The Walking Dead season 4 episode 14 review: The Grove

Review Ron Hogan 17 Mar 2014 - 07:13

Melissa McBride shines in this week's stellar episode of The Walking Dead...

This review contains spoilers.

4.14 The Grove

The one constant in life is change. Everything changes, no matter how hard you might want to lock in a moment, it's just not going to work. The world moves on, gunslinger. If they're lucky, kids grow up and become survivors. If you're not lucky, they grow up to become zombie chow in The Walking Dead universe. Or, perhaps, they become irredeemably broken and have to be put down like Old Yeller.

I think that the Lizzie storyline has been one of the most obvious in the show's long time line of obviousness. We all knew along the line that Lizzie was going to be the person responsible for feeding the zombies rats, making rat artwork in the tombs, and generally behaving like a little monster in the making. In fact, I thought they were pushing that plot so heavily that they'd twist it around and give us some sort of sleeper agent for the Governor or some other reason behind the walker feeding, but it's been Lizzie this whole time, and strangely, I'm not unhappy with that decision, because it pays off so well during this week's episode.

It seems like that the more The Walking Dead teases an angle or drags out a plot line, the better the payoff is. The search for Sophia took up a crazy amount of episodes, but the payoff and the barn massacre was spectacular. Lori's pregnancy was another huge thing that the show held onto forever, but the final ending for that awful Lady Macbeth made it all worthwhile. And now, the whole plot line with Lizzie and Mika, one too sweet for the world and the other too damaged for any world, gets a stellar payoff in the end, courtesy of the only person on the show capable of giving that storyline a proper ending. Even Carol's mercy-killing of David and Karen gets a great resolution.

If any character in the show has made meaningful changes, it's definitely Carol. If any character can make the hardest choices and execute them despite how upset it makes her, it's Carol. If any character can face up to what she's done and be up front about her behaviour, it's also Carol. She's the tough one of the bunch, and no leather vest or cowboy hat is going to make a difference there. It's amazing that Melissa McBride has stuck around this long and has helped to shape such a great character with her acting ability, because Carol started out as someone who wanted the women to do the laundry and has become the show's preeminent maker of hard decisions. Carol has lost a lot during the apocalypse, and, like Daryl, she has come from an awful beginning to shine after the world has ended.

Melissa McBride does some brilliant work this episode, and it's to her credit that this episode works as well as it does and has the impact that it carries. When Carol has to teach the girls her lesson, or when she talks to them about their role in the new world, it carries the weight of not a parent talking to a child, but someone who has chosen to live talking to someone yet to make that decision. When Carol and Tyreese talk about his nightmares, it's clear on Carol's face that A) she feels awful about how Tyreese feels and B) she feels like she needs to make right by Tyreese and tell him exactly what happened to Karen and David. She doesn't, but the way she says his name and the way that silence lingers on, where you can tell she's wavering on whether or not to tell him right then. It's a beautiful moment, and McBride does so much with her expressions to really sell Carol's thought process without saying a word.

I'm not sure if this week's director, Michael Satrazemis, has directed anything before. A quick IMDB search reveals that he's been one of the show's camera operators (also a cameraman on Teen Wolf) and this season's director of photography, so it's pretty clear that he knows how to point the camera and how to make his visuals pop. However, judging by the way this week's episode looks, he has a budding career as a director. Much like Greg Nicotero made the jump from special effects to director, he might just make a similar leap. The crispy walker assault on the farm was awesome to behold, and the way he framed the shot where Mika is tangled in barbed wire while Lizzie is on one side trying to free her and a zombie is on the other side trying to wrench her in the other direction was awesomely composed, with Mika's panicked, screaming face the centre of attention the entire time. The other really top-notch shot was the scene where Lizzie is standing over Mika's body, and we get an extreme close-up of her blood-soaked knife, the very knife given to her by Carol (if I'm not mistaken). The cold opening, with the Ink Spots singing and the kettle whistling, could have easily been the opening video for a Fallout game, except replace Lizzie and the zombie with a guy in power armour and a super mutant.

I have to give all the credit in the world to Scott Gimple, who has been running the show this season and who wrote tonight's episode. One of the big arcs early in the comic is the two twin boys, one of whom kills the other only for the murderer to be killed by Carl. Even with Lizzie being a dangerous maniac who seems to think walkers just want to be friendly, I never assumed that the show would go as far as it did or as dark as it did. Lizzie killing her sister is one of the darkest things the show has ever done—the only thing that would've made it darker is if Lizzie had finished her work with the baby, like she told Carol she had planned on. It's a bit speechy (though Carol is trying to teach the girls how to survive in this world), but there's enough really dark stuff in there to make up for the learning of life lessons aspect.

For the most part, the last few episodes have done a good job of establishing just how lost everyone has become. The show has been a bit directionless because the characters have been directionless. There's Terminus and all its promise, but that seems like the distant future (even though we know it's not). These are people who are shell-shocked, wandering the roads like Bob Stookey in the beginning of last week's episode. With the drip of a bloody knife, a giant puzzle, and the smoke from a burning moonshiner's shack in the distance, Carol and Tyreese might have found direction, or at least a push away from a comfortable live with a propane stove and infinite pecans into the same unknown everyone else is headed for.

As Bob would tell you, not knowing what's next is nothing compared to the pain of being alone.

Read Ron's review of the previous episode, Alone, here.

US Correspondent Ron Hogan would be willing to drink moonshine with Daryl Dixon, but only if there were no zombies trying to kill us. Then again, if there were, I wouldn't be any safer with anyone else. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

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I totally didn't put two and two together, but you're right - the fire was set by Daryl and Beth. That's awesome how they worked that in!

I like that A: carol n em never investigated it and B: walkers did. It's funny, I used to think of that group as tyrese n em.

Let's hope this is the start of an up-curve for the last two episodes for what has been a dire season so far. Great acting from McBride.

Which way did he go, George, which way did he go?

Tell me about the rabbits again, carol.

First, this episode blew me away at about
the same level as the Barn scene in Season 2. Those two girls got on my nerves
fast, but me and my cried during those two scenes and we hugged our daughter
during the commercial. She was mad at us for waking her up so we sang her a
song until she went back to sleep.

How did we get so attached during a single
episode? I think it’s a couple of things that make us second guess, with error,
the almighty Carol. Mika’s “they weren’t like that before” made her seem a lot
tougher and wiser than we previously thought. Lizzie’s almost autistic behavior
makes us not only feel sorry for her but we can also understand that despite
her tougher exterior, this new world has damaged her, she is traumatized beyond
repair. She was like a dog with rabies, and so her “owner” had to put her down.

I saw a link with last week’s episode. When
good people go bad and vice versa.

This brings me to the main issue I have with
the series in general and many reviewers and this is a personal thing. This
show has been very hard on children. Sophia, Judith (she didn’t die – yet - but
we were made to believe so) and now these girls, not to mention what Carl had
to go through. I don’t mind drama and darkness and I understand it’s fiction,
but I draw the line when children are concerned, shown dying violent deaths.
And it is my opinion that reviewers who say this makes for stellar television
need to have their brain checked, and not by zombies. It’s disturbing and gets
ratings, but so does Honey Boo Boo.

Finally, will any adult on this show ever
learn NOT TO LEAVE KIDS ALONE!!! Didn’t Lori teach these people anything with
her “stellar” ineptness as a mother?

For me that was the best episode since the pilot.
Every time i start to think that the show is getting stale or uninteresting they pop out an episode like this.

Well done. More of the same please!!

Dire second half maybe, but not the entire season.

also wondering about the little boot Beth found in the puddle of half-eaten
guts 3-4 episodes ago, an item that was shown to belong to Mika. The shot also
established a timeline for when Daryl and Beth are on the way to Terminus
compared to, most of all, Tyreese and the girls.

This episode was astounding, I'm as shell shocked as anyone in the series. I was impressed by last weeks episode and how the writers brought Beth, a somewhat minor till now character alive all through the eyes of an older, wiser more cynical and slightly prejudicial Daryl...then just as they were getting closer, she was taken!
Carol having to do what she did was heartbreaking and after the cliffhanger at the prison with Judith's bloody seat is somewhere I thought the show wouldn't go. The parallels through the 'good' and the 'bad' sister and what Carol has become was really clever. When Carol finally confessed to Tyreese I think he could accept it because he knows this 'good' person is within Carol informing the 'bad' things she has done.

It wouldn't be even in the slightest bit realistic if the kids on the show were never exposed to the same dangers as the adults. I think the show has held back , as you say, only implying that the baby Judith may have perished. At the end of the day this show is for adults to watch and as adults we understand there are far more horrific fates that exist for real children on a daily basis all over the world. Lizzie seemed psychopathic, as Carol said, 'she was always this way', these kinds of children exist in the real world and this episode was exploring the tragic consequences of all types of people (children included) living in a fragmented world.

Completely agree with Antusmanus, after at least three weeks of lamenting the dull filler episodes we get an absolute cracker like this. Every time I feel like giving up on the show they pull me back in again. It just shows what the show can do with careful plotting leading through the series alongside a minimal (but not boring) script. This just shows how much better the show has the potential to be if the series were, say, 10 episodes long rather than 16.

I have to say, absolute credit to Melissa McBride, who displayed what must surely be award-worthy acting here. As much as I love Daryl and Michonne, Carol is easily now the strongest character on the show, thanks to great character development over the season and brilliant performances from McBride.

Melissa McBride's acting made the episode, I'm still finding this season a real lump to swallow and get the feeling of the full cast not really being around to be filmed. I have faith that the remaining two episodes will bring together the gang to a somewhat nail biting finale. I also hope for some cannibal action.

my jaw is still on the floor. that lil girl was the psycho we have been expecting Carl to become

I still have goosebumps, this episode is incredible. now that one of the children came out as a psychopath, I really hope we see Carl become smarter and more heroic rather than a little arrogant douche

This is completely off-topic, as I've never seen this TV show and don't have any plans to watch it, but this seems like the best place to ask.

Are there any plans for DoG to do any coverage of the utterly brilliant and mindblowing Walking Dead games by Telltale? I've discovered it recently (it's now halfway through its second season) and have fallen completely in love with it, and its storytelling and characters have immersed me as much as any TV series.

Apologies if it's been asked before.

I found it completely unbelievable that Lizzie could be
insane enough to kill her sister. Even if she
had of been that insane Lizzie is only a young kid and killing her like that isn’t fair.

The two adults in charge could have taken shifts, one sleeps
whilst one looks after Lizzie and tries to help her recover from her mental
health condition.

This episode was completely unrealistic. How many 12 year
old girls do you know that have ever killed anyone, let alone there sister, it
has never happened.

In short I hate this episode.

I watched the whole episode without even a hint of emotion apart from relief that both those annoying girls had gone. I know it's a bit harsh to criticise the acting ability of young children but this show really needs to find better actors. Unless this season ends on an amazing cliff hanger I don't see myself sticking around for the next, I would rather watch Breaking Bad for the sixth time than this rapidly deteriorating show.

How many zombies do you know asshole?

I thought it was one of the best episodes of the show. It would be easy for the writers just to have people fighting walkers every week, but The Walking Dead touches on so many different things. Like what its like to live in a time when compassion is seen as a weakness and how people's illnesses like Lizzy's mental illness can get worse and be fatal to others. In the end, they didn't have a choice to do what they did to Lizzy.
Lizzy's final scene reminded me a bit of Adrianna's final scene in The Sopranos where they took her into the woods to kill her and you kept thinking "she's going to get out of this/something will happen and she won't die," but all along there was an inevitability about it.
Melissa McBride as ever was fantastic as Carol and Tyrese showed why he's fast become TWD's most iconic characters. As for the two kids, they showed why they deserved so much screen time in this episode.
Coming after the last episode where we Bob and Sasha got more screen time, this was yet another great episode. I can't wait for the next.

Kim, I also found the two girls annoying before, but in this episode they put in stellar performances. Meliussa McBride also gets better and better as Carol and I can't imagine the show without Tyrese.

I thought it was one of the best episodes of the show. It would be easy for the writers just to have people fighting walkers every week, but The Walking Dead touches on so many different things. Like what its like to live in a time when compassion is seen as a weakness and how people's illnesses like Lizzy's mental illness can get worse and be fatal to others. In the end, they didn't have a choice to do what they did to Lizzy.
Lizzy's final scene reminded me a bit of Adrianna's final scene in The Sopranos where they took her into the woods to kill her and you kept thinking "she's going to get out of this/something will happen and she won't die," but all along there was an inevitability about it.
Melissa McBride as ever was fantastic as Carol and Tyrese showed why he's fast become TWD's most iconic characters. As for the two kids, they showed why they deserved so much screen time in this episode.
Coming after the last episode where we Bob and Sasha got more screen time, this was yet another great episode. I can't wait for the next.

Hope I haven't posted this twice. I posted it once and it disappeared. Maybe a zombie ate it?

Stop praising her so much or she'll die in the next 2 episodes for sure xD It always happens....they hype a character and then just kill it in the show. Seeing how Rick's story is very passive in the last episodes I'm expecting some major surprises by him or Carl.

Thank you! The little one is REALLY bad at acting and should try and find a different career path and the bigger one thinks she's Scarlet Johansen or something with her sulky looks. Credit to the show, I felt really bad for thinking those awful things after both of them died, even though I was relieved that they were gone, but I think that is more thanks to Melissa McBride's acting of the scenes with them. Those kids were a joke and I'm glad TWD isn't afraid to go dark to get rid of weak links...

In a world without health care, trying to take care of a mentally ill person while trying to survive would be really difficult. After that kid killed her sister I would have been disappointed if they didn't kill her, there was nothing else they could do and I'm glad the writers realised that.

I disagree. Except for Hershel, who would have died outside of the prison anyway had he survived, I don't think they kill off the popular main characters. The more praise she gets, the longer she'll stick around. When she does go, I see her death as being one of sacrifice. I'm actually glad they kept her around, during season 1 and 2 I hoped she would die horribly, but now I've come to like her and yes, she's had some amazing character development. Makes you wonder if Andrea and Laurie could have redeemed themselves with some better writing?

At first I thought, "No, not an entire episode with just these children and carol", but I have to agree, it turned out very well.

The reality is what chance would kids have in this kind of world. Children tend not to understand the dangers of crossing the road sometimes, let alone that there could be a zombie around every corner.

You're right though that, if it were me, the kids would never be out of my sight, but the whole thing with Carol's lessons is that the kids had to grow up quickly and become self sufficient as they couldn't depend on the adults surviving long enough to protect them.

This is the point where Rick and Carol differ and should they meet up again it will be interesting to see who now comes off as the stronger character.

Here's one for you...

Mary Bell was an 11 year old girl who murdered 2 boys in 1969

What a gut punch of an episode. Even though I expected what was coming (based on the books, although this was far better done in the show, the book's just seemed to have one of the twins suddenly become a psycho for shock effect), it still really took me aback. And having Carol kill Lizzie, and effectively acknowledge that any dreams that she may have had that she was getting her daughter back were just that, was truly heart wrenching. I still think they need to start getting the characters to come together, but this episode shows that where you have a clear story to tell these stand-alone episodes can work (I'd say the same goes for the Bob/Sasha/Maggie episode last week which had a clear narrative and purpose - namely, they need each other to survive, mentally as well as physically; the Darryl/Beth episode the week before was a bit over-stretched and I don't think the Rick/Carl/Michone or Glenn/Isaac and co. episodes have been nearly as effective). This is still in my view one of the "must see" shows on TV at the moment and long may it continue to be so.

The writers are also the ones who come up
with the scenario in which a little girl kills her sister. Lizzie could’ve
killed Tyreese instead, who at this point is as useless as Judith. I thought
Mika showed a lot of promise in this episode and even though she annoyed the
crap out of me in the past and the actress is too young to be any good, I would’ve
preferred if she lived.

Also, why is it ok for Lizzy to die because
she’s not safe around other people, but it’s ok for Carol, who has killed
innocents in the past, two that we know of? She’s just as psychotic as Lizzy.

Maybe it’s foreshadowing for the season finale?

Also, I don't think a week goes by in the US without a kid killing his sibling using his mommy's or daddy's gun.

I can imagine the show without Tyreese. This has nothing to do with the actor's performance, I just find he doesn't have a lot to do right now. He seems to have calmed down now that he knows how Karen's death went down, so maybe he will be more valuable than a glorified construction worker... lol. Then again he's wounded, so if his fever comes back Carol might stick a knife in his brain while he sleeps!

Absolutely, none of the main characters who've been killed off since the beginning have been particularly popular, as far as I'm aware. As far as I'm concerned Carol is the new Daryl, she deserves to have the same following as he does and I'd happily watch her outlive any of the remaining characters.

I think Andrea and Laurie were consistently written so poorly that any time that they showed development it seemed out of character, so there wasn't really much of a chance of redemption. Carol has had the benefit of just being "there" during the first couple of series, allowing her to come out of her shell naturally.

Kim, I know what you mean about Tyreese, he has been under used (a bit like T-Dog and we know what happened to him)
but he's now one of the most recognisable members of the cast. I didn't enjoy the Beth and Daryl standalone episode as much as I thought I would, but Tyreese and Carol were very watchable together.
With the Governor, Andrea, Herschel and Merle dead, the show needs the actors with smaller parts to step up to the plate and that's what's happened with Tyreese and Bob.
Bring it on walking Dead.
Kim, I thought it was Lizzy who killed Karen and David and Carol just helped get rid of the bodies. Always thought Lizzy was a bit unhinged:)

I thought the Bob, Maggie and Sasha episode was fantastic. It worked so well it could have been a one off drama.
Carol and Tyreese were fantastic in the last show. Even as Carol told Lizzy to just look at the flowers I thought there's got to be a way out of this although I knew there wasn't.

Did anyone notice that at the very end, When Tyreese and Carol are leaving the house, there is no Judith with them !! lol Epic fail for TWD

Exactly! I was looking at forums to see if anyone was referring to that topic, I did not see Judith at the end of chapter, even thought that at some point had been killed, but no sense. I guess it was a big mistake.

What a sad little fool you are.

I'd like to answer, but what does DoG mean?

There's a white or beige crib in the back, to the left of Tyreese.

Den of Geeks! Duh! Brain fart!

Ok so kids do kill but Lizzies character wasn’t believable
at all, she didn’t fit the role, you could tell she was normal. It didn’t fit
together for me.

The story line is supposed to be realistic, the infection
was explained in scientific terms in the first series at the CDC. The whole
story could happen, it’s not fantasy. xD


Tyreese had Judith in a papoose on his back ( I rewatched to check)

Carol killed the two people to try and stop a disease from wiping out the whole prison, , Lizzie killed her little sister so she would turn into a walker.... i don't think that's the same thing.

Do not confuse realism with science fiction.

is, we still don’t know for sure if Carol killed Karen and Dave, or if she
stuck a knife in their brain between death and turning. I don’t think there’s a
real problem if she kept them from turning, but if she killed them before
death, while they were lying in bed and very sick, then she’s just as mad as
Lizzy and she should not be left alone with anyone sick or wounded. In fact as
far as we know, based on what she told Tyreese, she didn’t wait for them to

We learned a lot about these two kids in
this episode because they didn’t get enough exposition before. They were just
annoying, stupid and bratty. You can’t really say it was not believable when
you never knew them enough to think so.

But Mika grew a lot within 30 minutes into
this episode and Lizzy’s personality exploded right from the beginning. I think
Lizzy had a form of autism that messed up her reasoning and counting flowers
was her way of coping; we’ll probably never know though, unless Carl knew her
better? When Carol murdered her “friend”, I think it sent her over the edge.
Also, Carol should’ve taken Lizzy with her instead of Tyreese. Where did they
go anyway, picking apples? Is it a running gag on the show to leave kids alone
all the time?

Yes, me too. I think the scene was not very good because it does not seem real.

Glad I'm not the only one that picked up on the 'Of Mice And Men' referances

Adored this episode. Unfortunately the last few episodes since the prison was destroyed have been less than impressive, and as much as I love Daryl, the whole episode with him and Beth just felt off and weird. And the episode with Rick's group seemed to drag on forever. So glad they pulled this one out of the bag, Carol has fast become my favourite character this season. Can't wait for the whole group to meet up again.

To be honest, I only came here because I wanted to see if they made a Fallout reference. I'm pleased.

I have hated most of the children on this show and actively wished their death...mainly because if these kids were as stupid or reckless they would have been eaten a long time ago...this is consistent throughout the series. Kids are actually extremely resilient and tend to survive even in the most war torn societies but only the street smart ones tend to do this and none of these kids have been written with one iota of street smarts. They have all been dumb and should have died off much earlier.

Superb episode but also disturbing. Where Lizzy grows increasingly mad, kills her sister (but at no point realises what she has done), then her "mother" executes her. Now that is dark. A lot of the credit has to go to the director (Michael Satrazemis), I knew something was different this episode and his style suits the storyline exceptionally well.

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