The Walking Dead Review: “The Grove”

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Last night’s Walking Dead brought us to a chilling conclusion of a longstanding mystery of the show.

“What the hell is wrong with that little girl?”

Lizzie has been a little weirdo for the past season or so, and we’ve seen her do things that are outright nuts (almost smothering Judith a few weeks ago) to merely suspecting her of doing very bad things (killing the two sick people at the prison).

Now, we have all of our answers about her, but still, a few questions. Most of all, we have what has to be one of the darkest episodes of the series to date, and one that I have to say I’m impressed the show followed through in the way that it did.

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“The Grove” was entirely focused on perhaps the most interesting collection of characters since the prison assault scattered everyone to the wind, Tyreese, Carol, Lizzie, Mika and Judith. Judith is little more than an air raid siren at this point, but her presence creates tension nonetheless.

The group is well-fashioned because we know that Carol admitted to killing Tyreese’s girlfriend Karen back at the prison. He doesn’t know this, but has sworn bloody revenge on whoever did it. And for a while now, many of us have been secretly suspecting that Carol did not kill Karen and the other man, and was merely covering for a demented Lizzie.

Last night we learned that isn’t true, and while Lizzie is certainly messed up, she wasn’t responsible for at least that atrocity. We really should have known, given how heartfelt Carol’s confession was to Rick, and the fact that even in scenes where Carol and Lizzie were alone, they never discussed it. All we learn is that Lizzie was responsible for feeding rats to the walkers (which ultimate brought down the prison fences), and cutting the one rodent open like a twisted science project. The show goes through very carefully what Lizzie did and did not do at the prison by the end of the night, just in case it wasn’t clear.

So what the hell is wrong with that little girl?

It appeared Lizzie had some sort of post-apocalyptic disorder relating to the walkers, something that didn’t exist before the end of the world because it couldn’t. While she has no problem killing humans who clearly mean her harm, she empathizes with the walkers themselves, thinking they’re innocents who are  just “different,” and must be spared, helped and even played with.

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Then again, we also hear hints that Lizzie has always been some level of messed up. Tyreese and Carol remark that she was just insane from the get-go, and Mika makes a passing reference to Lizzie not minding “dead rabbits.” Unless I missed something, that had to have happened before we met them, and torturing and killing animals is step one in the young person’s guide to serial killing.

In a way, Lizzie shares the same delusion as Herschel when we first met him. He had been rounding up his “sick” neighbors to keep in his barn, but eventually he saw the light and realized the walkers were no more than undead shells. Lizzie, on the other hand, couldn’t be swayed.

While I know the show was painting her character as unhinged, I was genuinely surprised and horrified when Lizzie kills her sweet sister to try and prove her delusional point. It’s not often you see seven year olds murdered in cold blood on a show, and by another young girl no less. But the darkness doesn’t stop there.

From that moment on, it was fairly obvious to Carol and Tyreese what had to happen next. It was agonizing to see them try to think of a scenario that didn’t involve what needed to be done, but ultimately they realized they had no other choice. “She can’t be around other people,” Carol finally said, coming to grips with what had to happen.

And then she did it.

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To me, this is the single most excruciating thing anyone’s ever had to do on the show. Yes, there have been situations before like a bitten person needing to be mercy killed, or a walker-turned child that had to be put down (in Carol’s case, she was already scarred by seeing that happen to her own daughter). But this was the literal execution of a psychotic, uninfected child in cold blood.

Not to say there was really another option, as Lizzie was more dangerous than any walker. There are no long term psychological care facilities anymore. Taking that girl with you would mean the probable death of you and everyone you knew (defenseless babies included). Casting her out meant she could join up with a new group, and create even more chaos. She was a rabid dog that thought she was a housepet, which made her execution all the more tragic.

With as shocking and sad as the episode was, I was still pretty angry with Carol and Tyreese as they kept letting the girls out of their sight even after during their short time at the Grove Lizzie had A) been attacked by a walker she refused to kill when they reached the house B) played tag with a walker in the yard and C) attracted  herd of forest fire zombies to the fence. In the final moments of the show when I saw Tyreese and Carol walking around the yard, I wanted to scream at them “HOW ARE YOU TAKING YOUR EYE OFF THIS GIRL??” I didn’t expect what happened next, but I knew something bad was going to take place.

This was a really messed up episode on a number of levels, and one of the most harrowing the series has seen to date. I have to credit Melissa McBride with a phenomenal job acting this week, and honestly, the girls were pretty damn good themselves. While stupid decisions were made, and mysteries were clumsily revealed, it was hard to not be moved in at least some capacity by The Grove.

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  1. I think the comparison to Herschel is wrong. Hershel, aside from his religious beliefs, look at the zombies as people who were definitely different. By putting them in a barn, he at least understood that they needed to be cut off from the living. Lizzie did not. Lizzie believed they could coexist and that nothing was different. I think Lizzie’s disorder was some sort of dissociative disorder. The inability to distinguish a certain facet of fantasy from reality. Hershel never killed anyone in order to prove his point.

    Oh and the rabid-dog reference? People have made plenty of “Old yeller” references already, but I’m going with Fredo from Godfather 2.

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