This week’s The Walking Dead: The Grove is easily the most disturbing, gut-wrenching and horrifying episode of season four’s second half, 43 minutes of damaged youth and death. Watching Carol, Tyreese, Lizzie, Mika and baby Judith advance towards the hoped-for sanctuary of Terminus makes the viewer tense up with the secret that Carol yet to reveal before the show really digs in.
From the very beginning of the episode, little hints are given that show Lizzie and Mika are most likely damaged in this apocalyptic world of hungry walkers. In a revealing talk with Carol, it’s apparent that Lizzie believes the walkers to be alive and not zombies. She tells of saving Tyreese by shooting two “people” refusing to acknowledge that they are not the walking dead.
After Carol and Lizzie find some tree sap to put on Tyreese’s wound they talk about the two girls and their mental state. As the quintet move down the train tracks, Mika asks Carol about the end of Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer which she read to the girls at the prison. Mika decides she could be Huck Finn, then Lizzie says that she is more like Tom Sawyer. The younger sister agrees saying that Lizzie is definitely more like Finn as she was not even “grossed out” by a dead rabbit.
This little piece of information drags the viewer right back to the prison and the dead rabbit nailed to a board that Tyreese finds after Karen’s death. The reference is not noticed by him as he talks about Carol reading to the kids.
The two adults smell smoke and and soon after they split up. Carol takes Mika to find water and leaves Tyreese with Lizzie and Judith to rest. While resting on the tracks a walker stumbles up toward the three left behind. The creature stumbles and traps one leg in a hole underneath the tracks. When Tyreese comes to kill it Lizzie stops him and says that sometimes they don’t have to kill.
Carol tries to toughen up Mika because she’s like her daughter who also did not “have a mean bone in her body.” Lizzie’s younger sister reveals that she did not shoot at any of The Governor’s attacking force. After the little group come up to the house that Carol and Mika found on their search for water, a walker comes out of a side door while the two grownups search the house. It turns out that Mika can kill when she has to.
Lizzie starts crying after Mika shoots the walker and when Carol asks her why, she says, “I don’t want to say.” Her little sister goes to Lizzie and tells her to look at the flowers and count to three. This calms her upset older sister down.
The little “family” settle into the house which is surrounded by pecan trees. Lizzie helps Carol crack pecans and Mika finds a rag doll to play with. The next morning while putting on a kettle to boil some water Carol hears Lizzie playing outside. Looking out the kitchen window she sees the disturbed girl playing with a walker.
Carol rushes out to kill the creature and Lizzie throws a major fit. It is now clear that the girl does not recognise the danger of walkers, even more, she believes that they are people. She yells at Carol for killing her friend and it’s obvious that the child’s mind is damaged. In this episode of The Walking Dead: The Grove, death is the obvious specter that haunts them all. Later, in a shocking scene, Lizzie is feeding a mouse to the trapped walker on the train tracks, and Mika tries to explain that what she’s doing is wrong, when smoldering and burnt walkers come upon the two girls.
They run back to the house as Tyreese and Carol start shooting the chasing walkers. Even Lizzie and Mika shoot at the creatures. Later, while cracking more nuts with Carol it seems that Lizzie has finally understood that the walkers are not “people” and she tells the woman that she knows what has to be done now. Mika reveals that she does not want to hurt anyone or be mean. Lizzie tells her that sometimes you have to.
Tyreese and Carol dream of staying at the pecan grove and as the two walk outside, he reveals that he sees Karen in his dreams. For one heart stopping moment it looks like Carol is going to tell Tyreese that she killed Karen.She does not and he also tells Carol that the world and all the people in it are haunted.
As the two adults approach the house, and Carol tells her late husband’s deer nuts joke, they see Lizzie standing in front of her sister’s body and baby Judith laying on a blanket. As they get closer they see that Lizzie’s hands are drenched with blood and in one hand she holds a bloody knife.
The girl pleads with Carol and Tyreese to wait until Mika turns and then they’ll see what she means about walkers being people. Both adults are shocked and horrified by what has just happened and Carol talks Lizzie into going to the house with Tyreese.
After putting the older girl in her room, and Tyreese takes away any knives, he tells Carol about mice he’s seen in Lizzie’s room. He relays that after asking Lizzie if it was her who fed walkers at the prison, she admitted it was her. He also brings up the dead rabbit which Mika mentioned at the start of the show.
The last 14 minutes of the episode are shocking. The sight that greets the two adults who return to the house disturbs the viewer and it is one of those scenes that evokes horror and dismay, both of which battle to be the overpowering emotion.
Carol says that it is not safe for Lizzie to be around baby Judith or other people. Lizzie goes for a walk with Carol and the girl decides that the woman she wants so desperately to please is mad at her. Telling her to look at the flowers, Carol takes out her pistol and shoots. Later, she finally confesses to Tyreese that she killed Karen and after some nail biting moments he forgives her.
He also says that they can no longer stay at the pecan grove. The recent death of two damaged youths has spoiled the idyllic spot where they both dreamed of staying. The Walking Dead continues to evoke many emotions from the viewer. This week saw sadness, grief and madness in almost equal measure. Both adults in the episode say that walkers have changed them and the two dead girls are proof positive of that they have changed everyone.
By Michael Smith