HOLLYWOOD—Carol is one of the most developed, most evolving characters on “The Walking Dead,” and in this episode ‘The Same Boat,’ we see her struggle with the vicious deeds she has been forced to undertake over the course of the past six seasons. Let’s review!
After losing her daughter Sophia back in Season 2, Carol realizes what she needs to do to keep her new family alive. She kills Karen and David to prevent a fatal illness from spreading through the prison, she murders the sociopathic Lizzie to protect baby Judith, she blows up Terminus to save her friends, and she essentially saves Alexandria singlehandedly by disguising herself as a Wolf during the assault on the town and killing the other Wolves.
Now, Carol and the pregnant Maggie are captured by the surviving Saviors after Rick and Co. massacred the rest of them. Carol managed to shoot a Savior, Donnie, in the arm, but she and Maggie were quickly surrounded. Fortunately, Rick and the others have proved themselves to be incredibly formidable, so the leading Savior Paula has no desire of dealing with the situation now.
Carol and Maggie are taken to a safehouse, which doesn’t seem to be that safe with the amount of walkers wandering around inside. At first, it seems that Carol has her mask on again, returning to the role of the frightened woman who is terrified of violence. That’s what it seems, at least, until we begin to see that perhaps it isn’t all an act. Carol is definitely afraid of something.
“Her biggest fear is herself, and what she’s capable of doing,” Melissa McBride tells The Talking Dead after the episode. “Killing.”
Carol begins hyperventilating as Paula and the other Saviors return to the room, and Maggie convinces their captors that Carol’s gag needs to come off. Carol is ridiculed by them for her panic, but she drops the bombshell that the show dropped on us a few months ago: Maggie is pregnant.
Paula tells Maggie that getting knocked up in this world is pretty stupid (Maggie has a pretty good comeback here – when is getting knocked up ever not stupid?) and that her baby is probably going to die. Sorry Saviors, we have a baby back at Alexandria to prove that’s not true.
Fortunately, one of the Saviors Chelle seems to grasp the importance of babies in this new world, as she tells the smoking/coughing/gross Savior Molly that she needs to stop smoking in their small room.
Unfortunately, the man Carol shot, Donnie, is very unhappy with the fact he might die in the next thirty minutes, and he attacks her. Maggie tries to fight him off with Carol’s help, but the two of them are heavily hindered by their restraints, so in the end it is Paula who takes him out.
Maggie is taken out to the other room, where Chelle reveals that the two have similar pasts – the deaths of beloved fathers, and the fact that Chelle was once pregnant as well. Unfortunately Chelle has no intention of dying, and neither does Maggie.
Carol’s façade begins to crack as she talks to Paula. When Carol asks for smoke after belittling Molly for smoking, Paula calls her weak for being unable to stick with her own principles. “You don’t want me to stick with to my own principles,” Carol mutters under her breath.
So is this a façade? Or is it real?
The two women actually have a lot in common, as Paula used to be married with four daughters and lost them all. When the army arrived in DC, she was stuck with her boss. “He was the first person I killed so I could live,” she tells Carol (sound familiar?). After double digits she stopped counting (Carol’s number is now 18) and stopped feeling bad about it. She is stronger now for losing everything she used to have.
Carol tries to convince her this isn’t right (pot calling the kettle black here) since she’s now with killers. But Carol is a killer too, Paula reminds her.
Carol manages to convince Paula to do the trade. When Paula radios Rick to set up a drop spot, she quickly realizes that Rick is nearby since the static in the radio was so short. She calls for her back-up despite Carol’s insistence that Rick is a man of his word.
Carol pulls herself together when she is left alone, sharpening the cross of her rosary to free herself and sneaking out the door. She reaches Maggie and frees her, and despite Carol’s reluctance to resort to murder again, Maggie is adamant that they finish what they started.
They return to Donnie’s body, and Maggie comes up with a brilliant plan. They tie the turning Donnie to a pipe in the corner near the door, and when Molly opens it, the walker attacks her. She manages to kill it after being bit, but Maggie bursts back into the door and brutally stabs her while a sickened Carol looks on.
Paula finds the bodies, and in a rage finds Carol and Maggie, but Carol has her gun up first. Paula taunts Carol as she comes closer, insisting Carol just do it as she has already lost everything. Carol begs Paula to run – as Melissa McBride said, she has no desire to kill anyone anymore.
But when one of the trapped walkers surrounding Maggie and Carol break free, Carol’s gun goes off and it hits Paula.
Chelle has not been forgotten. As Carol deals with the walkers Chelle attacks Maggie, managing to slice her knife against Maggie’s stomach (it was pretty shallow; I don’t think the show would take away Glenn and Maggie’s baby from us like that!). Luckily, the stone-cold Carol we know and love returns to shoot Chelle in the head.
Paula has not yet died, however, and Carol insists to Maggie that she be the one to deal with her. Paula, who Alicia Witt portrayed brilliantly, manages to describe Carol perfectly after their brief but significant relationship “You’re good,” she tells her. “‘Nervous little bird.’ You were her. But not now, right?”
Carol brokenly reminds Paula that she had told her to run, and Paula, disgusted, asks the question that the audience was dying to know, “If you could do all this, what were you so afraid of, Carol?”
Melissa McBride was right. “I was afraid of this,” Carol tells her.
But Carol doesn’t kill her with a swift bullet. Paula comes after her first, and Carol manages to impale the Savior’s body into one of the protruding pieces of wood that was meant to trap walkers. Paula is then brutally torn apart by one of the walkers.
Their job is not over. Paula’s walkie goes off from their back-up, asking where they should go. Carol grabs the walkie and imitates Paula’s confident drawl to meet them on the kill floor.
“We’re almost done,” Maggie promises Carol as they wait to ambush the group.
The remaining Saviors stand waiting around for Paula and the others, unknowingly standing on gasoline. Carol lights up a cigarette, and throws it inside the room before closing the door. We watch the room, and the surviving Saviors, become engulfed in flames.
Maggie and Carol leave, opening the door to find their group has found the compound, just as Paula suspected. Glenn goes straight for Maggie as Daryl goes straight to Carol. “I can’t anymore,” Maggie tells her husband. And Carol finally drops her mask completely when Daryl asks her if she’s okay. “No I’m not,” she tells him before he hugs her.
Rick turns to their captive, reminding him all of his friends are dead, and he might as well cooperate and tell them who Negan was. “I’m Negan, shithead,” their captive reveals.
Rick apologizes before shooting him in the head.
This episode, and last week’s, showed us an entirely new side to our favorite characters. Once, the Governor said something that we never thought would be true. “You kill or you die. Or you die and you kill.”
Rick and his group have given up taking the high road, the moral road, and have begun to see the world as “Us vs. Them,” “Them” being anything, both dead or alive, that could ever potentially harm Alexandria. It is easier, in theory, to kill whatever those threats are, but we have seen in Carol that despite doing what it takes to keep her family safe, it takes a heavy toll on her. She sees the tragedy in what needs to be done, but she does it anyway. That is what is so beautiful about her character, and that is why we should all be worried for her in the next couple episodes. The season finale is coming, and no one is safe when it does.