So far on season four of AMC’s The Walking Dead, every plot point has been driving our heroes on toward the mysterious Terminus. Some travel there in search of their missing loved ones, others seek the promised safety and security of the gathering place at the end of the line. Still others, like the unlucky travelers of tonight’s episode, head toward the unknown entity of Terminus because everything else is already horrific by comparison, and the desire to leave these nightmares behind them propel them forward to the promised land. We’ll have to wait another couple of episodes to see if that promise is made good, but for now, we’ll reflect on “The Grove”. Hit the jump.
Tonight’s opening sequence was a great microcosm of the episode as a whole. It featured a quaint little country kitchen that could have been from before the time of the apocalypse. As the camera pans to look out the window, we see a child running circles around a lunging Walker, seemingly toying with it, or even playing with it. Before we can be entirely sure, the opening credits roll.
What a great setup to a creepy hour of television that relied much more on the psychological trauma of its characters rather than gruesome special effects. We spend the entire sixty minutes with Carol (Melissa McBride) and Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman), who are watching over the Samuels sisters, Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) and Mika (Kyla Kenedy), as well as Baby Judith. Fans will remember that Carol previously confessed to the murder of former friends, Karen (Tyreese’s then-girlfriend) and David, but Tyreese is unaware of this truth. If you think this is the only source of tension among the group, you’d be dead wrong.
To say that the Samuels sisters have some issues is to put it lightly. Mika seems to have come to grips with the reality of the world they’re living in, and that it’s necessary to put Walkers down for good, but she has a hard time killing any living thing, even if it’s for her own survival. Lizzie, on the other hand, has numerous psychological issues in attempting to understand the Walkers; she claims to hear them talking to her, saying they want to play with her and be their friend, or even wanting her to become like them. Lots more on her in a bit.
I rather liked the dysfunctional family unit in this episode, and part of me wished they could have made a home in the pecan grove. I mean, for once they had a solid shelter, clean water, plenty of food and game, and even a working stove! Unfortunately, that’s not the way things work out in this world. Not only do they have a mysterious fire to contend with (or completely ignore, except to make casual comments about it), but there’s a pint-sized psychopath in their midst.
Lizzie has been showing signs of being a bit cracked pretty much since her introduction. In this episode, we’re reminded of how she views the Walkers as merely different, rather than dangerous. She gets upset when Mika shoots one in the head before it can devour them (and probably traumatized the actor portraying baby Judith). She screams in Carol’s face when she saves Lizzie from a friendly neighborhood Walker. And she nearly becomes a Walker herself when found feeding rats, and almost her fingers, to the Walker trapped on the railroad tracks. We’re positioned to think, for only a few moments, that Lizzie has come to the realization that the Walkers are truly dangerous and beyond reasoning when a horde of the smoking monstrosities just about eat her and her sister alive. But Lizzie is too far gone.
In one of the most distressing scenes of the entire series, Carol and Tyreese return from a deer-hunting trip (let’s not even bother asking why they left that little psychopath alone with her sister and a baby…unless they were fooled as well) to find Lizzie covered in blood and holding a bloody knife. Mika lays behind her, quite dead; Judith crawls on a blanket by her side. McBride turns in a great performance of reserved subtlety as she manipulates Lizzie into dropping the knife and handing over the gun, saying she’ll tie Mika up for when she turns. Coleman turns in an equally fine performance, stunned into submission, even for all his strength. It’s a truly powerful scene that offers commentary on the psychological effects of this world: even if Lizzie was never quite right to begin with, this new reality certainly doesn’t help anything. (And yes, it was Lizzie that fed the Walkers the rats at the prison, and left flayed corpses everywhere.) Thankfully, even The Walking Dead isn’t so dark as to show a live child being executed on camera, but the pain in Carol’s eyes was more than enough to get the message across.
Now’s a good time for Carol to clear the air about Karen and David, right? I mean, after Carol kills Lizzie, and the pair buries the Samuels sisters, Tyreese was probably all out of fight. It was hairy there for a minute, but I think the two are stronger for their honesty. If nothing else, it’ll keep them more alert on their journey to Terminus, in search of better memories.
Walkers killed: 10
Casualties: Mika and Lizzie Samuels
Best Zombie Kill: Has to be Carol’s kill of Mika, even if it is off screen. The only more difficult kill was that of Lizzie herself.
Best Zombie Effect: A tie for feeding the Rail Walker, and the group of Smoking Walkers
Odd & Entrails:
Carol: “Yeah, I’m just like the Widow Douglas.”
Carol: “People came into the prison and killed our friends.” Mika: “Well I feel sorry for them.” Carol: “Why?” Mika: “Because they probably weren’t like that before.”
Mika: “Lizzie, I’m sorry I yelled at you. Just look at the flowers like you’re supposed to. Count 1, 2, 3.”
Mika: “Look what I found! I’m gonna name her … Griselda Gunderson.”
Mika: “I miss science class. Except when we had to do gross stuff like cut up planaria worms.”
Tyreese to Carol: “I trust you. And I don’t know if I can get that anywhere else.”
Tyreese: “The whole world is haunted now, and there’s no gettin’ out of that. Not until we’re dead.” Carol: “Maybe they’re not haunting us. Maybe they’re teaching us, reminding us we can live with doing what we have to do.” Tyreese: “Don’t ever be ashamed of who you are, Carol. You did right by those girls. You did right by everyone.”
Carol: “What’s the difference between beer nuts and deer nuts? Beer nuts are around $1.79, and deer nuts are just under a buck.”
Myka: “Don’t worry. She’ll come back. I didn’t hurt her brain.”
Tyreese: “She has a shoebox full of mice.”
Lizzie: “You know everything ma’am.” Carol: “No, I don’t.”
Carol: “Just look at the flowers, Lizzie.”
Carol to Tyreese: “I killed Karen and David. I had to keep the illness from breaking out, I had to stop other people from dying. It wasn’t Lizzie. It wasn’t a stranger. Tyreese, it was me. You do what you have to do.”
Tyreese: “I forgive you. Never gonna forget.”
Watch a promo for next week’s penultimate episode of season four of AMC’s The Walking Dead: