So just what were Carol and Maggie doing that got them so distracted that they ended up captured? Well, maybe Alicia Witt can help us with that.
The episode begins during the events of “No Tomorrow Yet” with Carol demanding that Maggie stay in her spot while Carol helps the others. Their conversation is interrupted by a small band of Saviors, one of whom Carol manages to shoot. This distraction gives the Saviors enough time to take the two hostage.
That morning, the Saviors watch Rick and company leave the outpost. The leader, Paula, played by Alicia Witt, radios in and orders everyone within the gates to lower their weapons. With only eight, that’s not enough to take on these strangers. Paula asks for the hostages’ names and Maggie complies. The woman figures that Rick would want to chat about this. They’ll work this out, but things will go the way of the Saviors.
Rick offers a trade, but wants to hear Carol and Maggie’s voices first. After he does, he promises to turn over the one for Carol and Maggie. That and the Saviors get to live. Not a fair trade, but Rick knows the Saviors would have done something about it by now if they had a choice. Paula will get back to Rick on the deal.
The Saviors mask Carol and Maggie and move them to a facility while Paula communicates with other Saviors. Once the group arrives, Paula informs a now bound Carol and Maggie that there’s no way out of this unless she says so. Tough cookie, this Paula.
When Paula leaves, Maggie and Carol get to work trying to free themselves. Carol finds and pockets a rosary as well. She begins to hyperventilate as the Savior women return, with Paula working on the wounded Savior, Donnie. She doesn’t want to take on these strangers, given that they took down the compound and snagged the guns.
Maggie informs Paula that someone should remove Carol’s gag so she can breathe. They do, but she then gets a gun in her face. One of the Saviors, Molly, finds the rosary, declaring Carol to be one of those. Paula asks what Carol is so afraid of, wondering if Carol is afraid to die. Carol says is less concerned with herself and more that Maggie and her baby aren’t harmed.
Paula figures Maggie for some kind of stupid, getting knocked up at a time like this. Maggie responds that women used to die in childbirth and always thought that the world wound end. True as that is, Paula finds it cute. Children are the future, but also make good snacks for the dead. Maggie is choosing something instead, and Paula agrees that Maggie did just that.
As Paula leaves, Carol warns Molly to not smoke because of the baby. She responds that Carol has more problems on her hands than a little secondhand smoke. However, another of the Saviors tells her to put out her cigarette. Carol continues, saying that the cigarettes will kill her. They already are, so really, the two of them are already in the same boat. I see no boat.
Paula returns and tells the Saviors that there’s a crew coming in 30 minutes. Maggie figures that Donnie doesn’t have that kind of time with his dying nerves. Without proper medical care, he may lose more than his arm. She advises Paula to make a deal with Rick if this Primo guy can really help. Donnie staggers towards Carol, saying she did this to him. He doesn’t want this trade to go through when the two can be killed now.
But Paula declares that they need insurance, so no shooting Carol in the arm to make it equal. Pain shoots through Donnie’s arm as he strikes Carol. Maggie and Carol, despite being bound, manage to give him a good enough fight before Paula stabs him in the head. Maggie is taken out to see what if she knows anything.
So one of the Saviors speaks with Maggie. Judging from Maggie’s appearance, the Savior figures that she must live in a nice community. So where’s that? Maggie responds by vomiting, because that’s an appropriate way to stall. The Savior tells Maggie that she isn’t a good person.
Molly patches up Paula, while Carol thanks them for helping her and Maggie. Paula doesn’t give a shit about Carol’s past, though. She figures that Carol is pathetic and doesn’t care if Carol thinks the same of her. At least they’re on the same page in that regard. Paula asks whether Carol really believes in God, but faith got Carol through her daughter’s death. Well, maybe Carol will see her again, soon.
Back with Maggie and the Savior woman who, we see is missing one of her fingers. She explains that it’s a result of her getting caught stealing gasoline to get a car and find her boyfriend’s body. He’d been blown up and there wasn’t much to find. His name wasn’t Frankie. Frank was her father and that’s what she would have named her baby. Neither of the women plans on dying today. The woman asks again where Maggie lives.
Paula receives a transmission from Rick, who wants to know the location of the trade. Paula isn’t sure she’ll agree yet, as she’d be taking much of the risk and not receiving much of a reward. Rick warns that the other option won’t work for her, but Paula will take her chances on that. Carol tells Paula that she doesn’t have to fight, but they do, as a whole lot of Saviors are dead.
Carol tells them that some other Saviors ambushed some of her people on the road. Well, damn. So now they know what happened to T’s group. Fair enough play, Paula figures that the others were defending themselves. But her people were still killed, so why didn’t Rick and company stop? Then Carol mentions Negan, who she thinks sounds like a maniac.
Molly responds by telling Carol that they are all Negan. Carol demands to know what that means before asking Molly for a cigarette. She doesn’t approve, but it’d still be nice to smoke. Paula asks Carol what she’s afraid of if she can’t even stick to her own principles. Carol responds that Paula wouldn’t want her to stick to principles.
Okay, time for Paula’s backstory: she was a secretary before all this. She fetched coffee for her boss, boosted his self-esteem, and read inspirational emails. There was one inspirational email about a woman who had a hard time and wanted to give up, so her mother started boiling three pots of water: one with a carrot, one with an egg, and the last with coffee beans.
After a while, Mom said the three items went in the same, but the coffee beans changed the water. You’re supposed to want to be the coffee beans. But for Paula, coffee was just a thing the boss drank. One day, when the world went to shit, Paula explains that when the army took over in D.C. and all the important people were evacuated first.
So Paula was stuck with her boss instead of her husband and four daughters. Paula knew her boss was weak and he was the first person she killed so she could live. Eventually, she stopped counting when she reached double digits. She’s still herself, but better. Though she’s lost everything, she’s both stronger and still alive. And Carol’s people are killers, so that makes Carol just as much of a killer.
Carol says that Paula is afraid to die and will if she doesn’t work out this deal. That and she just hopes that she won’t be the one to kill her. Paula radios to Rick, saying she agrees to the trade. There’s a large field about two miles down I-66 with good visibility in all directions. The two sides will meet in 10 minutes.
Paula figures that was too easy. There was no static, so she figures the group is close. However, Carol says that Rick wouldn’t put her and Maggie at risk just to attack. Then Paula radios into the other Saviors who are also 10 minutes away. Paula and Molly, for whatever stupid reason, leave Carol alone in the room.
And Carol uses that opportunity to free herself. She manages to find Maggie, who is in the middle of also freeing herself. Again, why leave them unguarded? Carol wants to spread out to escape, but Maggie would prefer to finish this now. So they return to Donnie, who is in the middle of reanimating. Maggie needs a gun.
When Molly, she’s bitten by a now turned Donnie, and then both knocked out and bashed to death by Maggie. The two leave just as Paula returns to find the remains. She loads her gun.
Maggie and Carol enter a hallway filled with walkers just as Paula catches up to them. Carol readies her gun, but Paula isn’t afraid. They have no idea of what Paula has done and given up to get to this point. Maggie orders Carol to shoot, but a walker slips free and almost bites Carol before Maggie downs it.
Maggie engages the other Savior, who manages to slice across her shirt before being shot in the head by Carol.
Paula rises to her feet, asking why Carol is afraid of if she could do all of this. Carol was just afraid of this. The two fight with Maggie throwing Paula to a walker and pinning her through a spike. Carol then picks up the radio and, in her best impersonation, tells the Saviors to meet on the kill floor. Later, Carol tells Maggie that she’s killed about 20 people. She believes none of this would have happened if she’d killed the Saviors in the woods.
As other Saviors arrive, Carol lights a cigarette and throws it into the kill floor, burning the other Saviors alive. The two make their way out of the compound and run right into our heroes. When asked if she’s good, Carol says that she ain’t. Maggie tells Glenn that she can’t anymore.
Rick tells Primo that his friends aren’t coming for him, so he might as well talk. He asks Primo where he found the bike and whether Negan was in that building last night or this one. In response, Primo says that not only did he find the bike, but Negan was in both buildings. How? He declares himself to be Negan. There’s a lot the two can discuss, too.
Realizing what this has come to, Rick raises his gun and executes Primo at point blank range. Carol squeezes the rosary so hard that she bleeds as the episode comes to a close.
If there’s one thing The Walking Dead does well, it’s deliver quality episodes, but more so in a focused situation. That’s not to say dealing with multiple storylines in different locations aren’t stellar as well, but I find the show to be much stronger when it stays, for the most part, with a single group of people and deals just with that storyline.
“The Same Boat” manages to do just that with a Carol and Maggie focused episode. Although we’ve had moments with them, this episode gave us time to catch up with their character arcs and follow up on the brief discussion they had in “Not Tomorrow Yet” as they faced another near death scenario.
It gave us a chance to get into their heads, more with Carol, who appears to be facing a crisis. I say appears to be because it’d be easy for this to be another example of letting her enemies think light of her. Things like hyperventilating, wanting Molly to stop smoking because of Maggie’s pregnancy, and trying to give Paula a chance to escape show that she’s still capable of playing up that maternal role and try to save everyone.
But unlike what Tobin said, that Mom role isn’t who she is anymore. Faith may have helped Carol after Sophia’s death, but that loss also helped turn her into the hardened warrior she is now. Very similar to Rick, if she’s confronted, she’ll shoot first and deal with it later. Her instinct is to protect and save the lives of those around her, not hand out compassion.
Yet, similar to Paula, Carol has been molded by the world around her. Carol at least keeps count of her kills as a reminder of what she’s done. While the Saviors are doing what they do to survive, folks like Carol and other survivors we know see their actions as a need to protect in the name of self-defense. That doesn’t make blowing up the Saviors or killing them in their sleep right, but that’s putting things in our civilized perspective.
If and when you’re backed into a corner, it’s either kill or be killed. That philosophy is what puts folks like Rick and Carol at odds with Morgan’s notion that all life is precious, but The Walking Dead does a good job at blurring the lines between right and wrong.
Now, it looks like there’s a small part of Carol that’s been compromised by Morgan’s outlook on life. Not to go as far as saying she’s softened since she burned those Saviors without breaking a sweat, but watching Rick execute Primo without a thought seemed to have some effect on her. So it makes me curious whether she’s softening or wondering about the brutality of her actions.
Same goes with Maggie, who, despite making the decision to go on this mission, realizes that she’s at her limit. When she tells Glenn that she can’t do this anymore, I bought it. Perhaps she wants to focus on her baby. Getting slashed across the stomach served as a reminder for both her and Carol that their survival is critical. It sprung her into action in a well-coordinated and tad convenient counterattack, but it’s taken a toll on her.
However, she still put up a fight while imprisoned, killed Saviors without a thought, and wanted to finish the fight instead of finding a quick way out, as Carol did, so both still have plenty of fight in them.
It helps that they’re going up against incompetent people. While Paula is smarter than the average member of her group, the Saviors so far have come off as a lackluster threat. I get the point of this. Lull viewers into a false sense of security so we’ll think these Saviors can be killed as quickly as the Wolves or Hunters. Make us comfortable enough to believe our survivors can walk over Negan like he’s nothing.
Even still, outside of Paula, these Saviors weren’t much of a threat with their bickering and doing stupid things like leaving Maggie and Carol unguarded, which gave them time to escape, reunite, and overtake the Saviors.
I liked Alicia Witt in her role and Paula made a convincing argument that the Saviors are no different than Rick’s group because of how many people they’ve killed. She’s smart enough to see through Carol’s ruse and realizes that her group can’t take on Rick because they’re outnumbered and outgunned. She knows the territory and has the advantage, so she takes full advantage of the situation.
And while I like that we get a bit of history to her life before the outbreak, she still does a lot of talking and posturing instead of, as Donnie suggested, popping off either Carol or Morgan. Primo was doomed either way, let’s face it, and from Paula’s perspective, she had no reason to believe Rick would keep his word after he managed to take over the compound.
It’s unfortunate that Paula died because she was the most memorable of the Saviors presented and came off as a convincing antagonist. I don’t have much to say about the rest of the group since, while it was a change of pace to have mostly female antagonists this episode, they were one note. Like others before them, they found out that you don’t fuck with Rick and merry band.
Though whether it was Rick’s frustration or truly believing Primo was Negan that led to such a quick death remains to be seen. Rick isn’t stupid, but surely there would be value in keeping Primo alive in order to get information out of him.
With that said, “The Same Boat” gave us a Carol and Maggie-centered episode that dug into their characters while showing that the two on their own are more than capable of handling a group of Saviors. Though it helps that these Saviors, despite having the weapons and advantage, weren’t much of a threat in the end. So everyone is reunited with no losses as the mystery of Negan deepens. Seems easy, but their problems are far from over.