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The Walking Dead Recap, 4×14: “The Grove”

Don't let the featured image fool you. Everything is terrible.

carol

Last time on The Walking Dead: Maggie, Sasha, and Bob are officially a happy family of fun and joy. Daryl and Beth are not so much anymore, and Daryl’s teamed up with a gang of creepy biker-less bikers in her absence. Oh, and also, Carol admitted to killing two people, including Tyreese’s girlfriend, but we’re all preeeeetty sure she’s covering for someone. And there are babies.

In the cold open, we’re treated to creepy old-timey music on a record player that sounds straght out of Bioshock, so something awful is about to happen. The two girls are running around outside. Wait, no — they’re playing Monkey in the Middle with a walker. What’s… um. Okay. That wasn’t super foreboding or anything.

Now it’s nighttime, and the kids are at a campsite with Tyreese and Carol. Lizzie refuses to sleep and keeps watch with Carol, insisting that she can take Judith if there’s trouble. Oh yeah, that baby you almost smothered to dead M.A.S.H.-style three episodes ago? Yeah, that’ll go well.  She also calls Carol “ma’am,” so she is absolutely up to something

“Do you think there’ll be kids at Terminus?” she asks. If their parents kept them safe, like Tyreese did for them, Carol says. “I saved Tyreese,” Lizzie corrects her, and then tells her about the people she shot back at the prison. Carol immediately launches into the whole “you did what you had to do,” spiel, but I don’t think anybody believes Lizzie is feeling any kind of remorse about her actions. Then she asks Carol about the kids she had before the turn, and Carol tells her about her incredibly sweet daughter who “didn’t have a mean bone in her body,” and who is probably dead because of it. Yup, let’s just keep reinforcing that particular lesson to Lizzie. No way that’ll mess her up or anything.

Finally Carol convinces Lizzie to go to sleep, just in time to catch Tyreese having some wicked nightmares. The next day, she tries to help his infection by reopening his wound and they have a delightful heart-to-heart about Lizzie’s confusion with walkers — how she doesn’t see them for what they are, only that they’re different. Mika is worse, though, according to Carol, because she also “doesn’t have a mean bone in her body.”  Yuh-oh. We know what that means.

The team gets into a discussion about Tom Sawyer on their way to Terminus, like you do. Mika points out that they never got to finish reading the book back at the prison, so Carol explains the end to them, and Mika decides that she’s just like the Widow Douglas. I’ve only ever read Huckleberry Finn, so this does not seem like an apt comparison to me. Mika claims that this makes her Huck, but Lizzie points out that she’s more like Tom Sawyer, presumably because she’s not inherently broken on the inside. Tyreese does not play the “which character are you like in this book series” game with them, possibly because he does not want to be Jim. I don’t blame him.

Later he’s hanging out with Judith and Lizzie while Carol and Mika go to get water (after they talk about smelling a fire nearby, probably the moonshine hut), and they spot a figure walking down the train tracks. He gives Lizzie the baby while he goes and checks it out, and will everyone please stop doing that because I would never trust that child with any other children.

Surprise! It’s a walker. It’s legs give out before it reaches them and when Tyreese goes to kill it, Lizzie stops him, saying that sometimes they have to kill the walkers, but sometimes they don’t. Tyreese responds by making this face:

tyreese

“These white kids will literally be the death of me.”

Carol and Mika are not having a lot of fun, either. Carol tries to gently explain to Mika that she’s little and sweet, which makes her target. Mika says she can always just run, but that’s not good enough for Carol. “I’m not like my sister! I’m not messed up,” she says. Way to throw your sister under the bus, girl. She elaborates that when they were at the prison, she couldn’t bring herself to pull the trigger and kill those actual people. but Lizzie didn’t seem to have any problems with it. Instead, she just feels sorry for those people, “because they probably weren’t like that before.” Also, she says that “Everything works out the way it’s supposed to.” Mika, you should know that nothing good happens to little blonde optimists on this show. Please stop saying things like that. Please.

Of course she’s not going to stop saying that stuff because look, they’ve found a house! Isn’t everything great all the time? There’s a well full of water, a rudimentary fence, and a lawn full of deers and pecan trees, so Carol suggests that they stay a day or two. In the distance, they see the smoke from Daryl and Beth’s moonshine hut. Carol and Tyreese go in to check the house and leave the kids on their own, which continues to terrify me.

lizzie

Seriously, she looks like an ’80s supervillain petting a big fluffy cat right now.

Mika asks her if the reason she’s upset is that there’s a recently dug grave with a pair of baby shoes on top of it nearby. Nope, it’s because she feels bad for the walker they’re going to find in there. Which is funny, almost, because the walker in there comes out and attacks them instead. Mika finally gets her first kill under her belt and it’s totally awesome, but Lizzie spends the whole time screaming at her to stop until Carol and Tyreese come back out. Carol tries to get her to explain why she’s crying, but she “doesn’t want to say,” and walks away to collect herself.  Mika gives Carol this look:

mika

“What did I tell you, lady? Total nutbar.”

and then walks over to Lizzie and tells her to look at the flowers and count to three. Might Lizzie have had some problems with disassociation before the apocalypse happened? This coping mechanism Mika’s worked out is way too advanced for an eight-year-old to have come up with on her own.

At night, Lizzie is still upset. She tells Carol, “Sometimes I don’t understand, but I’m trying to, Ma’am.” Ohhh boy. Yeah, you were definitely already a legitimate sociopath before all of this. Poor girl. Mika runs in with a doll and shouts that she’s going to name her Griselda Gunderson, so she is my favorite. Tyreese remarks that it’s weird to be in a living room again, and Mika decides that she wants to live here.

The next day, Carol is pouring water in the same kettle we saw boiling in the cold open, so everything awful is about to happen. She sees who I’m assuming is Lizzie playing with “Griselda,” who is not a doll but in fact a walker, and rushes out to help. Lizzie tries to tell her to stop and the thing literally comes thiiiis close to biting her before Carol tackles it and stabs it in the head.

“She was playing with me! She wanted a friend!” Lizzie yells. “She was trying to kill you!” Carol said. Lizzie starts losing her shit and freaking out that it’s the same, and that Carol killed Lizzie, and what if she killed Carol, and she didn’t have to because the walker was her friend.

Meanwhile, Tyreese goes to turn off the kettle and sees Lizzie shrieking at Carol.

tyreese 2

“What the hell, white people.”

Carol decides to take Mika out for a nice heart-to-heart-slash-deer-killing. They see the smoke again, and Mika says the fire must be burning because it’s still black. “I miss science class!” She says. No, I think what you miss is literally having to put out your sister’s fires. They find a deer, but Mika can’t bring herself to kill it. Mika, you would not win the Hunger Games.

At the camp, Tyreese tells Carol that he agrees with Mika, that they should stay there rather than go to Terminus. He trusts all of them, he says, and he doesn’t know that he can get that anywhere else. Tyreese, at least one of these people killed your girlfriend.

Meanwhile, Mika finds Lizzie feeding rats to the walker back at the train station. She says what’s basically the child equivalent of “what the FUCK, girl,” to which Lizzie replies, “I can hear them. They just want me to change. To make me be like them. Maybe I should change. I can make you all understand.” Okay, my turn: what the FUCK, girl?

Suddenly a bunch of burnt walkers come through the brush and Lizzie’s survival instinct kicks in. They both go running back to Carol, and Mika gets stuck on the fence but Carol and Lizzie free her. Everybody starts shooting, even Mika and Lizzie. This should be a good thing, but Carol is concerned.

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“What happened to these assholes being friends?”

At night, Lizzie tells Carol that she knows what she has to do now. Carol thinks she means killing walkers, so she takes this as a good thing. “It’s ugly and it’s scary and it does change you, but that’s how we get to be here. That’s growing up, now.” No, no, we could be talking about two different things right now, let’s all please be clear that we mean killing walkers right now, thanks. We definitely don’t mean becoming a walker yourself. Guys? Can we just say the words to make me feel better? No? Okay.

Now Carol’s coming around on the staying thing, which is great news for Tyreese, because he can’t deal with being around other people. Also, he has dreams about Karen every night and they make him feel super bad about everything. They appear to be making Carol feel super bad, too. But they are who they are, and they have to keep going for the kids, Tyreese says. Oh, okay, so I guess he’s figured it out now. I’m not getting a read on Carol, though. She looks guilty as hell but I was pretty convinced she was covering for Lizzie. Now I don’t know what’s up.

And then Tyreese tells her that she did right by everyone and hugs her. So maybe… he hasn’t figured it out? I don’t know what’s up, man. Let’s all please stop talking in metaphors because someone’s gonna get killed, like, soon.

Speaking of which, as they make their way back to the camp, they see Lizzie covered in blood with a knife in her hand. She’s killed Mika, but she thinks it’s okay because “she’ll come back.” Holy shit.

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“Kill sister good? Yes?”

They go to take the knife from her and she pulls out a gun, telling them that they all have to wait for her to turn, so that “you’ll all understand.” So I guess she killed her sister instead of herself so she could still be alive to make sure they didn’t stab her in the head first. Makes sense, if you’re an insane person.

Carol tells her that they can wait, but that she needs to give them the gun, and then take Judith away. “But I was gonna change her next,” Lizzie says as if that isn’t the worst decision ever. Jesus, somebody give this tiny child actor like eleven awards because I AM CONVINCED. Carol points out that Judith can’t even walk yet, so that’s a bad decision on her part. She gently convinces Lizzie to go inside and have lunch with Tyreese while she ties Mika up “so she won’t go anywhere,” and they’ll wait for her to turn.

Tyreese does not like this plan.

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“CAROL DO NOT LEAVE ME ALONE WITH THIS CRAZY CHILD”

But he picks up Judith anyways and brings them both inside. Carol keeps up the smile until they’re out of sight and then sobs as she takes out a knife.

Later, Tyreese and Carol are inside with Judith, trying to figure out what to do. Tyreese found Lizzie’s shoebox full of mice, so they know she was feeding the walkers at the prison. He also brings up the rabbit he found, and suggests that Lizzie might have killed Karen and David. “She would have let them turn,” Carol says. Oh, heck. I didn’t think of that. Although we always knew that it was Carol who set the two bodies on fire — maybe she found them after Lizzie tried to turn them? She did seem to know about Lizzie’s fascination with the walkers awfully early into the episode. But why would she cover for her now, unless she feels guilty for helping Lizzie in the past?

Carol offers to take Lizzie away, and beats herself up for not seeing it earlier. Tyreese thinks this means that he and Judith will go to Terminus separately, but that’s not what Carol’s talking about. “You won’t make it either.” She says. “She can’t be around other people.” Uh oh. No. No, no. I know where this is going now. I’ve read Of Mice and Men. Don’t make me watch this, guys.

Yup. It’s happening. Carol takes Lizzie into the woods to “pick wildflowers” for Mika. The smoke has turned white, which means the fire’s stopped. Lizzie’s all happy and smiles until she suddenly realizes that Carol is upset, and immediately breaks down, apologizing to Carol for pointing her gun at her. Not for killing her sister, of course. Carol tells her that everything happens for a reason and that she should think about the rabbits look at the flowers while she shoots her in the head from behind.

They bury the two girls next to the baby’s grave. That night, Carol slides her gun over to Tyreese and tells him that she killed Karen and David. So much for my pet theory, then. She tells him to do what he has to do. “Was she scared?” he asks. No, it was quick, Carol tells him. His fingers curl around the gun, but he lets go and leaves it on the table. “I forgive you,” he says. “I’m never going to forget it happened. You did it. You feel it. It’s a part of you now. Me too.” And in the morning, they leave for Terminus.

Wow, guys. This episode was heavy, and I imagine it’s going to be contentious for a lot of people, but for me it was the most compelling thing they’ve done all season. If I’m looking at it purely from a constructive point of view, they tied up a lot of loose ends and removed the pool of characters I have to remember, so that’s useful. From an emotional and/or psychological point of view, they basically tore my heart out and left it to get eaten by walkers, and now I have to change because watching this literally made me sweat through my shirt during the last ten minutes. It’s always nice when a show can do that to you, and I for one can’t wait to read the thousands of think pieces about whether The Walking Dead has gone too far and it’s just like the Red Wedding all over again.

And as always, less Rick is the best kind of Rick. God, could you just imagine if Rick was here trying to be the decider? Screw that noise.  I hope that he continues to get minimal screen time over the next two episodes, save for the obligatory overemotional reunion with Judith. I mean, I’m not a total monster.

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