SPOILERS AHEAD, so use caution, Walkers…
Season Four, Episode 14: “The Grove”
Written by Scott M. Gimple; Directed by Michael Satrazemis
After some rather tame episodes (at least in comparison), The Walking Dead provided some surprises and shocks this week as we caught up with Carol and company.
“The Grove” begins with a series of unfamiliar close-ups: a house, a tea kettle, a living room, and, out the kitchen window, a girl playing with a zombie. Short, dialogue free, and mysterious — cue the spooky music.
Next we find ourselves with Carol and Lizzie near the railroad tracks keeping watch while Tyreese, Mika, and Judith sleep. Lizzie is being her normal odd self, making sure Carol knows how she killed people (not zombies) at the prison to save Tyreese. Carol is proud of her and doesn’t hesitate to answer Lizzie’s question about having kids. (It seems like this would have come up earlier.)
Carol tells her how her daughter didn’t have a mean bone in her body, which gets Lizzie’s quick response back “Is that why she isn’t here?” Carol says yes and then tells Lizzie that she will survive. (Implication: You have a mean bone in your body.)
The next morning, Tyreese and Carol talk about Lizzie and her odd relationship with zombies, which Tyreese doesn’t know anything about. In the first half of the season, we saw Lizzie feeding the zombies at the prison fences and naming them. She hasn’t changed her mind. Mika, on the other hand, is sweet, which (according to Carol and Lizzie’s first conversation) means she’s at risk. Clearly there is some setup here.
As they continue down the tracks toward Terminus (will anyone ever make it there?), they smell a fire burning in the distance (Beth and Daryl’s house fire probably). Carol says they should stop and look for drinking water. She takes Mika, and Tyreese stays with Lizzie and Judith. (God, it would suck having a baby in this environment.)
Tyreese spots a walker down the tracks and heads towards it. It ends up collapsing and not being much of a threat, but Tyreese is going to kill it anyway. That is until Lizzie comes up behind him and stops him saying, “Sometimes we have to kill them, but sometimes we don’t.” He doesn’t shoot, which pleases Lizzie. This idea of zombie sympathy is interesting and continues to make the show explore new ground, particularly with the young characters and how they react to being raised in this world.
Meanwhile, Carol tries to toughen up Mika. But Mika seems to be fairly okay. She says she’s not like her sister, and she knows they need to kill zombies, but that she can’t kill people like Karen and David (Since Carol killed them, she doesn’t like this answer very much). “You have to change,” Carol says. “Things don’t just work out.” This idea of change has been heavily running through this half of the season and is in full force in this episode. Mika isn’t convinced, reciting the line her mother always told her: “Everything works out the way it’s supposed to.” (We’ll see).
Before they can discuss it much further, they come upon a house and also spot a tall column of black smoke in the distance (the fire again). They gather back up and decide to check the house out. Carol and Tyreese go into house and leave the girls and baby outside.
Lizzie and Mika get into a bit of an argument about the zombies. “They aren’t people,” Mika tells her. “They are just dead.” To put it to the test, a zombie comes at them, and Lizzie freezes up, which makes Mika have to shoot it. Lizzie freaks out, but for all the wrong reasons. We know she’s upset about the zombie.
The house turns out to be nice and unoccupied — plus there are a bunch of pecans all around it. This is the third nice house found in this part of the season, and the results have been poor each time. Mika finds a doll and suggests they stay there (which doesn’t seem like a bad idea since they are all saddled with baby Judith).
The next morning, Carol makes tea and spots Lizzie out the window playing with a zombie (the opening scene). Carol runs out and knifes the zombie in the head, which sends Lizzie into a screaming fit: “She wanted a friend! What if I killed you?! What if I killed you?!” This is getting serious. (Lizzie’s creepiness has skyrocketed in this episode.)
Next up is deer hunting with Mika and Carol, but Mika can’t kill the deer. She’s too sweet. They head back to the house to eat more pecans instead. (That many nuts will really rip you up — be careful, ladies).
Tyreese tells Carol that he also wonders if they should stay in the house and that he’s not ready to be around other people and that her trusts her, which is really awkward since she killed Karen and David. (He does have a point, though: These large groups haven’t been working out well. Maybe a small group is the way to go, but I’d ditch the baby.)
Meanwhile, Mika finds Lizzie feeding mice to the zombie she stopped Tyreese from killing earlier. Mika isn’t pleased and tells her, “We can’t pretend anymore.” At the prison, they were just pretending things were bad, and now they are. Lizzie counters with “They just want me to change.” (True, but come on!)
Their discussion is cut short by a pack of crispy zombies coming out of the brush (from the fire, it appears). Mika and Lizzie take off, and the zombies follow them back to house, where Mika trips and almost gets bitten. Carol, Tyreese, and Mika begin shooting, and eventually so does Lizzie. (Is she coming around?)
After the crispy zombie attack, Lizzie tells Carol, “I know what I have to do now.” (But what does she mean? Carol seems to believe her, but I’m not sure they are on the same page.)
The next day, Carol tells Tyreese she is on board with staying too. Tyreese confides in Carol about his dreams. (He’s been shown dreaming twice in the episode). He says he dreams of Karen all the time. Sometimes he’s meeting her in city he’s never been to, and other times, she is being killed by a stranger he can’t see. Carol is clearly uncomfortable and looks like she might tell him the truth, but she doesn’t.
As they walk back toward the house, excited to try a new life, they spot Lizzie standing in the yard with a bloody knife. She’s killed Mika to show them she’s right about the zombies, and they will see once Mika wakes up. (What?!) She says she was about do Judith before they came up. Carol very calmly convinces her to give her the gun and knife and to go inside with Tyreese and Judith. Tyreese doesn’t look so sure. Carol assures her that she’ll tie Mika up and wait for her to “come back.” (This has taken a very dark turn.)
Carol has clearly failed and knows it. She breaks down when she’s left with Mika’s body. When she joins Tyreese inside, he says he’s removed all the knives but that he found a box of mice in Lizzie’s room, which makes him believe that Lizzie was feeding the zombies at the prison and might have also killed Karen and David. (Not a bad conclusion — let him think it.)
Carol says Lizzie couldn’t have killed them because she would have let them turn. They discuss what to do with her. Carol says she could leave with Lizzie, but what how would that work? What would Tyreese and Judith do? Carol just keeps saying how Lizzie can’t be around other people. They come to an unspoken agreement.
Next we see Carol walking with Lizzie away from the house, and it’s clear Carol is doing the hard part. She suggests picking flowers to give Mika when she comes back (still playing along with Lizzie’s game). But Lizzie can sense that Carol is not happy and worries that she’s mad at her. Carol keeps saying “I’m not mad” and tells her to “Just look at the flowers.” With Lizzie’s back to her, Carol pulls her gun and shoots her with Tyreese watching from the kitchen window.
After they bury the bodies, Tyreese and Carol sit by candlelight in the house with a puzzle in front of them (kind of funny) and agree they can’t stay in the house. (These houses are cursed.) Carol then takes out her gun and slides it to Tyreese, keeping it aimed at her. She confesses to killing Karen and David. (But was this really the best time?)
She tells him to do what he needs to do. He’s shaken up and touches the gun but tells her, “I forgive you, but I’m never going to forget.” (What choice does he really have? It’s a lonely world and hard choices have been made.)
In the morning, they head out, and we are shown close-ups of the remains of the house. Carol’s voiceover begins and she says, “One day you just change.” As they head back to the tracks, they see the zombie from earlier and leave it.
I’m going to give the Walking Dead crew a lot of credit for this episode. It was well written and provided some unexpected moments.
Lizzie has been building up to this all season long, and the execution was powerful. But this episode really belonged to Carol, who continues to be one of the most interesting and well-developed characters on the show. Her journey from abused housewife to murderer is truly one of the high points of the show — she’s also the most complex female character.
It was heartbreaking to see Carol, who lost her real daughter, lose these two “adopted” daughters. She thought she’d prepared them better for this world, yet they still ended up dead. Things truly are changing, but let’s hope someone finally makes it to Terminus next week.
Now for some random thoughts and my favorite moments of the night…
That gas stove still works?
The last deer shooting on this show went poorly. Be careful.
Carol and Tyreese: Most awkward hug ever.
Best face of the night goes to Tyreese for his “you white people are fucking crazy” look when they found out Lizzie killed Mika.