Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Walking Dead Season 4, Episode 14: The Grove

Hol-eee crap!

The Walking Dead just delivered the most brutal scene since last year's Red Wedding on Game Of Thrones. And the calm, grimly inevitable way in which it did so made it ten times worse.

BIG GIANT HONKIN' SPOILERS CONCERNING THE FATES OF SEMI-REGULAR CHARACTERS AHEAD! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

The Plot:
While on their way to Terminus, Carol and Tyreese's splinter group finds the perfect place to play house. They even consider staying, until Lizzie's troubling behavior begins to escalate. 

After Lizzie innocently commits a horrific act, Carol has no choice but to go all Of Mice And Men on her.

Thoughts:
• This episode is obviously based on the characters of Ben and Billy in the comic book. If you haven't read the comic (or read it and forgot), the two are twin brothers and the sons of Allen and Donna (who have no analogues on the show). When their parents are killed, the twins are adopted by Dale and Andrea (who were a couple in the comic!).


In Issue #60, Billy catches his brother Ben torturing and killing a cat he found in a barn. In Issue #61, Ben is caught brutally killing Billy, but tells a stunned Andrea that, "It's OK. He'll come back. I didn't touch his brains." The exact same line Lizzie says in this episode. 

The adults then fret about what to do with their little psychopath in training; some wanting to kill him outright (for the safety of the group) and others hoping he can be cured. 

In the end, Carl (!) solves the problem by sneaking into Ben's tent and killing him his own self. 

• Apparently Lizzie and Mika's last name was Samuels. I did not know that.

• This episode thankfully answered quite a few nagging questions that the internet can finally shut up about. Namely who was feeding walkers at the prison (Lizzie), who dissected the rabbit in the prison, which I totally forgot about (Lizzie) and who killed Karen and David (Carol).

• They need to make Judith's Baby Bjorn carrier thing a bit more obvious. It took me quite a while to realize that Tyreese was actually carrying her on his back and that they didn't forget her in the woods or house, Home Alone style.

• 
I assumed the big cloud of smoke was due to something bad happening at Terminus (yes, the smoke was beside Carol & Co., not in front of them, but the tracks could eventually curve) or the result of something the Terminus people did. 

But apparently the smoke was from the cabin that Daryl and Beth torched a few episodes ago. I didn't make the connection, but everyone and their dog keeps saying it's true, so it must be so.

So how'd all the smoldering walkers get that way? Were they drawn to the fire and just walked right through it? Are they like moths now?

• Speaking of the smoldering walkers, the creators have done their best this season to change things up and give us some unique zombies. So far we've had flu zombies, moss-covered zombies, buried in mud zombies and now torched ones.

• Poor Carol. Seems like she just wasn't meant to have a daughter in the zombie apocalypse. First she loses Sophia, who "didn't have a mean bone in her body." Then she gravitates toward Mika, possibly even seeing her as a substitute Sophia. She even ominously says Mika doesn't have a mean bone in her body either (which should have tipped off everyone as to her fate).

• All the actors are on their A game this episode (even the kids), but Melissa McBride (Carol) in particular knocks it out of the park. She may just be the best actor on the show. When Lizzie freaks out after Carol kills her zombie "friend," watch McBride's expression. A slow look of horror and revulsion crosses her face, as she realizes just how far gone Lizzie really is. Well done!

Similarly, as Tyreese tells Carol about how much he misses Karen, she gets a guilty look on her face and seems like she's right on the brink of telling him the truth. McBride is great at speaking volumes without saying a word.

• Many viewers are grousing that it's never fully explained just why Lizzy is nuts. Isn't it obvious? She's spent a good part of her life watching her friends and loved ones die and get back up. And every day she sees everyone around her "killing" these dead people. What kid wouldn't have a faulty moral compass after all that?

It's also implied that she may have been like this for quite some time. She has a meltdown early in the episode and Mika calms her down by telling her to "look at the pretty flowers." I get the impression Mika's had to do that before. Probably even before we met the characters. 

• The worst part about Lizzie killing her little sister? Her matter-of-fact statement that Baby Judith was next. Chills.

• So how do they go about filming a brutal episode like this with child actors? How much of the script do they let them see? Just their lines and no more? How'd they handle their death scenes?

• Good timing by Carol. When she and Tyreese were having their heart to heart talk in the woods, she came this close to telling him the truth about killing Karen and David. If she had, he'd have probably killed her right then and there. Instead she was smart enough to wait until the end of the episode to tell him, after he tacitly agreed to killing Lizzie.

• Two episodes to go! We'll find out soon enough if my suspicions about Terminus are right.

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