Season Six, Episode Thirteen — “The Same Boat”
By Jarrod Jones. It’s not everyday that you see Carol Peletier clutch at a rosary and gasp with an incensed desperation. She’s not a victim, not anymore — and it’s been a long time since she’s ever let a man lay hands on her, let alone anyone else. After last week’s nigh-flawless sacking of Negan’s compound, which occurred entirely without the murderous talents of Carol and Maggie, Rick Grimes and the Alexandrians find themselves without these two members of their happy hamlet anyway, poached by the very forces they were sent to destroy. It’s a strange fit for Carol — she hasn’t been held against her will in quite some time. But she’s no stranger to bondage.
But she hyperventilates, and she weeps, and she clutches at her beads — Carol. Carol “I’ll wipe out every last one of you Wolves because I can” Peletier. She’s not frightened to die, we already know this. And Polly — a Negan acolyte who has seen more than her own personal share of horror — doesn’t seem to be buying it either. Who is Carol frightened for, anyway? Certainly not for herself; duct tape and gunpoint do not a prison make, nor a slaughterhouse a cage, which is where Maggie and Carol find themselves. Is it Maggie she’s frightened for? Perhaps, but Maggie has proven that she’s no slouch in the dispatching department either. In fact, seconds after Polly taunts to her — “Try something and see what happens” — guess what happens. Maggie tries something. And yet Carol continues to put on one hell of a show for the Saviors. Or is she?
WHAT WORKED: Alicia Witt’s performance was a relief compared to this season’s other stunt celebrity casting (Ethan Embry, we hardly knew ye). As Polly, Witt acted as the primary aggressor to Maggie and Carol, which, when you really think about that, is no small thing. The way she continued to antagonize Carol felt like posturing at first, but by the third time Polly called her “little bird” — in the same flat-lining tone, to boot — it became apparent that a certain amount of pathology was at play. (Polly also referred to Rick as “prick” in the same repetitious manner.) Soon enough you can bet that Polly was orating her whole sad story to Maggie just moments before the tables found themselves turned — and Witt took that monologue and gnawed it into Emmy fodder. Somebody pass the popcorn.
WHAT DIDN’T: I always appreciate the “honed focus” episodes of any ensemble series, when an hour is given over to a small number of the show’s expansive cast. This week’s focus on Maggie and Carol meant that we got under the nails of two of TWD‘s most valuable players, and that’s a positive in my book, not a detriment.
Are we going to get to know the Saviors at all this season? Aside from Alicia Witt’s Polly, every other jerk-faced Negan acolyte remained comically stock in their performances, almost as if TWD‘s casting calls asked for people “willing to depict the most annoying aspects of the human condition on demand”. The chain-smoking Molly and, um, that angry dude with the busted arm (what was his name, anyway? lemme know in the comments) were equal parts trite and insufferable. It’s almost as though this show is not-so subtly conditioning us to accept its wanton bloodshed by having the Alexandrians’ odd assortment of foes be as obnoxious as possible.
I don’t remember how it went down, but Molly’s “sack of gonads” line was… different.
Carol: “You will die.” Polly: “Are you gonna kill me?” Carol: “… Hope not.”
“Meet us on the kill floor.” – Carol.
BEST MOMENT: Maggie lets off some steam. For almost the entire duration of this week’s hour, Maggie has been at the mercy of a particularly judgy group of Saviors, who held her captive and hurled their projected misery all over her hopes, dreams, and fears. But then the bonds are loosed and suddenly it’s time to go home. And then she goes crazy with the butt of her gun all over the skull of her would-be oppressor. It was a cathartic moment (if not the bloodiest) and a nice respite from all of this week’s chattin’.
EPISODE’S MVP: Carol. I’ve long held onto the belief that Carol has been Alexandria’s #1 sociopath (or #2, depending on whether or not Rick had his Wheaties), primarily because we’re often witnesses to her frightening small children (sorry, Sam), stabbing people in the face (that doesn’t include walkers, mind you), and generally insisting that she’s the polar opposite to Morgan’s altruistic form of survival. I haven’t seen Carol play “shrinking violet” — be it a ruse or otherwise — since Season One. And it was a terrifying thing to watch her tremble at the thought of the horror she could inflict on her captors in a blink of an eye.
BRAY OF THE DEAD:
– Life stories spoon-fed to the viewers this week: 2. And you know what that means.
– With Rick & Co. dealing with the constant threat of raiders and Wolves and Negan’s crew, it would seem that walkers are becoming more of a casual annoyance than an actual threat. The walker apocalypse appears to be thinning itself out. And that only makes sense when you realize that zombies are made of flesh and blood too, only they’re dead — and the dead do rot. (Check out this pretty spot-on video about how humanity may actually survive the aftermath of The Walking Dead.)
– I wonder if we’re gonna watch Rick strut around thinking he actually did Negan in for the final three episodes of this season. That would be a real shame.
– Speaking of Negan, I’m really hoping that his introduction into The Walking Dead doesn’t play out like what I’m fearing it will. I dunno how viewers who aren’t already numbed by Kirkman’s comics would react to it.
– Apologies for the lateness of this recap, folks. Hope it was worth the wait!
7.5 out of 10
Next: “Twice As Far”, soon.
Before: “Not Tomorrow Yet”, here.