The 'Carol Theory' And What We Learned From This Week's Anxiety-Inducing 'The Walking Dead'

After what may have been the best back-to-back episodes in The Walking Dead’s, showrunner Scott Gimple slowed down the pace this week with “Isolation,” and replaced the dread of the season’s opening episodes with anxiety. It’s one of those episodes where the audience is mentally trying to speed things along, not because it’s moving at a pace that’s too slow, but because the suspense IS KILLING US. I had to fight the urge to fast-forward on several occasions because I couldn’t cope with the suspense. Who will live, who will die, what’s the source behind the illness (is there even a source) and WHERE DID THAT CITY-SIZED HORDE OF ZOMBIES COME FROM?

Let’s dig in.

You Need to Step the Hell Back! — The episode opened where it left off last week, with a mystery surrounding the death of Karen and David. I had wrongly assumed (as had others) that the two, who were infected and knew they were probably about to die, had dragged themselves out into the courtyard and set themselves on fire. I was wrong, and I suppose the trail of blood should’ve tipped us off to the fact that they were dragged out by someone else. Did they really need to be torched, though? More on that later …

Meanwhile, Tyreese wanted answers, and he wanted answers immediately. He and Rick came to blows after tempers flared, but their squabble proved to be short-lived (thankfully). If that scene felt a little out-of-place, knowing that Robert Kirkman penned the episode (and that scene was straight out of the comics) may put it into better perspective. Cooler heads prevailed at any rate, and Rick apologized. Tyrese took half the blame, after he finished digging graves for Karen and David, who had never done anything to anyone to deserve to be killed like that.

Did anyone else immediately assume it must have been The Governor, that hes living in an abandoned cell block, and only comes out at night to feed mice to the zombies? I have a lot of suspicions about the Governor, though this one obviously proved false.

We All Have Jobs Here. Yours Is To Believe — Meanwhile, the infection shows no sign of slowing. In addition to a slew of former Woodbury citizens coming down with the illness, including Dr. C., two series regulars were infected: Sasha and Glenn.

We don’t know what the exact incubation period is, but it definitely seems to differ. ZOMBIE PHINEAS turned within 12 hours of being infected, but for now, Glenn and Sasha are hanging on. Herschel, in an effort to reduce the symptoms and help them hold out, went out and fetched some tea leaves (?). I’m not entirely sure what Herschel picked, but it was something that was meant to reduce the fever.

Carl insisted on going out into the woods with Herschel to help, and some of Herschel’s maturity and restraint rubbed off on Carl, as the two chose to let two walkers survive, including one of which had a goddamn bear trapped around her leg. (Personally, I think it would’ve been more humane to put them out of their misery, and also, there’s a lot of valuable metal in that bear trap that could’ve been used, or hell, the bear trap could’ve been utilized to protect the camp from a surprise walker intrusion).

Cell block D is in a holding pattern, and that’s where much of the anxiety in this episode derived. Could they survive until medicine is retrieved? Will medicine even work? There are no antibiotics for colds, and while you can get flu shots before you’re infected, once you are, there’s nothing you can do except take Tylenol and wait it out. So, what kind of medicine are they even retrieving?

Anyway, Herschel put himself in danger to help the others, which was brave of him, but he’s also old and probably even more susceptible to the infection than others. He’s probably infected, too, after Dr. C. coughed blood all over his face? I worry that, even if he can save Sasha, Glenn, and Dr. C., that it’s Herschel that doesn’t survive the infection.

Somebody is going to die, that’s for damn sure.

We Could Have Medicine As Early as Tomorrow? We Got a Chance — That quote, from Sasha, is exactly the kind of thing a doomed person would say in The Walking Dead, so in The Walking Death Watch 2013, I’m giving Sasha the slight edge over Herschel. But, her hope did inspire Tyreese to tag along with Daryl, Michonne, and Bob in Zach’s car to go find the medicine (did anyone love the cute irony of Daryl — a redneck who used to have racist tendencies — getting in a car with three black characters?). Unfortunately, they stumbled into a small problem, and that small problem is a GODDAMN HORDE OF ZOMBIES THE SIZE OF ATLANTA standing in their way. If that zombie horde makes it to the prison, the fence isn’t going to hold them back. It’s going to look like one of those zombie walls in World War Z, only it will move at 1/10th the speed. Where did that horde come from? Is someone luring them to the prison (The Governor?)

Daryl, Michonne, and Bob were all forced from the car, and after Tyreese was surrounded by around 50 of those f*ckers and managed to beat them off using the boxing skills he picked up from The Wire, the four ran into the safety of the woods. That scene with Tyreese fending off the walkers was also from Kirkman’s comic.

They are in a no-man’s land, between the medicine they need and the infected who need it, and they no longer have the transportation they need to get anywhere. Sasha/Glenn et. al are so screwed, unless those tea leaves Hershel picked are really potent.

Also, RIP Zach’s car. That was a sweet ride.

Zombie Kill of the Week — Michonne, for the half header.

WTF Carol — The entire episode took pains to show how much Carol cares about the prison camp, from a conversation with Daryl, to another with Tyreese where he asked Carol to look after Sasha while he went to retrieve medicine, and a scene in which Carol broke down after locking Lizzie, one of Norm Gunderson’s infected daughters, away with the rest of the sick people.

Carol really drove the message home late in the episode when she risked her life to get the water supply going again. The hose was clogged, and I couldn’t help but think that someone (LIKE THE GOVERNOR?) had clogged it up with zombie entrails (or those of the mice eaten by the zombies) in order to make the camp sick. Was that Carol’s guilt motivating her?

It was after Rick saved Carol from a zombie attack, and noticed a smaller-sized bloody handprint near the scene of Karen’s death that Rick finally put two and two together, like the good sheriff he is, and realized that it was Carol that had burned Karen and David. Carol didn’t even deny it.

The question remains, however, why did she burn them? The theory floating around right now is that Carol actually didn’t. Carol cares for everyone SO deeply that she might even be willing to take the blame on behalf of someone else, like, say, LIZZIE. Remember in episode two, Lizzie pansied out when asked to kill her Dad before he turned. Carol had asked her to do anything necessary to protect herself and the camp. Is it too far-fetched to believe that Lizzie killed Sasha and David? That bloody handprint Rick discovered was small, but was it Carol small or Lizzie small? Maybe it would explain how Lizzie got ill? Or maybe she’s not ill, and she wanted to get into the infected cell block to kill more of the sick people (it’s hard to tell if Lizzie was faking illness, or if she actually is ill and she’s just a bad actress).

The theory makes sense. A lot of sense. Carol is not the type to snuff someone’s life out before they have officially turned, and she’s SURELY not the type to burn the bodies unnecessarily, unless she needed to cover Lizzie’s tracks. I mean, the motivations behind David and Sasha’s death make sense; the means, however, do not. Still, even if it was Lizzie that killed David and Sasha, Carol clearly helped her to move the bodies, because there’s no way Lizzie could do that on her own.

It’ll be interesting to see if Tyreese still feels compelled to follow through on his promise to kill the perpetrator of those crimes, be it Carol or Lizzie.

GIFs — as always — by Chet Manley.