There was very little prison action on this week’s “The Walking Dead.” Instead, those of our core characters who are not suffering from a horrible flu that causes you to drown in your own blood were wisely staying away from disease-ravaged cell block D.
Last week’s cliffhanger-ish antibiotics crew was still out pursuing the vet school, working out addiction and anger issues, and doing some minor auto repair. Meanwhile, the one-man justice system that is Rick Grimes went on a run with Carol and made a big decision about the cold-blooded murderess.
The vet school crew picks up pretty much where it left off, with Tyreese in a careless blind rage, Michonne and Daryl flirting, and Bob being at once shady and clumsy. They come across a car with a dead battery in it, and try to make their way into an auto shop by hacking through some bushes laced with Walkers. Tyreese goes all out mad on them and won’t let go of a Walker. Um, isn’t it usually the other way around? He makes it hard for Mich to take the zombie’s head off, and later, she gives Tyreese a lecture about how his anger is going to get him killed.
In the auto shop, Daryl discovers that the attendant and family drank antifreeze and calls them douchebags for taking their own way out. Bob defends them. But then, Bob knows about strong drinks. He tells Daryl that before he met him, he had watched two complete groups die and would drink himself to sleep at night. He admits that he caused the shelf collapse that led to the ceiling collapse at the Big Spot.
Now at the vet school, the crew grabs whatever meds it can find. But instead of going back out the way they came, which seemed easy enough, they get themselves trapped by Walkers. They jump out a window onto another roof, but Bob stumbles and almost loses his satchel of meds to the Walkers below. He wrests it free and out flies a bottle of liquor. Daryl is about to toss the bottle and Bob actually threatens him by grabbing his gun. Daryl gets all up in his face and tells him he never should have picked him up on the road and welcomed him to their prison civilization.
But irresponsible alcoholism is not cause for banishment. Murder, however…
First of all, since when is Carol invited out on runs? She had to know something fishy was up the minute Rick proposed it. She says a long goodbye to sick Lizzie, who accidentally calls Carol “mom.” “Don’t call me mom,” Carol snaps. “Just don’t.” Cold as ice, that one.
Rick, who last week figured out Carol was behind the deaths of Karen and “David,” traces the steps of the murder while searching for gas to fuel up. He’s stalking around gravely and looking like he’s got some moral conflict going on inside that pretty head.
Carol and Rick’s run is really an excuse for an epic talk. She explains that killing the duo was necessary to stop the flu threat. “I had to save lives,” she says. “Somebody had to,” emphasis on “anybody but you, Rick.” I mean, she does have a point. Rick’s been farming, badly at that, gone all pacifist and stopped making decisions, except for the one where he busted his knuckles on Tyreese’s face last week. So, yes, Rick has not exactly been a Nobel Peace Prize-winning leader lately, leaving room for Carol to step up.
Carol does put herself at his level later in the conversation. She tries to tell him that the whole farming thing is stupid. “You can’t JUST be a farmer,” she says. He defends himself by saying he never murdered two of our own. Nope, “just one,” Carol says. Shane flashback! Remember that old bro? And that time Rick killed him? Awe, snap.
But Rick does prove he’s still a little in charge, when he and Carol come across two young’uns who are on the run. He decides they can come back to the prison with them, after asking the requisite three questions. He also gives them each a gun and gives the guy his watch, and says they have two hours to scavenge for food and medicine. Well, he never sees the guns or the watch again, though he and Carol do come across poor Ana’s leg after she became zombie food.
This episode is probably the final point in Carol’s evolution from battered wife to frigid sociopath. Out picking veggies, she talks about life with her abusive husband, about being afraid to be alone. She calls her deceased daughter Sophia “someone else’s slideshow.” Rick, meanwhile, still imagines Lori is there and making him and Carl some nasty sounding pancakes. And ultimately, that longing for the old life is what compels him to banish Carol from the prison.
He says it’s because Tyreese will kill her, which he probably will. And the others won’t want her there. But then he says with Carl and Judith around, HE wouldn’t want her there. Way to pull the concerned parent card, father of the year. It was only a few months ago, I believe, when Carl killed a fellow teen for no reason?
Rick divvies up the supplies, leaving Carol with the gas can she used to burn Karen and David, and sends her on her way in poor Sam and Ana’s car, with “pardon our dust” fingered onto the windows. Rick tells her to find other people, which I’m sure is a piece of cake these days. I wonder what their “three questions” are. Carol doesn’t make a huge fuss of her banishment, but she does defend herself to the end. The camera closes up on her face and the word “pardon” before she drives off.
“The Walking Dead” airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.