And now we get the ongoing adventures of Carol and Daryl. After spotting the car that kidnapped Beth, Daryl and Carol head off from the rest of the group in pursuit. This episode helped fill in some blanks and, like the previous two episodes, set up what’s to come as the mid-season finale approaches. Let’s dig into “Consumed.”
We begin in the past, after Rick and Carol’s confrontation during “Indifference.” Following their argument, Carol drives off. After she weeps in the car for a bit, she winds up at a law firm. Inside, she makes some noise to alert any lurking walkers, but finds that she is alone, so she sets up camp for the night.
As she drives along on the next day, she notices smoke coming from the direction of the prison. She heads there and sees the guard tower on fire, which shows that this takes place sometime during or at least after the Governor’s attack.
The episode then begins proper in the present with Carol and Daryl continuing their pursuit of the car. Daryl recounts how he and Beth ended up cornered in the funeral home, but he managed to spot the car with the cross on its window. The two keep following behind, but the car tank is running low. Luckily, the other vehicle comes to a stop. The two contemplate what to do if they manage to get a hold of whoever is inside, but soon, the car continues north. Both follow, but maintain a good distance. What looks like a police officer gets out of the car at one point, heads off, and then returns as the car pulls off. Daryl tries to start, but the tank is now empty. No problem. Carol knows a place they can stay that’s just a few blocks away.
The two make their way to Carol’s destination just as walkers approach. They check for signs of life, but nothing. After finding a pair of bunk beds, Carol decides to take first watch. Daryl, however, doesn’t get any sleep. Instead, the two talk about wanting fresh starts. Daryl is trying, but he wants to pick apart Carol’s mind first. What’s eating at her? In Carol’s eyes, they don’t get to save people anymore. Daryl asks what Carol would have done if he hadn’t found her by the car. She doesn’t know.
A noise springs the two into action. It’s just a few walkers rapping on the glass outside. Carol goes to kill, but Daryl stops her, saying that they don’t have to.
The next morning, Carol awakens and finds spots smoke. She heads outside and finds Daryl burning a wrapped body.
And after this, the episode then flashes back to “The Grove” as Tyreese and Carol deal with the aftermath of Lizzie and Mika’s deaths. As Carol looks up, she spots smoke in the distance which, I presume, comes from Beth and Daryl’s direction.
Back in the present, Carol and Daryl figure they need to head to the top of a building in order to spot the car. They find a parking structure, but roamers block their path. Daryl lights a notepad on fire and tosses it. The walkers are drawn to it, giving Carol and Daryl the opportunity they need to slip into the parking garage. They make their way up and find walkers in sleeping bags and tents. After heading through a chained door, they enter a fancy office. Also, Carol and Daryl do not appear to be alone…
Once again, the two wonder aloud how they ended up where they are now. Carol also remembers that Daryl hasn’t asked what happened to her after she met up with Tyreese and the girls. Daryl figures things could not have gone well since Lizzie and Mika aren’t around anymore, but, as we know, it was much worse than that. Why, Carol asks, should they start over? Daryl’s response: They have to. Something grabs Daryl’s attention and he looks through the scope of Carol’s sniper rifle. He spots a white van with a cross on it sitting very close to the edge. That’s their next destination. They stock up before leaving. Minor side-note, it bugs me that they didn’t take the computer. Not that they could do anything with it, but still. Also, Carol and Daryl have very different tastes in art.
As the two head back, Carol goes through the chained door first. However, she immediately tells Daryl not to follow her. Why?
Because there’s Noah, who has changed his wardrobe since we last saw him. He’s also a bit more frantic since “Slabtown,” as he immediately demands Carol and Daryl drop their weapons. He’s not out to kill them, though. He only needs their weapons and figures that these two strangers can take care of themselves. Hell, he even says please. But then he cuts open the tents and leaves them for the walkers. Carol and Daryl make quick work of the walkers and Carol prepares to fire one shot at Noah, but Daryl stops her from potentially killing him.
Daryl gets to work picking a door’s lock with his knife. Carol has three bullets left in her gun. She asks Daryl if he thinks she really would have killed him. After all, she claims she only aimed for his leg. Daryl isn’t swayed. It was just some random kid and the two can find more weapons. Carol, however, admits that she doesn’t want anyone to die, but she can’t stand around and watch it happen. That’s why she left. She had to be somewhere else. But, Daryl counters, she’s right there. She’s trying. If she’s going to Hell, at least she’ll pull off what she has now for as long as she can.
The episode then flashes back to around the time of “Infected,” as Carol watches fire consume the bodies of Karen and David.
Back in the present, Daryl and Carol walk along the bridge and approach the van. The two get in just as walkers approach. They soon must contend with the roamers. The two put up a decent fight for a moment, but they’re outnumbered and must retreat back into the van. Time to buckle up! They strap in, Daryl hits the gas and the van heads right over the edge and lands hard on the ground below. In real life, I’m pretty sure this would knock out anyone else for a considerable amount of time, but since this is television and we’re talking about Carol and Daryl, they’re ready to go in a few seconds. Just watch out for falling walkers.
After this, the two stop for a bit to regain their strength. Carol looks a bit worse and has some nasty bruises, but she insists she’s fine. They only have about three more blocks until they hit Grady Memorial Hospital. For now, they need to find a place close by. Carol inquires what the two expect to learn just by watching. But hey, you gotta start somewhere.
The two enter another building. Without his crossbow, Daryl makes due with a machete next to a nearby walker. The hospital is right across from them, so time to start hospital-watching.
Daryl then returns to Carol’s point about how he’s not who he was before. What did she mean and what was he before? Back then, she says, he was like a kid. Now he’s a man. As for Carol, she and Sophia stayed at that shelter for a day and a half before she went back to Ed. Even then, she still got beaten. Life went on and she prayed for something to happen, but she didn’t do anything. Who she was back then, she got burned away. At the prison, she got to be who she thought she should have been, but then she got burned away, too. Carol needs to keep away from fire.
We ain’t ashes, Daryl says. True. A noise gets their attention. They find a walker pinned to a wall with one of Daryl’s crossbows. The walker is still alive, but Daryl finishes it with a machete slice right down the middle.
Further on, after following the sound of gunshots, they find Noah struggling with a walker. He pushes it onto Carol, but Daryl kills it. They stay in pursuit until they see Noah unable to move the bookshelf used to block the door. Daryl rushes in and tackles Noah, causing the shelf to fall right on him. The walker behind the door continues to struggle forward. Noah pleads for help, insisting that he was just protecting himself, but Daryl isn’t a fan of being followed. Daryl swipes a carton of cigarettes from Noah and lights up. Carol wants to help him up, but Daryl reminds her that she almost died because of him. She didn’t, though. The walker gets through and almost gets Noah, but Daryl downs it with an arrow.
The final flashback takes place during the events of “No Sanctuary.” Carol removes the poncho and uses it to clean herself up. Oh, so that’s how she did it.
Carol and Daryl move the bookcase and Noah is now free. He looks out the window in horror. Noah needs to keep moving since he’s certain others will be after him after hearing the gunshots. When Daryl asks who these people are, Noah tells him that people from the hospital are searching for him. Daryl then asks if he ever saw a blonde girl with them. Identifying this blonde girl as Beth, Noah reveals that Beth helped him escape from the hospital, but she’s still there.
A station wagon pulls up. Time to go. Noah leads Carol and Daryl toward a clear building next to them, but his limp causes him to fall.
While Daryl helps him up, Carol rushes out and forgets to look both ways before crossing the street, because she runs right into the path of the station wagon and takes a hit head on. Daryl tries to rush out and save her, but Noah holds him back. He says that the men can help her with medicine, machines and a doctor. If Daryl goes out, he’ll have to kill them and then Carol won’t get any help at all. What will it take to help out? A lot. The folks at Grady have guns and a lot of people. Lucky for Noah, so does Daryl.
Another fire, another distraction for the walkers as Noah and Daryl make their getaway in a truck.
“Consumed” was a strong episode for Carol and Daryl and a nice way to fill in some of the blanks established in previous episodes. A lot can come out of conversations. As I’ve said before, The Walking Dead is strong not when it’s about killing walkers, but just ordinary folks talking about their situation, and “Consumed” is a good example of that. While not a lot actually happened this week- after all, it was mostly Carol and Daryl walking around- we got a lot of quiet moments for the two to just discuss what they’d been through, what they will go through and how they’ve changed.
This was a well paced episode and I never felt like it moved too fast for the sake of getting to the next scene. There were few direct walker encounters and the ones we got, Daryl and Carol made quick work of them in no time. Each time we flash back to Carol in previous episodes, the scenes are brief and to the point. They serve a purpose and help explain how Carol found herself where she is now.
A big point of this episode came from the two acknowledging their shortcomings. These are not the same Daryl and Carol that we met in Season One. Carol isn’t a battered housewife and Daryl doesn’t just wait for Merle’s instruction or try and respond to a situation with violence. Ever since Daryl took it upon himself to look for Sophia when everyone else had grown tired of the hunt, we saw the first sign of his devotion to Carol. Not in a romantic way, but just to strengthen their bond. But they’ve seen their share of heartbreak and disappointment. Daryl had to force himself to kill a reanimated Merle, but hesitated at killing this creature that was no longer his brother. His world had been shattered and he had to make the difficult, but necessary choice. And remember back during “Still,” when Daryl admitted to Beth that he hadn’t been strong enough to stop the Governor. Daryl has grown, but he still knows that he can’t save everyone, even the people closest to him.
That’s what makes Carol’s line about not wanting anyone to die stick out so much. They’d love for everyone to survive for as long as possible, but that’s just not possible at all, no matter how young. Even if they refuse to accept it, the ones they love are going to die. Sometimes, people like Carol and Daryl have to be the ones to deliver the killing blow. Or, to go back further, look at Carl when he had to take it upon himself to kill his own mother. They do what’s necessary in order to survive, but they come out of these experiences as different people. An exception to this would be the Governor, who kept his transformed daughter alive. Same with Morgan, who kept his son chained up- in the comic, anyway. It’s hard to let go of the people close to you, but when they pose a threat, you do what you have to do.
The Walking Dead, as both a comic and television series, gives us a world with no straightforward good or bad decisions. There are necessary decisions to be made, but in a bleak world where people are willing to kill to survive, these people are still able to question not just their choices, but their humanity as well. By committing these murders, they lose parts of themselves. Carol and Daryl lose more of the people they were, but in the process, they’re reborn as they come to terms with the murders they commit. Could Karen and David have lived, as Rick believed, if Carol left them alive? It’s possible, but Carol took it upon herself to make a hard choice for what she believed was a greater good: saving everyone from the further threat of disease. Carol had good reasons, but, as was the case with killing Lizzie, she lost some of herself in the process.
Each day is all about surviving until you can make it to the next one. In a sense, Carol and Daryl will always have a chance to start anew. Dwelling too much on the past makes them unable to look forward. Rather than mull their decisions all of the time, the two grow from them and understand that this is part of their humanity. As Daryl told Carol during one of their exchanges, she wasn’t somewhere else at that moment. She was there, with him, and trying. They’re both being proactive and trying to make a difference. It may not always be a difference for the better, but still some form of change.
As has been the case before, there’s a good amount of humor and light hearted moments sprinkled throughout the episode to balance against the drama. Whether it’s Carol taking the top bunk and leaving Daryl the bottom one with pink sheets because she thinks it’s more his style, Carol liking the office painting and Daryl thinking that a dog wiped its ass on it, the fact they made a conscious to drive over the edge of a bridge to get away from walkers- with the walkers then slamming down hard on the dashboard- or even Daryl taking Noah’s cigarettes and smoking one right in front of him, there were a few moments that did make me laugh.
But let’s talk about Carol. We know what she’s been through and how it’s hardened her. As much as Carol tries to maintain a tough exterior, the flashbacks show that she’s still disturbed and haunted by what she does. We see her and Tyreese bury Lizzie and Mika- two deaths that will stay with them forever. Carol has a lot of demons that she keeps in because, as of recent, she’s not one to open up. In a way, that makes her a perfect match for Daryl because he never pushes the situation, but he’s slowly able to get her to talk without coming off as patronizing. If I had any issue with the flashbacks, and this is more of a missed opportunity since the show explained so much, I wish we’d seen how Carol managed to meet up with Tyreese, Judith, Lizzie and Mika during “Inmates.” She just appears with the girls. It’s minor and doesn’t change my opinion of the episode, but if the flashbacks filled in what Carol had been doing at certain points, why not there?
But Carol’s biggest change since we first met her is how proactive she’s become. She no longer allows herself to be a victim. She started off Ed’s punching bag. On the farm, she grew angry at people not taking her seriously and treating her like a casualty after Sophia’s death. She’s making the choice to assert herself and show some backbone. This is her redemption. Or her rebirth from the ashes, since this episode liked to play with fire. As a result, she’s turned into a strong survivor who will do whatever it takes to, as she says to Daryl, keep pulling off what she’s doing as best as she can in the event that she’s going to Hell.
Though the forces of Hell would have to go through Daryl, too. While Carol is more prone to showing emotion, Daryl tends to keep his feelings bottled. He does have moments where he opens up, mind you, but not as often as the other characters. He’s opened up to the likes of Rick and Beth, but he has a true bond with Carol. Daryl is more practical when it comes to moving forward. He doesn’t mince his words or beat around the bunch when trying to make a point. He tells Carol that they aren’t ashes after she talks of being burned. When Carol spoke about needing to be somewhere else, Daryl told her that she was right there and trying. Either that or Daryl is just a man of few words.
Of the two, Daryl seems more willing to trust, but with hesitation. He didn’t know Noah at first, but even after losing his weapons, he didn’t want Carol to kill him. He stopped her from dealing with walkers outside the building since she didn’t have to. But once they found Noah again, after he threw a walker to Carol, Daryl figured that he had given Noah one chance too many, so why not let him die? He seemed genuinely angry that Carol would consider rescuing Noah after he almost got her killed.
I like these two as a pair because they seem so similar, but different at the same time. For my money, I think Norman Reedus and Melissa McBride might have the strongest chemistry than any other pair I’ve seen on the show so far. The two come off like long friends who can open up and tell each other anything without feeling like they’re being judged.
It doesn’t look like Noah covered much ground, but he did manage to find clothes that fit him. He’s motivated by his desperation to escape, but also because he knows that he left Beth behind. As we see, he doesn’t want to rob Carol and Daryl of their weapons, but he’s doing what he feels is necessary to survive.
Given how “Slabtown” ended, we knew that Noah would run into Carol and Daryl, plus we’d get an explanation as to how Carol ended up in the hospital. And I think it’s safe to assume that Noah is the person with Daryl after he returned to the church.
I really enjoyed this episode. It helped develop Carol and Daryl’s bond while also expanding on their need to progress instead of always looking back at their conflicted lives. The flashbacks helped explain some of what Carol had been up to during the time she had been separated from the group. As with the two episodes before it, “Consumed” takes place at a different time, but is still building toward the same finale. Again, in the long run, not a lot actually happened in this episode, but I prefer a slower paced episode with some time for character development than rampant running and shooting with little room to breathe.
At first I always think I won’t like the episodes that focus on one or two characters, but the show does such a good job using this approach to help the viewer better understand a character’s motivation, that I am consistently engaged. I completely agree about Reedus and McBride having the strongest chemistry of any two characters on the show – it helps that they are both very good actors.