Walking Dead 4.14 – The Grove

Oooh, look at this foreshadowing from four episodes back!

Oooh, look at this foreshadowing from four episodes back!

Previously! Here is my dark, dark show that I love. There’s a part of me that feels bad that I don’t feel worse? Does that make sense? But then I saw Melissa McBride on Talking Dead and she was still so shaken up that now I feel bad for not feeling worse. Can we all just agree that she’s a phenomenal talent, an amazing woman, and beautiful inside and out?

Also, I got really upset with some botanical inaccuracies. Lol. But you’re going to learn more than you ever needed about Pine sap. LET’S START.

The episode begins with a little nod to Fallout 3 (You can’t convince me otherwise, and I almost started humming, “I don’t want to set the world on fire/I just want to staaaaaart a flame in your heart!”) with some old timey romantic music, the kind you want to dance cheek to cheek to with your honey pie.  A tea kettle is on a stove (that house must be on propane for the gas appliances to still work).  The camera cuts to the window where we see two girls playing tag. Oh, it’s Mika and Lizzie!

…wait. Just as the tea kettle begins shrieking we see that it’s Lizzie playing keep away with a Walker as Carol runs out to her. What in tarnation!?

Before this happens, we have our Worst Group Ever (because babies + crazy kids = Tyrese and Carol need to “accidentally on purpose” get separated) camped out at the train trestle where they found the sign for Terminus.  Lizzie relives the past few weeks for Carol, going so far as to say that she saved Ty’s life by killing a person. She’s, uh, a little too proud and excited of her kills.

Worst. Apocalypse Team. Ever. (Poor Carol and Ty.)

Worst. Apocalypse Team. Ever. (Poor Carol and Ty.)

This leads to talk about Sophia where Carol says, “She didn’t have a mean bone in her body.

“Is that why she isn’t here?” Lizzie asks honestly.  And hell if that isn’t a good point. And…Carol agrees.

The next day, and here’s where I spent about two hours researching my old botany books/websites, Lizzie finds sap in the crack of a tree (it looked like a pine tree, but pine tree sap is YELLOW. Maybe pink come August. But mostly yellow. You know what sap is blood red? Sangre de Drago, which is in the Amazon. MORE ON THIS IN A BIT.) so Carol fishes some out on the tip of her knife and slathers it onto Tyrese’s wound to heal it.

PROTIP: fresh pine sap can be used as a poultice to draw out poisons, etc. and in the manner shown. But it is amber in color, hence the whole “fly trapped in amber” thing. You’re going to want to cover the poultice with a bandage, as Carol did, because there’s not much in this world as sticky as pine sap and you’re going to have all sorts of things stick to your wound: dirt, leaves, small rodents.

Carol and Tyrese have a private conversation about Lizzie being “special,” aka, she’s thick-headed and doesn’t believe Walkers aren’t just people, but differently abled. WHAT ON EARTH WITH THIS CHILD. As for Mika, well, how about a little foreshadowing? “She doesn’t have a mean bone in her body.”  Nope, just tender, veal-like bones, mmmm.

As they all walk on, Mika laughs and points out at the end of a conversation about Tom Sawyer that Lizzie is just like Huck because “you’re not even grossed out by dead rabbits,” BUM BUM BUM but neither of the adults put two and two together here.

They can smell a big fire and see a column of smoke in the distance (Daryl and Beth’s fire! They’re so close to each other, OMG) and pull over to rest. Ty sees a Walker on the train tracks ahead, who falls between slats and gets stuck. Before he can kill it, Lizzie has a hand on his arm. “Stop Hammer Time,” she implores. [Punctuation: it’s important.]

Protip: For the millionth time, if you can put down a Walker, PUT IT DOWN. One less gawping maw in the world.

Carol has a little convo with Mika about how Mika needs to toughen the hell up and cut that whole “I’m a sweetie!” shit she’s got going on, because that’s how people get killed.  Mika’s all, “Nope! Gonna stay sweet in the Apocalypse! Killing people is wrong! I don’t see how this could go wrong in the slightest.”

With a private little eye roll, Carol mutters, “Then you’re going to die, dummy.” Oh wait, that was me.

Mika skips ahead to a house she’s spied in the woods. “Everything works out the way it’s supposed to!” rings the Foreshadowing Gong.

Whoo hoo, the place is covered in pecan trees! Plenty of kindling for fire, and pecans are great nuts.

Protip: Pecans fall in the late fall (November) and this is clearly summertime. Do not eat any nuts that have cracked open. They’re fine if the shell is intact, but if it’s open, that’s rotten and you can get sick. Pecans are super high in protein and fat, very light weight, have no cholesterol, and make excellent survival food.

Fun fact! I used to own the 5th largest pecan tree in the state of Texas before we moved. HUNDREDS of pecans fell on our property and our neighbors’. Boy, do I love ’em. And ground up fine, they make awesome flour! You know, in case anyone with gluten intolerance survives, you can make them cookies, etc.

Outside, Lizzie has Judith – I’m all itchy with distrust – with Mika when a Walker shows up. Mika manages to shoot it, upsetting Lizzie because she’s crazy. That was her new friend! She just wanted to play! With your brains, you idiot child. Mika goes so far as to apologize to her sister for doing it, too. NOPE.

Later inside that night while cracking nuts, Lizzie says that she’s trying to understand about Walkers. Mm hmm, that’s some lip service right there. Meanwhile they’re snug and safe with a clean well on the property, White Tail in the woods, available food, and sturdy walls. Could be a great place to stay…

Protip: Make simple candles with Pine resin. Gather up those yellow blobs off the tree, work them in your fingers to soften them up, and wrap them around a bit of yarn, an old shoelace, and set that in a jar lid, plastic thread spool, something like that, and light the tip. To keep your flame going, just pack on more nubbins of pine sap. Also: mix this with cotton balls, dryer lint, and you have yet another perfect fire starter. It’s seriously waterproof. You can throw that in a glass of water and it will keep lit.

The next day we’re at the kettle scene. Tea kettle shrieking, lady Walker grabbing and moaning, Lizzie laughing like a crazy person. Carol races out to kill the Walker, which sends Lizzie over the edge. “You don’t understand! She was my friend, and you killed her. You killed her! WHAT IF I KILLED YOU?”

And that, my friends, is when I’d send Lizzie on a long walk off a short pier, if you catch my drift. I totally took that as a threat, didn’t you? I also got the impression that Carol was thinking that it’s about time to cut bait.

Later, Mika and Carol are hunting deer, having fun science lessons about smoke, and learning that Mika needs to get bloodthirsty. Seriously. Like, start by shooting Bambi over there. Nope, Mika can’t do it. GUYS. COME ON. Come on. Carl would have. Beth would have. I have a note: FUCK THESE KIDS, there’s no veganism in the Apocalypse!

Ty has been thinking about staying as a good idea, and I swear, it looked like Carol was a little itchy about it. “I can’t offload the kids onto other people here,” is what I imagined she was thinking. I really, really think that Carol is over the whole Mother thing. It’s dangerous, they’re not Sophia, and being with Mika and Lizzie continually is just cementing that for her. She’s the Lone Wanderer, or should be. This whole episode for me is about Carol coming to terms with this – she is no longer a mother, she is a survivor.

Lizzie has a little living amuse bouche for our train tracks Walker, a squirming mouse, telling Mika that she can hear them [Walkers] calling to her; they want her to be like them. She sticks her hand out to its mouth. Go for it, kid, make this decision easier on everyone! Before that happens, charcoal Walkers pour out of the woods and come after them. AWESOME.

AHHH!!!!  Also, mad props to the FX department on this amazing makeup. I mean, seriously, it's astounding what they accomplish.

AHHH!!!! Also, mad props to the FX department on this amazing makeup. I mean, seriously, it’s astounding what they accomplish.

The girls run back to the house, Mika gets stuck on the barbed wire [ouch] but Carol pops the brain box of the nearest Walker before they can get to her.  More keep coming, the girls draw their weapons, too, and even Lizzie gets in on the shooting gallery. Except Lizzie, later that day, is trying to convince herself that it was the right thing to do. Carol notes this.

After the girls go to sleep, Ty and Carol have a conversation about staying, about not being ready to be around strangers yet, about Ty’s nightmares about Karen. He says the world is haunted.  Raise your hand if you thought Carol was about to admit that she killed Karen and David right there? (And keep your hand up if you think Ty would have leapt across the table and gotten her in a chokehold? Yeesh.)

He also tells her while they hunt for deer the next day that she did right by everyone, not really knowing what he’s saying, but is totally accurate, nonetheless. AND THEN THINGS GO HORRIBLY, HORRIBLY WRONG.

They walk up to the worst tableau ever: Judith on the ground by herself, Lizzie standing with a calm smile and bloody hands, and holy sheep shears, Mika at her sister’s feet, covered in blood. And I mean that Lizzie’s hands are DRIPPING with blood.


SHOOT HER. SHOOT HER NOW. DO IT. Wait, grab Judith first then SHOOT HER.

SHOOT HER. SHOOT HER NOW. DO IT. Wait, grab Judith first then SHOOT HER.

Carol goes for her knife but Lizzie pulls a gun. She just wants them to wait and see, she’ll show them! It’ll be fine!  Sure, sure, Carol agrees because she’s awesome in a pinch, and says to just hand over the gun and they’ll all wait. Maybe whip up some pecan patties until Mika joins them, how about that? (She gets the gun from Lizzie.) Lizzie tells her that Baby Judith was about to go that same way, but y’all came back, so…

CAN YOU IMAGINE. They’re going to eventually find Rick, I believe this, and how do they say, “Oh, Ty saved Judith only to have her stabbed to death by Lizzie. Remember her? Little girl I adopted?”

Carol uses the idea that she’ll put a tether on Mika to “keep her from wandering off” which pleases Lizzie, so she goes with Ty inside for snack time as Carol breaks down with sobs.  She goes to Ty later to learn that he put her in a weaponless room. Yeah, I don’t want to live with a child whom I’m afraid of, sorry. He learns that Lizzie was who had been feeding the Walkers at the prison.

Carol offers to leave with Lizzie, leave Ty with Judith to push on or stay, whatever. Ty thinks therapy might help?  REALLY, TY? DO YOU REALLY? Carol has to explain that sometimes there’s broke that just don’t get fixed.

Protip: How to fix things that are broken! (Not people) Gather up the goopy clumps of pine resin on the side of the tree and either gently heat it over a candle or between your hands. It makes an excellent patch that is waterproof, too.  Heat it back to liquid in a pan and paint it over items to act as a glue – pine tar/pitch is used in boats, that’s how awesome it is.

Carol and Lizzie go for a little walk, and this has me flashing back to my dad taking our old dog “to the farm.” Lizzie thinks Carol is mad at her. She’s awfully sorry about pulling that gun on Carol – not for killing her sister, but for the gun. Well, that cinches it, Carol. “I love you,” Carol says. “Everything works out the way it’s supposed to. Just look at the flowers,” she says, hearkening back to when they had to kill Lizzie’s father in the prison.

She pulls a gun. She pulls the trigger as Lizzie stands with her back to Carol, crying. WOW. Wow. Carol staggers back to the house (Ty has been watching from the window) and spies a deer. Yeah, she’s done enough killing for the day. The girls get buried in the makeshift grave at the edge of the grove.

If you don't think Melissa McBride is outstanding, I don't know that I can be friends with you anymore.

If you don’t think Melissa McBride is outstanding, I don’t know that I can be friends with you anymore.

That night there isn’t much to say. Well, except for Carol saying (after she hands Ty her gun) “I killed Karen and David. Do what you have to.”  Ty grips the gun, really clutches it, then lets it go.

After asking if Karen suffered, if she knew what was happening (it was past that point, and it was quick) he tells Carol that she’s going to live with it – she already is, and it’s taking a toll. He forgives her, but he’s not going to forget it. “You feel it. I know you do.”

She nods, accepts what he’s saying. (This is why she is awesome. She is decisive, she is realistic, and she’s accepting.) They can’t stay there. The next morning, with Judith papoosed on Ty’s back and bags filled with provisions, they head out along the train tracks, leaving the train track Walker still chomping. (WHY.)

Guys, promise me that if you see a Walker – even if it’s trapped – you will put it down. Things have a way of becoming UN-trapped, you feel me?

But look at some of the awesome parallels Ty and Carol have to deal with. Lizzie bears a resemblance to Sophia, and while Sophia was turned into a monster, and Carol couldn’t kill her, Lizzie already IS a monster.  And now she understands how hard it was for Rick to do what he did. (Both Sophia and Lizzie are little whisps of girls, both on the cusp of puberty yet still holding onto their innocence in a way.)  Here’s Carol’s final acceptance of losing her daughter. For me, I think she’s done. She’s going to be like Michonne and distance herself from children.

Tyrese is confronted with smoking, charred Walkers, reminiscent of Karen and David. He finds out who killed Karen but after witnessing what happened with Mika ad Lizzie, I think he gets a little better how ugly this world is and that for people like Carol, the decision is awful, but she knows she has to do it for everyone else. After all, he did tell her that (before he knew), and he believed it then. I think by the end of this episode, he believes it now, too.

Carol? You did right by everyone.