* Major Spoilers ahead
Kill or Run
Despite being an obvious filler episode, this weeks episode tilted ‘The Same Boat’, more than made up for it with a Carol and Maggie focused episode that featured a more female driven supporting cast. As you can imagine, life during the apocalypse is pretty rough, as you can also imagine, life in the apocalypse with XX chromosomes is even rougher. It’s a point of view that has never been really been explored before in the Walking Dead, so it made for an engaging and brutal filler episode. So did This weeks episode female driven cast shine a new light on life in the Zombie apocalypse or did it fall into obvious cliché pit falls? Lets find out as we recap the dead.
1. The Capture
Opening a little earlier from where last weeks episode left off, we start out with Maggie and Carol’s capture at the hands of a group of Saviors (and probable ‘Last Of Us rejects’): Paula, Donnie, Molly and Michelle. Carol manages to shoot Donnie (Rus Blackwell) in the arm, despite having a clear shot (looks like Carol really is giving up her murderous lifestyle). Maggie, who has been acting out of character since the last episode, goes in to finish Donnie off despite Carol’s pleas to flee (I can only assume that Maggie’s is carrying a demon spawn that requires blood). Anyway the two are captured by the rest of the Saviors, including the boss lady and leader Paula ( Alicia Witt).We then pick up right where the last episode left off; Paula the leader of the group has rejected Rick’s prisoner exchange deal, Carol and Maggie for Primo (their field medic of sorts). Donnie wants Primo back to mend his arm, however Paula instead opts to take Carol and Maggie to a safe house and wait for Savior back up.
2. Will the real Carol please stand up
If anything kept me second guessing how this episode would progress, it was definitely Carol. Over the course of several seasons Carol has transformed into a hardened warrior, ready to kill on a whim and teach kids how to handle knives (yeah I bet you forgot about that didn’t you). So when a kidnapped Carol turns into a hyper ventilating scared wreck, you’re pretty much convinced that it’s all apart of a clever ploy; and it kind of was a ploy…at times. The other times it seemed almost as if carol had completely regressed to her old persona. There was a power struggle between Paula and Carol with Paula almost resembling what Carol has now become.
It’s interesting stuff to watch and the episode does a great job of creating this polarising back and forth between Carol and literally everyone else in the room (including Maggie). If anything, this episode successfully showed us that Carol, as arguably the Walking Dead’s most complex character, isn’t as far gone as she seems. In fact it looks very much like the old Carol is still in there somewhere and Maggie’s baby is drawing this mothering, fragile persona back out of her. It’s causing Carol’s psyche to clashing with itself, shes’ unstable and she’s scared for Maggie and herself; though the latter is not in the way you would think, as we find out later on in the episode, Carol is afraid to kill again. This is Carol at both her highest and lowest point and man do they do a good job of showing it.
3. Sisters united in blood
I think it’s fair to say that at this point in the Walking Dead, there are no good and bad guys (from the moment Father Gabriel picked up a gun in my opinion), just survivors, just the living and the dead. It’s an ideology that I feel the show is pushing us towards and this episode solidified that. With an overarching theme of this episode revolving around woman and how they suffer in the apocalypse (primarily at the hands of men) and how it either breaks them or makes them stronger. A perfect example of this is when the wounded Donnie loses his temper and strike Paula across the face, in his attempt to get even with Carol. Paula doesn’t yield or submit to Donnie, even reiterating to Molly that “guys can’t handle pain”.
It’s a subtle line that really defines these characters as women surviving in the apocalypse; all of these characters despite their different allegiances are all in ‘the same boat’ in the world of the Walking Dead. Hell Paula and Michonne are pretty much extreme reflections of what Carol and Maggie are becoming as characters (and Molly is presumably what you turn into if you smoke heavily in the Zombie apocalypse). It’s a great dynamic, these characters are so similar yet so apart, each of them have gone through trauma and come out different in the other side.
4. “You’re not the good guys”
If you’ve been paying attention to the Walking Dead lately, you’ve probably noticed that team Rick are far more willing to shed blood than they used to be. It’s all definitely a big set up for the future team Rick Savior conflict (“that old were not so different you and I trope”). Last week I emphasized that despite their actions team Rick are still the good guys, this week I’m not so sure; Carol and Maggie didn’t so much escape as they did slaughter every Savior. Despite Carol’s pleas to just leave, Maggie decides to finish the job and goes on a warpath, something that in turn forces Carol’s hand (because she had to keep saving Maggie’s crazy ass self).
The whole affair is brutal and brilliant, whether you like the saviors or not you cant help but feel a little sorry for some of them (especially after the whole “here is the story about my whole life”, that no once actually asked for bit). Eventually boss lady Paula is the last one left. Carol (who is the only one-armed) gives Paula the chance to run, things don’t pan out and Carol ends up impaling her, leaving her to the mercy of the Walkers; it is also here that we learn that Carol’s true fear is that she will have to let her demons out again (and boy did she let em out, all over Paula).
Carol reluctantly gives in to her monstrous side but she mostly plays second fiddle to Maggie, Carol is stuck in limbo on the one hand she hates herself but on the other she regrets killing Donnie. Still yet it doesn’t end there, Carol and Maggie lay a trap for the back-up Saviors, one that quite literally immolates them (these Saviors really can’t catch a break can they?). It looks like Carol has taken a page straight out of the book of Morgan, where she ends up from here will make for a very engaging character arch. Regardless no one in this weeks episode was the ‘good guy’, in fact various characters alluded to something else…
5. “We are all Negan”
“No I am Negan!”, the Saviors all seemed to have a Spartacus thing going on throughout the episode, with each of them at least once claiming to be Negan. It’s a pretty obvious red herring, but it’s wider implications are clear; good and bad terminology no longer applies in the Walking dead, there are only survivors.The point is driven home when Rick and the rest of the group finally catch up to Maggie; Primo after realising all his friends are dead, plays the ‘Negan’ card in a last-ditch attempt at survival, suggesting that he and Rick talk. Rick responds casually with an apology and a bullet in Primo’s head. So for a filler episode, while not much happened to push the narrative, there was a hell of a lot of character development.In fact I honestly wouldn’t have even minded a second episode with the same Saviors, I feel like there was still a lot more to Paula and Michelle than meets the eye. Also having them around as mirrors of Carol and Maggie, could have presented some interesting situations.
Overall this was certainly one of season 6 strongest episodes and it only leaves me excited to meet the rest of the Saviors; and with all the Saviors have already suffered through at the hands of Rick (from being blown up, shot at and burned alive), there is definitely gonna be some repercussions for team Rick…Negan won’t be happy.