To cleanse the palate, can’t be too grumbly about this one given how strongly the season’s started. It was a small letdown, but it had to be: It was interstitial. The plague story arc needs to play out over multiple episodes or else it’s not worth doing, which means, unless they’re willing to kill off a major character each week from zombie pneumonia (fingers crossed!), we’re destined for a few slow suspense-building “things are getting worse” episodes where nothing much happens. Give ’em credit for one thing, though: Somehow they figured out a way to make the most docile, least interesting member of the original crew intriguing and even menacing.
Carol has a lot going on this season. This is a person who has taken her pain and everything she’s lived through and turned it into this pragmatic life she’s trying to live now. With training these kids, every moment of her life now is about protecting her loved ones and trying to make sure a Sophia never happens to her again in any aspect of her life. In her making this decision and deciding to go through with this horrific act — and it’s something she’s thought long and hard about and has decided that it’s something that definitely needs to be done — being aware of the repercussions that can come from that is part of that. She’s very prepared and capable of whatever can come from this, and she’s ready for it. This is something that really illustrates the evolution of this character and how much of a different person she is now.
Carol’s the only member of the original cast whose character seems to have actually developed. Everyone else is an archetype who’s been running in place except for Rick, whose own “character” is really just a weekly exercise in “decent man tries to resist temptation to ruthlessness” storytelling. Carol, though, does seem to have changed, and not ostentatiously the way Rick or Shane tend/tended to melt down under stress. She doesn’t seem docile anymore so much as very tightly wound, which introduces a surprisingly unpredictable element into a predictable crew. Just one question, though: If she thought Karen and the other guy were so threatening to the prison (and specifically to the children) by dint of their illness that she had to kill and incinerate them, why isn’t she on a rampage killing everyone in quarantine? Did she believe, maybe, that by killing Karen and the other guy quickly she could stop the plague from spreading?
Anyway, other notes. One: The action set piece at the end was fine but felt like a lost opportunity. They get surrounded in a car by the mother of all zombie hordes and … get away relatively easily thanks to a few sword chops and crossbow firings? C’mon. Two: I like Tyreese, but the “big guy struggling with rage and grief” overacting was hard to take after awhile. Here’s to a short bereavement period. Three: Nothing against Glenn, but he’s been dead weight for awhile. The “love among the ruins” storyline with Maggie isn’t so interesting that it should spare him from the writers’ periodic major-character ritual sacrifice. If Daryl and the gang make it back in the nick of time with antibiotics to save him, it’s going to feel lame. Watching Maggie cope with his death would be more interesting than watching a newly healed Glenn float through the rest of the zombie apocalypse, I promise.