In one of the strongest episodes since the mid-season break, "The Walking Dead" caught up with Carol, Tyreese and the assorted littles last night, with bloody and heartbreaking results.
Tween sketch case Lizzie finally brought her crazy right out in the open, killing her little sister, Mika, so that she could reanimate as a pint-sized walker with the world's most ineffective ponytail. Carol, realizing the depths of Lizzie's lunacy, brought her out into a flowered field and shot the girl while her back was turned.
She also confessed to Tyreese that she had been the one to kill Karen and David, pushing a gun across the table and telling him to do what he had to. He forgave her, and now Tyreese, Carol and Judith are on the road once more: leaving behind two tiny graves, carrying the heavy weight of even more trauma and loss.
Or maybe that's just the several thousand pecans they shelled during their stay at "The Grove."
Which leaves us to ask certain questions, namely:
1. Which moment wins your vote for the episode's most disturbing? The emergence of a herd of char-broiled walkers was the least horrifying thing that happened last night, reminding us once again that in the world of "The Walking Dead," it's the living who pose the most potent threat.
From Lizzie's deranged smile as she fed the walker on the train tracks to Carol's steady hand as she shot a sobbing child in the back of the head, there was no shortage of deeply scary scenes from which to pick a superlative one — but we'll start by throwing in a vote for the moment when Carol cheerfully promised Lizzie that she'd use Mika's shoelaces to tie up her corpse.
2. What was the deal with Lizzie? Mouse dissector, zombie sympathizer, aspiring baby-smotherer, and thrower of the most epic and astonishing tantrum the show had ever seen: Lizzie wore many hats before her untimely death.
But the one thing she wasn't was clinically diagnosed, and the Internet is aroar this morning with arguments about the exact nature of the girl's psychological problems. Sociopath? Psychopath? Lonely and delusional? Feel free to speculate. Personally, we'll be sticking with our own highly scientific determination that Lizzie was, in the parlance of contemporary psychoanalysts, nuttier than a cheese log.
3. Is baby Judith safe? Not gonna lie: Between those ominous graveside baby shoes and the incident a few episodes back wherein Lizzie tried to smother her, we weren't entirely sure that Judith was going to make it to the end of the season.
And while it wasn't exactly a relief to see that the blood dripping from Lizzie's hands belonged to Mika and not the baby — the ideal scenario being one in which zero children get murdered, of course — it seems like the most vulnerable member of the Grimes family might actually get to grow up!
Or at least, she'll get old enough to toddle directly into a walker's mouth all on her own, like a big girl.
4. Sorry, Tyreese, what did you say? The big man's monologue in the pecan grove was a masterful display of emotion that we couldn't hear at all over the sound of our own internal monologue, screeching, "Is he going to shoot Carol?!" — thanks to the conspicuous presence of a gun in his hand throughout the scene. Somewhere, Chekhov is rolling around in his grave and muttering, "I told you so."
5. Where can we go from here? As far as the show's fourth season goes, "The Grove" was a standout masterpiece: rich, tense, suspenseful and shocking. It'll be a hard act to follow with just two episodes remaining, a fact which has ominous implications for the remaining survivors.
In other words: There's no way that everyone else is making it to Terminus — or to the end of March, for that matter — alive. Place your bets now on which beloved character we'll be saying goodbye to.
6. Did somebody fix Mika's hair before they buried her? We're sorry she's dead, but good lord, her hair-securing skills were atrocious. Hopefully Mika is in a better place, now, where the kindly residents of the afterlife can give her a nice French braid that incorporates more than 1/4 of her hair.