Warning: Full spoilers ahead!
In one of the darkest episodes in the show’s run, “The Walking Dead” truly delivered this week as the show dealt with deep moral issues and had our characters make some incredibly tough choices. Never has the show gone to such a dark place to show what one must do to survive in this world. The episode focused solely on Carol, Tyrese, Judith, Lizzie, and Mika as they continued their journey towards Terminus. Let’s quickly recap what happened.
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The episode begins in the daytime inside a house with a kettle boiling on a kitchen stove as two girls play outside. In the next scene, at a clearly different location in the woods at night, Lizzie tells Carol how she saved Tyrese at the prison, and then asks if Carol had any children. Carol tells Lizzie about Sophia and how Sophia did not have a mean bone in her body. She says she misses Sophia everyday, then forces Lizzie to go to sleep because she will need her help the next morning. As Lizzie lies down, Tyrese appears to have a nightmare.
The following morning, Carol finds some tree sap and applies it to Tyrese’s cut to slow the infection and heal it. Tyrese wonders how many days they have left before they reach Terminus, and Carol explains it’s unclear since they have not come across a sign for Terminus on the train tracks for some time. Carol tells Tyrese that Lizzie does not see the walkers as a danger, and that Mika does not have a mean bone in her.
As they follow the train tracks, Carol and Tyrese smell a fire, and we know it’s the one that Daryl and Beth started. A walker approaches them from behind but breaks its leg in the train tracks and cannot move. Tyrese goes to kill the walker but Lizzie stops him and says they do not need to kill the walkers when they do not pose a threat. Tyrese considers Lizzie’s statement and does not kill the walker to appease her.
Meanwhile, Carol takes Mika into the forest to gather wood and have a talk. Carol tells Mika she is little and sweet, and that she needs to toughen up. Mika says she might not be as strong as her sister but she can run, and Carol tells her running is not enough; Sophia tried running and she ended up dead. Mika makes it very clear she will not kill people.
As they talk, they come across a house with a field and plenty of trees. Tyrese and Carol go inside to investigate the house and leave the girls outside with Judith. Mika tells Lizzie walkers are not people anymore, but Lizzie refuses to understand this. As they argue a walker attacks them from behind. The walker nearly gets Lizzie’s foot but Mika kills it. Lizzie is upset that the walker is dead and will not talk to anyone.
That night they settle into the living room. Lizzie still will not talk to anyone, and Mika finds a doll to play with. Tyrese enters the room and lets out a sigh of relief as he says he is not use to this, and Mika tells him to relax. She suggests they live there and Carol and Tyrese look at one another like it might be a possibility.
The next day, Carol puts a kettle on the stove to boil some water. She looks outside and finds Lizzie playing with a walker. This is the scene we saw in the beginning of the show. Carol rushes outside and kills the walker; Lizzie freaks out and tells Carol the walker was her friend and continuously screams at her. Carol stares at Lizzie in disbelief.
Later that day, Carol and Mika are out hunting. Carol tells Mika that she will have to do some hard things in this new world. Carol tells Mika she is smarter than her sister. They come across a dear and Carol wants Mika to shoot it. Mika holds up the gun but cannot shoot it. The deer gets away and they go back to the house
When they get back, Mika sees her sister wander off and chases after her. Lizzie goes back to the walker that broke its leg on the train tracks and feeds it a mouse. Mika tells Lizzie the walkers wants to kill her, and Lizzie says the walkers want her to be like them. She puts her hand in front of the walkers mouth and while Mika yells at her to stop, a bunch of burned walkers approach and chase after the girls. Lizzie and Mika make it back to the house and yell for Tyrese and Carol. The four of them shoot down all of the walkers.
The next day Carol and Tyrese go hunting and leave the girls behind. Carol tells Tyrese they can stay at the house and do not have to go to Terminus. Tyrese tells Carol he dreams about Karen and thinks the dead haunt them. Carol cries as Tyrese tries to determine who killed Karen and David, and Carol tells Tyrese she does not think the dead haunt them. Tyrese comforts her and they keep hunting. Carol is clearly trying to decide if she should tell Tyrese she killed Karen and David.
As they come back to the house, they find Lizzie standing with Judith next to her holding a bloodied knife. They look behind her and see Mika lying dead on the ground. Lizzie smiles at them and tells them Mika is OK because she did not hurt her brain; she will come back to them. Lizzie tells them she was about to start on Judith. Tyrese calmly has Lizzie put the knife and gun down and Carol convinces Lizzie to go inside with Tyrese. Lizzie makes Carol promise she will not hurt Mika, and Carol promises and explains she will use Mika’s shoe laces to tie her up when she wakes up. As Tyrese takes Judith and walks Lizzie away, Carol breaks down and cries.
Tyrese tells Carol he collected all of Lizzie’s knives and that he found a box of mice in Lizzie’s room. Lizzie admitted to Tyrese she fed the walkers at the prison and was responsible for cutting up the animals in the prison. Tyrese suggests Lizzie may have killed Karen, and Carol says she would not have done it because she would have let them turn.
Carol blames herself for not seeing the signs before. She says Lizzie cannot be around other people and suggests she take Lizzie on her own. Tyrese doesn’t think Carol and Lizzie will survive and Carol does not think Tyrese will survive with Judith; Tyrese understands what Carol must do as she repeatedly says Lizzie cannot be around other people.
A while later, Carol takes Lizzie out into the woods to pick wildflowers for Mika. Lizzie can sense Carol is mad at her and begins to cry. Carol tells Lizze to look at the flowers; as she looks down at the flowers and cries, Carol shoots her in the head. As Carol walks back to the house, she cries as she sees a dear and does not even try to kill it. Carol and Tyrese dig graves and bury the girls.
That night, Carol and Tyrese sit at a table in silence. Carol passes her gun to Tyrese and admits to him that she killed Karen and David. She explains why she did it and tells him to do what he wants to do. He asks if Karen was scared when she died; Carol says she was not scared and it was quick. Tyrese places his hand on the gun then takes it off. He forgives Carol, but says he will not forget. Tyrese thinks they cannot stay there anymore. The next morning they leave the house.
It seems clear that the lessons Carol was giving to Mika were also for herself. In this new, cruel world, Carol had to make a tough decision and kill Lizzie because she simply could not be trusted around other humans and it appears Lizzie may have been mentally ill. It makes you wonder how you deal with severe mental illness in an apocalyptic world, especially for someone as young as Lizzie. She clearly did not value human life if she thought walkers were her friends and she killed her own sister simply as an experiment and to prove a point. In a world where you either live or die, Carol and Tyrese had to make the tough decision to kill Lizzie as they simply did not have the resources to help her and she could not be trusted.
This was the first episode in awhile in which Carol has mentioned Sophia, and it is without coincidence that the very same episode she recognizes Sophia’s faults and how much she misses her, that Carol must make more tough decisions regarding two girls. If you go back to the beginning of the series, I do not think a character has changed quite as dramatically as Carol. She is now, by far, one of the most interesting characters and clearly understands what it takes to survive in this world. Knowing Carol’s love for the two girls and Sophia, having done what she has now done will no doubt change her. We will have to wait to see how these events will impact her as the series continues.