With Rick and company crafting their 2016 thesis on assassinations, it makes sense that the seemingly endless cycle of death, murder and tragedy would begin to shake to the core one of the honor students who’s seen way too much of everything.
After last week’s action bonanza, slowing things down was the right call even if the nerve-wracking tension approached all-time series’ high levels. Carol and Maggie were abducted by a trio of Saviors led by Polly (Alicia Witt in an exceptional guest appearance) and Polly’s current boyfriend. Carol, whose killer instinct is rapidly deteriorating, didn’t take the kill shot and left him wounded aching for payback.
Given the often cruel and unexpected deaths of beloved characters losing both Maggie and Carol definitely felt like an eventual outcome after every charged conversation. Polly considered making a trade with Rick for their captured friend, but she was mistakenly negotiating like she was in a position of power. While Rick would likely keep his word in a trade making the Grimes Gang track down and rescue Maggie and Carol wasn’t going to end well.
The bulk of the episode occurred in one room, but given the stressful nature involving two fan favorites, it never felt like a cheap workaround to balance out the more elaborate action sequences. There was an interesting episode for Carol. We’ve seen her outwit opponents who thought her weak and unassuming countless times before.
Eventually, Carol dropped the facade and returned to the Terminus destroying bada$$ she’s been the last few seasons. This time out though was different as Carol was conflicted. Faced with a them or us prospect, could Carol regain her edge or could she find a less bloody resolution?
Carol managed to break through to her captives, getting Polly to open up about her life pre-walkers and how adapting to the new world cost her everything she held dear. Carol could relate, but Polly wrote her off as weak — typically a mistake, but in this broken state, Carol was struggling. Even when she managed to escape her bonds and find Maggie, Carol just wanted to get out of dodge and call it a win to get away.
But while Carol’s resolve seemed unsteady, Maggie’s was intensifying. And in Maggie, Carol is seeing a reflection of the walker warrior she no longer wants to be and it rattled her. From engineering a cold-blooded walker trap to insisting they continue the mission of killing the Saviors, Maggie wasn’t messing around. It took a Savior nearly cutting Maggie’s stomach for Carol to revert to battle mode and shoot her in the head.
Just as quickly, Carol didn’t want to be forced to kill Polly despite that being the smart move. Polly was definitely too dangerous to let run free. In a hallway trap where Walkers were impaled and inching forward on both sides, Carol and Polly got into a brawl. Carol’s reluctance to pull the trigger seemed like her final mistake, but Polly got impaled and gorged by a hungry walker.
Polly’s reinforcements arrived before Rick and company so Maggie and Carol lured them into the fittingly named Kill Room, which they ignited. That definitely won’t help Carol sleep easily. Rick and the gang arrived and Carol assured Daryl she was not alright. Rick killing the remaining hostage Savior certainly didn’t assure Carol she was on the good guy’s side. And what was the deal with the various Saviors proclaiming they were Negan?
I’m so fascinated with where the show is taking Carol, a character a few episodes back this season, we never would expect would have remorse over her actions. Morgan and his every life is precious motto has sunk in, but will it ultimately lead to her death?
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Putting two beloved characters in the cross hairs this week led to another riveting and stress-filled episode.