The Walking Dead-The Grove
by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)
Like Game of Thrones, 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.
“We are who we are and we do what we do because we’re still here.”
Creepy, Bioshock-inspired scene scoring aside, Lizzie is sufficiently making the case for showing some psychopathy in the apocalypse. And Carol is feeding into that, trying to instill survival skills in Mika, but the imparting of the wisdom comes across a little psychopathic in itself. Carol is trying to compensate for the loss of Sophia by making sure both Lizzie and Mike (and all the other kids at the prison) aren’t subject to the same misfortune that Sophia was. It’s an honorable enough endeavor, but it just feels a little disturbing considering Carol is pitching it as something of a rite of passage to kill someone else. Ultimately though, the entire lesson framed the central theme of the episode: tough decisions need to be made in the apocalypse.
All the characters have been through a lot and maybe because the viewer has been with Carol the longest it feels as if she’s the most experienced of the group. That experience comes with a certain level of wisdom as well, something that Carol relied on to justify her killings at the prison. Additionally, there is some part of her trying to educate the children in being able to survive because she thinks it’s in their best interest. Carol is definitely conflicted about a lot of things in life and hides behind a best interest cloak. Still though, all of her actions do tend to be executed with a greater good in mind, despite the relative harshness of those decisions.
Lizzie is a whole other ballgame. When her and her sister aren’t giving off a Children of the Corn vibe, Lizzie is having serious difficulties in reconciling the fact that Walkers are reduced to extremely base urges. She still thinks there’s something in them that merits not killing them and it speaks to what apparently is some sort of mental ailment that beset her even before the apocalypse. And while Carol is trying to get Mika to want to kill, she’s trying to convince Lizzie not to kill. Maybe it’s because she feels that Mika can be controlled whereas Lizzie might not be, but it’s still a little strange.
And where Lizzie takes her affliction is pretty chilling. In fact, she’s so convinced that there is something more to the Walkers that she comes extremely close to becoming one herself to prove it. When that’s foiled by a series of Walkers, she decides to test her theory on her sister, bloodily stabbing her to kill her. Meanwhile, Judith is looking on from a blanket, next in line for the “freedom” treatment. Carol mentions that she missed it in Lizzie, not recognizing her sadistic, psychopathic streak beforehand. That failure to recognize led to a very difficult decision for Carol in killing Lizzie, a child. Carol is the one character in the show who never really flinches from responsibility when something needs to be done, which is something that can’t be said for most others in the show.
It was pretty inevitable that Carol would admit the truth to Tyreese, especially considering Tyreese’s recent insistence that he can trust Carol rather implicitly. That and the fact that episode kind of laid it on sort of thick when it came to the subject. Tyreese’s forgiveness of Carol was pretty telling of him as a character, but he did work in the twist by promising that Carol would never forget. It’s something that Tyreese will rely on in all future interactions with Carol, knowing he can trust to her to an extent, but that she’ll just as soon kill him if there’s a larger interest being served by his death.
“The Grove” was named primarily for the episode’s climatic scene and it delivered a rather large emotional payoff at the end. Carol spent much of her efforts on helping both Mika and Lizzie correct what she perceived as flaws. Mika hesitated to kill whereas Lizzie seemed more than willing to if the mood struck her. Tyreese essentially watched it all unfold in front of him and left the difficult parenting to Carol who was herself a parent at one time. In the end, Judith is still ok and she’s traveling with her new parents in Tyreese and Carol towards Terminus. The two will definitely have their share of secrets to share or not when they likely reunite with the others, but in the meantime, they have to trust that the other won’t kill them unexpectedly.
The episode was definitely an intensely emotional one that encapsulates many feelings of the world at large though and gets things ready for a rather intense last two episodes. All roads lead to Terminus and for the most part is looks like all the prison survivors will arrive there intact. Beth’s whereabouts are still unknown and Daryl could be falling into old habits so to speak, but everyone else looks to be on their same path to a reunion. Since this is The Walking Dead though, everyone knows that reunion will be anything but joyous.
Rating: 4 out of 5