I have been critical of The Walking Dead‘s ability to execute this multiple-storyline thing that they are going for, and it has been all over the place. But “The Grove” is a gripping hour of television (well, 45 minutes, I guess) and it may be the best episode they have ever done. Let’s go………….
-The cold open isn’t that long, and it is just a little girl, running around outside of a house playing tag with her “friend”, which we figure out is a walker by the way it is moving. So we’re on to Carol, Tyreese and the girls.
-After the credits, Carol and Lizzie are sitting up and talking while Tyreese, Mika and Judith sleep. Lizzie tells Carol that she saved Tyreese back at the prison when the Governor and his crew came through, but she was upset that she shot one of his attackers in the head. We all know that something isn’t right with this little girl….she just doesn’t get it. As soon as she started naming the walkers at the prison, you had to know something was wrong with Lizzie.
-Then she starts asking Carol about Sophia, and Carol said that Sophia didn’t have a mean bone in her body, to which Lizzie replies, “Is that why she isn’t here now?”. Maaaaaaaannnnnnn….I know she is a kid and all, but damn. To her credit, Carol didn’t choke her out right there.
-They continue down the tracks, and while Carol treats a cut on Tyreese’s arm, they talk about the sisters. Carol points out that Lizzie still thinks the walkers are people, which counteracts her toughness, while Mika is too nice to kill things, which has to change if they’re going to survive. Then they all start talking about Tom Sawyer, which I never read, so that scene kinda went over my head. I know: I’m an English major that never read Tom Sawyer. I lucked out.
-Carol and Mika go looking for water, while Tyreese stays with Judith and Lizzie, but he hears a sound and finds a walker on the tracks. He tries to kill it, but Lizzie begs him not to. And that is where I would have drawn the line and gave her a stern talking to, at least. Things are different now, and she just doesn’t understand. So infuriating. Meanwhile, Carol tries to break it down for Mika, telling her that she is going to have to learn to kill, at least walkers. Mika is too nice for that, though, Again, I get that they are kids, but damn.
-They find a house and while Carol and Tyreese are clearing it, the girls are outside, and Mika is still trying to tell her sister that walkers aren’t people, to which Lizzie replied, “you’re wrong, all of you”. It was creepy. That is when you got an inkling that something big was going to happen this week.
-A walker comes out of the house and almost gets the girls, but Mika shoots it in the head while Lizzie freezes and then has a panic attack. So we are getting somewhere. I think Mika may have mentioned that her sister has mental-health problems in the past, but we are seeing it now. Mika calms her down and tells Lizzie to look at the flowers. How telling that turns out to be.
-Carol is boiling tea and looking out the window, and she sees what we saw in the cold open: Lizzie playing tag with a walker. She runs out and kills it, but Lizzie loses her mind on her, screaming that the walker was her friend, and all kinds of other nonsense. Like, she really went full-on ham on Carol. It was kind of disturbing.
-Carol takes Mika out in the woods to go hunting, but Mika can’t shoot a deer they see. She just isn’t built for this life. Neither of the sisters are. Did we ever see a backstory on them? All I remember is their father dying at the prison. Anyway, Mika is all, “we have peaches!” and Carol is like, “bitch, I want meat!”.
-Lizzie goes off on her own, and Mika follows her. We see Lizzie feeding a rat to the walker she persuaded Tyreese not to kill on the tracks, and we figure out she was the one doing it at the prison as well. As soon as she said she can hear them, I really just wanted to push her into the walker’s grasp. A bunch of walkers come out of the woods, and they’re burned; they must have come from the smoke that the group noticed early in the episode. The girls run back to the house and along with Carol and Tyreese, they wipe out the walkers. Lizzie even saves her sister, who had gotten caught on some barbed wire. She is starting to get it…..maybe.
-Carol and Tyreese go on a hunting trip of their own, and leave Judith with the girls, because that seems like a brilliant idea. Tyreese opens up to Carol about having nightmares, and they are about Karen, which obviously makes Carol feel guilty for killing her. I was just waiting for the confession, but it doesn’t come yet.
-That has to be put on the backburner, because they get back to the house, and find Mika dead on the ground and Lizzie, dripping with blood and holding a knife. Lizzie was convinced that Mika would come back because that is what walkers do, but she didn’t hurt her brain, so she is fine. Carol and Tyreese are just staring at her like, “what in all the fucks?”. Carol tries to take the knife, but Lizzie pulls out a gun. Lizzie walkin’ around like Rambo up in this bitch, knives, guns, she got you. Carol finally calms her down, saying she would wait for Mika to come back, so Lizzie should go in the house with Tyreese and Judith, who she was also going to kill. Carol finally breaks down and has a cry, just a little one.
-Tyreese tells Carol that Lizzie cops to feeding rats to the walkers at the prison, and he also theorizes that she killed Karen and David, but Carol snuffs that out by saying Lizzie would have let them turn. Carol says that Lizzie can’t be around other people, which means it’s about to go down.
-Carol and Lizzie go outside, and Lizzie thinks Carol is mad at her for pointing a gun at her…not for killing her sister, though. She runs away and stands in front of some flowers, and Carol just tells her to keep looking at the flowers as she shoots Lizzie in the head through her tears. My jaw dropped. You know it had to happen, but it is still jarring. Carol and Tyreese bury the girls in the yard. Where the hell is Judith?
-Carol and Tyreese are sitting in the house, and Carol slides a gun over to Tyreese before she confesses to Karen’s murder. You think Tyreese is about to wild out, but he says he forgives Carol; still, he’ll never forget it. He knows that Carol has to live with it now, and that is punishment enough, and not to mention, they just buried two little girls. What’s the point of more bloodshed?
-They leave the house with Judith and continue their journey towards Terminus, and we hear a conversation between Carol and Lizzie about how Lizzie was afraid, and Carol tells her that it just happens; you just change. No character in the show has changed more than Carol, who was meek and abused when we first met her, and since then, she has lost her asshole husband, her real daughter, her “adopted” daughters and a few more along the way. She wasn’t always Killa Carol.
“The Grove” was, far and away, the best episode of the season and possibly the best of the series (at least in the conversation). Melissa McBride has been a tour de force this season and is putting up an MVP-type performance, and Brighton Sharpino, who played Lizzie, was awesome in this episode. That was an incredibly well-acted and well-paced episode that shows you that The Walking Dead is very capable of competing with the best shows out there. Two episodes left to see if everyone makes it to Terminus in one piece, and I suspect a few won’t make it.