Thursday, March 20, 2014

Look at All the Pretty Flowers


“The Grove”
I submit to you my perfunctory summary of the latest episode of The Walking Dead. I’d also like to seize this opportunity to share with you some personal updates about me that have nothing to do with the show, primarily the fact that I’ve been experiencing a brush with my impending mortality. I’ve caught myself holding reading materials, including my iPhone, further and further away from my eyes to make out the words. Somehow during this the corners of my mouth turn down and I suddenly start to resemble Grandpa Walton. If you don’t get this reference, much like my allusion in my last post to the hilarious fake OJ observer of 1994, Google The Waltons and educate yourself, for God’s sake! In retrospect, with the wisdom that I have acquired over the years (20 of them, dear reader), I probably would now admonish the fake OJ observer with “Too soon!” but back in the day it was pretty amusing.  
Coming back to the subject of my aging eyes. You know you are getting old when you walk into a hip and happening store and the first display that catches your eye is that of the funky reading glasses. My shopping companion bought a pair of beautiful, sparkly earrings, whereas I stopped to admire a pair of turquoise-blue and fake tortoise shell glasses. Naturally, I bought them; it was my compromise with my wounded ego, and I am very happy with them.
Now that I have shared with you fears of my own mortality, let us return to the everyday death and gloom that is The Walking Dead. “The Grove” opens with a child, presumably Lizzie, playing keep away with a stumbling walker, with old-timey music playing in the background. The scene is very charming, in an endearingly quaint way. It could easily be a commercial for a new brand of chamomile tea or flavored instant coffee.
One way to burn some calories.

Carol reveals to Lizzie upon questioning that she had a daughter who “didn’t have a mean bone in her body.” Lizzie retorts, that’s why that girl is dead! You sure can consistently rely upon Lizzie for a pithily candid answer. Carol applies a healing sap to Tyreese’s arm wound. Recall that in this world complementary medicines are all the rage, unless you can break into a deserted veterinary hospital. Tyreese, Carol, Baby Judith, Mika and Lizzie are following the railroad tracks to the nebulous TERMINUS (“the end of a travel route; the end of something”). In spite of her psychopathic tendencies, Lizzie does not see walkers as a threat, merely different. Though she does exhibit fear towards them, so what gives? She is so ready to stifle a crying baby, but chastises Tyreese when he is about to mash in a walker’s brains.
Mika says that she knows what the zombies are, but she can’t kill people. Carol worries that Mika won’t be able to defend herself. They spot a secluded house, nestled amongst the trees. Mika happily tells Carol that her mom said that things always work out for the best. The girls spot the fire that drunk Daryl and Beth set. I like the way the characters just miss each other, carrying on their wanderings within half a mile of one another. Mika shoots a walker, narrowly defending baby J and Lizzie. Inexplicably, Lizzie is shaken by the shooting.
Lizzie is starting to irritate me. She doesn’t seem to be able to distinguish between walkers and people. In some key ways, she displays more empathy for walkers than she does humans within her close circle. While she is carelessly playing keep away with a female walker, Carol runs out and kills the zombie to protect Lizzie. Lizzie freaks out, screaming that Carol doesn’t understand, that she killed her “friend.”
Carol and Mika are walking near the forest. Mika is armed with a shotgun. They spot a deer, but Mika can’t shoot it. Guess they’re eating vegan tonight. “We have peaches,” Mika offers hopefully. Tyreese rethinks the original plan to go to Terminus. In a heartbreaking moment, Tyreese says that he trusts all of the people he’s with right now (see Carol: murderer-epidemiologist). Lizzie feeds mice to a walker trapped in the railroad tracks. Her sister is the voice of reason, telling Lizzie to stop feeding them.
Lizzie offers a tasty treat to her new pet.

Suddenly some charred walkers emerge from the forest. Carol shows some mad shooting skills with Tyreese, as do the two little girls, to make short work of the smoldering zombies, who make it as far as the periphery of their new sanctuary.
Lizzie is clearly becoming unhinged. “I know what I have to do now,” she asserts. Carol seems relieved. Mika restates her desire not to be mean. Tyreese grumbles in his sleep as he has another nightmare, probably reliving the gruesome and tragic loss of Karen. Tyreese and Karen walk the grounds the next morning. He admits that he dreams about Karen every night, thinking that she’s still alive. He also relives her death. “The whole world is haunted now,” he intones. But Carol prefers to think of it as the dead reminding the living of what they have to do. She tears up, no doubt feeling guilty over her decision to kill Karen and David.
Carol and Tyreese return to the house from a hunting expedition only to discover that Lizzie has stabbed Mika to death, and now wants to wait for her sister to turn. She’ll “come back.” She was about to kill Judith, too. Lizzie appears bright and cheerful, as if she’s just performed a major good deed or been super-helpful. Carol remains tearful but calm throughout the horrifying scene. Kudos to Carol, who is now forced to stab Mika in the head before the little girl turns.
Tyreese cradles Baby Judith as he tells Carol of Lizzie’s activities. As many Dead fans suspected, she was the one feeding rats to the walkers piling up at the prison fences. She claims responsibility for the splayed and dissected rat that Tyreese and company found nailed to a wall in the prison. Lizzie is damaged goods. What to do? “She can’t be around other people,” Carol repeats. Carol knows what she has to do, and Tyreese is too much of a softie to do it. Lizzie doesn’t want Carol to be mad at her; Carol tells Lizzie to keep looking at the flowers, as she readies her gun.
Carol buries Lizzie next to Mika and the children of the former owner of the property. Now just the three of them remain. That night, Carol confesses to Tyreese that she killed Karen and David. You can feel the rage and sadness bubbling over in Tyreese. Carol assures him that it was very quick and that Karen did not know what was happening. Tyreese’s hand goes for the gun on the table and Carol tells him to do what he has to do. In an incredibly generous gesture, Tyreese tells Carol that he forgives her but he cannot and will never forget what happened.
The leavings of the beginning of a new life cut short at this idyllic place are strewn about the abandoned house. The abundant pecans from the trees; the doll that Mika played with by the fire; the easy chair that Tyreese slumbered in fitfully; and the whistling copper teapot on the stovetop. As Carol, Tyreese and Judith continue to approach Terminus, perhaps they will cross paths with one or more of the other traveling characters. 

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