The Walking Dead Roundtable 4.14 “The Grove”

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Hosted by Jeannie Chan

Three guesses what’s going to happen on this week’s episode of TWD with Lizzie’s face all over the previews. We watched and cringed while she named and chatted up walkers at the prison fence last season. We watched and cringed as she tried to suffocate Judith. We’ve been building up to this so time to watch the time bomb that is Lizzie’s psychosis explode. Read on as Rob Errera, Nicole Norkin and I try to make some sense out of this.

(Spoilers under cut)

Jeannie: What is this opening sequence? Who are those people? Is this another flashback? I can’t be duped two episodes in a row now.

Rob: Great opening. I recognized Lizzie. I wasn’t sure if the woman chasing her was a person or a walker until she got closer. Then, at the same time as the person at the window realized (and forgot to turn the kettle off), I realized Lizzie is playing with the walker. What a great scene.

Nicole: Amazing.

Jeannie: Oh man, Lizzie is going to go full on insane this episode, isn’t she? When she said that she didn’t mean to shoot the woman in the head, it’s obvious that she was expressing remorse for not being able to let the woman re-animate. I’m still struggling to understand her empathy for the zombies.

Rob: I’m not sure of her empathy, either. What makes her think walkers are better than people? Or does she think they’re the same as us? Is this her way of coping with the fact that both of her parents turned (and were subsequently killed)? And she’s originally from Woodbury, right?

Nicole: I would like to understand that too. Perhaps she lost someone and remained overly connected to their Zombie form like the Mayor with his daughter. Who knows, she is so young.

Jeannie: I believe this is only the second time since Sophia died that Carol has talked about her. Which is nice, but I wish that it wasn’t just for the purpose of trying to explain Carol’s militant attitude about training the kids to defend themselves.

Nicole: I stopped liking Carol when her daughter died. Oh good old “blame the mother” syndrome.

Rob: I think you’re right. Tyrese seems to be the only one who mentions someone they’d lost regularly. We hardly hear about Lori anymore (or see Fake Ghost Lori).

Nicole: That’s true. Well now they’re grieving Judith.

Rob: Melissa McBride… Such a fantastic performance. We barely see her this season and then she comes back and wows us. And Chad Coleman’s face portrayed all the doubts and fears I imagine a foster parent would be feeling within this family-like group.

Jeannie: I love her. That’s all I have to say.

Rob: I need to work this out: Lizzie is feeding and playing with walkers, and she thinks they are to be befriended and not killed, but at the prison and when the walker fell over the balcony in this episode she screamed in pure fear. Is what she’s experiencing similar to having a pet dog that one day turns on you? Or like having a human friend who attacks you? Is there another explanation for her incongruous reactions?

Jeannie: Psychosis? Haha, just kidding. But not really. Let’s say I momentarily abandon this theory that Lizzie is severely emotionally disturbed and chalk it up to a childish, immature, naive ideation that zombies are friendly misunderstood creatures, part of a fantasy/sci-fi world that Lizzie finds herself thrown into. They’re still scary creatures! I think as deluded as she might be, that pure fear comes from a primal instinct that no delusion can shake. Or something. I don’t know. Trying to explain Lizzie’s incongruous reactions is going to be impossible. The only explanation that makes sense is bad writing.

Nicole: There is a scene from the last episode in the first season (I believe) where Daryl and Rick are driving and Daryl is watching a zombie cross a field. Daryl has no reaction, no rush to kill it. From then on I saw zombies as dangerous animals such as a crocodile or something that people all react differently too. Some love them and try to train them, some are scared, etc…. So I wasn’t too taken aback when Lizzie was scared when the zombie was coming at her but she could she be obsessively in awe of them.

Rob: This was a fantastic episode, though much of its power was built upon heartbreak. Melissa McBride and Chad Coleman were at the top of their Walking Dead game and had believable reactions to and conversations about the events that unfolded. My only issue is that I’m not really clear on Lizzie’s reasoning behind her motivation: what, in her mind, makes her feel that the dead is an improvement over the living? If she gave an explanation–like their being nearly invincible, or her seeing them as an evolution or the next step in God’s plan or something–I might be able to buy her mental state. We’re given vague hints into her psyche that depict a young girl who has developed some sort of psychological disorder but no way for the viewer to connect to the character. But maybe that was intentional so her end would be slightly more justified and bearable? I just feel like a small peek at her worldview would have been helpful: does she think all people should become walkers? Should they coexist like humans and animals? Why do some walkers scare her and some don’t? But she’s old enough to remember the pre-zombie world. Maybe it stems from having never lost anyone, and then losing them only to see them reanimate? It’s her way of holding onto the past, keeping hope for the future, and coping with death. Mika seems more level-headed about this, though I’m not sure why her ideology is so different. Maybe because Mika’s still young enough to be almost completely shaped by the adults around her.tantrum.jpg

Nicole: They try to reason that she wants to use Mika to prove that zombies are still somewhat human. But I think that is lazy writing. I thought overall this was an amazing episode. Just when I’m getting annoyed that not much has happened the writers give us this twisted storyline.

Jeannie: Okay, yeah. Lizzie is just severely emotionally disturbed. And that’s pretty much what Mika has been saying all along, that Lizzie is messed up. How old is she supposed to be?  She shouldn’t be holding onto this magical ideation anymore. In any case, you’re right, Rob. She is old enough to remember the pre-zombie world and she’s lived in this world long enough to know better than to think that zombies are anything but dangerous. The fact that she doesn’t or can’t just indicates how far gone she is, or has been. If not zombies, it would have been something else. She doesn’t bat an eye about killing actual people, or feeding mice to zombies, or tearing a rabbit apart just for fun. These last two things referencing her disregard for an animal’s welfare is like Psych 101 for sociopathic behavior and that’s all we’re going to get in terms of developing her mental status.

Also, Lizzie’s major freakout when Carol came charging out of the house to kill the zombie she was PLAYING WITH was bizarre. Down to the crazy jazz hands she was doing. Ugh. So over it.

Rob: Every apocalypse is better with jazz hands. I actually really liked Lizzie’s temper tantrum. It showed that beneath her hardened exterior and skewed views she’s really just a kid–in stark contrast to what we’ve seen of Carl–and it felt similar to a kid playing make-believe who had their game disrupted. Except she thinks everyone else is imagining.

Jeannie: True, I guess that epic temper tantrum fits with the profile of a mentally disturbed child. I still find fault in the way it was executed.

Rob: Okay. Wow. Poor Mika. And well played by Carol, getting the gun from Lizzie and stopping her from killing Judith. “Oh, she can’t even walk yet.” Lizzie takes that as a logical statement. Clearly Lizzie wants her zombies fully mobile. The way Melissa McBride visibly held back tears while calmly have a conversation she knows Lizzie will see as rational was a great performance. And Tyrese standing there, stunned. It makes sense that Carol would be able to talk down someone in a violent mental state–she had plenty of practice when she was married.

Jeannie: Agreed. This was a great scene. Melissa McBride and Chad Coleman were amazing here. When Carol broke down after Tyrese led Lizzie away, I might have gotten just a little choked up…

Rob: And the conversation about what to do next. Do you abandon her? Do you lock her up like the Governor did (though Penny had already turned)? Do you let her turn, like she’d wanted? Or do you kill her so she’s not a threat to anyone ever again? “She can’t be around people.” That was a hard conversation.

Jeannie: Stupid question, but…. did Carol really have to kill Lizzie? Was that really the more humane thing to do? For her sake? For society’s sake?

Nicole: I was hoping she’d just exile her. Killing Lizzie is almost too rational.

Rob: It was clear through their final conversation that Lizzie didn’t think she’d done anything wrong. She thought Carol was upset by having a gun pointed at her. Lizzie’s mental state was not going to be solved without serious medical and/or psychological treatment that just isn’t available anymore, so she was a danger to herself and others.

Jeannie: Haha, when they were at the kitchen table trying to talk out what to do, I did yell out loud “SHE NEEDS INTENSE THERAPY.” But, yeah, I guess leaving her behind really wasn’t an option.

Rob: Leaving a young girl behind is worse than death, especially in that world. Even if she could fend for herself, how long until a group like the one that was in Rick’s house finds her and makes the remainder of her life even more of a hell? They flipped out when they saw a woman’s shirt in the house. It’s hard to say, but there are worse people than Lizzie out there. Or she could end up joining up with another group and getting them all killed (or killing them herself). And in the end, she’ll let herself turn and she could be the walker who kills someone else who’s passing through. The choice really came down to killing her outright or killing her so she’ll turn. Carol doesn’t want the zombie life for anyone. So she carried out the death penalty.

Nicole: I think she could have fended for herself. Being that insane probably, sadly, made this world easier for her.

Rob: After all this, though, I can’t help but wonder if we ever will see a zombie baby, or what it would have been like to lock Lizzie up in Terminus like a prisoner with a life sentence. Of course, then they’d have to waste resources keeping her alive. In the end, killing Lizzie probably saved many lives.

Jeannie: Oh, wait. Other things happened in this episode too, lol. Carol’s confession seems pretty anticlimatic now.

Nicole: It makes a lot of sense for her to confess now, because Tyrese can see first hand that she is making these sacrifices for the greater good. After they agree to kill Lizzie, it would be hypocritical for him to fail to understand why Carol killed Karen. Then again Lizzie actually murdered someone, and Karen just had the flu…

Rob: I thought Carol’s confession was really great. She was basically like: I failed with my daughter, I failed with these kids, and I failed you, too, Tyrese. What better time to admit to what she’d done than after the events of that day? Her spirit was broken (or nearly was). When she handed the gun to Tyrese she was unsure of the decisions she’d made and if she’s fit to continue surviving. But Tyrese is kind, even when he’s hurt and angry–plus, he probably knows he won’t survive on his own, with a baby, without Carol. “I forgive you, but I won’t forget.” Powerful, but fair words.