Season 4 Episode 14 “The Grove”
I’ve felt a lot of different feelings watching The Walking Dead. I’ve been surprised, scared, amused, disgusted and a whole lot of sad. But this episode is the first time I’ve ever felt utterly and completely stunned. “The Grove” very much rips your heart out and lays it on a platter for you.
We get another small cast episode where we are completely wrapped up in what Carol, Tyreese, Lizzie, Mika and baby Judith are doing. A lot of what happens early in the episode comes back by the end of the episode. Lizzie asks Carol if she ever had children. Carol talks about Sophia as being sweet and not having a mean bone in her body. Which is also how she describes Mika to Tyreese. When Mika and Carol find the house they stay in she says, “Everything works out the way it’s supposed to.”. Carol later states this on her walk with Lizzie as she is taking her to kill her. Karen and David are also brought up over and over again ending with Carol’s confession to Tyreese. And there’s a burning fire not too far away that is continuously mentioned throughout the episode. Specifically, with Mika’s comment, it would seem that what transpires here is meant to be. If it didn’t happen here, it would have happened eventually and could have been worse.
Carol spends the first half of the episode trying to get rid of Lizzie and Mika’s faults. Lizzie doesn’t want to hurt walkers, she thinks she can play with them. She thinks they are her friends. Lizzie has no problem hurting and torturing animals, but don’t lay a hand on those walkers. There was probably nothing more surreal than the flash forward of Lizzie trying to play tag with a walker in slow-mo. Slightly amusing and slightly terrifying all at once. Mika on the other hand is trying to be a pacifist. She mentions how she hated dissecting in school, very much the opposite of what her sister is doing. She doesn’t want to kill people and feels sad for the people who do kill people. She makes a comment I like that seems wise beyond her years. That people who hurt other people probably weren’t like that before. It’s true but the part that Carol tries to get across to her is that because those people are willing to kill you, you have to be willing to kill them back. At least that is what Carol feels. You don’t have to do anything, but you will live or die by your choice.
Sadly, in Mika’s case, she does die at the hands of her own sister. Lizzie is so very damaged and obsessed with having walker friends, she kills her own sister to turn her into one of them. It’s an incredible moment of the episode. Everyone had been excited about finding this house. They wanted to stay there and not go on to Terminus. They wanted to bake pecans and sit around the fire and do puzzles. It could have been a beautiful new beginning for them. And then Carol and Tyreese return from the woods to find Lizzie standing over her dead sister and baby Judith sitting in front of her. The look of absolute dread on Tyreese’s face says it all. He’s just found a little girl who has murdered her even younger sister and about to kill a baby. That is not something you would ever expect to see. Carol keeps her cool at first, thinking of just getting baby Judith out of danger. It’s shocking when Carol has to reason with Lizzie about killing Judith by telling her she can’t even walk yet. A point that Lizzie actually gets which is mind-boggling. Once she is left alone with Mika, Carol crumbles.
Carol has once again lost a child. An adopted daughter who was described as being so similar to Sophia. And if that wasn’t enough pain for one day, she now has to decide what to do with Lizzie. Her and Tyreese talk about the options, but it comes down to one thing and one thing only. Lizzie isn’t safe to take anywhere or stay with them. Poor Carol is now faced with the fact that she has to kill Lizzie. A decision that no mother or human being should have to make.
But then we’re still not done with this horrible day. Because Carol chooses this time to admit she killed Karen and David to Tyreese. Carol had several opportunities to admit this during the episode. But I think she chooses this moment because she doesn’t want to live anymore. She has been through too much and I think she feels if she tells Tyreese he will kill her and she won’t have to get hurt anymore. But in an emotional twist, Tyreese chooses to forgive her. This day has taken its toll on him and I think in his mind any more killing would have just thrown him over the edge as well.
The two decide to head for Terminus. They can’t stay in this house of death. A house that seemed so promising and full of possibilities, now just full of devastating memories. They bury the girls and head out.
Best of the Episode
The fire walkers. I choose to believe that the fire the group sees from a distance is the house that Beth and Daryl lit up. In a weird way, that fire drew the surrounding walkers to it, which probably made the house that Carol and Mika find so easy to get into. But when Lizzie wanders back to the railroad tracks to feed a mouse to the walker that is stuck there with Mika following her, they both get ambushed by a group of walkers who have clearly been burnt to a crisp from that fire. My first thought when I saw them was that they really looked a lot like orcs from Lord of the Rings. We’ve never seen walkers burnt like this before. Dark and steaming still a little. Another new and interesting way to present walkers to us.
Lizzie looks at the flowers. Probably one of the most well-known lines of the entire show. The line has been used with Lizzie before. It’s a way for her to subdue her anxiety when she’s having an attack. But now as she freaks out that she’s upset Carol (over pointing a gun at her and not her sister’s murder btw), Carol tells her to look at the flowers one last time. Carol struggles in the moment and I honestly was sitting there going, “she’s gonna do it, she’s not gonna do it, they can’t do this, can she do this, oh snap she did it!” The show went on for several more scenes after this, but I was stunned the rest of that time after my first viewing I don’t think I was even paying attention.