“They’ve got guns…people…” ~Noah
“Yeah? So do we.”~Daryl
First of all, can we please convince the Emmy gods to notice Melissa McBride? Please? Let them see what we have known for 5 seasons: She is an incredible actress. That being said, “Consumed” did just that to its audience, which once again beat out Sunday Night Football in the ratings. *pumps a defiant fist into the air*
For those of you who haven’t seen the episode, or just need a refresher, you can Click Here for a spoiler-filled description. All set? Let’s do this!
My thoughts on this episode are probably going to come at you from every direction, as I took 4 pages of hurried notes and consequently cannot decipher some of my own handwriting. Bear with me, please.
Seeing the moments after Rick banished Carol tore my heart out. She had remained so steadfast, barely acknowledging the tears that had started to stream down her face when we saw that episode happen, putting on a brave front for Rick. But, here she was, literally sobbing on the side of the road. She’s not a machine after all. And I loved the way she turned and screamed “Go away!” at the walker smacking her window. It was the scream of a completely frustrated woman, practically throwing blame. This is all your fault! Yep. Been there a few times myself.
Carol quickly settled in at a small law office in a nearby town. Good choice, actually, as it doesn’t seem to be the type of building that anyone would have looted. Her survival skills were on point; collecting recycled plastic bottles, constructing a rain-catcher to mount in an upstairs window, even burning crayons in lieu of a candle. Genius. What impressed me most, though, was her instinct. When Carol saw the smoke billowing from the direction of the prison, her first instinct was to get in the car and race back. Nevermind the fact that any number of structures or trees could have been on fire. She obviously didn’t hear the tank fire from that distance, or she would have reacted sooner. No, she saw smoke and sprang into action. The look on her face when she got closer and her worst fear was realized. My heart sank.
Did anyone else catch the little nod to Zombieland as Daryl and Carol were following the car into Atlanta? Rule #2: The Double Tap. Last week, Tara paid homage to the World War Z companion book, The Zombie Survival Guide, with her comment on acquiring bicycles. Well played, you guys. Well played. I’m patiently waiting for a Shaun of the Dead reference…
The shot of their car traveling on I85 into the city–the same route that Rick had used some 2 years prior–was very cool to see. I always enjoyed those TV specials about Life After Humans, and seeing what rate things disintegrate and nature takes over. Though, it was a little dark. In fact, there have been a number of scenes this season that have been almost too dark to see. I imagine it was done intentionally to invite the viewers into that world. I think it was best used when Carol tells Daryl (as he is breaking into a building) that she hears 2 more walkers coming. Suddenly, it goes quiet. Then, the sound returns, but it is increased tenfold. The shuffling and moans echo from every direction, disorienting you to where they are coming from. That is horrifying. The fog last season was used to the same effect.
Now, let’s talk about the Grady guards that they were following. Have you ever seen such a display of arrogance? When Daryl spotted them, they were flying down the country road near the church in the dark. As someone who just hit two deer on Halloween night, not speeding, I can tell you this: Complete darkness, in the deep south, you don’t drive that fast that confidently unless you are in an emergency vehicle running code and have no other choice. They were coming back from somewhere and in a hurry, that’s for sure. And yet, once they get off the interstate onto city roads, they stop. A guard gets out, keeps his situational awareness in check (although, hubby and I argued over whether or not he suspected anyone being in the suddenly-parked-behind-them-vehicle that the walker was going nuts over). Anyhow, this guard, moves onto a side street and clears it of a few bicycles and some trash in order for their car to get through.
Here’s my problem. These people have been living like this for roughly two years. They have their paths cleared already. Why suddenly this side street now, in the dead of night? Surely you know your way back to the hospital. There is a disturbing degree of hubris with these jackholes. They represent the worst of what remains from the time before the ZA. They are trying to hold on to and assume order, some and retain some sense of civil authority, and yet, they live a lawless life behind those secure walls. They use their rank and status from a previous existence to exert power in this one, with their crisp uniforms and regulation. But, remember how ineffectual Rick was when his uniform was still crisp? You have to get dirty to get things done in this new life. Shane knew that. He’d already ditched the uniform and was making the hard choices when Rick showed up. Rick, in his uniform, trying desperately to cling to the life he knew before. To hold on to the only order that he knew. Poor boy has had a difficult time adapting and changing, hasn’t he? Can’t wait until Grady Hospital implodes.
A humorous moment that I feel was a direct jab at fans, was the comment Carol made about the bunk beds in the shelter. “I’ll take the top bunk. I think that one is more your style,” she said, gesturing to a bunk wrapped in a bright, pink blanket. Daryl chuckled. She smirked. Some fans say she was calling him a “bottom” type of guy, while she liked it “on top”. I think it was a tongue-in-cheek reference to the pink blanket, and the sexual/gender connotations associated with the color. Funny stuff!
Have you noticed the use of reflections where Carol is concerned? It has happened in previous seasons, but seems to occur more frequently now. Quite often, we will see Carol and her reflection–in a window or other piece of glass, or see her through a window. Reflections of herself, the many shades of a complex woman. It speaks to who we are, who we were, and who we will become.
“You don’t have to.” ~Daryl
Daryl and Carol have a wonderfully symbiotic relationship. So much is said between them, usually without saying anything at all. From the very beginning, he has known that she was a victim of spousal abuse. As he watched her destroy the head of Ed’s corpse, it was evident that he knew where she was coming from. When Sophia disappeared, it really hit him hard. He never stepped up and protected Carol at the camp; Shane did. So, he committed his existence to finding Sophia and trying to protect this abused child the way he was never protected. Sadly, as we discovered, their efforts were in vain. Daryl had a difficult time letting go of the guilt of being unable to save Sophia. He and Carol grew as friends. And once again, he was consumed with guilt when he thought he had lost her in the prison. He found her, and from that moment, they were bonded even more. Through it all, though, it is unclear if she knew the truth about his background. And, when Carol saw that Daryl had kept the book from the children’s shelter, there was yet another unspoken instance of understanding.
Carol tells Daryl that she was always praying that something would happen, but that she “never did a damn thing” to make that change happen. Surely, she wasn’t praying that the end of the world would happen. Though, given the false life she was living, it’s possible a ZA would have seemed a better alternative.
Speaking of a better alternative, let’s discuss that van accident. Forgetting for a moment that physics is an actual thing, that scene wrecked me. No pun intended. When they first went to search the van, Carol noted, “It’s not stable. I’m lighter.” Daryl, proving once again that Carol doesn’t have to be everyone’s rock and savior, reminding her “you don’t have to”, reacted by climbing into the van himself. As the overpass was rapidly filling with walkers, we could hear Daryl and Carol desperately calling to one another, but we couldn’t see them. As viewers, we were just as lost in the chaos as they were. Nice touch. Their only option was to get back into the van. Having no other weapons, Daryl and Carol merely locked eyes. That was all it took. They both climbed into the front seats. Carol started to cry, consumed by fear. Daryl told her to put on her seat belt. The pair began to quietly panic as they tried to accept the fate that they had chosen. They saw going off of a bridge as a better option than being violently ripped apart. Instant death, on their own terms, was less frightening than a small horde of walkers. As unbelievable as the van crash and their subsequent survival was, it was still a very moving and understandable situation. As dashboard Mary looked on, Daryl and Carol gave it all up to faith. She reached for his hand (finally giving in and seeking help form a man, or one final attempt to save/protect someone else) and Daryl told her to hold on. It was a poignant moment, given that she had earlier expressed feelings of possibly having lost faith, a far cry from where she was early in season 2.
This brings two points to mind. One, Carol’s need to save and protect others. She has already grieved for her daughter, and felt the survivor’s guilt of not having been able to protect her. In the wake of Sophia’s death, Carol learned to be stronger, more independent from Daryl (who in turn, learned to get in touch with his softer side from her). Carol took care of Judith, until she was needed to take care of nearly every child from Woodbury. She couldn’t save Lizzie and Mika. She is still grieving. She is trying to be brave, but she is still Carol inside. She is still scared. She has devoted her post-Sophia ZA time to helping others. Saving them physically by educating and protecting them. And, saving them spiritually through forgiveness. When those things weren’t enough, or when she took them too far, she steeled herself to the world and everyone around her.
“You don’t know me,” ~Carol
“Yep. You keep telling yourself that,” ~Daryl
Second, let’s go back to that dashboard Mary. Every episode this season has dealt with religious symbolism. Call it a stretch, but I saw the Virgin Mary in the painting that Daryl and Carol were critiquing in that office. While I tend to agree with Daryl’s take on abstract, contemporary, expressionist, Rothko-type nonsense, I can see why others might like it. I’m not kidding, though. I stared at that painting, hoping to find some way to tie it in with the rest of the episode. And, seeing a face in it was a close as I could get. Later, in the van, when Dashboard Mary appeared, it hit me. Mary Magdalene: Mother of Sorrows. Not trying to offend or be blasphemous comparing Carol to Mary, but on the surface. Carol is most definitely a mother of sorrows. The Dashboard Mary seemed so appropriate in a moment when two lost children needed protection. For your consideration:
Prayer to Our Lady in Time of Trouble
Holy Virgin Mary, you are reigning in glory, with Jesus, your Son.
Remember us in our sadness. Look kindly on all who are suffering
or fighting against any difficulty.
Have pity on those who are separated from someone they love.
Have pity on the loneliness of our hearts.
Have pity on the weakness of our faith and love.
Have pity on those who are weeping, on those who are praying, on those who are fearful.
Holy Mother, please obtain for all of us hope and peace with justice.
Mary, Help of Those in Need
help those in need,
give strength to the weak,
comfort the sorrowful,
pray for God’s people,
assist the clergy,
intercede for religious.
Mary all who seek your help
experience your unfailing protection.
And of course, there’s the classic Beatles line, “When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, Let it Be.”
On the Talking Dead, they discussed the many uses and instances of fire throughout this episode. With the exception of the time she burned Karen, Carol was always noticing smoke. She was always rushing in to “put a fire out” so to speak, always seeking to protect. And the one time she lit a fire to protect, it got her exiled. Carol is always the savior, no matter how thankless and exhausting it is. She is a mother. It’s what we do. Daryl, on the other hand, is always starting fires, it seems. Are they, as speculated, symbolic of the characters burning away pieces of themselves, much like peeling an onion to find new layers of themselves? Or is it, as Carol said, that everything consumes us now? Sadness, grief, loss, fear. The only moment that I’ll give to Beth was the moment Daryl responded by saying, “We ain’t ashes.” His glass-half full, zen persona has been surfacing more and more since the few days he spent with her. It’s nice to see that he, of all people, still has faith in something. He still has hope.
And the single-man-tear that he shed as he drove off with Noah to find help (coupled with his burning of the bodies of the mother and child–ooh…another Mary reference) are both genuinely attached to his love for Carol. Sadly, I fear the world isn’t long for them, as TWD has a habit of killing off people soon after their spotlight episode. But, I too, shall have faith and hope, seeing as how Carol survived the Grove spotlight and Abraham will obviously continue on after last week’s study in Abe. Ugh. Weeping Reedus tears my heart out.
Until next time…Keep Calm and Caryl On.