While slightly underwhelming for Caryl shippers, this week’s Carol-Daryl focused episode of The Walking Dead gave us exactly what we’d expect from the duo: minimal talking, maximum badassdom.
“Consumed” gives us a taste of Carol (Melissa McBride) through the ages with interspersed flashbacks of how she’s struggled with adversities and how she’s been able to overcome all the burdens of the past. One instance is the moment right after Rick banishes Carol from the prison. She struggles to find her ground, but ultimately makes a home for herself in a surprisingly furnished and well-kept abandoned house. Another flashback shows Tyreese and Carol burying Lizzie and Meghan.
In the background of all these flashbacks is fire, in all different forms. White smoke at Terminus, black smoke from the prison, fire from dragging the burned corpses at the prison, fire from Daryl’s cigarette. My guess is that the fire represents the burning and “consumption” of Carol’s past, submissive persona and evolution into a strong, bold character (which makes me wonder the worst… when is she gonna die).
Skip forward to the present, where Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Carol are tracking a car that is presumably linked to Beth’s kidnappers. Once they reach Downtown Atlanta, they make camp at a place Carol finds familiar, a haven for survivors of abuse. They come across a family of walkers, and while Carol wants to end their suffering, Daryl holds her back.
In the morning they continue tracking across the city. Before they leave, Daryl burns the corpses of the children and the adult walkers (fire again!), a gesture Carol greatly appreciates. They come across a deserted office building containing a new type of threat: zombies in sleeping bags (dare I say… walkerpillars?) and tents. As they explore the building, they identify the hospital’s location from a office suite window, comment on modern art, and leave. While they are exiting, they come across a slightly familiar face: Noah (Tyler James Williams). Taking in the duo as a hostile group, Noah rids them of their weapons and runs away, leaving them at the mercy of more walkers. Caryl make it out okay, but at the expense of gaining a new target.
They trudge across an overpass, where they stumble upon an abandoned bus branded with the same symbol as the other hospital vehicles. Situated halfway off of the overpass, it poses a bit of a problem, and a horde of approaching walkers only add to the problem. Caryl get into the van, realizing the only escape is to push the car off of the highway and onto the ground below, assuming they emerge unscathed.
With the force of all the zombies pushing from behind, the van does indeed fall down. While it would make so much more physical sense for the van to flip upside down, it ends up landing perfectly on the wheels, and Caryl do indeed emerge slightly unscathed. You just can’t have a zombie apocalypse without defying some physics.
Caryl cross paths with Noah once more inside yet another deserted building, and this time, it is Noah instead who is at the mercy of the duo. Once Noah mentions “Beth” however, they instantly join the same team. Unfortunately for Noah, and for Caryl too, the hospital police force is after Noah, ready to capture more people in debt. While they are escaping, Carol runs ahead of the trio and much to the avail of everyone, gets hit by the hospital van and taken away. Noah restrains Daryl from running after Carol’s captors.
While the episode was slow, and quite a bit less dramatic than what I would have hoped for from a Caryl episode, it did deliver in showing both Carol and Daryl’s development as individuals as well as a team. We get a sense of how cohesively their lives have run together, despite how different they seem to be. For one, it’s common knowledge that Carol was the subject of abuse for quite some time. A prolonged shot of Daryl looking at a book specifically for “child abuse survivors” and his heightened awareness for saving children of the apocalypse (Beth, Sophia, even Noah) makes the question of whether Daryl was the subject of childhood abuse relevant.
Carol asserting to Daryl that he’s much different from who he was before (even after Daryl counters how she knew what he was like before) makes their partnership a lot more valuable. Not only is she speaking from an outside perspective, but she’s talking with experience. She understands the weight of the struggles he’s been through. It’s almost like they’re in sync (though not entirely when analyzing modern art).
My guess of what Noah’s role is now revolves around a temporary partnership between him and Daryl. When Noah says that it’s very hard to attack the hospital, as they’re supplied with people and guns, Daryl counters they too have people and guns (return of a Rickapocalypse?). While I’m excited to see where this new fight could lead, it’s a bit repetitive, considering the pattern of human vs human fights in the past (Terminus, Woodbury, etc). What I’m super into is the idea of Carol making a complete 180 and saving Beth, running away from the hospital as it burns to the ground (what else could the fire motif mean?), and arriving at the church to the surprised looks of everyone else. It could totally happen.