The Grove (The Walking Dead)
|The Walking Dead episode|
|Episode no.||Season 4
|Directed by||Michael E. Satrazemis|
|Written by||Scott M. Gimple|
|Original air date||March 16, 2014|
"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. This marks an increase in viewership and 18-49 ratings from the previous episode.
Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman), Carol (Melissa McBride), and sisters Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) and Mika (Kyla Kenedy) continue their journey to Terminus along the railroad tracks, while caring for Rick's toddler daughter Judith. Carol and Tyreese are concerned for the survival of Mika and Lizzie, as Mika is too gentle and Lizzie appears to not understand what walkers are. They spot a walker get snarled on the train tracks, and Lizzie pleads with Tyreese to spare it. Nearby, they find an abandoned home in a peach grove, Carol suggesting they may want to rest there a few days. While Tyreese and Carol clear the house of walkers, a walker approaches the sisters; Mika is quick to shoot it in the head, while Lizzie looks on with tears. They secure the perimeter of the house and settle in.
The following day, Carol sees Lizzie attempting to play tag with a walker, and she runs out and kills it. Lizzie yells at her for killing her friend. Later, Carol takes the sisters to hunt, but Mika cannot bring herself to shoot a deer. When they return, they find Tyreese has gotten the water pump working, and he suggests they may want to settle here permanently. Later that day, Lizzie and Mika go back to the train tracks, and Lizzie feeds the trapped walker a mouse; she moves in closer, preparing to let the walker bite her, telling Mika that the walkers "want [her] to change", but a group of walkers suddenly appear and the two flee back to the house. Their screams prompt Carol and Tyreese outside and the four eliminate the walkers. In consoling the sisters, Carol and Tyreese learn that it was Lizzie that has been luring walkers to the prison fence using rats as bait. It was also Lizzie who made the bizarre splayed rabbit effigy back at the prison.
Carol and Tyreese leave Judith in the care of the sisters as they go hunt. When they return, they find that Lizzie has killed Mika with a knife and is preparing to kill Judith the same way. Lizzie tries to prevent them from interfering by holding a gun at them, insisting that Mika will be okay since she did not stab her brain. Carol calms Lizzie down enough to obtain the gun, and Tyreese ushers her inside along with Judith. Carol cries as she stabs Mika in the brain to prevent reanimation. Carol and Tyreese discuss what to do with Lizzie; Tyreese wonders if she was the one responsible for killing Tyreese's friends Karen and David, unaware that Carol had done this. Carol professes that Lizzie is innocent, but she still poses a threat to Judith. Tyreese offers to take Judith and continue on to Terminus but Carol says Judith needs them both. They both conclude Lizzie is too dangerous to be around other people.
The next day, Carol asks Lizzie to come outside to look at some flowers. Lizzie realizes Carol is upset at her and thinks it is because she pointed a gun at her, but Carol insists she look at the flowers. Carol then shoots Lizzie in the back of the head, and buries hers and Mika's bodies. She returns to the house and gives the gun to Tyreese, admitting she had killed Karen and David to prevent the spread of infection at the prison. She tells Tyreese to do whatever he needs to do. Tyreese forgives her for this. The two take Judith and continue towards Terminus.
"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.
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.
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.
Upon airing, the episode was watched by 12.87 million American viewers, and received an 18-49 rating of 6.4. 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.
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."
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."" He also listed it as the number one best episode on IGN's The Walking Dead: Top 10 Episodes list. 
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." 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.
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."
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."
- 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.
- 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.
- Fowler, Matt (March 16, 2014). "The Walking Dead: "The Grove" Review". IGN. Retrieved March 16, 2014.
- Goldberg, Lesley (March 16, 2014). "'Walking Dead' Dissection: Melissa McBride Talks Carol's Devastating Decision". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 18, 2014.
- 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.
- Goldberg, Lesley (March 16, 2014). "'Walking Dead' Dissection: Melissa McBride Talks Carol's Devastating Decision". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 16, 2014.
- Fowler, Matt (August 17, 2015). "The Walking Dead: Top 10 Episodes". IGN. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
- 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.
- Vigna, Paul (March 16, 2014). "'The Walking Dead,' Season 4, Episode 14, 'The Grove': TV Recap". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 16, 2014.
- Handlen, Zack (March 16, 2014). "The Walking Dead: "The Grove"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved March 16, 2014.