed to being on the defensive, but doing that means some tough decision-making. Killing becomes more of a way of a life as opposed to a necessity for survival and Carol’s coming around to the notion that she’s becoming numb to the events. “The Same Boat” served as a microcosm of Carol’s character arc to this point—one that looks like it’s about to change. The only question is whether or not her future decisions will have a negative impact on those around her.

Four Stars


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