This season has taken some cues from “Lost” with regards to its hopping around in time and use of flashbacks. Tonight continued that theme as we look at Carol post-exile from The Grimes Gang. Of all the characters (that have managed to survive since the start) no one has had such a dramatic change as Melissa McBride’s Carol. Initially, she was a battered wife simply trying to avoid the power struggle between Rick and Shane and in essence being the mom of Carl’s playmate Sophia. But since that fateful season on Herschel’s farm, Carol has evolved from a doting mother into a hardened warrior willing to do whatever is necessary to stay alive.
It’s why tonight’s episode was so fascinating as we watch Carol both through flashbacks and in “sorta” live action with Daryl. The exile from Rick’s group made Carol even more self-sufficient from collecting her own water to smearing walker
guts “camo” to move around undetected. McBride has maintained Carol’s deep-rooted compassion, but she also shows the weariness of watching loved ones, friends and her young charges die in truly horrific fashion. It’s why Carol wasn’t so sure she wanted to stay at the church with The Grimes Gang despite the group welcoming her back with open arms. Carol knows she’s fine on her own, but could her heart take watching Glenn & Maggie be forever separated? Or Carl not seeing his 17th birthday? Poor Tyrese struggling to be a good man in an evil time and Darryl…
Carol was considering leaving when Daryl spotted a car with white cross on the back — the similar marking to the car that apprehended Beth that we now know was one of Dawn Lerner’s deputies finding fresh blood for “Slabtown.”
They follow the car to Atlanta, but their own car’s lack of gas switches the search to foot. They find an office, a shelter for battered women and children and hold up for the night. Before they can get some sleep, a group of walkers — including a child-sized one — are trying to get in. The encounter makes Carol think back to Lizzie and Mika and she’s grateful to Daryl for killing the walkers and burning them. Doesn’t seem like smoke signals would be the smartest move in a city with some women-abductors on the loose…
Carol and Daryl take a stroll through the streets (Rick’s tank from season 1 makes an appearance!) and get to a high-rise office where they stumble into the worst sleepover ever. It’s a hallway full of walkers tightly wrapped in sleeping bags and tents. Someone (read: Noah, Beth’s ally from “Slabtown“) is watching them.
Daryl and Carol spy a van with the church markings in the distance and prepare to head for it when Noah steals Carol’s gun and forces them to hand over their weapons. To ensure he won’t be followed, Noah unleashes some of the tent walkers. No match for Daryl and Carol, who goes to shoot Noah, but Daryl blocks the shot. Interesting role reversal from Season 2 where Carol would have been the one pleading Daryl for mercy. Carol tells him she can’t watch anymore people die anymore. Daryl’s backpack opens revealing a copy of the childhood survivors of abuse book from the shelter. It’s not light reading like the Kim Kardashian “Paper” magazine feature, but whatever works.
Daryl and Carol head to church van — precariously hanging out on an overpass — and find a stretcher tipping them off that Beth could be at the hospital. A walker mob pushes the van over and not even gravity can overcome the machismo that is Daryl Dixon as the van lands right side up. Carol is slightly hurt from the fall, but Daryl is fine. They reach another building en route to the hospital and hear gunshots.
They find Noah trying to hold off a walker using a bookcase. Daryl traps Noah under the bookcase and grabs a cigarette as he ignores Noah’s pleas for help. Dear TRUTH folks, one scene of Daryl coolly smoking a cigarette somehow makes your commercials warning of the dangers of smoking seem not nearly as impressive.
This time, it’s Carol who helps Noah and the groups realize they’re trying to help Beth. Dawn’s men arrive searching for the source of the gunfire and in the confusion, Carol runs out into the street and gets hit by their car. Noah convinces Daryl to wait and warns him of Dawn’s forces. Daryl wisely decides to come back to ATL with his own crew and their guns.
Looks like next week we’re gonna have the start of the big showdown between The Grimes Gang and Dawn’s Slabtown crew and with just two more episodes left before the 2015 mid-season break, we should expect some major happenings and it’s hard to imagine everyone will make it out. Bob’s been the only loss for Rick and company this season and there’s pretty much no chance that remains the case by the mid-season finale.