The Walking Dead: I Think I’m On Team Carol


Consider yourselves alerted.  Or spoiled.  Whatever, it’s up to you.

In this week’s The Walking Dead…shit happens.  This episode is largely talky and doesn’t have a TON of zombie mayhem (though it does have its moments), but rather it underlines a few critical plot points.

1)  I’m pretty sure that the little girl, Lizzie (and maybe Mika, her sister) is the person responsible for feeding the zombies.  As S4 Ep 4 (titled “Indifference”, though nothing could be further from the truth) opened, Carol is talking through a barricade with Lizzie, about the reality of a walker’s existence.  Lizzie, under quarantine with symptoms of frigging ebola or whatever superflu is tearing through the prison, thinks maybe being a zombie wouldn’t quite be so bad.

This is what happens when your pseudo-adoptive mom is a knife wielding killing machine.

This is what happens when your pseudo-adoptive mom is a knife wielding killing machine.

Yes, that’s me in my heart-patterned jammies reflected in the TV.  I don’t apologize.

Lizzie apparently (and I only say this because the words came out of her mouth) believes that even after you’ve become a zombie, a part of you continues on.  Which is sad.  It’s difficult enough to contemplate your own mortality, never mind mass extinction, when you’re an adult in the middle of your own existence.  Never mind being a little kid.  Yet the survivors deal with this every day.  And there’s a perverted sort of logic to her; walkers, for all we know, are completely unaware of their surroundings, so you can’t place a moral judgment on them when they eat the living.  They’re as aware of any past relationship they may have had with their victims as we are of growing hair.  Recently on a discussion page, someone said that s/he thought Lizzie has Stockholm Syndrome; not bad, not bad.  I like it.  She is–they all are–kind of held hostage to the zombies (they’re holed up in a prison, after all, while zombies ultimately control the rest of the world), so it would make sense that she’s naively, perhaps psychotically, feeding the zombies out of an insanely misguided sense of identification.

2) Bob.  Bob Stookey. Bob, Bob, Bob Bob Bob.

Oh, so THAT's Bob.

Oh, so THAT’s Bob.

Clearly, Bob has a drinking problem–while out on a supply run with Daryl, Tyreese and Michonne, Bob snuck a bottle of whiskey into his backpack and then caused that group tremendous danger when the zombies latched on to said backpack and he refused to give it up.  He even posed his hand over his gun a la Quick Draw Stookey when Daryl threatened to toss the whiskey. Bad enough.  Plenty bad.  But here’s the thing: he also had that tearful (well, tearful inside, where it counts) conversation with Daryl about being the lone survivor of two different groups of post-apocalypse humans.  REALLY?  Bob Stookey, alcoholic, medic but not warrior, managed to be the ONLY person to outlive two bands of people of undetermined-as-of-yet-strength-but-had-to-be-somewhat-strong-and-resilient survivors?

I don’t think so.

That’s like this line from “Cell Block Tango” in the movie (play, whatever your preferred musical theater format) Chicago. A character, discussing the untimely and unfortunate death of her husband, says, “Then he ran into my knife.  He ran into my knife ten times.”

Forward to about 2:50 for that specific line, or sit back and enjoy the whole thing.  These ladies are pretty fierce.

My point, musical interludes aside, is that I think somehow, for some reason, he caused the massive failure of his previous groups.  One group where he’s the sole survivor?  He got extremely lucky.  But two?  No.  He had this point about wanting to have a drink when it’s finally quiet, but in post-apocalypse zombie world, it is never quiet.  Or maybe the more relevant concept is, it’s never peaceful.  There’s never that night when you can kick back in a chair, have a cocktail, and fall asleep with the windows open, without having to worry about hearing anything more threatening than the chirping of the crickets.  NEVER.  So what kind of psychotic break does he experience when his need for quiet overcomes his need for the safety of numbers?  Especially when the people you’re surrounded by are sickening and dying?

Prediction:  For the season-ending cliffhanger (because they have been renewed for a Season 5, after all), Bob’s going to separate the herd, luring leadership into a basement somewhere and locking them in (or, alternately, sequestering them in separate cells), then bolt the prison doors and let the residents fight it out amongst the flu, the zombies and each other.

And finally…

3) Carol.  Our girl Carol has run the gamut of agony since the beginning of the show.  Aside from the horror of experiencing a zombie apocalypse, Carol has:

  • endured an abusive husband
  • buried her husband
  • lost her child
  • found her child, who had turned zombie and been herded into Hershel’s barn
  • watched Shane shoot her daughter in the head
  • nearly starved to death in a closet
  • almost talked Andrea into killing the Governor after fucking him into a false sense of complacency
  • starts a kiddie knife class

And so on, and so on.  As a character she’s grown increasingly stronger and far more “I can take on this post-apocalyptic hellscape with the best of you”.  So.  Last week she admitted she killed two people in an attempt to stop the spread of the flu.  This week they’re finally having a chat about it.

Here’s my take: Rick?  Is secretly terrified of her.  She’s taken it upon herself to do the wetwork in an attempt to keep their prison-home safe.  In a mad world where the dead control the streets and you call a prison your home, having someone on your team willing to make the calculating and perhaps ugly decisions, and do the corresponding work, is actually an asset.  So long as leadership is strong enough to hold their own against that person.

Rick is not.

Rick shifted out of his crazy-making Ricktatorship, eventually settling on his current position as post-apocalyptic gentleman farmer.  Which is nice and all, but maybe isn’t quite enough when you’re trying to create some claustrophobic semblance of a home for something like 40 people against a relentless crush of ravenous undead.  I mean, it can’t be easy.  And I get that at some point you–or I, or anyone–would want to drop the mic and peace out.  But there’s no “out” here, there’s only clearing your turf.  Again, and again, and again.  I’m not saying I don’t understand the desire for your old life with a wife that made charmingly awful pancakes on a Sunday morning.  But that’s not their reality.  Carol has become an unflinching realist.

I think she's annoyed with him more than anything.

I think she’s annoyed with him more than anything.

Rick has these ties that bind him to the desire for a normalized life, primarily in the form of his kids.  He still wears his wedding band even though Lori’s long gone.  He’s still got his sheriff’s hat.  He may want to build a kinder, gentler society in the middle of the zombie panic, because who wants their kids to grow up as bloodless murderbots?  Carl has already danced pretty close to that edge, and he’s just 14.  Carol’s got nothing; her family is all dead.  And for what it’s worth, I ultimately think her approach is the more practical one.  She says, “I don’t like what I did.  I just accept it.”  Things are ugly out there.  You may want pancakes, but you’re getting the shit sandwich.

So of all the bizarro medieval things he does, Rick chooses banishment for Carol.  She is exeunt from the prison, exeunt from the group she helped nurture and build since the apocalypse began.  And ultimately, she seems kind of OK with it, sort of half-heartedly stating she wasn’t going anywhere without Lizzie and Mika (see above), but giving up on that right away.  She doesn’t breathe a word about Daryl (a/k/a “Pookie”), even though they were clearly an item.  She just walks over to the car they loaded up for her and drives off.

Well, almost.

Earlier in the show there was this long conversation about Carol’s ex-husband and how much of a douchebag abuser he was.  On one level, it served to illustrate how far she’d come from that person who put up with drunken beatings.  But.  At the end of the episode, just before she drives off, Carol turns to Rick and hands him a watch.  It’s from my husband (the abuser), she says, a present for their first anniversary.  Rick accepts it, then Carol says, “I should have gotten rid of that thing a long time ago.”  So maybe, mayyyyybe she was simply jettisoning any last scrap of ties to the past.  Or maybe, just maybe, she was saying, “I got this from an asshole, and now I’m giving it to one.”

I think that’s what she did.  Go, Team Carol!  Because really, Rick.  A little sanctimonious for the times you live in, perhaps?

Prediction: at the very least, she’ll return at the beginning of season 5 to get them out of the mess Bob leaves them in and save everyone’s bacon.  Daryl will schism with Rick over this (but not leave, NOOOOOOOOOOOO!), creating a faction in the prison.  Depending on who survives the flu.  Tyreese?  Still riding the crazy train.  And then there’s that new guy, Sam, running around, whereabouts unknown but he’s sure to turn up later.  You don’t introduce a gregarious new guy willing to leave his hobbled girlfriend as zombie bait if you don’t intend to use him.

What do you think?

Can NOT wait to see what’s up next week..!

This seems like an apropos song to finish with.

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