Published on November 18th, 2014 | by Bean0
The Walking Dead Review – Season 5 Episode 6 – “Consumed”
In a super Carol-centric episode that set its tone and pace to it’s sombre, thoughtful subject, “Consumed” allows us glimpses into the burdened psyche of The Walking Dead’s strongest female lead. Carol’s many moments of brilliant ass-kickery, most recently as group saviour at Terminus, belie the quiet and troubled woman she cyclically becomes. Let us not forget the many horrors she has seen; a statement you could easily say about anybody in the zombie apocalypse, but one that wrings truer for Carol than most.
The central metaphor of fire and the merciless conflagration of the self, the quicksand such relentless revolution results in, find their way into most scenes in “Consumed”. Ironically, it’s a fairly slow burn 45 minutes, taking time to review moments in Carol’s recent catalogue of traumas, mostly in a thick, trudging silence. This would be a reckless move for the show to make were she a less compelling actress and character, but Melissa McBride’s Carol Peletier is the kind of mesmeric loner that puts me in mind of Ripley by way of Clint Eastwood. Her actions of late, in fact everything from the moment she took matters into her own hands during the prison plague, bear the desperate clarity of purpose borne out of a life blighted by inertia.
Her companion in this sojourn through the mire of her guilt is Daryl, whose personal growth she is quick to point out. His recent development has been that of a phoenix, while she considers her own to be more dissociative, an irreversible erasing. The dynamic between Carol and Darryl has also evolved into something more complex than their prior innocent fondness. The natural alliance between them, based on empathy for each other’s struggles and the ability to see in each other what they cannot see in themselves, has matured. There is still a physical chemistry, however brief that bottom-bunk bed-sharing was, but Carols identity is so fragile, that such considerations seem to mean very little to her, and the unspoken bond remains so. (Cue the teeth-gnashing of a million frustrated Caryl shippers!)
The pretence for this impromptu adventure into Atlanta is the ostensible discovery and rescue of Beth. While this task fuels the present narrative, it is a meandering, round-about sort of reccy, their languorous circumnavigation of the challenge mirroring their tendency to circle around one another. More important is the uncovering of Carol’s mute anguish. Since both parties are of the taciturn ilk, the fire symbolism takes up the mantle of communication, highlighting each difficult turn in the road.
Starting with her banishment by Rick, and the agony of despair she experiences having been cast out, she is nudged from her stasis by the sight of the prison fire. Following this reminiscence, she wakes to find Daryl gently placing a shrouded little walker onto a funeral pyre; performing a task he knew she ought not be made to deal with. This is really the crux of Daryl’s offering to Carol. As a fellow refugee from a violent past, he values the concept of mutual support and the little gestures that make all the difference.
The next flashback occurs during a time when this support was distinctly lacking, as she digs graves for the young sisters once under her care. Tyreese carries the tiny body, shrouded similarly, but his complete inability to actually help compounded Carol’s awful responsibilities, and her stoicism through this period marks the real return of tragically resilient Carol; the Carol that used to pop her own dislocated shoulder back in after particularly brutal beatings from her abusive husband. She looks up, seeing the fire in the distance, not yet realising it to be Daryl’s unwitting smoke-signal.
We only see Carol’s eyes through the flames as she burns the bodies of her plague-ridden fellow prison mates, her expression unreadable. She covers her face from the rank fumes, unable to truly face her actions, even as she justified them to be necessary. She makes the hard decisions that no-one else is prepared to face, and suffers the consequences; but she bears the cross, takes the punishment, as if she believes she was built for suffering. On the other hand, Daryl’s brazen cigarette-lighting over the prone and defenceless hospital escapee Noah claims a level of callousness long abandoned by his character, and one that never truly fit his nature anyway.
More fiery scenes follow; Carol post-Terminus, pre-reunion, momentarily overwhelmed by the exhaustion and repetition of it all – another firefight, another fire. But she just gets up and carries on. Through all this, present-day Carol seems willing to analyse herself, to come to terms with the things she has done, and the things she has been made to do. Who the book – “Treating Survivors of Childhood Abuse – Psychotherapy for the Interrupted Life” – is really for is open to debate. For herself? For Daryl, or even Sophia? But it is surely a step in the right direction if she’s seeking help and understanding.
The next help Carol actually receives will be at the hands of the creepy weirdos in Slabtown, and it becomes apparent where the initial 8 episodes of Season 5 will culminate. Who can be rounded up for this impending ambush, and what acts they will commit in order to reunite the team remain a mystery, but woe betide they who stand ‘twixt a Daryl and his Carol. We shall see…
Review by Nina Clark. The following observation made by her better half, undead officianado Mark Rowden.
MARK’S ZOMBIE CONNOISSEUR CORNER
Nice take on the mummified zombie scenario, only this time with sleeping bags and a paradoxical tent; reminiscient of the bound cadavers in Dr.Menards island hospital, and the stash of the dead in the basement courtesy of 78’s Dawn of the Dead….
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