The Grove (The Walking Dead)

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"The Grove"
The Walking Dead episode
Carol about to kill Lizzie
Carol Peletier prepares to shoot an unstable Lizzie Samuels after her sister's murder.
Episode no. Season 4
Episode 14
Directed by Michael E. Satrazemis
Written by Scott M. Gimple
Original air date March 16, 2014 (2014-03-16)
Guest actors
Episode chronology
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"Alone"
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"Us"
The Walking Dead (season 4)
List of The Walking Dead episodes

"The Grove" is the fourteenth episode of the fourth season of the post-apocalyptic horror television series The Walking Dead; it aired on AMC on March 16, 2014. The episode was directed by Michael E. Satrazemis and written by Scott M. Gimple.

Carol, Tyreese, Lizzie, Mika, and Judith come across a house in a pecan grove on their trek to Terminus and deal with the moralistic concepts of the world of walkers, an unstable Lizzie who kills her sister Mika, and the admission by Carol of killing Karen to Tyreese.

This is the final episode to feature Lizzie and Mika Samuels, with their deaths being received positively by most critics. Upon airing, the episode was watched by 12.87 million American viewers and received an 18-49 rating of 6.4.[1] This marks an increase in viewership and 18-49 ratings from the previous episode.[2]

Plot[edit]

Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman), Carol (Melissa McBride), Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino), Mika (Kyla Kenedy), and Judith continue their journey to Terminus along the railroad tracks. Carol and Tyreese discuss the probability of Mika and Lizzie's survival; Carol notes that Mika is too gentle and Lizzie is confused about what walkers are.

While stopping to rest, Tyreese spots an advancing walker in the distance, but it falls and becomes trapped. Tyreese moves to kill the walker, but Lizzie makes a humanistic plea to spare it.

Carol and Mika come upon a house in the middle of a pecan grove and send for Tyreese, Lizzie, and Judith. Carol suggests staying there for a few days to rest, so she and Tyreese leave the three girls outside while they clear the house. Once they go inside, a walker appears and Mika shoots it in its head with a pistol as Lizzie looks on in tears.

The next day, Carol is in the house and spots Lizzie happily playing tag with a walker in the yard. Carol rushes outside and kills the walker, but Lizzie screams at Carol, saying the walker was her friend. Later, Carol and Mika come across a deer while scouting in the forest; Mika aims a M1 carbine at the deer, but is unable to pull the trigger, much to the disappointment of Carol. The duo return to the grove house and find Tyreese pumping water, who suggests they settle at this location instead of continuing toward Terminus.

That afternoon, Lizzie wanders to the railroad tracks with Mika giving chase. Lizzie feeds the trapped walker from earlier a mouse and Mika promptly admonishes her. Lizzie insists the walkers "want me to change" and reaches for the walker's mouth. Just then, walkers emerge from the woods, forcing Mika and Lizzie to flee back to the house. Tyreese and Carol run to the screaming of the girls, and the four form a line and shoot down the walkers.

The next day, Carol and Tyreese return to the house from a hunt to find that Lizzie has killed Mika with a knife. Lizzie insists Mika will be okay because she didn't stab the brain, and also reveals she intended to do the same to Judith. When Carol and Tyreese approach her, Lizzie threatens them by pointing her pistol at them. Carol manages to talk Lizzie down, and Tyreese ushers Lizzie and Judith inside. Alone, Carol sobs and pulls out her knife and stabs Mika in the brain to prevent reanimation.

That night, Tyreese tells Carol he learned from Lizzie that she had been feeding the prison walkers. He wonders if Lizzie killed Karen and David; Carol says she couldn't have as she would have let them reanimate. Tyreese suggests leaving with Judith to protect her from Lizzie, but Carol notes that Judith needs both of them to survive. Carol believes Lizzie is too dangerous to be around other people, and Tyreese reluctantly agrees.

The following morning, Carol takes Lizzie out for a walk and asks her to look at some flowers. Lizzie, believing that Carol is upset with her for pointing a gun at her, starts to cry and pleads for Carol to not be mad at her anymore. As she's crying, Carol again tells Lizzie to look at the flowers. As she does, Carol shoots Lizzie in the back of the head with a revolver as Tyreese observes from afar. They bury the two girls. That night, Carol gives Tyreese her revolver and admits to killing Karen and David, explaining that she had to contain the illness. Upset at first, Tyreese forgives her. The next day, Tyreese, Carol, and Judith leave the grove and continue their journey to Terminus.

Production[edit]

"The Grove" was written by executive producer and showrunner Scott M. Gimple, his eighth writing credit for the series, and second of the season after the premiere episode. It was directed by series cinematographer Michael E. Satrazemis, marking his directorial debut.[3]

This episode focuses entirely on the characters of Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride), Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman), and recurring characters Lizzie Samuels (Brighton Sharbino), and Mika Samuels (Kyla Kenedy). This episode marked the final appearances of Sharbino and Kenedy, whose characters were killed off in the episode. On Carol's reasons for having to kill Lizzie (reminiscent to Of Mice and Men) and Carol's mindset in the episode, McBride explained:

No, I don't think there was really any other option. There's a lot of nature versus nurture going on in this episode to look at. As much as it broke Carol's heart to have to do this and to realize this had to be done. They were walking toward the flowers in that scene and Lizzie says, "You're mad at me and I'm sorry." You'd think she'd be sorry for stabbing her sister to death, but instead she's sorry for pointing gun at her, so she just doesn't get it. It's not a world that's safe for anyone. The ability to fight isn't a one-size fits all; everybody is different. Thematically, there's a lot said about change. Something I got out of this episode for Carol, too, is that you have to change. The world will change you -- you have to adapt or die. It's about hanging on to that part of yourself: You can change but don't lose yourself. That's what was happening to Carol -- her mindset -- she was so hell-bent on protecting these children that she lost a bit of something, and that was her nurturing aspect. She was missing a lot of stuff because her eyes were so set on survival.[4]

On how the planned deaths of Lizzie and Mika would be shown on screen, Scott Gimple explained:

With Mika’s death, that was something I wanted Carol and Tyreese to discover. I didn’t want to see that happen. And I would love to take credit for an awesome idea, but basically that’s how it happens in the book. It was discovered. It wasn’t shown. It was very effective in the book. It worked on me when I read it and I knew that would be effective that way too. I don’t think we needed to see that part of it. That’s something where the audience’s imagination will be far more horrible that anything we could have done. As far as the gunshot, we did wrestle with the cut of that. We played around with it in a variety of iterations. Initially it was about what we felt was tasteful to show and what we felt was not tasteful to show and figuring that out. I’d say the discovery along the way was the shot where we don’t see it, but we see Carol pull the trigger and we stay on Carol. It’s such a remarkable piece of acting that Melissa does in that moment that I wouldn’t have wanted to cut away anyways, because really in that moment that is all about Carol. The die is kind of cast and this is Carol’s story. This is fulfilling a big part of Carol’s story in a very tragic way. And to see that character feel that moment and feel the gravity of that moment and the impact upon her and even just change her in that very moment — I actually felt Melissa’s portrayal of that moment. I could feel it. So in the end it went towards storytelling anyways.[5]

Reception[edit]

Viewership[edit]

Upon airing, the episode was watched by 12.87 million American viewers, and received an 18-49 rating of 6.4.[1] This marks a rise in total viewers and ratings from the previous episode, which received an 18-49 rating of 6.3 and 12.65 million viewers.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

The episode received critical acclaim, with most reviews praising Melissa McBride's performance though some showed uncertainty in its ending. Lesley Goldberg of the Hollywood Reporter called the episode "one of its most gut-wrenching."[6]

Matt Fowler of IGN gave the episode a 9.5 out of 10, saying "This week's Walking Dead took the post-prison group I least cared about and gave them the most surprisingly intense and emotional story of the bunch. Writer Scott Gimple and director Michael Satrazemis (the show's Director of Photography changing it up) brought us what the show does best - wrenching tales of loss both through the actions of others and that actions one commits themselves. And Gimple, being a huge fan of the Robert Kirkman comic series, lovingly lifted parts of this story from an arc in the books involving a couple of other characters, so those who've read up will have appreciated Lizzie's peculiar "tendencies.""[3]

Allen St. John of Forbes gave the episode a positive review, calling it "a morality play. It comes down hard on one side of the nature versus nurture line."[7] He then commented positively on the writing, saying

While much of the credit for "The Grove" goes to showrunner Scott Gimple, who also wrote this episode (with a nod, perhaps, to John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men), there’s a lot of credit to go around in an episode as strong as this one. As Mika, Kyla Kennedy was not only sweet but steadfast, and Brighton Sharbino (who also played Marty Hart’s daughter in True Detective) played her confusion convincingly. Chad Coleman seemed like [he] had seen something he wishes he could un-see. As Carol, Melissa McBride drew on the deposits of strength and decency, that allowed her to do this without seeming like a monster. Indeed, when she pulled the trigger, her eyes brimming with tears, it reminded me of Jesse killing Gale in Breaking Bad. And first-time director Michael Satrazemis understood that less is more, and his cutaway to Carol’s gun, and Tyreese’s distant view, lent the scene the quiet dignity it deserved.[7]

Paul Vigna of the Wall Street Journal commented on the cynicism of the episode, saying

Of all the sick, demented things that have happened in the zombie apocalypse on “The Walking Dead,” it’s hard to imagine any as shocking and sad as seeing insane little Lizzie standing over the sister she just stabbed to death, no concept of what she’d just done, fully expecting her to “come back.” Carol being forced to kill Lizzie was a close second. There’s really no two ways about it, this was one of the sickest episodes of “The Walking Dead” in its entire run. All the darkest crevices of the human psyche come out in tonight’s episode, “The Grove,” and while it’s one thing when you see a character like the Governor do shocking, demented things, it’s far more upsetting and uncomfortable to see a child, a little girl, doing them. But that’s where this show went tonight. It’s hard to imagine any other show on television would go that dark. You really have a build an audience up for it, because it’s not an easy thing to swallow at all."[8]

Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club gave the episode a C+, commenting negatively on the plot twists, saying "I laughed because it was just too much. The writers took a risk, and threw out another shock to catch us off guard: this time, it was a little girl so convinced that the zombies were her best friends that she murdered her sister. It should be horrifying, and if the episode worked for you, I’m sure it was. It didn’t work for me, though, and the sight of Lizzie standing over that corpse made for a clean break in my mind. The whole situation became too ludicrously morbid, too absurdly grim to take seriously."[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Bibel, Sara (March 18, 2014). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'The Walking Dead' Wins Night, 'Talking Dead', 'Real Housewives of Atlanta,' 'Naked And Afraid', 'Shameless' & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved March 18, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Kondolojy, Amanda (March 11, 2014). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'The Walking Dead' Wins Night, 'Talking Dead', 'The Real Housewives of Atlanta', 'True Detective' & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved March 11, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Fowler, Matt (March 16, 2014). "The Walking Dead: "The Grove" Review". IGN. Retrieved March 16, 2014. 
  4. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (March 16, 2014). "'Walking Dead' Dissection: Melissa McBride Talks Carol's Devastating Decision". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 18, 2014. 
  5. ^ Ross, Dalton (March 17, 2014). "'The Walking Dead:' Showrunner Scott Gimple does a deep dive on Sunday's shocking episode". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 19, 2014. 
  6. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (March 16, 2014). "'Walking Dead' Dissection: Melissa McBride Talks Carol's Devastating Decision". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 16, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b St. John, Allen (March 16, 2014). ""Look At The Flowers:" Carol's Wrenching Choice Changes 'The Walking Dead' Forever In A Shocking Episode 414". Forbes. Retrieved March 16, 2014. 
  8. ^ Vigna, Paul (March 16, 2014). "‘The Walking Dead,’ Season 4, Episode 14, ‘The Grove’: TV Recap". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 16, 2014. 
  9. ^ Handlen, Zack (March 16, 2014). "The Walking Dead: "The Grove"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved March 16, 2014. 

External links[edit]