After seeing the last few episodes centred around less familiar characters, it’s somewhat reassuring to get an entire episode focusing solely on the exploits of two unambiguous fan favourites – namely Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Carol (Melissa McBride), who we last saw in ‘Strangers’ chasing after the same sort of car that apparently abducted Beth (Emily Kinney).
Although ‘Consumed’ ostensibly has a Bonnie & Clyde-esque feel to it, this is Carol’s episode, and we’re cool with that. As we’ve flagged up previously, she has changed almost beyond all recognition since the show began – and despite the cataclysm that has taken place, it’s a world she seems more comfortable in, a fact she herself acknowledges, despite lamenting that “we don’t save people anymore.”
Having been helpless and subdued in the face of her brutish husband, she is now defined an entirely by her willingness to do whatever it takes to save those she loves – as exemplified in the first flashback of the episode, when she races off to the prison after seeing it go up in flames (after the Governor’s assault in Season 4), despite having recently been exiled.
Admittedly, her determination to help pushes her to extremes of actions: like blowing up Terminus, and her killings of Karen, David and Lizzie. In another world she might be something less palatable, but in the world of The Walking Dead, she does whatever’s necessary, and it’s hard to judge her for it.
Up until around three quarters of the way through, the entire episode feels like a slow build to something bigger. This isn’t helped by the fact that Carol and Daryl aren’t exactly the most adept conversation-starters (“How did we get here?” “We just did”), although it’s interesting to see that even with the person he is arguably closest to, Daryl still keeps his guard up (“You know me” “Keep telling yourself that”).
These exchanges, although bleak and stubborn in their refusal to give away anything, sum up The Walking Dead perfectly: we’ll almost certainly never find out the reason for the outbreak, nor gain a satisfactory conclusion, but that won’t matter.
With the build, however, ultimately there is a climax – one that ties the events of the previous episodes together, and sets things up for another almighty showdown. Hopefully this’ll be drawn out for longer than the Cannibal gang saga (already consigned to Walking Dead history), but for now, we’ll take our satisfaction from the journey, which The Walking Dead is all about.