Tonight’s episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead took our survivors outside the relative safety of the prison gates, but not everybody would be returning. We’ve bid farewell to characters for various reasons – Walker bites, friendly fire, and recently, illness – but tonight’s episode, “Indifference” featured a new method of departure never before seen on the show. It remains to be seen how the events of this episode will impact the rest of the story arc in season four (or perhaps even the planned companion series), but things will certainly get interesting from here on out. Hit the jump for my review, and to find out if hipsters have survived the apocalypse.
Much like last year’s standout episode, “Clear”, tonight’s hour took us outside the comfort of the prison gates and into the unpredictable wilds of suburbia. Two groups are now out in search of supplies: one led by Daryl (Norman Reedus), with Michonne (Danai Gurira), Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) and Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) along for support, and one comprised of Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Carol (Melissa McBride). The second one is more interesting, so we’ll save that for last.
Daryl’s group ran into trouble last week by way of the wandering herd of Walkers, but Tyreese’s hammer rage got them out of the worst of it. Tyreese is still a bit uneven – he’ll sulk and wash his bloody clothes in a creek one minute, then hold a Walker in a deadly embrace the next – and Bob remains unproven. It’s hardly Daryl and Michonne’s first rodeo, but the fact that they have to keep an eye on the other two makes things a bit more difficult. (And it’s not just me anymore, there’s definitely some chemistry between the two former loners.) After the group secures new transportation, they deal with a small pack of Walkers lurking behind the kudzu vines and make their way to the vet school. Here, Daryl and Bob have a face-off, with the latter giving in to his alcoholism and (stupidly) testing Daryl’s leadership. Bob has yet to prove himself useful or even trustworthy, so we’ll see how this new turn of his character works out for him; perhaps they’ll just kick him to the curb.
Meanwhile, Rick and Carol head out in search of medicine and food. This pairing was the real heart of the story this week as both of them dance around the issue of Carol’s decision to murder Karen and David in the hopes of preventing their illness from spreading to the others. Rick is clearly not pleased with her behavior, but since he’s taken a back seat to other leaders lately, he’s not really sure if he’s in a place to say anything. Carol, on the other hand, is entirely convinced that her actions were necessary as she was doing whatever was needed to protect the survivors. This was a great episode for McBride, whose character has gone from timid victim of domestic abuse, to impotent mother of a lost and undead child, to confident and competent survivor of the apocalypse. She was a strength for the rest of the people at the prison, but as Rick found out, she was also a liability.
Rick and Carol’s back and forth carried over the entire hour and dug up past events, such as Shane’s death at Rick’s hands and Carol’s loss of Sophia. Rick stated that his decision to kill Shane was purely in self defense, while Carol’s actions were not her decision as the two sick patients had a possibility of recovering. Any attempt by Rick to elicit an emotional response out of Carol is turned aside with a measured reply akin to, “I did what I had to do.” Carol’s not without emotions though, as Rick’s threat to kick her out of the prison causes her to question what will happen to Lizzie and Mika, and whether or not she could take them. Rick, apparently back in charge by no other appointment than his own decision, banishes Carol to the wilds with meager supplies and a vehicle, saying they’ll take care of the kids.
Rick’s banishing of Carol from the group definitely came as a surprise, just as much as killing off a character would have. The story surrounding Carol’s departure is every bit as interesting as the manner in which she leaves us. Rick alone bears the responsibility of the knowledge that she murdered David and Karen, a decision that will not only cause Tyreese to come after her, but would also likely divide the remaining survivors as to what to do with her. Just because Carol is no longer with the prison group doesn’t mean they won’t still ask questions or that they’ll be prevented from forming a schism amongst themselves. The two most volatile character reactions should be reserved for Tyreese and Daryl; surely Rick knows this, so it will be interesting to say the least just how he handles the burden of this information.
As for the show itself, why let McBride go in this fashion? Was it just a unique way to off a character without ripping out their entrails or shooting them in the head? It was certainly a fitting departure for Carol, who has grown into a more-than-capable survivor. Perhaps her manner of exit has further implications, however, since it opens up the possibility of her return not only in this series, but maybe even in the companion series. It’s a shame that we’ll no longer get to see McBride each week, but Carol’s character arc has certainly been the most rewarding thus far. Because of that strong focus on character, this week’s episode of The Walking Dead earns a bump in the score even if its level of spectacle was toned down a bit.
Zombie Kills: 10 – The fewest this season.
Casualties: Ana, or as I like to call her, Hipster Velma. Not sure if we’ll see Sam, aka Hipster Shaggy, again.
Best Kill: Michonne’s two-for-one. Slim pickins this week.
Best effect: Walker wall – This season has done a good job at introducing Walkers in unexpected ways, such as Walkers raining through the ceiling or behind locked away behind a wall of kudzu.
Carol: “Don’t call me ‘mom’. “ Lizzie: “It was an accident.” Carol: “Just don’t.”
Carol: “You just fight it and don’t give up. Then one day, you change. We all change.”
Carol on euthanizing Karen and David: “They would have drowned in their own blood. They were suffering. I made it quick.”
Michonne to Daryl: “Is that Jasper? Good color. Brings out your eyes.”
Station wagon: “Pardon our dust”
Rick: “Medicine cabinets, first aid kits, anything that can help Hershel. We get in, we get out. And if we can eat it, we take it.”
Post-apocalyptic Hipsters: “It’s cool! We’re cool! … We have fruit!”
Rick and his Three Questions again… They must not be that stringent if Shaggy and Velma passed.
Sam to Rick: “You don’t look too good yourself.”
In addition to everything else he does, Daryl’s also a pretty handy mechanic.
Carol: “Rick, I killed two people and you haven’t said a word about it.”
Carol: “You can be a farmer, Rick. You can’t just be a farmer.”
Carol says she learned how to repair a dislocated shoulder from the internet, often had to fix her own shoulder thanks to her abusive husband. This little scene served as a reminder of how strong Carol has always been, but that it took surviving the apocalypse to get her to realize it.
Rick’s story about Lori’s terrible pancakes was a nice moment that took the edge off of his conversation with Carol and reminded us that they’re each of them human after all.
Rick: “She wanted us to be the kind of family that ate pancakes on Sunday.”
I loved watching Tyreese make an exit by hulking out and smashing a window with a fire extinguisher. (Anyone got a gif of it yet?)
Daryl to Terrible Bob: “I will beat your ass into the ground, do you hear me?”
Michonne admits to Daryl that the Governor’s trail has gone cold and that she doesn’t need to go out anymore, which means he should probably be showing up some time soon.
Carol on Sophia: “That’s someone else’s slideshow.” – A line that sums up the life of the Carol we’ve watched over the last few seasons. Here’s hoping the Carol that drove off into the sunset continues to have adventures and save lives.