Monday, March 17, 2014

Good and Bad: 'The Walking Dead' (3/16/14)
Season 4, Episode 14: “The Grove”

Plot: The episode follows the mostly unlikable team of Tyreese (the sole reason for that mostly), Carol, Baby Judith and the two blonde sisters, who from this point on will be known by their Christian names: Older one and Younger one.
                The gang finds a farmhouse to hole up in, they putz around for a bit, Younger one refuses to kill anything that isn’t a walker. Older one refuses to kill walkers because …  she thinks they’re still people? She thinks there’s a cure? It’s unclear. What is clear is that she definitely won’t kill them.
                Except she helps gun down a bunch of crispy walkers that have escaped from the giant forest Daryl and Beth apparently set a few weeks back. The price of catharsis.  
                But other than that one time when she really didn’t have to kill them because there were three other people already killing them, she absolutely positively will only sign off on killing walkers sometimes.
                Later, Carol and Tyreese head out into the woods around the house to find food or something, they have a heart to heart where Tyreese unknowingly takes a giant dump on Carol’s soul: she killed his sick girlfriend back at the prison to protect everyone. Tyreese is unaware of this.
                When they arrive back at the farmhouse, they find that Older one has killed her sister and was ready to off the baby next.
                This doesn’t sit well with the adults in the group, they misdirect us into thinking Carol is going to take Older one somewhere away from people – because of that whole murder thing – and she eventually sort of does.
Sometimes around here, we also learn the answer to one of the show’s longest running mysteries:  Older one was the person feeding rats to the walkers at the prison, which led to them overwhelming the fence.
                Carol takes her into a clearing, tells her to look at some flowers and then shoots her dead.
                Later that evening, over a puzzle, Carol tells Tyreese she’s the one that killed his girlfriend. Tyreese considers ripping Carol apart and presumably eating her – I’m basing this off of his body language – but goes a different road and forgives her.
                So yeah, not much happened when you really think about it. 
Bad: Everything that happens before Older blonde girl kills her sister. The episode was a lot of hurried character development and rule setting about who is mostly OK with killing what. Up to this episode we haven’t spent much time at all with this group and both little girls were underwritten to begin with. But the show hurries to flesh them out as much as possible to give its conclusion as much weight as possible. Anytime you kill off two kids in the span of 20 minutes or so, it carries weight automatically, but the show wanted it to hit even harder. You know what would have been awesome? If the show hadn’t wasted a bunch of time rehashing the same plot threads with the Governor for the first half of this season and allowed these girls and this whole group some natural, well-paced character development, instead of squeezing it all in there at the end. Then again, “The Walking Dead” is the highest rated show since Jesus’ talk show was canceled so I guess these people know what they’re doing.

Good: Everything that happens after Older blonde girl kills her sister. If Carol didn’t shoot that little girl in the back of the head, there would have been a one man riot going on at my house. I would have run outside, flipped my own car, climbed a tree and started screaming “Justice!” at the top of my lungs. There was literally no other option and I still expected the show to wimp out. These are kids on popular television after all. This kind of stuff is usually pretty taboo. But no, she did it. Like I said, she had to. She’s already preemptively killed two people back at the prison who were only theoretically a threat to anyone. This little girl literally had buckets of blood on her hands and was a threat to anyone who took a nap in a 30-mile radius around her. Her love of the walkers was at best illogical and at worst wildly, frustratingly, inconsistent. Either way, that’s not good for survival. I was no fan of Carol’s going in, but I would have despised, no that’s not strong enough, I would have Andrea’d her if she’d run off into the woods with the Older one and that became another group we had to keep track of. Instead, she did that only thing she could do and suddenly, against every conceivable odd, Carol has become an interesting character.

Good: Tyreese doesn’t kill Carol. It’s dangerous to become interesting on this show. Ask T-Dogg. I’m glad Tyreese didn’t kill her. Mostly because I prefer Tyreese as a teddy bear instead of an actual bear that would rip a person’s arm out of its socket and beat them to death with it. Given everything we’ve seen from Tyreese so far, forgiving her seems true to his character. He’s a good man and he’s smart enough to know he needs Carol to survive. A man and a baby ain’t got much of a chance in that crazy world.

Good: Burned walkers. So cool.

Good: Rat-mystery solved.  A small plot point when you consider everything else that went on, but I’m still glad they paid it off.

Good: Everyone dumps on Carol. Tyreese does it, even Younger one gets a chance before she’s killed to unknowingly call Carol a turd for killing people.

Good: Every time a character was a about to shoot a deer, I couldn't help but wonder if Carl was on the other side of it, wearing his brand new imitation dart board bulls-eye jacket, reaching out to pet the exact same deer. I mean, it’s been done, but while we’re offing kids, what a way to get a big chunk of the band back together.

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