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Walking Dead: The Grove

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Walking Dead The Grove

Do you like getting punched in the stomach over and over again? Yes? Well have I got a Walking Dead episode for you!

This was a Walking Dead episode that people are going to talk about for a long time. Years from now, we’ll look back on it as one of the most memorable episodes in the series’ history. A lot of people may observe that it showed the emotional depth the show is capable of, and I’ll do that too in moment. It

was also flawed in a lot of ways.
I’m going to recap the plot in one paragraph, because what we need to talk about isn’t the size of plot but the weight. Tyrese, Carol, Lizzie, Mika, and Judith are trekking toward Terminus when they spot a cabin neatly fenced off with a working well. They decide to live there for a while. It’s awkward that Tyrese is wracked by nightmares about his dead girlfriend, yet doesn’t know that it was Carol who murdered her. Lizzie is a psycho. Mika is innocent and gentle. Lizzie likes zombies. Everyone is happy. A zombie attack brings Lizzie to a realization, which turns out to be that she can “save” Mika by killing her and letting her become a nice friendly zombie. Tyrese and Carol decide that, well, Lizzie just has no place in this world, so Carol shoots her. Later, Carol decides to lighten the mood by confessing to Tyrese about killing Karen. He forgives her. They leave the cabin.

So yeah. They killed off two kids. And in brutal, shocking ways.

There were things I didn’t like this week. The first half hour was actually pretty terrible. You were just beat over the head with all the emotional notes the writers wanted you to be aware of. Mika is super innocent. She doesn’t like shooting deer or people. She resists Carol’s attempts to convince her it’s necessary. Lizzie is a sociopath. She’ll kill anyone, but she goes nuts when people kill walkers. Really nuts. Like when Carol killed Lizzie’s “friend.” I found myself wondering if the script actually had specifics there (“Scream ‘You killed her’ 15 times.”) or something more general for the actor to riff on (“Just totally go nuts here.”). We also got a lot of obvious, “Oh man things are so awkward,” moments as Tyrese talked about Karen and Carol stared into the distance looking guilty.

We got a few really cool moments unrelated to the insane tragedy of the end. A plume of smoke signaled a massive fire in the distance throughout the episode, which I first assumed to be the cabin Daryl and Beth burned down. But then Lizzie and Mika were attacked by a platoon of freshly burned, still smoking zombies. Those zombies looked amazing! All blackened and charred, with expressions of anger on their faces. And is it me or did they seem to move faster than the average walker? That whole battle sequence was excellent. So apparently some place with a lot of people in it burned down in a way that caused a lot of those people to be burned to death.

Let’s talk about the big stuff. It was obviously something terrible was going to happen, since Tyrese seemed so happy and convinced they’d found a nice place to live. Everything nice in Walking Dead Land turns to shit eventually. I was pretty sure Lizzie was going to get bit by a walker and act really ok about it, but no. Seeing her holding the bloody knife in front of the dead Mika was truly shocking. Took me completely by surprise. And her line: “It’s ok, she’ll come back, I didn’t hurt her brain.”

And then! And then to force Carol to shoot Lizzie. “Just look at the flowers Lizzie.” That might be the deepest, darkest moment any cable TV show has ever had. It’s in the same league as the Red Wedding. So dark.

I have to admit I spent some time laughing, though. The level of tragedy was so extreme it actually felt a bit ludicrous. Especially when Carol decided to compound the horror by confessing to Tyrese about the murders. That look on his face. I was just like, “Come ON, how many more layers of bleakness can they pile on here?”

Well, a whole damn lot of layers of bleakness, I guess.

I wonder if this completes part of Carol’s character arc. Because everything that happened is the result of Carol’s “do what needs to be done with a hard heart” indoctrination. I have a feeling shooting Lizzie in the head made Carol reevaluate her position. That moment where she looked at the deer and then kept walking suggests a change in Carol.

What I find interesting is that we’re starting to get the payoff of this show existing for four seasons. We have all these emotional memories built up about these characters. We can watch an episode and relate it things that we saw years ago, like Carol’s daughter getting killed by walkers. That’s a hard and rare thing to accomplish.

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Posted by on Sunday, March 16th, 2014. Filed under Dark TV, Headline. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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