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The Walking Dead Recap: “The Grove” (Season 4, Episode 14)

Well. This week’s episode of The Walking Dead was a doozie, eh? When I woke up on Monday morning and googled The Walking Dead, the first few headlines to appear were “Did AMC go too far?” and “Was last night’s episode a misstep?” Due to some Facebook and Instagram spoilers I was pretty certain we were going to see Lizzie bite the dust. Following Alanna Masterson (@lucytwobows), as it turns out, led to following Lauren Cohan (@laurencohan), and their creepy Instagram fans (“PERF!” “Ugh WHY CAN’T I BE HER?!?!?!”) gave some stuff away. If it’s any consolation to those of you who think the show “overstepped,” it also fell short of what the books did here.

Tyreese, Lizzie, Judith Walking Dead

I can’t be the only one who cringed EVERY TIME they left Judith in her arms, right? Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

The episode opens on a seemingly serene scene (I’m feeling onomatopeoic today, apparently): the camera watches from inside a dusty window as two girls scramble about in the yard; a staticky record croons, and a kettle crescendos to a boil. I dunno about you, but I spent this scene squinting at my screen, trying to decide if this was play or chase – or some combination of the two. How right I was.

After the credits, we cut to Carol and Lizzie watching over Tyreese as he sleeps on the railroad tracks. Lizzie matter-of-factly tells Carol she could take Judith if there’s trouble…urgh. When Lizzie asks, Carol tells her about Sophia (remember Sophia, the reason for shitty, terrible season 2?). “She didn’t have a mean bone in her body,” Carol says. “Is that why she isn’t here now?” inquires Lizzie. This kid who’s so out of touch with humanity somehow hits that nail right on the head: only the mean survive the apocalypse. Read more

The Walking Dead Recap: “Inmates” (Season 4, Episode 10)

I’ve been alternating The Walking Dead with True Detective and House of Cards (both of which, let’s be frank, are much better). Paired with the rapidly melting eighteen inches of snow that blanketed the east coast last week, this television trio makes for a very…intense February. Of all the shows I’ve recapped, I take the fewest notes on The Walking Dead; I can best guess what’s happening next and I have a sturdy handle on what the writers are doing. No idea if this is because I’ve been paying attention for three years now, or if the teleplays are particularly transparent, or what.

Either way, this week’s “Inmates” tries for an overarching theme about hope, about the prison of the mind. Now that they’re out of the physical prison, the scattered remains of Rick’s crew have to tackle their freedom and reevaluate their respective states of mind. The episode begins with a voiceover from Beth (a character I find immensely boring): she’s reading a journal addressed to her dead mother (R.I.P). You’ve just got to have hope! she’s telling us. Daryl, her sole companion in the escape, isn’t having it. That gent has no time or space for hope. We’re watching these characters revert to their original states – and it’s not very exciting. The key to keeping your audience interested is to move your folks in new directions, not to sweep them back to the beginning again. Beth and Daryl encounter the scene of a massacre, walkers consuming the flesh of some former prison inhabitants. A baby shoe lies abandoned in the center of a pile of viscera. As almost anybody would, Beth totally loses her shit – and Daryl stares impassively. We’ve all got our coping mechanisms.

 Beth and Daryl: hardasses extraordinaire. Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

“We can live here for the rest of our lives.” Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

After ten minutes and the reassurance that Daryl made it out (let’s face it, he’s the show’s biggest damn hero at this point), the writers bounce us over to Tyreese, Lizzie, and Mika. Tyreese has Judith, who’s very much alive, as Reddit guessed and I said last week. Let’s just pause this for a moment to give the show (and actor Brighton Sharbino, who also is on this week’s episode of True Detective) some mad props for depicting a child sociopath. When the four of them pause to camp, Lizzie spies two baby bunnies inside a log and stabs them to death with her knife. Her face displays avid curiosity, willful determination, and nothing else.  Read more