Welcome back all to our coverage of The Walking Dead! This has easily been my favorite season of the show so far, and it showed no signs of deterioration last night...well...besides rotting reanimated corpses being roadblocks for 2 of our favorite heroes! Following suit with the last couple episodes, and the 2nd half of last season we only followed one storyline throughout the hour and it was stronger for it. As we figured, the episode caught us up on what Daryl and Carol have been up to, but it did even more than that with some choice glimpses at Carol's "burning" past. Let's dive in and discuss.
- Carol's character is easily the most drastically evolved character since the beginning of the show, and this episode made no secret of it. She and Daryl had a discussion during their journey about how she's had 2 lives that have burned away. The one with her abusive husband Ed and her daughter Sophia and the one at the prison where she became the person she always thought she wanted to be. Of course, that all burned away the day she killed 2 of their residents that had that deadly virus. Now she doesn't know what she is, but she's not thrilled with it. She also observed Daryl's changes from boy to man over the course of their time together.
- I will admit to noticing some theme of fire going on throughout the episode, but I in now way analyzed it as much as Yvette Nicole Brown did on Talking Dead last night! Though, I can confess to pages and pages of notes I used to take for LOST the same way she does for this show! The funny thing is, I never read them when I eventually wrote the recaps. Anyway, I found it interesting that all of Carol's flashbacks had themes of fire. We saw her fall apart the day that Rick made her leave the group and then find shelter, lighting a candle to keep warm/have light and all the way to Carol observing the smoke from Terminus (a fire she caused). We saw her burning the infected at the prison, we saw her observing the prison fire, we saw her and Tyreese burying Lizzy and her sister (Don't recall fire there actually). In the present day, Daryl was lighting fires to burn the walker mother and daughter he killed at the temporary housing facility, to cause a diversion for walkers, and eventually to light a cigarette. I'm not going to pretend to get all the symbolism and maybe it's not supposed to be all that deep. The episode is called Consumed, and Carol talks about her lives that burned away. And Daryl simply responded with, "We ain't ashes". They have to keep living as long as they can keep living.
- One of the things I like with this focus on individual stories is that we get to see some of the "sausage being made" so to speak. Living in the zombie apocalypse is all about survival, but in previous seasons we were so busy moving plot forward that we didn't get to see some of the minutua of every day living in the apocalypse. Examples are Abraham and crew setting up that library or whatever last week to defend against nightly walker attacks and Carol setting up base in her newfound shelter. Even the fact that they're so used to walkers now that they're not too worried about them when they slam into their car on a dark downtown Atlanta street. Carol and Daryl were more concerned it was one of the living people they were tracking. It was also nice to spend more time in the torn down Atlanta, come to think of it. The simple splitting up of characters lets us see different sides of the zombie apocalypse and makes for a very lived-in feel to the show. They're doing a great job with that this year and it adds to the intensity/emotional impact of the show for me.
- Carol basically came clean on what happened to Lizzy to Daryl. She didn't have to explain in detail what happened, but just admitting it was worse than he imagines said it all. But they kept sticking to the theme of getting a chance to start over.
- So, getting past the emotional journey of the episode, the plot was simple. FIND BETH. Loved the stealth car chase in the dark with no headlights down the interstate and straight into the city. They got to high ground to scope out if they could find where this crew is "holed up". They ended up scouting a van halfway off a bridge with the cross on the back. Of course, I forgot to mention the bridge full of walkers who were camped out in sleeping bags in tents. I'm sure there was a hint of comedy intended at this setup wondering what on earth happened here to cause that scenario. Granted, I'm sure they thought it was a safe place to be, but the sight was pretty funny only to be topped by another funny walker moment later on. Anyway, they killed the sleeping bag ones but left the ones trapped in tents alone. If that wasn't a dead giveaway that something was going to happen later, then maybe the slow focus on Carol and Daryl getting through that chained door was enough evidence. They may have even shown us Noah's reflection in a window on their 1st time through the door.
- Anyway, this whole Noah thing went down pretty much as I expected, except I thought the timing of events would be different. I didn't realize how much time passed between Noah's escape from the hospital and Carol's arrival at the hospital, so I didn't think Carol would be there when Noah and Daryl met. But the meeting went down as it should with any strangers in this world. They don't know each other, and Noah needs to survive. He got the upper hand and stole their weapons. Carol still had a pistol and tried to kill Noah. Daryl stopped her telling her she's just a kid. This went along with Carol and Daryl's current difference of opinion on saving people.
- Carol and Daryl moved on with just their knives and pistol to the van. There was no way we were leaving this scene without that van falling over, right? The surprise was in how it transpired. Daryl got the clue they needed when he noticed the stretcher with the initials of the hospital on it. But, it was just in time for a hoard of walkers to be on their tail. Long story short, they ended up trapped in the van with the only way out being down. They "Thelma and Louised" it and leaned forward to cause the van to fall, flip and land right side up. Now, I'm not sure if this was meant to be hilarious, but when the walkers fell over with them and kept hitting the roof of the van, I was cracking up. The first one was shocking and scared the hell out of me, but after that just picturing a bunch of mindless zombies following the van off a cliff to their demise was hysterical.
- Carol and Daryl moved on to a building across the way from the hospital to scope things out. Guess who they ran into? Good ol' Noah! They ran into some walker trouble and Noah ended up being in a bad situation under a bookcase. This ended up being a situation where Daryl decided not to save him and Carol was put in a position where she didn't want to leave him. In the end, Daryl used his recently recovered crossbow to save Noah but only after he possibly convinced Carol that people still are worth saving. It was a good thing they came around on this one because obviously Noah had intel they needed! Noah revealed that he was in the hospital (possibly he was scoping out a way to save Beth?) and that they would've heard those gunshots and come after them. Daryl/Carol put 2 and 2 together and they eventually realized that they were all friends with Beth and that Beth helped him escape.
- One of the hospital cars rolled up on the building. The trio were working on their exit and somehow out of the blue Carol got slammed into by a car! Noah held Daryl back explaining how she'll be taken care of and they'll have time to reorganize. Basically Noah indicated their going to need a lot of help and Daryl knew just where to find it. We need to go all Rick and Michonne on this piece!! And of course, this final couple sentences is where we assumed this was going. Daryl and Noah will go for help and "Team Bearded Rick" will be unleashed on the hospital.