A Carol-centric episode was just the thing I didn’t even know I wanted. This episode was a great mix of suspense and back story.
We left ‘Slabtown’ wondering why Carol was in the hospital but Daryl wasn’t with her. There were lots of theories - Carol was a plant or the ‘Slabbies’ had gone after Carol and somehow left Daryl for dead or Carol and Daryl had been separated in some weird way. I spent the whole episode thinking one or the other of these things had happened because the writers kept setting up the different possibilities. I wondered if they would be caught by the people in the car they were following or that Daryl might be killed or injured at some point (like a falling van perhaps) or when they were being followed and then trying to get through the locked door I was sure Carol would be captured and Daryl would be left behind. I was surprised by how it actually did happen. It was obvious that the ‘Slabbies’ hit Carol on purpose. They aren’t saving people, they are collecting slaves (if that wasn’t already obvious).
This show always has my brain working and I love that. I realized that the walkers don’t even bother me anymore. Even the gore when they are killed doesn’t get to me. The horror and gore couldn’t sustain this show in the long run even though I know there are people who complain about the lack of walkers on a continuous basis. What keeps this show going for me are the characters and the big questions they wrestle with - why am I still here? Why does anyone bother going on? How do you survive such ongoing trauma?
Carol is struggling with all of these questions but she is a survivor in more ways than one. Even before the apocalypse it looks like she had survived childhood sexual abuse and then on-going abuse from Ed (ps. If you want to know why women like Carol don’t leave abusive men, please go look it up. The list is endless and doesn’t include anything about them being weak). In this new world she has had to survive, among other things, the horrible deaths of her child and then her adopted children. The many shots of Carol in reflection (sometimes literally) show the pain in her face but she continues to go on. Watching Carol cry after driving past Rick was heartbreaking but like everything else, she didn’t let that break her. She was resourceful and stayed alive and she went straight back to the prison when she saw they were in trouble. Then, again, when everyone was in trouble at Terminus she singlehandedly freed them and destroyed the ‘Termites’. This is a woman who swears that she can’t watch anyone else she loves die but will risk her life and sanity to save those that she cares about. She says she feels like she is being consumed, but it looks more like she is being forged into steel.
Noah brought an interesting twist into the episode as well. If they had killed him they might never have found Beth or might have died trying to get her out. He became the catalyst for first Daryl and then Carol to maintain their humanity and continue to “save people”. At first Carol just sees him as a thief but Daryl comments that he is just a kid and then Daryl sees him as the source of the dangers they have faced while Carol realizes that he is as Daryl said, just a scared kid. I also think that Carol is willing to be hard enough to kill someone who is innocent but she doesn’t want Daryl to have to do the same thing. Their care for each other is so evident in this episode and I half expected them to fall into an embrace when they both laid down on the bunk bed. I can’t decide if I am glad they didn’t or if I am annoyed that the writers might think of Carol as too old.
We are slowly getting the threads of different stories. It looks like they might all come together back in Atlanta at the hospital. My only question is - will our group ride to the rescue only to find Carol and Beth on the front steps waiting for them after saving themselves?
Bits and Pieces
The song at the beginning of the episode was perfect. It was “Bad Blood” by Alison Mosshart and Eric Arjes.
Great shot of the cars driving down the I85 to Atlanta. This show never lets us forget what was or what is now.
Thank goodness the walkers are just plain dumb. The fact that they couldn’t get out of their sleeping bags or the tents was handy. I wonder, though, what killed all those people at the same time?
The mother and child walker were very sad. It was sweet of Daryl to take care of them (a new definition of sweet for a new world).
Carol took books and Daryl took paper from the shelter. Daryl took his paper to burn but I don’t think Carol was intending to do that with the books. The posh office they visit also shows how different Carol and Daryl might have been before the apocalypse.
Carol: “So it was just you and Beth after?”
Carol: “You saved her?”
Daryl: “She’s tough. She saved herself.”
Daryl: “You used to work here or something?”
Carol: “You said we get to start over. Did you?”
Daryl: “I’m tryin’.”
Carol: “I don’t think we get to save people anymore.”
Daryl: “Then why are you here?”
Carol: "I’m tryin'."
Daryl: “I bet this cost some rich prick a lot of money. It looks like a dog sat in some paint and wiped his ass all over the place.”
Carol: “Really? I kinda like it.”
Carol: "You don’t know me."
Daryl: "Yup, you keep telling yourself that.”
Daryl: “Damn, that was stupid.”
Carol: “We made good time down.”
Carol: “Me and Sophia stayed at that shelter for a day and a half before I went running back to Ed. I went home, I got beat up, life went on, and I just kept praying for something to happen. But I didn’t do anything. Not a damn thing. Who I was with him got burned away and I was happy about that. I mean, not happy, but ... And at the prison I got to be who I always thought I should be, thought I should have been and then she got burned away. Everything now just consumes you.”
Daryl: “Well hey, we ain’t ashes.”
Noah: “We can get her back. We can get Beth back.”
Daryl: “What’s it going to take?”
Noah: “A lot. They got guns, people.”
Daryl: “So do we.”