Note: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 4, Episode 4 of AMC's "The Walking Dead," titled "Indifference"
This week's episode was all about letting go, whether it be of dead loved ones, old insecurities, bad habits or a grudge so strong you'd put your own life in danger to hold it.
"Indifference" starts out with a solemn exchange between Carol and quarantined Lizzie about life, death and being afraid. Their conversation is interjected with shots of Rick gassing up the car while he pictures Carol's grizzly act of disease prevention in his head.
Lizzie is still asserting her belief that walkers are people. She talks about her own potential demise with an almost hopeful look in her eye, as if getting to "come back" is a good thing. "We all change," she says. "We all don't get to stay the same way we started."
That allegory continues as Carol reassures Lizzie that she's going to survive. Lizzie asks Carol -- whom she accidentally calls "Mom" -- how she can live without being afraid. "One day, you just change," Carol says. "We all change."
With food running low and the rescue group still out looking for antibiotics, Rick and Carol head out together in search of supplies. It becomes clear that there might be an ulterior motive for the trip when Carol asks why Maggie couldn't come, then immediately starts defending her decision to take out Karen and David. "They were a threat," Carol says. "I was trying to save lives." Something about the family car, her defensive tone and Rick's silent responses made them sound like an old married couple to me.
Speaking of couples, while searching a suburban neighborhood for medicine, Carol and Rick stumble upon an adorably naive young man and woman in love who had been surviving by hiding out in a greenhouse nearby.
It's been a while since any characters as goofy as this pair have come up on the show and I have to say I enjoyed them. Seriously, they crack jokes ("I thought everybody was an asshole before this all went down... Now I love people!"), make "Ew, gross!" faces when Carol suggests they use knives to kill walkers (or, "skin-eaters" as they call them) and have been living nonchalantly with debilitating injuries (like a dislocated shoulder) for weeks. Crazy kids!
Carol fixes them up, Rick does his "Answer me these questions three" routine and eventually they tell the couple about the situation at the prison. Things got weird when the couple asked if Carol had lost any children and she said, "No, thank God, but one of my girls has [the flu]," referring to Lizzie. But... She snapped at Lizzie! For calling her "mom!" Rick's facial expression basically sums up my reaction:
Miles away, Bob, Daryl, Michonne and (miraculously) Tyreese are still alive and trying to reach the veterinary college. Daryl is still goading Michonne about her frequent "revenge trips" to try and find the Governor. You can tell that Daryl really cares about having her at the prison and we pick up on some pretty obvious sexual tension, especially when he picks up a stone that Michonne says "brings out his eyes." Cute? Yes, but just like Tyreese's "I've got you under my skin" serenade, I just have to question this group's ability to flirt during the apocalypse.
Speaking of Tyreese, he has not exactly calmed down since his "Come at me bro!" moment with the horde of walkers last week. He's still enraged about Karen's death and puts himself in yet another near-death situation by grabbing on to a walker stuck in some thick vines. Michonne asks, "Why the hell didn't you let go?" But at this point, we all know there's not going to be any "letting go" for Tyreese.
Still, Michonne tries to get him to calm down. She empathizes with his rage, but reminds him that "Stupid gets you killed." Tyreese tries to call her bluff, saying she's the one who's still harboring anger about the Governor. This is the first time we hear her try to explain why she goes out looking for him, and guess what? She doesn't really know why. She wants him dead because he deserves it, but she's not angry anymore (and, I have to say I like the new, sunnier Michonne).
Back in the suburbs, the couple agrees to help Carol and Rick find more supplies before they join them at the prison, but we already know these two n00bs aren't going to last two hours alone. Rick and Carol head into a house to raid the medicine cabinet and continue to argue like an old married couple (only, you know, SUPER dark). Carol keeps defending her murder/euthanasia and compares it to Rick killing Shane to protect his family.
Rick and Carol move outside to pick vegetables and end turn the conversation to slightly less awful things. We hear some names we haven't heard in a while, like "Sophia," and "Lori." Rick talks about how Lori used to make "God awful" pancakes on Sundays and are reminded how much Carol has overcome after living with an abusive husband. The nostalgia continues until they see a dropped fruit basket (and a familiar looking, badly healed, female leg) on the ground. In the distance, they see one half of the couple they just met is now a half-devoured corpse.
Back near the college, Daryl is attempting to get a minivan running to take the group the rest of the way, while Bob gets a few things off his chest. We learn that Bob has been with two different groups of survivors before this one, and each one ended with him being the last man standing. He almost didn't join this one because he feels cursed (and you tell us now?!). Plus, he blames himself and his alcohol problem for Zach's death on that run in the season premiere.
Miraculously, the minivan starts and the group heads out, finally reaching the learning hospital and its lifesaving antibiotics. Bob helps the group find everything on Dr. Hershel's list and things are looking up, but then there's that whole "getting out alive" part. To make matters worse, Bob reminds them that the walkers in the college have the same eye-popping flu virus as the ones at the prison, and if they get blood on them, they're going to catch it as well. Now that's some stakes-raisin'!
The group narrowly escapes, but on he way out, Bob drops his bag into a horde of walkers and won't let go (there's that phrase again!) even with the others risking their lives to pull him back. Daryl discovers that there is no medicine in the bag, just a bottle of booze. He's understandably pissed and tells him, "You should have kept walking that day." Ouch!
Side note: you can't get a much better metaphor for alcoholism than a desperate Bob literally staring down the demons, clinging to what might as well be the last bottle of booze in the world. It's almost poetic.
Before they head back to the prison, Michonne tells Daryl that he's right; she doesn't need to go out looking for the Governor anymore. Hooray! Personal growth! More Michonne! However, I really do hope she ends up finding and killing the Governor someday, if only so I can use the phrase "MICHONNE ACCOMPLISHED" in a recap. Oh wait, I just did!
Anyway, back to Rick and Carol. They, too, have finished what they set out to do and are ready to head back to the prison, but are waiting to see if the other half of the couple has survived the past two hours. After Carol convinces Rick that they should leave him behind, Rick explains to Carol that he's going to do exactly the same thing to her. The bottom line is: Karen and David might have lived. It wasn't Carol's decision to make. Plus, Tyreese is SO going to kill her when he finds out.
Carol pleads with him: "Rick, it's me. No one else has to know." Ugh. She's right, but he's also right. This isn't Farmer Rick talking, it's Sheriff Rick, the same guy who said "This isn't a democracy" back before they found the prison. He's also standing firm because he thinks she'll find others and be able to survive. As he helps her load supplies into a station wagon that is to be her temporary home, there is a slightly awkward moment when they're deciding who takes the gas can.
Before parting, Carol gives Rick the watch her husband gave her on their first anniversary, letting go of yet another piece of her past. As Rick watches her drive off we hear the befitting lyrics, "Everything changes," from "Serpents" by Sharon Van Etten (that song from the season 4 trailer, if it sounded familiar).
Just like she told Lizzie in her pep talk at the beginning of the episode, Carol's going to have to run until she's safe, not be afraid to kill, and remember to keep her T-shirt tucked behind knife as she sets off into unknown territory. Will she ever come back? I think so, as that's a pretty big loose end to leave hanging. And, speaking of loose ends, perhaps she'll end up being the one who finds the Governor?
"The Walking Dead" airs Sundays, 9:00 p.m. ET on AMC.