‘The Walking Dead’ Review: “Consumed”
‘The Walking Dead’ season 5 brings to life its 6th episode with “Consumed,” as Daryl and Carol make their way into the city in search of Beth, only to discover a more dangerous set of circumstances than they could have imagined.
Last week’s ‘The Walking Dead’ episode, “Self Help,” saw Abraham leading Glenn, Maggie, Tara, Rosita and Eugene further down the path to Washington, exposing Eugene's darkest secrets along the way. So, what does the latest episode of season 5 bring? Do Daryl and Carol manage to rescue Beth from the evil hospital?
Read on for your in-depth review of everything you need to know about ‘The Walking Dead’ season 5, episode 6, “Consumed”!
Much as I admire the work season 4's back half put into developing Beth and the series' other weak links, I wasn’t overly fond of season 5’s experiment two weeks ago to measure how well Beth could carry her own episode. Whatever investment fans have in the character’s ultimate fate, “Slabtown” felt largely akin to a setup episode, working overtime to establish new characters and locations that could only be picked up once we checked in with Abraham’s group, and then circled back to re-involve Rick and everyone else back at the church.
The eight-and-eight episode structure of ‘The Walking Dead’ seasons can be difficult to build and develop tension around, and with only two episodes remaining this year, I’m not terribly optimistic about a climactic hospital battle that will undoubtedly see one or more characters killed in the crossfire of its one-note villains. Still, “Slabtown” at least established that Carol would soon join the fray, with Daryl surely not far behind her, and even if the midseason finale ends up hinging on less valuable characters in a boring environment, “Consumed” was certainly one of the better ways to get there.
Not only did tonight’s hour deliver one of ‘The Walking Dead’’s favorite pairings, whom we’ve not really seen alone together since season 4, but so too did the quiet hour celebrate one of the show’s larger success stories with a focus on Carol’s character evolution. Few would have bat an eyelash if Carol had died in the climactic siege of Hershel’s farm in season 2, but Carol has provided the show’s greatest example of the apocalypse burning away people’s weaknesses, which itself has often run the risk of purging their humanity altogether. I’m not sure how much we really needed to see each individual flashback as evidence of the emotional baggage Carol carries around with her, though I’m glad “Consumed” had the time for such a tighter focus on a revered character.
All the same, I could perhaps understand the opposing side of frustration with tonight’s hour, given that from a structural standpoint, “Consumed” often repeated the pattern of Daryl and Carol hunkering down for a few moments, waxing poetic about fiery character evolutions, before killing some walkers and moving on to the next set piece. Character development has never been ‘The Walking Dead’’s strongest suit, particularly when the show intentionally pivots to allow more dialogue-heavy hours, but the chemistry between Norman Reedus and Melissa McBride, as well as the shared sense of history between the characters drum up a bit more meaning around the occasionally empty words. The devil is often in the details, and it’s of interest to ponder moments whether Carol had really intended to wound or kill Noah in their initial encounter, especially considering the counterpoint in Daryl’s actions, as he’d merely leave the boy to fend for himself rather than kill him outright.
Also perhaps worth noting is that “Consumed” certainly felt like a bigger episode for the series, switching things up aesthetically by returning us to Atlanta streets, and arranging an ambient sense of scale evident in moments like the highway van sequence. One could go mad* trying to make sense of the show’s Atlanta geography, but it was certainly nostalgic to see that same highway shot so closely associated with the series, as well as provide a change of pace from endlessly identical woods and the occasional shack/church/what-have-you.
*I have to wonder if the producers have actually charted out the group’s navigational path over the course of the series. Season 2 gave the impression that the group intended to move well-away from Atlanta, even if Hershel’s farm wasn’t terribly far down the road. The group spent a solid 8 months wandering before they found the prison, and one would assume the tracks to Terminus had to have taken them some considerable distance away from their fallen haven.
So after all this time, Daryl and Carol were no more than a few-hours drive from the church back to Atlanta? A quick Googling tells me that Atlanta and DC are only about 10 hours apart, but one wonders if the series will ever commit to leaving Atlanta behind, at least in-context.
I don’t necessarily know that “Consumed” taught us very much about Carol and Daryl that we didn’t already know, or hadn’t at least inferred from Carol’s history of abuse, especially as the brief flashbacks mainly filled in gaps that had been skipped over in the first place for practical purposes. And while I’d be somewhat worried for Carol, given how ‘The Walking Dead’ tends to flesh out its characters just before killing them off, “Consumed” at least provided a much stronger diversion than Beth’s introductory episode, with some nice character beats for two of the show’s favorite survivors along the way. No doubt things will pick up now that everyone’s timelines have caught up, and Daryl and Noah race to bring the cavalry, and while it still seems like a bizarre climax to structure the first half of the season around, “Consumed” proved a reasonably strong survivor’s tale overall.
AND ANOTHER THING…
- It's nice to be reminded that ‘The Walking Dead’ can still pull off a good old-fashioned jump scare, as when the walker attacked Carol and Daryl's car after they stopped.
- Carol and Daryl locked down in a room for the night, briefly shared a bed, and she later made note of the fact that Daryl had become more of a man in the time she'd known him. Are they trying to drive us shippers crazy?! Don't send Carol into that good night without at least a kiss, guys!
- I loved the unanticipated comic beat of the walkers raining down on the van after they survived the tumble. You'll never watch 'Thelma & Louise' the same way again, that's for sure.
- An interesting point I hadn't at first considered, is if Carol had perhaps taken the "Treating Survivors of Child Abuse" book for Daryl's sake, rather than her own.
- Impressive how Daryl seems always to be the one finding alcohol and cigarettes.
Well, what say you? Did you get your fill of thrilling zombie killing? Were you surprised by Daryl and Carol's fate? Stay tuned for more coverage of the ‘Walking Dead’ season 5, and join us next week for another all-new episode review of episode 7, “Crossed,” on AMC!