Fans rooting for Daryl and Carol will be sorely disappointed come the end of this episode.
When Rick decided to banish her from the prison, it was just as shocking and saddening as if they’d killed the character. “You’re not that woman who was too scared to be alone. Not anymore,” he soothed. “You’re going to start over, find others, ones who don’t know, and you’re going to survive out here. You will.”
And we sincerely hope so. Actress Melissa McBride did such a good job of portraying this complex character who cared too much, that even a bleak flashback to her stabbing Karen couldn’t make us hate her for what she did. But we wouldn’t want to share a cell with Carol, that’s for sure.
As Rick points out, no one’s going to want her around knowing she murdered two people that had a chance of pulling through. Carol’s a different person now, underlined when a woman asks if she lost her daughter to walkers and she says ‘No’. She later explains to Rick that she doesn’t feel like the woman who was Sophia’s mother (“That’s someone else’s slideshow.”).
It’s powerful writing from Walking Dead newbie Matthew Negrate, hammering home this season’s theme of change that’s spelled out in the opening credits scene when Lizzie says at least when you die, it’s not the end. “When they come back they aren’t – people aren’t who they were,” comes Carol’s reply – and the analogy is not lost on us.
One person struggling to change for the better is Bob Stookey, who opened up to Daryl this week about his history of drink problems. When he nearly risks his life wrestling with walkers over a bag of supplies that turns out to be booze, we realise how far he has to go.
Daryl threatens to toss the booze overboard and Bob immediately reaches for his gun, exposing him as a potential liability, but Daryl doesn’t need bullets. He shot him down with a stare and some choice words, maintaining his mantle as the biggest badass, but we miss those moments when he’d open up – to Carol (“I believe this one bloomed for your little girl” or Andrea (“Nine days in the woods, eating berries and wiping my ass with poison oak.”).
Perhaps Michonne will make a move and transform this meme magnet into a romantic hero? There seems to be sparks between those two as Daryl stoops to pick something up and she asks: “Is that jasper? It’s a good colour. Brings out your eyes.” It’s a marker, he explains, adding that if she stayed in one place for a while she might pick up on those things. Our beloved redneck seems to be the only member of the group bothered by her continued search for the Governor (coincidence?), and by the end of the episode she assures him she’ll be sticking around from now on.
Michonne will probably need to calm him down when he finds out Carol’s been kicked out. She’s proven to be the voice of reason for many characters in need – when Rick was seeing Lori’s ghost, and this episode when Tyreese embraces a walker. It’s nice to see that she’s becoming less taciturn as time goes by since she’s remained an enigma for over a season now.
These road trip episodes have become a welcome breather from the cell block confines, enabling us to meet new people and their various methods of coping. Incidentally, this outing echoes The Walking Dead Webisodes The Oath, with a mission to find medical supplies, dead hands reaching through double doors, a doomed couple that have their own terminology for the walkers, and the ethical question of euthanasia.
These brief encounters with other survivors also remind us that there’s a big scary world out there, one where the Governor bides his time, and that Carol’s now forced to explore. It’s one of the quietest episodes so far in terms of walker kills, but Carol’s unexpected departure will keep it from being forgotten.