Many fans of the hit AMC series The Walking Dead have been barking that the second half of Season Four has been a bit slow. The group was torn apart after the fall of the prison and each subsequent episode has focused on a different band of survivors and their fight to figure out what they should do next in the days of the Zombie Apocalypse. However, after last night’s episode, The Grove, fans of the show are lighting up social media in total disbelief.
Yes, the show went there.
Like so many devastating episodes of The Walking Dead, there were moments when things were looking up. Carol, Tyrese, little Lizzie, her sister Mika, and baby Judith stumbled upon a Pecan Grove. There was plenty of water to drink from the well, there was food to eat, and they even had a working gas stove. Tyrese and Carol thought they were safe and made the decision not to trek out to the unknown of The Termimus. They figured they could stay at the grove, plant some food, and make a life that wasn’t filled with fear.
Then, Lizzie took a turn. Yes, in hindsight we should have known that something was coming. The girl was off. She didn’t get that the zombies were not play toys but killers who were no longer human. She herself almost offered her hand to the zombie on the tracks because the idea of turning into one didn’t seem that bad to the disillusioned little girl.
But the nightmarish horror that occurred at the end of the episode, even the most perverse mind couldn’t have seen coming. Tyrese and Carol had a nice talk while getting water out in the grove. Yes, they would stay there, raise the kids, trust each other, feel safe. However, when they returned to the house to find Lizzie’s hands covered in blood and poor sweet Mika stabbed to death lying on the ground, that life disappeared. But what was worse was that Lizzie didn’t get it. She didn’t understand what she’d done. She thought that Mika would turn into a zombie and become her friend. She told Tyrese and Carol that Mika would come back, that she didn’t hurt her head.
There would be no happy ending. There would be no more nights shelling pecans and toasting them in the oven while safely tucked away in a house that used to be a home. Carol ominously tells Tyrese, “We can’t sleep with her and Judith under the same roof.”
Instinctively, Carol knew what had to be done.
If anyone ever says to you when you have your back turned “look at the flowers,” you should run. In a twisted spin on Of Mice and Men, Carol shoots young Lizzie. It is brutally devastating, shocking, numbing, nightmarish and jaw dropping. But there was no other way. Carol has proven time and time again that humanity and conscience must be swept aside in order to survive. Anyone without that instinct gets devoured.
Dear writers of the Walking Dead. Did someone hurt you when you were young? Because OMG WTF. Traumatic. I need a drink. #WalkingDead
— Alexis Counsell (@alexc) March 17, 2014
— SalenaZito (@SalenaZitoTrib) March 17, 2014
I think Twitter exploded with that last scene. #WalkingDead
— Carsen (@KRockCarsen) March 17, 2014
Melissa McBride, who plays Carol, sat for an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. She talked about the necessity of Lizzie’s execution. “It was something that had to be done in that world and under those circumstances; Lizzie in that world seemed inevitable. It would be impossible for Tyreese and Carol to move forward with Judith, who doesn’t have any experience of the world before the apocalypse. It was so devastating for Carol to have to do that.”
It can’t be argued that one of the reasons why The Walking Dead is so popular is because it doesn’t follow a set of narrative rules. It’s not a story about zombies. It’s a story about how people change when there are only two options: die or survive. It’s messy, ugly, and gut-wrenching. In many episodes, spectator expectations get shattered. If you try and take a breath, if you think you know how things are going to turn out…you don’t. The Grove proved that last night. It was a warning to viewers not to become too comfortable. There’s more danger to come, no one is safe.
Image via Walking Dead, Twitter