Season 1, Episode 14: “The Grove” | Original air date: March 16, 2014
“The Grove” provides the most moral and emotionally resonant moment in the largely disappointing fourth season of “The Walking Dead.” Yet even then it is dipped in repetitive tedium that’s drug the show down, especially in the second half.
Carol (Melissa McBride) travels with Tyreese (Chad Coleman), Mika (Kyla Kenedy) and her older sister, Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino), and Rick’s infant daughter, Judith.
The group comes across a beautiful, unspoiled house with a fence, pecan trees and deer in the area. They decide to stop traveling along the train tracks and set up a home here. Guess where this is headed. Yeah, it all goes to hell, just like it did for each group of characters who scattered way from the prison after it was destroyed in the mid-season finale.
They keep playing that same note with only slight variation. Everybody is headed toward the much built-up survivor city of Terminis now, with two episodes left in the season. Also, in case you were wondering, everyone is sad, emotionally damaged and probably quite smelly at this point.
Carol continues to preach survival skills to the young girls in her charge, to be hardened killers, just like her. This is parenting in the zombie apocalypse. Kill or be killed is the new golden rule.
Lizzie seems on the verge of mental collapse. She treats the zombies as pets and considers letting one bite her. Then, of course, a horde of scorched zombies waddle out of the woods. , Carol and the girls blast away. Carol is pleased by the way Lizzie pumps out ammo as fast as she can pull the trigger.
Lizzie seems stronger and more well-adjusted after the murder fest. Then she stabs Mika to death in order to turn her into a zombie. It turns out she was the one feed rats to the zombies at the prison, which lead to the weakening of the fence for hordes. She also filleted a rat for fun. If Dr. Phil were still alive, he would suggest young Lizzie has the the markings of a future serial killer.
So Carol, who is good at executing her fellow survivors in the name of survival, takes Lizzie for a walk in the wildflowers, shoots and kills her. Later, Carol confesses to Tyresse that she murdered Karen (Melissa Ponzio), his girlfriend, and David, to stop the spread of the flu.
She slides a gun across the table to Tyreese and says, “Do what you have to do.” Tyreese forgives her in perhaps the most impressive moment of the season.
But it’s also another sign of why the series has run thin. They only way to manufacture drama at this point is to kill characters, whether they be freshly introduced newbies destined to become zombie bait or established characters who are killed for the sake of keeping the body count rising and Chris Hardwick in hashtags.
The concept has played out. They’ve got nothing left to surprise the viewer. People keep watching. The show pulls numbers that puts a lot of network shows to shame. But a lot of people like Peeps, the Easter candy. In neither case does it mean they’re right.