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  “The Grove” The Walking Dead 4-14

  !!! Warning Spoilers Contained Within !!!

And now for something different, sort of….

Over the past few weeks, we have had some silo’d episodes with the various groups split up following the attack on the prison. A few adventuresome as the survivors meet up with others, in some cases good, but in others not so good. The Grove is another episode that is a lot like Still (S4/EP12), allowing for a specific group to be brought to the forefront and developed. This time it’s Tyreese, Carol, Lizzie, Mika, and Judith.

As the little group continues on its way towards Terminus, they pause to tend to wounds, get some rest, and take account of what all is going on. It’s during this time as Carol tends to Tyreese’s arm, that she basically sets the tone overall for what we have maybe been wondering about all along, that of Lizzie and Mika. When we first met the girls, they were a part of the merry band of kids that Carol was tutoring. Sure there were some awkward moments, naming the walkers, story time, and a few other things, but they were pretty straightforward, or appeared to be.

But it’s here on the tracks that Carol starts to piece together what her unspoken concerns are for both of the girls. Mika is the gentle one, wont step on an ant, and doesn’t really want to kill the walkers, even though she knows the score. While all along we may have assumed that Lizzie was overly aggressive or just blunted by the situation, Carol brings forward the finding that Lizzie in fact is just confused as to what the walkers are. Wow, this was the beginning of the whole rollercoaster ride.

A Place to stay….

In the course of their journey down the tracks, they come across a walker coming at them, however, its foot is trapped in a track tie and it falls. Rather than killing it, Tyreese gives into Lizzie’s plea to leave it alone as it’s not danger to them. Tyreese and Lizzie also smell a fire, it’s in the distance with black smoke rising. In the meantime, Carol and Mika discover the Grove, a house with a fence. Overall it looks to be untouched. The little group decides to take up residence to rest up and get their breath.

It’s here that we get another glimpse into Lizzie and Mika. While Tyreese and Carol clear the house, Lizzie holds Judith, and Mika is guarding them. As Lizzie and Mika talk more about walkers and how they are or aren’t people, a walker comes plowing out of the house and is almost upon Lizzie and Judith. Mika, knowing what she has to do, successfully takes out the walker saving them both. Lizzie appears to have been greatly shaken, and goes into a kind of shock. Here is the kicker, Mika guides Lizzie over to a bench and starts to talk her through this and calm her down. Overwhelmingly, it makes you have to wonder where and why she is so adept at this.

Things are settling down, until a while later, Carol comes upon Lizzie playing tag with a walker nearing getting caught. After Carol takes the walker out, Lizzie freaks out on her crying and screaming that she doesn’t understand that it was her friend. More evidence that she is a few tic tacs short of a pack.

Resting and Breathing….

Over the course of a few more days the group settles down to gathering pecans, water, and other things as they make themselves comfortable. The fire is seen from time to time in the distance as a rising column of black smoke. At one point Carol and Mika are out hunting for one of the many deer that are running around. Mika declines to shoot one, and says that they have peaches that they can eat instead. She also makes a comment to Carol about her love of science, as the fire is still burning because the smoke is black.

Shortly after, Mika follows Lizzie who is running away with a shoe box. She catches up to her as she is feeding the trapped walker a live mouse. As the two talk, Lizzie makes mention that she can hear them talk, and they are asking her to change to be like them, as she nearly puts her hand in its mouth. As Mika talks her down, a small heard of walkers appears on the tracks, some smoldering and burned, apparently coming from the fire.

** Was this the fire that Daryl and Beth started possibly??

As Mika and Lizzie retreat, screaming, back to the grove with the walkers in pursuit, Mika trips over the fence and is trapped. With Lizzie trying to free her, Carol and Tyreese come out with guns a blazing. With Mika finally free, Lizzie and Mika join in with the gun fest. After all is said and done, it seems that Lizzie has a break through that night as she and Carol discuss the walkers.

Finding a way to change their minds…..

The next day, Tyreese and Carol are out hunting and gathering water. As they discuss their options, Tyreese shares that he finds it a comforting thought that the 5 of them stay here and live, versus moving onto the unknown of Terminus. Carol and he discuss it and the thought appears to be shared. As they head back to the grove, they come around the trees and see Lizzie standing between Judith, and what appears to be Mika lying on the ground. As they get closer, Lizzie is holding a knife and is covered in blood.

As they approach Lizzie, she begins to tell them that this is going to change their minds about the Walkers when they see how Mika is ok afterward. She also tells them that she was just about to do the same to Judith, who is lying on a blanket in front of her. Tyreese and Carol are in shock, and immediately snap into survival mode. Carol is able to talk Lizzie to put the gun down that she has drawn on them to keep them from stopping the experiment. Once the gun is down, Carol convinces Lizzie to go with Tyreese and Judith into the house, while she keeps watch on Mika and makes sure she doesn’t escape. As the 3 leave her, Carol breaks down crying as she moves closer to Mika, and draws her knife to make sure Mika is able to stay at peace.

The same roof…

With Mika taken care of, Carol joins Tyreese in the house as they have a discussion on what to do. Carol is frank about it, and offers that Tyreese and Judith continue on to Terminus, while she stays with Lizzie. As Tyreese talks about this, and the fact that Lizzie admitted to being the rat supplier to the walkers at the prison, plus the dissector of the rabbit, they talk about the pink walker in the room. Lizzie obviously has had pre-existing mental issues before the Zombie Apocalypse. Mika’s behavior when Lizzie was in shock, telling her to “look at the flowers and breath”, was something that kind of cemented it.

As Carol berates herself for not seeing it before, and also sees Tyreese’s point, that this isn’t something that she can handle by herself and isn’t really resolvable in the current situation. She agrees, that something has to be done. It’s at this point that Tyreese, possibly suggests that maybe Lizzie was Karen and David’s killer. Carol delicately deflects that with the fact that Lizzie wouldn’t have since she would have been satisfied to see them as walkers.

The Flowers…

The next morning, Carol and Lizzie are out for a walk. As they are walking, Lizzie mentions that the fire’s smoke is white now. Carol tells her that that means the fire is out. Lizzie breaks down crying that she is afraid that Carol is made at her about her drawing her gun on her the other day. As Carol comforts her, and lets her walk further, she tells Lizzie to look at the flowers, and also that as Mika had said, that all things will work out.

It’s at this time that Carol draws her gun, and while she is shaking and trying to hold back her tears, she shoots Lizzie to put her to rest. This was very well done overall. It wasn’t gratuitous violence or anything like that, but was done in a way that the emotion and all of the moment was able to be communicated to the audience appropriately and continue the story. Melissa McBride's acting was superb, her shaking hand, and subtle inability to initial cock the gun put across how difficult this was for Carol.

Asking for Forgiveness and Release from Pain…

That night after Lizzie and Mika have been buried, Tyreese and Carol are sitting at the table withdrawn, tired, and mentally exhausted. Carol slowly pushes her handgun across the table to Tyreese. She then tells him that she was who killed Karen and David. She explains that she was trying to keep the illness contained and save the others. She understands, and welcomes, him taking her life.

As Tyreese visibly works through all the feelings, he asks Carol if they knew it was her or that it was happening. Carol answers that neither knew and it was done in a manner to make sure that they did not suffer. He seems to accept this, and reflects on it. He genuinely tells her that he forgives her, but will never forget. It’s not stated, but the logic and emotion appears to be, that if he were to kill her it would be more a way for her to not pay for it, vs knowing that living, she has to not only live with Karen and David’s deaths on her hands, but also that fact and circumstances of her losing Lizzie and Mika.

The next morning, Tyreese, Carol, and Judith leave the grove and start back on the track heading for Terminus. As they walk down the track, the trapped walker can be seen, along with the rising white smoke of the extinguished fire in the distance.

Wow.. Just Wow….

I have watched this episode probably 3 times. Each time seeing more and more that I didn’t see before. The acting was superb, and if the 4 of them don’t get an Emmy for it, it is a damn shame. Going into this, if you asked my opinion on Chad L Coleman’s (Tyreese) acting, I would have said it was so so. But after this, OMG he is phenomenal with a meaty script in front of him. Melissa McBride (Carol) never disappoints, in fact her female lead is one of the better parts of the overall ensemble.

Brighton Sharbino and Kyla Kenedy (Lizzie and Mika) are also destined to be really great actresses. The best way to describe Lizzie is one DUI shy of Lyndsey Lohan in nature. Both did a great job.

It’s really funny as something I had been contemplating over the last few weeks was medications in the Zombie Apocalypse. I mean it would be one thing if you are on medications for Diabetes, cardiac disease, etc.. Most likely you are going to die from that disease, and go walker. But if you have psychiatric issue, are on meds, and now you are in the middle of the apocalypse, wow. Without the meds you may not go into any kind of life threatening relapse, but surely at some point the mental issues do surface and take on a life of their own.

I’m pretty sure that before the apocalypse Lizzie was on meds for something related to her mental illness. The writers may or may not have considered that in their writing, but overall the story arc for Lizzie and Mika was great. Once it was over, I personally felt some relief, as ok its resolved, next story. But then at a certain level I was going back through all the episodes they were in and looked for hints as to this outcome.

Overall, while I was satisfied with this episode much more than a bunch of the others lately, I only hope that Terminus and its Sanctuary doesn’t end up being the Logan’s Run kind of Sanctuary.

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