If you haven’t watched this week’s episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead, “The Grove,” I have two warnings for your. First, stop reading, because everything that follows directly relates to last night’s installment of the hit zombie drama. Second, it was a rather traumatic outing, like you stop talking midsentence and your eyes get big levels of holy shit. As tepid and noncommittal as the show has been in the past, this episode has some serious stones.
Carol (Melissa McBride) is at the center of the action and is forced to make the hardest decision anyone on The Walking Dead has ever had to make. The only thing that even comes close is when Carl (Chandler Riggs) had to shoot his zombified mother in the head in order to stop her from eating everyone she gets her rotting hands on.
Enough dancing around, here’s what happened last night, and beware, there are lots of SPOILERS coming. In a storyline reworked from pages of the comic books, the episode centers around Carol, Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman), and their underage charges Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino), Mika (Kyla Kenedy), and baby Judith Grimes. Lizzie is having some problems adjusting to the way the world is now. She doesn’t see the walkers as a threat or as monsters, she thinks they’re just different. To prove her point, she kills her little sister. Her logic is that when Mika comes back everyone will see that she’s still the same happy little girl, just with a new kind of hunger. Carol essentially has to Old Yeller the little girl, taking her out back and putting a bullet through her head. It isn’t an easy choice, the show actually does a good job of dramatizing Carol and Tyreese’s struggle without devolving into an endless debate that goes nowhere.
There’s a lot going on for Carol emotionally, and THR caught up with McBride to get her feelings on the events of “The Grove.” You may wonder how she felt when she learned what her character would have to do. She says, “Overwhelmed and devastated. I sat there reading the script with my mouth open. Shortly after Rick (Andrew Lincoln) banished Carol from the prison, [showrunner] Scott [M. Gimple] told me Carol was going to come back and something pretty bad was going to be required of Carol.”
Killing a child like this is obviously a horrendous thing to have to do, something that will indelibly change Carol, and perhaps the very future of the show. Is this something that Carol can come back from, or is she going to be broken beyond repair. McBride says, “It was something that had to be done in that world and under those circumstances; Lizzie in that world seemed inevitable. It would be impossible for Tyreese and Carol to move forward with Judith, who doesn’t have any experience of the world before the apocalypse. It was so devastating for Carol to have to do that.”
The biggest lingering question that everyone wants to know the answer to is, was there anything else they could do other than kill Lizzie? McBride says:
No, I don’t think there was really any other option. There’s a lot of nature versus nurture going on in this episode to look at. As much as it broke Carol’s heart to have to do this and to realize this had to be done. They were walking toward the flowers in that scene and Lizzie says, “You’re mad at me and I’m sorry.” You’d think she’d be sorry for stabbing her sister to death, but instead she’s sorry for pointing gun at her, so she just doesn’t get it.
Watching the events of this episode unfold in front of you, you can’t help but recall what happened in season two in “Pretty Much Dead Already,” when the survivors discover Carol’s zombiefied daughter Sophia in the barn and Rick has to put her down. That’s bound to bring up some unresolved issues for the mother. McBride adds:
In a very big way, especially with that line from their mother, it almost helps Carol to close that old wound in a way. “Everything works out the way it’s supposed to” — in the context of all that went down and thinking it was inevitable that these children would lose their lives because they couldn’t do what it took to defend themselves. Mika said she couldn’t and would never kill another person, and she couldn’t defend herself from her sister, either. It just seemed like it was something that would be inevitable.
There are a ton of questions that are going to have to be answered moving forward. Season four of The Walking Dead only has two episodes left, and these aren’t easy, everyone hug it out kind of issues to resolve, this is going to linger. It’s going to be interesting to see the events of “The Grove” echo throughout the series.