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‘The Walking Dead’ Review: “The Grove”

The Walking Dead The Grove Review Tyreese
AMC

The Walking Dead’ season 4 brings to life its 14th episode, “The Grove,” as Carol, Tyreese and the girls find an idyllic house on their way to Terminus, but Lizzie’s growing instability threatens them all, before tragedy strikes.

Last week’s ‘The Walking Dead’ installment, “Alone,” saw Sasha questioning Bob and Maggie’s decision to find the “Terminus” sanctuary, while Daryl and Beth holed up in a funeral home, so what does the latest episode of season 4 bring?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘The Walking Dead’ season 4, episode 14, “The Grove!”

While a kettle boils inside a home, young Lizzie plays outside with a walker as if it were a game of tag. Some time earlier on the train tracks, Lizzie and Carol talk about Sophia while Tyreese and Mika sleep, before Tyreese’s nightmares wake him up. The next day, Carol finds some sap to help with Tyreese’s arm wound, expressing her worry that Lizzie doesn’t fully understand the nature of walkers, while Mika hasn’t toughened up enough to survive.

As the group continues along the tracks, Tyreese and Carol smell a nearby fire, before Carol breaks with Mika to go search for water. Tyreese and Lizzie find a walker wandering on the tracks, but when the creature stumbles and finds itself unable to get up, Lizzie urges Tyreese that he needn’t put it down for good. Meanwhile, Carol attempts to press Mika that she’ll need to be ready to retaliate against living people that try to kill her, as Mika had frozen up at the prison, before the pair find a nearby house.

The five set up at the house for the time being, with Tyreese and Carol leaving the girls behind while they sweep the interior. A walker stumbles forth from within, falling over the porch next to Lizzie and Mika, for which Mika successfully manages to put it down, upsetting Lizzie. That night, Carol prepares food while Tyreese marvels at his first time in a house for a good while, and Mika suggests they live there permanently.

Carol observes Lizzie outside playing with the walker, rushing out to put the creature down despite Lizzie’s protests. Lizzie screams that the creature had been her friend, and Carol needn’t have killed it, as Tyreese observes from inside. A while later, Carol and Mika walk through the forest to find a deer, though Mika finds herself unable to pull the trigger. Later still, Tyreese ponders aloud to Carol if maybe they should stay at the house, rather than risk encountering any more people they can’t trust.

Mika sees her sister wandering off into the woods, following her to find Lizzie feeding a live mouse to the walker by the train tracks. Lizzie claims to hear the creature, understanding how it simply wants to change her, before a number of charred walkers from the nearby fire bear down on the girls. Lizzie and Mika run back to the house to get Carol and Tyreese’s attention, as the four form a line to take down the oncoming walkers. That night, Lizzie professes to finally understand the need to put down walkers, and Tyreese has another nightmare.

The next day, Tyreese and Carol bond over the idea of staying at the house, as Tyreese reveals that he still dreams of Karen and feels the living are forever doomed to be haunted by the dead. Carol nearly breaks down, suggesting instead that the walkers remind them how they might continue living with the difficult things they’ve done, before the pair hug. By the time they return to the house, Lizzie has stabbed Mika to death, and violently defends against Carol and Tyreese putting her down before she has a chance to rise. Carol plays along, sending Tyreese and Lizzie away, before breaking down in front of Mika’s lifeless body.

With Lizzie locked up, Tyreese explains to Carol that it was Lizzie who fed rats to the walkers and dissected the rabbit at the prison, though she didn’t kill Karen and David. Carol suggests that she might take Lizzie off on her own, knowing that the girl can no longer be around other people, as she can’t be talked back into sanity. A while later, Tyreese watches as Carol takes Lizzie out to the flower fields outside the property, and Lizzie becomes upset that Carol is angry with her. Carol urges Lizzie to look at the flowers, a device Mika had earlier used to calm her sister, before Carol mournfully shoots Lizzie dead. Carol again sees the deer passing by, before she and Tyreese bury the bodies.

That night, Tyreese and Carol sit in silence before Carol hands over her gun, and confesses that it was she who put down Karen and David. Tyreese bristles with anger, as Carol knowingly suggests he do what he needs to do, though Tyreese surprisingly forgives Carol, knowing they’ll both carry the ugliness of what had to happen, and he certainly won’t forget about it. The next morning, Tyreese and Carol leave the property behind, returning to the railroad tracks and traveling the opposite direction of the still-trapped walker.

OUR REVIEW:

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, but the structure of these back eight season 4 episodes has been wildly across the board. Things appropriately narrowed to follow Rick, Carl and to a lesser extent, Michonne in our first episode back from the break, before suddenly catching up with every group at once, and subsequently varying the focus between episodes. Given the nature of the split, we’d have been just as happy to catch up with one group at a time, and “The Grove” provides a perfect example of why.

The shocking death and even more horrifying murder that follow aren’t entirely surprising for comic fans, as we’d been tracking for months the analogue that Lizzie and Mika represent, though in any context it’s an especially dark place for the series to go, at least considering how Judith last managed to escape the reaper. Lest we forget, the opening moments of the entire series saw Rick putting down a young female walker of comparable age to Lizzie or Mika, though that wouldn’t necessarily have prepared fans to endure a living girl’s death, let alone two. It’s brutal, horrifying stuff, and exactly the kind of bleak, unavoidable storytelling we’d come to expect from the books, and the episode’s narrow focus on the five makes us wish ‘The Walking Dead’ could more often balance such contained, poignant storytelling with its larger episodes.

Not to endlessly harp on the point, but ‘The Walking Dead’ has always existed as a means to explore the tougher questions of survival, something the AMC drama tended to overshadow with horror and action, and while “The Grove” doesn’t explicitly state said moral questions, its characters well represent the same internal dilemmas. No one is to blame exactly, that Lizzie’s viewpoint could have become so skewed, though once it becomes apparent she’d kill another living person without fully understanding the implications, what options are the characters left with? Even prior to the apocalypse, such actions would have the girl institutionalized for years without any guarantee of improvement, and they could hardly keep her restrained for the rest of her life. Too often AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’ has fallen into patterns of killing extraneous characters for the sake of killing them, though for the first time in a long time, “The Grove” actually challenged us to suffer its casualties.

Only two episodes remain in the season, and while “The Grove” hardly put forth anything suggestive of the endgame (we weren’t sure if the final shot implied Tyreese and Carol to be heading away from, or toward Terminus), the mournful brutality of it all strikes a truly resonant tone, the likes of which we’ve not felt in some time. Terminus may not offer any real kind of sanctuary regardless, but the audience is more than ready see what lies at the end of the tracks.

Well, what say you? Did you get your fill of thrilling zombie killing? Were you surprised by such a horrific end to the children? Where will Tyreese and Carol end up next? Check out all our other ‘Walking Dead’ season 4 coverage, and join us next week for another all-new episode recap of episode 15, “Us,” on AMC!

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