Can we just take a moment right now to give Melissa McBride and Lauren Cohan — aka Carol and Maggie, respectively — all the applause for tonight's intense episode of The Walking Dead? 'Cause these ladies just hijacked the zombpocalypse, and they quite literally slayed it.
Last week, we learned via walkie-talkie that a small contingency of Negan's Saviors had escaped the compound before Rick's crew... well... exterminated everyone there. Those select few then kidnapped Carol and Maggie, who were waiting on the compound's perimeter.
Tonight, we actually saw the continuation of that tense revelation, and — from start to finish — it was gripping. And, in many moments, it was difficult to watch for a variety of reasons. Here are a few of those powerful scenes.
There's this moment, just before the Saviors place Carol and Maggie's jackets over their own heads, where Carol seems seized with panic. Clearly, this is out of character for the fearless Carol we've come to know. But in that moment, all the air is sucked out of the room when the jackets go over their heads and we get to see the harrowing walk through the woods from their perspective — looking downward in the narrow scope of space they can actually see from beneath the cover of their jackets.
We've become so accustomed to seeing the Carol who blows shit up and threatens small children that it's easy to forget she once was frail and afraid. Sitting on the floor of a slaughterhouse bound and gagged, though, glimpses of that woman resurface — starting with the moment Carol begins hyperventilating. Was this all part of some act to get the Saviors to let their guard down? Possibly. Still, seeing McBride relay so much complexity of emotion made us short of breath too, in the best way.
Another lady who turns out an impressive performance in a leading role this episode is guest star Alicia Witt, who played a domineering member of the Saviors named Paula. When Carol lets it slip that Maggie is pregnant, we learn the full extent of Paula's misanthropy. Not only is she unbothered by the idea that she could be responsible for ending the life of a pregnant woman, but she even goes so far as referring to Maggie's unborn child as a "bite-sized snack" for the walkers. Yikes, lady.
Part of the interesting dynamic of tonight's episode was the way Saviors Paula and 'Chelle seemed in a sense to mirror Carol and Maggie, respectively. Although there was a palpable air of repulsion between the two sets of women, they were also intangibly linked. There's a permeating sense that, if they weren't trying to kill each other, they might actually like each other. This is especially evident when 'Chelle takes the bound Maggie into a confined room to try to get her to reveal the locale of their camp. At that point, 'Chelle reveals that she had lost a child, and it now makes sense why she was slightly protective of Maggie around the others. However, as she keeps a loaded gun sited on Maggie, it's nearly impossible to exhale out of fear that Maggie may never make it out of that room.
Have we witnessed Maggie making some tough calls to stay alive? Sure. Have we watched her stab loads of walkers? Absolutely. But watching Maggie attack a woman in the group of Saviors (the "smoker") and savagely bludgeon her in the head until she was dead? That was a new experience, and it was honestly tough to see. I may even have covered my eyes and peeked through the slivers between my fingers until they left the poor lady's now-limp body behind. Word to the wise: Do not smoke around Maggie's unborn baby.
Or, well, she almost does anyway. After Carol and Maggie effectively finish off the secondary male and female Saviors, they encounter 'Chelle in the hallway. Carol is still suffering from a perceived crisis of conscience and can't bring herself to simply pull the trigger on this chick, so she and Maggie begin to fight hand-to-hand combat style. Mere moments in, 'Chelle slashes at Maggie with a huge knife, cutting her shirt at her torso.
Despite her reticence to hurt any one thus far in the episode, 'Chelle almost stabbing Maggie in the stomach and ending little Glenn was far too close of a call for Carol. In a brutal moment, she shoots 'Chelle in the head at point blank range. The violence alone was disturbing, but almost equally as unnerving was watching Carol grapple with the side of herself that wasn't affected by such actions.
Hey, people die with alarming frequency on The Walking Dead. This is the zombpocalypse, after all. And if you're guesting on the show and you've gotta die, I suppose the way to go out is in a blaze of gory. Watching Paula get impaled with a walker and then have the walker peel the flesh from her face with his teeth was next level nasty.
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