Evan Slead ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
The final piece to the fragmented group’s puzzle has been revealed. This season has jumped around in time from pieces of the group to other parts of the big picture. The last we saw of Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his portion of the gang, Michonne (Danai Gurira) was taking a breather outside when Daryl (Norman Reedus) emerges from the woods. He has someone with him, but we don’t know who it is. Jump ahead to the end of the episode “Slabtown”, and we see that Carol (Melissa McBride) has been captured in the hospital. “Consumed” bridged all of those mystery gaps to show how it all fits together.
Since the beginning of the show, Carol has been, arguably, through the most character change. Back in season one, she was a meek and weak woman, married to an abusive man. As time passed, she lost her daughter Sophia, and her view on the new world shifted. Carol now is a strong and compelling force in the series. This episode gave a nice peek behind her curtain of silence. Since she has had to make the tough choices for the group, it has shaped her to be the stoic member, much like Daryl. It was no surprise to have them tied together in this episode because of that. Fans have always hoped for a romantic relationship to develop between the two, but so far there is just a deep bond formed. All this to say, the most interesting part of the episode came from Carol’s points of view.
The symbol of smoke and fire is tied very closely with Carol and her journey. The young girls in the prison that she watched over taught her about the smoke and its symbolism for endings. Viewers were finally shown how she disposed of Karen and David after they became infected at the prison. She burned them and we are shown the smoke trailing away once the deed is done. A strong symbol that Carol’s time at the prison is done, and that comes to pass soon after when Rick discovers what she had done to them. There is also a segment of Carol seeing the fire and smoke from the attack by the governor on the prison. She does not go to help defend the prison however, another strong tie to the fact that she is separated and finished with that part of her life. She has become a lone survivor, much like Michonne was last season before accepting the love from the group. However, Carol does ultimately cause the explosion that saves Rick and the group from Terminus. As the smoke trails in the air, Carol finally ends her time as a lone wanderer to go back to the group that she started with. When talking with Daryl, she says that she’s changed since the outbreak began. She was beaten repeatedly by her husband in the past and didn’t know how to come out from under that torture. But now, she can’t really imagine being closely attached to anyone. She also states that Daryl has changed from the naive boy he was in Atlanta, to a strong man.
As much as the episode relied on moments for Carol and Daryl to connect, it was a vital portion to the season. Some will call it a filler episode, but for a character driven drama like The Walking Dead is supposed to be, these are necessary. Every episode has revealed different human aspects to the new world this season, and seeing where Carol now stands seems to have a weight to it. There’s a storm coming her way and it may mean her death. Needless to say, as much as viewers would be devastated by that, it would be a beautiful send off for her character. She seems to be finally accepting that she can be a strong woman while also embracing the fact that you can lose people and still have the heart survive.
The Walking Dead airs at 9/8c on AMC.
Overall Episode Grade: A