For the third-to-last episode in the fourth season of The Walking Dead, viewers were given what was likely one hell of a shock – unless of course they’d read the comic books and followed any of the theories surrounding the Samuels sisters.
The opening scene of The Grove was more than a little creepy, but I assumed that it would come back into play at some point. However, it was still a bit awkward to jump from that to Carol and Lizzie’s late-night chat about those who have lived (Tyreese, because Lizzie saved him) and those who have died (Sophia, because she couldn’t take proper care of herself). And knowing Lizzie’s propensities, her hugging Carol seemed completely awkward and abnormal, when it should have been a normal thing.
Though I was hoping that The Grove would showcase more than just Tyreese, Carol, Lizzie, Mika, and Judith; in the end this episode gave us a lot of insight into not just these characters but into The Walking Dead world as a whole. Lizzie’s issues were obviously brought to the forefront, and clarified as well. “Sometimes we have to kill them, and sometimes we don’t,” she insists when the walker gets stuck in the train tracks.
On the other hand, we have Mika telling Carol that she feels bad for those people who kill other living humans, because they probably weren’t like that “before” – an astute observation, but this, along with Carol’s response, are in my opinion pretty heavy-handed foreshadowing for Mika’s impending death.
But first, Carol and Mika discovered the pecans. Now is it just me or is the food obsession on this show getting a little old? While I understand that the need and search for sustenance would be extremely important – and that it would be exciting to find something like pudding or peanut butter or pecans – their need to insert a token food into each episode is getting a bit old.
As Carol, Tyreese, and the kids make themselves at home in the house near the pecan grove, there are several interesting things that happen in quick succession. Mika and later Tyreese suggest that they stay there, which in Walking Dead speak essentially means they’re going to have to leave that place quite soon. It’s also obvious from the smoke they see that we’ve now gone back in time from last week’s episode – that must be the house that Daryl and Beth burned, for them to focus on the smoke several times throughout this episode the way that they did.
Eventually we get a new view of that aforementioned creepy opening scene, in which we find out in a not overly surprising reveal that we hadn’t been watching two children playing tag but rather Lizzie playing tag with her zombie friend Griselda.
That’s right – Griselda. Which also happens to be the name that Mika gave the doll she’d found the night before. As if we didn’t already have plenty of proof that Lizzie was crazy…and now we also have proof that she was the one feeding the walkers at the prison. Not only that, she seems to actually want to be a walker – for a moment, anyway. Then the burned walkers appear and chase the sisters, and when it comes down to it both Lizzie and Mika are able to take out several of those zombies. I immediately thought that this would scare them away from staying in the grove, but instead they settled right back in and started playing house.
Again, though, any time the characters in this show start getting the slightest bit comfortable, it’s pretty easy to assume that something is going to go wrong, and soon. Sure enough, it turns out that the theories regarding Lizzie and Mika being TV show versions of the twins Ben and Billy in the Walking Dead comics were correct – Tyreese and Carol go for a walk and return to see that Lizzie has killed her ‘weaker’ younger sister.
I have to be honest about the fact that despite being totally on board with that theory from the first time it popped up, I’m still a bit shocked that the show actually portrayed it, and did so in a way very close to what happened in the comics with Ben and Billy. This also cleared up the slightly more tinfoil theory that Lizzie was the person who killed Karen and David at the beginning of season four, because Lizzie showed her true colors and Carol not only pointed out that Lizzie would have let them turn, but she then outright confessed what she’d done directly to Tyreese. My problem is that I can’t decide whether his reaction to this confession – allowing that he would forgive Carol but not forget what happened – was understandable or anti-climactic.
This episode certainly wrapped up a few different season four plot points, tied a nice little bow around them, and then sent them on their merry way. We know for certain that Lizzie was the person luring the walkers to the prison, and that Carol was definitely the one who killed Karen and David. We’ve also lost two more of the good ol’ Woodbury red shirts; in another deviation from the comic book story of Ben and Billy, we didn’t have to wait for Carl to come back around to take care of Lizzie. (Though to be fair, Carol and Carl only have a single letter difference between their names…)
Despite the fact that it deals with a lot of extremely heavy issues, The Grove was a very strong episode in its own right – but I’m still wondering just when we’re going to see a few more of the main characters reunited with each other. This was the third episode without Rick – in fact, the longest stretch he’s ever gone without being on the show – and it’s also been a while since we got a serious look at what Glenn and his new found friends are doing. There are only two episodes left in season four; I’m beginning to wonder which, if any, of these story lines will end up merging with each other before it’s all said and done.
Author: Tara Lynne
Tara Lynne is an author, fandom and geek culture expert, and public speaker. She founded Ice & Fire Con, the first ever Game of Thrones convention in the US, and now runs its parent company Saga Event Planning.
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