The Walking Dead S4 Ep4 – “Indifference”

Carol is banished by Rick.

Let it suffice to say that I am very conflicted and unhappy over this episode.

First, let’s get the recap out of the way:

Daryl, Michonne, Tyreese, and Bob search for antibiotics.Daryl, Michonne, Tyreese, and Bob hotwire a van and continue to make their way towards the veterinary college, where they’ll find the needed antibiotics to keep the infected people at the prison alive long enough to get the sickness out of their system. Tyreese is still very clearly angry about Karen’s death and his anger is making him violent and stupid. He and Michonne share a moment where she tells him she is no longer angry at The Governor and is not sure why she continues looking for him.

Daryl asks Bob about what had happened to him before he joined their group. Bob reveals that he is a two-time lone survivor, having traveled with two groups that were both overrun by walkers before being found by Daryl. He turned to alcohol to help deal with his survivor’s guilt, and feels responsible for the Zach’s death in the supermarket (in episode 1). Daryl promises Bob he won’t be the last one standing anymore. Once they reach the college and collect the antibiotics, however, Bob nearly gets himself killed over a bottle of wine and goes for his gun when Daryl is about to throw it away. Realizing Bob has “made his choice” when it comes to his alcoholism, Daryl warns him not to take a sip before they get the medicine back to the prison.

Rick and Carol look out through a gate.In the meantime, Carol and Rick make a run to a nearby suburb, to tide the group over until Daryl’s group gets back. Carol asks Rick to accept the fact that, as a leader in the group, she made a decision and took a gamble by killing Karen and David on the chance that it would stop the disease from spreading. Rick would’ve had to make a gamble with the same odds, had he been the leader, and there’s no way for them to know whether his choice, whatever it might have been, would’ve turned out any better or worse.

They reminisce about their lost loved ones, and Carol says she is no longer the woman she once was, being stronger and more capable, and above all else, a survivor. Rick agrees, but then states that Tyreese will kill her if he comes back, and if he doesn’t the people of the prison will not want her there. She is also not a woman that he wants around his children any more, and he is not making this decision for the group, he’s making it for her. He tells her to go, knowing she will most likely survive, giving her provisions and her own car, and promising to take care of the two orphan girls she had adopted back at the prison. Carol leaves, tearfully, but without a fuss.

And just like that one of my favorite characters is gone. (insert screaming Wolverine gif here)

One of my biggest issues with this episode is that it feels really inconsistent with the characterization of Carol up to this point. Disclaimer: I have not watched season 3 yet, but I know most of the major plot points. Still, I was absolutely shocked when Carol so nonchalantly admitted to murdering two people in the final seconds of the last episode. I was hoping this episode would give me a real, solid reason for her actions, and while the reasons given for killing them (arguably) made sense, they did not feel like reasons that would convince Carol to kill them. She’s always been the sensitive one, the kind one, the caring one. People trust her to take care of them.

That’s why her murder of Karen and David was so terrible! They trusted her, and she killed them. Yes, she has been hardened by Sophia’s death and by living in a world that is bursting at the seams with death and sadness and pain. Yes, she advised Andrea to kill The Governor (a man who instigated a completely unnecessary war with the Prison group, might I remind you). But the leap the writers have taken with her between seasons is really jarring and confusing. When did she get so cold and pragmatic? When did she stop caring about people (who weren’t vulnerable young orphans)?

I wouldn’t have minded Carol becoming this way, if I had seen it develop slowly over time. I would happily watched a version of the show where the loss of her child made her decide to shut off her feelings and stop making connections to people because it was too painful when those connections were severed. I would have been thrilled to see her struggle with her nature as a gentle protector because why even try and protect things and people when we’re all powerless against death? But as far as I can tell, we haven’t seen her journey to becoming who she is in the season right now, and that bothers me a lot, because it means the writers are not doing Carol justice.

They’ve done such a spectacular job otherwise, with Carol, even within this same episode!  Addressing her history as a survivor of domestic abuse and showing how she has grown and healed from it is really encouraging and not seen on TV enough, and clearly she and Rick are capable of getting along, judging by the stories they shared about Lori and Sophia.

Rick banishes Carol.

Lone Ranger Rick is judge, jury, and sometimes executioner.

The other problem I have is that, despite his claim that he’s done making choices for other people and he’s banishing her on his own and his family’s behalf, Rick didn’t even give the rest of a group to decide, and that is just as good as making the decision for them. Don’t get me wrong. I agree that there had to be consequences for Carol’s actions (she straight up murdered two people!), but whatever those consequences were going to be, they should have been decided upon by the rest of the council/prison group. What use is the council if individuals are just going to do whatever the heck they want?

Also, why was Rick so freaking harsh to her? No one has been subjected to banishment, even when they’ve explicitly threatened, attacked, or endangered other group members (i.e: Merle and freaking Shane, when he was getting all crazy and possessive). Why should Carol be singled out?

The crux of the matter, plot-wise, is that both Carol and Rick were wrong to do what they did, even though I can understand where they’re coming from. That’s why this episode is so conflicting! It also continues to pry open the can of drama, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

What will Rick say to the group when he returns without Carol? Is she really gone for good? Will Daryl and the others return in time with the medicine? Who else has fallen ill and what else has happened at the prison while they were all gone? I am simultaneously dreading and looking forward to next week.

Tell us what you thought of the episode in the comments!