Despite various hints and warnings, viewers will reel from the shock of Carol’s sacrifice and confession in tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead.
The Walking Dead comic creator and AMC show writer, Robert Kirkman, was not lying during a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly when he claimed, “[‘The Grove’ is] going to be a big episode. We’re going to catch a lot of people off guard.”
Previews teased with a woman’s hand reaching for a gun, Carol sobbing, tea kettles boiling, and a child screaming. Cast members Norman Reedus and Lauren Cohan both hinted at the horror to come in season four’s last three episodes of The Walking Dead.
None of this prepared viewers for Lizzie’s murder. Lizzie is convinced she can prove to everyone walkers are misunderstood. Poor Mika pays the price for her desperation. Now, Carol is confronted with a painful decision.
Initially Carol contemplates leaving with Lizzie to protect people from Lizzie. Carol calls back to the late Mika’s advice,”everything works out the way it’s supposed to,” and in the spirit of Steinbeck’s George Milton, she tells Lizzie to look at the flowers, just as Mika told her earlier, and does the unthinkable.
Carol is forced to put her maternal feelings aside and kill Lizzie. She knows no one is safe, especially Judith. She also spares Lizzie of the pain of future vengeance.
Mika’s earlier cues indicate Lizzie has a history of illness. Viewers understand Lizzie is incapable of change without professional help.
Viewers have long speculated that Lizzie is the AMC counterpart to the comic book’s Billy. In the comics, Billy kills his twin brother, Ben. It is Carl who delivers justice.
It is especially heartbreaking to watch Carol kill Lizzie, especially after she reminisces about her late daughter, Sophia.
Maybe she could not live with her actions, so she tempts fate by confessing to Tyreese that she killed Karen while the two assemble a puzzle. She tells him to “do what he has to do,” but Tyreese forgives her.
He knows “it’s part of her now.” This conversation follows Tyreese’s earlier comments about all survivors being haunted.
Melissa McBride revealed on “The Talking Dead” that the puzzle was a picture of Sophia. Carol’s story of loss comes full circle and now she can move forward with Judith.
Staying at the warm country home is no longer an option. It’s too painful a reminder. The three leave the grove and presumably make tracks to Terminus.
Carol and Tyreese emerge two of the most compelling characters of season 4. These two have made the most difficult decisions of the season.
The audience is haunted with Mika’s voice echoing through the close of the episode. “The Grove” focused heavily on change, and all of the characters evolve in the most painful way. We have hope for our brave survivors, but as always, their survival comes at a cost.