The Walking Dead, “Consumed”

walking dead

I’ve never really liked “catch-up” episodes, even when it’s The Walking Dead, and even when it’s an episode centering around Daryl and Carol. The show’s been dropping in and out of different settings for the past few weeks, always ending with a teaser that has characters’ paths crossing again (i.e. Daryl returning with an unknown guest [Noah probably] at the end of Four Walls and a Roof, Carol showing up wounded at the end of Slabtown) So the story is being showed to us in pieces, and now they’re filling in the blanks.

The episode opens even further back in the story line, showing a montage of Carol’s journey after her exile from the prison. The loneliness and fear of the solo journey through the zombie apocalypse can break down even the strongest hardass, even Carol. We see her return to the prison finally, but only to find it in flames. After that, we’re left to assume Carol wanders the woods until she runs into Tyreese. Back to present action, Daryl and Carol are chasing the black car with the white cross in an effort to find the kidnapped Beth. We know she’s holed up in the Grady Memorial Hospital of course, so there’s little to no suspense throughout this episode. We already know Beth is in a (relatively) safe place. We know Carol ends up there wounded. We know Daryl makes it back to the church safely. So it’s a pandering format. The Walking Dead has been showing us the endings to episodes we haven’t even seen yet. It is interesting on a level, to find out how the characters get from point A to point B, but is it really all that fun to sit through?

It seems like Carol and Daryl finally catch up to the asshole cop who took Beth (who we already know dies in a couple of days, thank you Slabtown.) but run out of gas to pursue him all the way to Atlanta. They hole up in a shelter Carol had once brought Sophia. She and Daryl have a heart-to-heart about why Carol tried to leave the church, why she tried to leave the group, but it’s short-lived, and ends with Carol still having no clue why she tried to leave. Rick certainly wants her. WE certainly want her. That’s all I want from this show right now really, I just want the group to be together. The duo don’t spend the whole episode on their own, though. They end up running into Noah, Beth’s friend from Slabtown. This is after he’s escaped, so Noah is in total survivor mode. We’ve grown to like him, too, so when he suddenly appears to rob Carol and Daryl of their weapons, it’s difficult to hate him. He even apologizes, saying that they look tough and they’ll be all right. Then, he cuts open camping tents full of walkers and backs away, escaping. Carol confesses that she nearly left the church because she can’t stand to see anyone else die. Saving people isn’t what they do anymore, it’s all about survival. She’d rather be on her own and live as long as possible than watch people she cares about drop like flies. Carol represents a much starker viewpoint than the other characters, but then again, none of them had to shoot a little girl in cold blood.

“Consumed” has one of the coolest moments of the show so far, with Daryl and Carol trapped in a van on a highway overpass. The van is hanging off the side of the highway, and it’s surrounded by a crowd of walkers. Daryl and Carol buckle up, and allow the walkers to push the van off the road, and we see the fall from the inside of the somersaulting van. After they get out of the wreckage and brush themselves off, they finally make it to a place in Atlanta where they can keep an eye on the hospital.

Carol’s self-reflection with Daryl while they stake out the hospital brings meaning to the episode title. Carol feels like the person she thought she ought to be got burned away. That everything about this world consumes you. Daryl notes that they aren’t ashes. They’re alive and they’re trying. That’s good enough. Not only does Daryl engage her in conversation to gauge her feelings, but he kills walkers so she doesn’t have to, and he makes the hard decision about Noah to try and save what’s left of her soul. After running into Noah again, Daryl leaves him pinned under a bookshelf with a walker struggling behind a nearby door. After Carol’s plights, Daryl does turn around at the last second and put an arrow through the zombie’s head before it can bite the trapped Noah.

Another pointless flashback of Carol in a random point in time (during or after the Terminus attack) and then back to Noah being freed from the book shelf. Daryl finds out Noah knows Beth, and that she’s still in the hospital. When Carol goes ahead to escape the building, a station wagon just RUNS HER OVER and the Grady people inside it get out and take her on a stretcher. They had a stretcher prepared. So there’s evidence that they will actually intentionally injure someone, “save their life”, then enslave them. Noah warns Daryl that this hospital has more people and bigger guns, to which Daryl replies “So do we.” Daryl finds a big van and heads back to camp to rally Rick and the others. So yeah, nothing we didn’t already know. Next week, the church group should be attacking the hospital to get Beth and Carol back. Which could be cool, I don’t know. It just feels like the show is wasting time on this subplot and it’s a way to fill up the schedule. I’ll be more interested in this show when Rick gets his ass in gear, busts out Carol and Beth, and heads onward to D.C. completely unaware that Eugene’s mission is a sham.

I don’t know. I like Carol. I like Daryl. I just don’t like watching an episode that has the same impact on the story as a single line of dialogue has. “Yeah, we tracked down this car and found this Noah kid who knows where Beth is, now Carol’s there too so we gotta go.” It’s filler. The Walking Dead likes to slow things down every once in a while and employ lots of wandering in dark buildings, bunking down for the night, lengthy conversations in which neither party tends to actually say anything, etc. So whatever, it seems like next week will push forward, but the winter hiatus is coming up soon so there’s not much time left to get somewhere interesting.

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