AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 4, Episode 14: “The Grove”
Directed by Michael E. Satrazemis
Written by Scott M. Gimple
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Alone” – click here
* For a recap & review of the penultimate Season 4 episode, “Us” – click here
Even though Carol (Melissa McBride), Tyreese (Chad Coleman), baby Judith, Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino), and Mika (Kyla Kenedy) are together, things aren’t well. There’s something decidedly wrong about Lizzie, whose treatment of the walkers is something beyond misunderstanding. She is fundamentally flawed, in some way. Mika understands the walkers, but her sister doesn’t seem to see the world in the same light.
For now they’re headed for Terminus, wondering what they’ll find at the end of the tracks. Hope is what it gives them at the moment. Poor Tyreese needs it, he can barely get a proper night’s sleep. Luckily he has Carol around to tend to his wound with some tree sap, help his fever. Still doesn’t know what she did, though. Could cause incredible problems later on.
Carol compares herself to “the Widow Douglas” from Tom Sawyer, as the girls debate which one of them is Tom, which is Huck. A sweet scene in the midst of all that ugliness. Love when the writers toss that in. Maybe some people feel it’s like a soap opera with zombies. Fuck those people; this is a great character study of humanity, that’s what this show does best.
When they’re alone, Carol and Mika talk about being able to kill. The little girl knows her sister is “messed up.” She just doesn’t want to have to kill people; she gets the walkers, but her morality won’t let her, under any circumstances, commit murder. Not ever, not in retaliation or anything else. What Mika illustrates to us is how humanity has changed. She recognises people who murder, for whatever reason now in the post-zombie apocalypse, many of them “weren‘t like that before.”
The group come across a cabin in the woods. Carol suggests they rest a couple days before heading on the road longer to Terminus. On the horizon they see smoke rising, far away, some kind of fire. So they play it safe, checking the grounds thoroughly to make sure they can stay there a bit. Outside the cabin Mika puts down a zombie to save her sister and Judith, sort of proving herself. Meanwhile, Lizzie’s falling deeper into her own mind. And everyone around her, Mika included, can see it getting so much worse.
Mika: “Just look at the flowers like you‘re supposed to”
At night they all settle down, in an actual house, in a warm living room. Even a doll for Mika to play with, a comfy chair where Tyreese can relax, as Lizzie helps Carol shell pecans. Could be longer of a stay than just a few days the way it looks.
The opening scene returns now, in context, with Lizzie shambling around in the yard with a zombie. “She wanted a friend,” the girl screams when Carol puts it down. The girl’s mind can’t handle this world. She’s all but broken in two psychologically. It’s actually horrifying to watch, some of the more emotionally straining moments of The Walking Dead as a whole. So different from the experiences of others we’ve seen thus far.
Tyreese talks about the trust he has in Carol, wanting to live in that cabin the four of them. But you can just see the look in her eyes, she knows that without telling him what she did to Karen then later on it will only be worse if it comes out.
Also, we finally discover – for certain, anyways – Lizzie is the one who was feeding the walkers the rats at the prison. We see more of the girl breaking down, her sister Mika trying to snap her out of it. Then a horde of burned up walkers breaks through the trees, roaming from wherever the fire’s raging. The group fight them off with guns, and even Lizzie starts shooting them. Although afterwards she has a bit of a cry. Maybe a turning point?
Lizzie: “I know what I have to do now”
Later on, Carol and Tyreese bond together on a walk. When they get back to the cabin they find a shocking mess – Lizzie has killed her sister, leaving the brain untouched. She wants her to reanimate. To show the adults what she’s been talking about this whole time. Such a disturbing thing to watch, especially considering Judith is lying feet away. One of the most hardcore things we’ve seen on the series to date.
Tyreese and Carol discuss their options. She says maybe she ought to take Lizzie and leave. They can’t keep her around Judith. Tyreese doesn’t want that. Then they realise “she can‘t be around other people.” There’s only one way out of this predicament.
Out into the woods, Carol takes Lizzie to pick some flowers, for when Mika comes back. And she tells the young girl to look at the flowers, as her sister did before. She raises her gun, firing, putting the girl out of her misery while Tyreese watches tearfully from the window. Definitely the hardest thing Carol’s ever had to do, even above suffering through her marriage to an abuser. Her character is amazing, put through so much and she continues to survive, to thrive.
That night Carol and Tyreese sit quietly in the cabin together, and she reveals to him she killed Karen and David. She slides him the gun, telling him to do what he must. Instead, he forgives, choosing not to forget. But he knows she feels the guilt: “It‘s a part of you now. Me, too.” Then they decide it’s time to leave that place, to go on towards Terminus.
What a spectacular episode. So intense and emotional all around. One of my favourites of the series, definitely. A chilling chapter in the whole journey. “Us” is next and we’re coming up on another one of the most tense, brutally thrilling episodes of the whole show.