The Walking Dead Season 4, Episode 14 recap

This was a Very Special Episode of The Walking Dead, in which we learned about strength and morals in a post-apocalyptic world. Also we learned about child murder. We’re approaching the end of the season, which means that sh*t is getting real.

At least we solved the mystery of the prison rats. It was Lizzie all along, feeding the zombies and cutting rats open and pinning them to little boards because she’s F*CKING NUTS. I mean, we knew that. But she’s like really, REALLY nuts. Capital-N Nuts. In World War Z parlance, she’s a “Quisling”, a non-infected person who’s totally lost it and thinks they’re a zombie. She doesn’t think she’s a zombie—yet—but she’s definitely on her way down that road, thinking zombies are still people, and thinking if she was a zombie then she could show the others how they’re still people on the inside. Totally. F*cking. Nuts.

Which, of course, leads us to the central problem: Lizzie Is Nuts, Capital-N Nuts. This episode was focused solely on Carol, Tyreese, Lizzie and Mika (and Judith, but she’s basically just a prop right now), and it’s not only one of the best of the season, but it’s one of the best of the whole series to date. There’s no fat on this episode, nothing to trim. Everything builds to the climactic moment, there are no throwaways—it’s very neat, forward-momentum writing. And some really nice direction, too, from first-timer Mike Satrazemis. No fancy tricks, just really nicely composed shots and clean, productive camera movements. This episode didn’t need embellishments or filler.

On the road to Terminus, Carol et al find a nice little farmhouse amidst a pecan grove. There are signs of deer, so they can stop and hunt, and though there’s a large fire somewhere in the area (presumably, Daryl and Beth’s indulgence in arson), it isn’t an immediate threat. It’s a sweet little set up, and more than once the possibility of simply staying at the farmhouse is raised. (Also, somehow the gas stove is still working at the house—what the hell? HOW?) Which means, of course, they won’t be staying. By now we should know that the more comfortable and secure a place seems, the faster it will have to be abandoned. And, indeed, they only make it a couple days at the house.

Because Lizzie Is Capital-N Nuts. It comes down to the same issue we’ve had with every kid-character to date: How does a child survive in this world? As we’ve seen with Carl and Beth, they just have to toughen up. They’re going to have to do the same awful sh*t the adults do—this isn’t a world where kids get to be kids. On one side we have Lizzie, who may be a deluded psychopath but at least she can kill zombies, and on the other is Mika, who understands that the zombies aren’t people, but who can’t bring herself to kill anything. Carol spends time with both, trying to convince Lizzie that zombies aren’t people and Mika to toughen up.

And for a split second, it seems like she’s making headway with both of them. Mika doesn’t want to kill living things, like a deer in the woods, but she can pull the trigger on a zombie. And Lizzie, who is convinced zombies are her friends, saves Mika from a horde of extra-crispy fire zombies (from the house fire?), and it seems like it’s finally getting through to her that zombies are monsters, not friends.

Except that it isn’t. Lizzie is crazy, she has no interest in being not-crazy. And since she spends a lot of the episode screaming at people that zombies are her friends and no one understands her, and that if she could just show them, then they would get it, she does the unthinkable. Tyreese and Carol come back to the farm to find Lizzie holding a bloody knife, Mika dead behind her.

Carol has to make one of those horrible decisions. Lizzie is too far gone, that’s clear. She killed her own sister to prove that zombies are still people, and she can’t be trusted around Judith. So Carol takes her to the woods, tell her to look at the flowers (everyone’s new favorite phrase for dealing with something unpleasant), and kills Lizzie. As terrible as it is—and it is terrible because I don’t think Lizzie really gets why she’s in the woods with Carol—it was also inevitable. We’ve known for weeks that Lizzie is a nutjob; that situation wasn’t sustainable.

The episode wraps up with Carol confessing that she did kill Karen and that other guy, and Tyreese forgives her. I’m not sure that’s because he’s such a good person (although he is a decent dude), so much as they’ve just been through something horrible that really drives home how, no matter how safe they may feel in the moment, really awful sh*t lurks around every corner. I think he can frame Carol’s actions at the prison because he’s just seen her kill Lizzie, a child Carol truly cared for, in order to protect Judith. In the zombie apocalypse, perspective is everything.

Status Check:
Carol – Arguably the strongest person on the show.
Tyreese – Arguably the kindest person on the show.
Lizzie & Mika – RIP.
Judith – Prop.

Worst thing seen/heard this episode: MIKA.

Zombie kill of the week: Carol to the head with a knife.