**Warning: This article contains spoilers.**
Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn once said that “the line separating good and evil passes right through the human heart.” The line shifts, oscillates, and even in hearts overwhelmed by evil, small specks of good remain, and even in the purest of hearts, there is always a small corner of evil. The yin and the yang. This quote first ran through my mind last week. I mean, I remembered the words line, good and evil and googled the rest. I first thought of it when Glenn and Heath were tiptoeing into the rooms of sleeping saviors and pressing knives deep into their dormant skulls. I thought, “This is really, really wrong.” However, Rick and Jesus (who can argue with him) convinced us that their murders were inevitable and necessary for their survival. I was rooting for them. Us or them, right? However, I still felt uneasy in my allegiance. Unlike the Governor who molested Maggie, beat up Michonne, and decapitated Hershel (among many, many other crimes), I didn’t know these victims. I didn’t feel qualified to wish them dead. What I did know is that I wanted our group to survive.
But at what cost?
Sorry to get deep, folks, but this week, those nifty writers took us there. We were thrown right into Maggie and Carol’s struggle with that very question. When the episode opened, we picked up right where we left off last week. Carol and Maggie were taken hostage in the slaughterhouse by remaining Saviors: psychotic red-head Paula, chain-smoking Molly, pinky-less Chelle, and an ultimately mortally wounded but very, very angry, Donnie (Thanks, Carol). Although Rick wasn’t in this episode until the very end, he negotiates their return via walkie talkie in exchange for, Primo, a surviving Savior, with the medical skills necessary to save Donnie’s life. The title of this episode was The Same Boat which perfectly encapsulated the two groups, both with hostages and both hungry for survival. In some ways, the opposing characters were mirror images of one another. Paula and Carol, women who once served as caretakers and mothers, abused and mistreated by the men in their lives. Maggie and Chelle, who looked so similar I often had to look twice, brunettes with strong relationships with their fathers and hope invested in new life.
“You aren’t the good guys,” Chelle says at one point, ending all questions as to what we were supposed to get from this episode. I wondered if the writers were teasing us with what they could become or allowing us to see what they already were.
Like last week, Melissa McBride acted the hell out of her role as Carol this week. Carol remained teary-eyed for most of the episode, hyperventilating at one point, and almost sacrificing herself for Maggie in another. She was religious, kind, caring and reluctant to kill. All attributes The Walking Dead has effectively soiled and made synonymous with weak. However, since we know Carol, it could have easily been an act. The thing is, it wasn’t an act… mostly. What we learn in the final moments of the episode is that Carol wasn’t afraid of dying, as Paula thought she figured out early in the episode; she was afraid of killing. After her and Maggie free themselves and in so doing, murder Paula, Molly, Chelle, Donnie and burn a few other saviors alive, they both leave the slaughterhouse in tears. Carol confesses to Darryl she isn’t alright and Maggie tells Glenn, “No more.” As in no more murder. No more killing. At least for her. It’s an arc for both of them as they both come to terms with the price you pay for survival and seemingly decide, it’s not always worth it.
I appreciated this episode for so many reasons. Mainly because although Morgan isn’t part of this episode, his philosophy Is all up and throughout it. All life is precious and if it wasn’t, our characters wouldn’t be struggling the way they do. If it wasn’t, Morgan would have never been redeemed. I appreciate how subtly the writers are taking us on this journey with the characters. Season 1 Carol was a domestic violence victim. In Season 2, she was a grieving mother. In Season 3, a damsel in distress; and in Seasons 4 and 5, a cold-blooded killer. Season 6 introduced us a to a new Carol: remorseful, tortured and taking responsibility for all she has become. I have to say, I dig this Carol. Albeit tortured, she seems to be traveling over a well-earned arc. If she had never felt a thing for killing Lizzie or Karen or Sam, she wouldn’t feel so real (yin and yang). I’d wager a large part of her impetus was Morgan… or, at the very least, what he represents. The Walking Dead writers have done an amazing job of creating a desperate and morally deficient post-apocalyptic universe with just enough human complexity to make even the toughest of episodes deeply satisfying and thought-provoking. Even in spite of the weekly nightmares… thanks for that, guys.
Predictions for next week? More death. In light of Melissa McBride’s stellar performances over the past two episodes, I’m putting her front and center on the chopping block. We know damn well Primo wasn’t Negan. He is coming to kill someone. With just three episodes remaining, the question is just how and who.
Faye McCray is a writer, TWD junkie and horror/sci fi obsessed blerdette skulking around the suburbs of Washintgon, D.C writing stuff and saying very little. She is the author of Dani’s Belts, a collection of short stories that follow a young college student turned unlikely heroine of the zombie apocalypse. She is also the author of Boyfriend, a novel following a young man as he navigates love and fidelity in college. Faye’s work also appears in the horror anthology, Anything But Zombies. When she isn’t writing, Faye is spending time with her hubby and two young children and leading a covert double life as an attorney. You can find Faye at www.fayemccray.com and on Facebook and Twitter @fayewrites.