The Walking Dead: Consumed

Daryl: “Some days I don’t know what the hell to think.”

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?”
Daryl: “Yeah.”
Carol: “You saved her?”
Daryl: “She’s tough. She saved herself.”

Daryl: “You used to work here or something?”
Carol: “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.”


Jess Lynde said...

I wanted to like this one more than I did. Carol’s material felt repetitive to me, as I already understood her arc and the frame of mind she was in. So, retracing her “descent” on the path back to the end points of 'Four Walls and a Roof' and 'Slabtown' ending up feeling like a bit of a slog to me (even if I did somewhat enjoy the repeated fire motif). I enjoy Daryl and Carol’s partnership and the way they support each other --- it was certainly nice that the “save Noah” moment felt like Daryl and Carol both trying to save each other, too --- but it wasn’t quite enough for me this hour. As a result, I ended up being more bugged than usual by assorted “suspension of disbelief” issues (e.g., the van landing on its tires, and Carol not hearing a car gunning for her in a desolate, quiet city).

But, I did like that Daryl got to smoke some Morley’s --- the Smoking Man’s preferred brand of cigs. If “evil-smoking,” non-caring Daryl couldn’t wake Carol out of her nihilistic stupor, nothing could. :)

Billie Doux said...

I especially like the pairing of Daryl and Carol, so even though there was probably a bit too much with the flashbacks, I enjoyed this one. I liked that Daryl and Carol were talking about how they couldn't save anyone any more, and then they did.

The Morley cigarettes were a fun touch (thanks, Jess -- I hadn't completely registered that one). And did you all notice the brief scene where they showed the tank from the second episode, where Rick met Glenn for the first time?

This show doesn't usually make me laugh, but I laughed three times: the sleeping bag walkers, followed by the tent walkers. And then the walkers plummeting down and landing on the van after it hit. Maybe the gore has stopped bothering me, too.

Henrik Bennetter said...

I really enjoyed the narrative in this episode, being tossed backwards and forwards between short bursts of events and emotion.

I didn't like the music. At all. Well, I liked the song - but I don't like it when we get a song to set the mood of a character.
I think the scenes with Carol going about her gloomy everyday business of staying alive would have been even more powerful without a soundtrack.
Music in TWD takes me out of the show. No music would immerse me even more - seeing as there is no way for the survivors to hear music (Slabtown being the exception).

Jess Lynde said...

I've started laughing at a lot of the walker stuff, too. They are always reaching for some new walker thing they haven't shown us before, and while I appreciate the effort, it makes me laugh (or roll my eyes) more than cringe these days. Those sleeping bag walkers were hilarious, and I think I even laughed at the walkers Eugene took out with the fire hose last week.

But they still manage to scare me with the people pretty regularly. The scene where Daryl and Carol watched the cop on the street in the dark was tense. When he turned towards their car, my heart was in my throat.

Heather said...

Thank you for the review.

In no order:
I liked the ep for what Melissa McBride and Norman Reedus bring to these two characters. They're both just great, consistently who they are and engaging to watch -- among the best on the show, imo.

I love your characterization, Doc, of Carol being forged into iron. Wow. Well-said. Her monologue was stunning. Just how she sees herself getting burned away again and again. So provocative.

The walkers falling on top of the van was a nice touch. Perfectly absurd.

drnanamom said...

Thanks for the comments everyone. How absurd would it be to be killed by a falling walker?! @Jess, @Billie thanks for picking up on the details - they are often great bits that show the writers are paying attention. @Henrik, I really like it when they find good music but I certainly get your point.

Anonymous said...

Hello! Long time fan of these reviews. All of my favs are ticked!

I've been marathoning (is that a word?) this show on Netlix and I'm finally caught up. I appreciate that no spoilers were revealed in the reviews or the comments - unlike other sites.

Anyway, what I find interesting about this show is that it's not about the Zombies (Walkers,Geeks,Lame Brains) rather the human condition. A great example of this is in this episode is when Daryl and Carol are sitting in the car staking out the hospital and are startled by a walker. Daryl and Carol determine that the the threat is just a walker and go about their business. The living are much more of a danger in this apocalyptic world and now we and the characters are reacting to that.

Jess Lynde said...

One thing I’ve really appreciated about this first half of Season 5 is its great thematic consistency. Even though I’ve found some of the hours less engaging to watch than others, I’ve still been impressed with the way each episode functions as a new window on the themes they are exploring now. Last season it was “Can we come back?” and they sort of landed on “No, we can’t.” So now they are examining, “Well, in that case, how do we move forward?”

Interestingly, to me it generally feels less like an examination of the big “Why am I here, and why do I bother?” questions you noted, Doc. Everyone seems to accept that it is worth continuing to live --- at least prior to having Eugene’s false hope ripped away --- they are just coming to terms with what that now means for them. The questions I see them wrestling with are things like “How far am I willing to go? How much of myself am I willing to sacrifice? How do I then make peace with what I’ve become?” Plus, “What survival choices am I willing to accept from or forgive others?” It’s been very nice to see these questions explored through our familiar favorites, as well as through new characters and groups. Even some of the characters that have been pushed to the background a bit, like Carl, Michonne, and Maggie, have had several nice moments reflecting on these themes.

All of which is my long way of saying that, after pondering a bit more, I did really appreciate the thematic resonance in this episode, even though I didn’t necessarily find it the most compelling hour. (This show "always has my brain working," too.) :)

Anonymous said...

After that bridge scene, I can't stop thinking of the walkers as just a bunch of lemmings.

drnanamom said...

@anonymous - what a great idea - you could just get them to follow each other off bridges. I wonder if they will use that in future episodes. @ Jess I guess I think that most of us deal with the 'why am I here and why do I bother?' question most of the time and an apocalypse just intensifies that and leads into questions that most of us don't have to deal with such as 'how far am I willing to go?' I don't actually think that they have all decided to survive no matter what and most have an answer to 'why do I bother?' (my children, my partner, my friends, hope for a better world). What is interesting about Carol is that she thinks that she has made the decision to survive just for herself but then she keeps saving the people she loves and obviously cares about.

Jess Lynde said...

I agree completely on Carol. Her decision to survive just for herself was pretty interesting, in and of itself. I found it remarkably refreshing that she wasn’t entertaining thoughts of suicide, and was just considering other ways to potentially avoid the pain of losing more people she cares about.

That’s sort of the point I was trying to make with my different subset of “wrestling questions.” When I read your list in the review, they came across with more of a negative, “suicidal thoughts” tone in my mind, not the “everyday existential” tone I got from them in your follow up comment. And I was feeling like the outlook of the characters this season has generally been in a more positive, hopeful space (which is interesting, given that within the space of mere weeks their comfortable prison existence was destroyed by first a virus, then a mad man, and then they were captured and nearly killed by cannibals). I’m not saying the issue is settled forever and always, but I do feel like most of them started the season out in a frame of mind where they had pushed past that “should I keep going?” question, and were coming to terms with what that takes in this world. They weren’t in that train car waiting around to die, they were gearing up to fight for their lives. Which, overall, feels hopeful to me.

Not that I think it will necessarily stay that way. The show did just kill the most optimistic person in the bunch, and then followed that up by stripping away the momentary “we can save the world!” purpose Eugene gave everyone. So we could be just a step away from folks being back to wrestling with thoughts of suicide. I’m particularly concerned about Tyreese and Maggie. Hopefully Carol will get the chance to counsel them, “We can’t save the world, but we can still save each other. Don’t give up.” :)

Anonymous said...

Super late to the party, here, but... was I the only one who got serious Lost season one vibes from the bridge sequence? Between the precariously perched vehicle, the frantic search for evidence within, as well as the Holy Mary statue on the dash, the only thing that was missing was the CB radio to spark up with "...but WE'RE the survivors of Oceanic flight 815..."

Maybe it's just me, I dunno.