So far? So good, as we open to an exploration of where Carol went and what she did when she was first exiled by Rick. Through her flashback we learn that she held up in a nearby small town, until she saw the smoke from the prison and headed back to help everyone. The flashback ends and the focus of the rest of the episode is on what happened when Daryl and Carol drove off to save Beth by following the “White Cross” car. Unable to continue following the car as they run out of gas, and with walkers beginning to surround them, Carol takes Daryl to a place she knows. It’s temporary housing for abuse survivors, a place she took Sophia when things got tough. Even though the shelter is locked up tighter than a drum, Carol decides to keep first watch while Daryl sleeps.
Before he sleeps, they talk. She doesn’t think it’s possible to save people any more, but she is there for Beth because she’s willing to try. She lies next to Daryl as they continue talking, and I am DYING for him to hold her, even after Carol admits that she doesn’t know if she would have taken off if he hadn’t stopped her. Instead, their conversation is interrupted by a noise. A walker and her child are trapped behind a locked glass door. He tells her that she does not have to put them down and they walk away. After Mika and Lizzie, she looks relieved. Carol wakes in the morning to Daryl burning the bodies of the turned mother and child and thanks him. They are amazing under the best and the worst circumstances. In the apocalypse, love is a man who lets you get a good night’s sleep and is willing to kill walkers so you don’t have to.
No sooner said! We see Carol flashing back to burying the girls with Tyrese. Daryl interrupts her thoughts when he tells her that they need to hit the tall buildings to see if they can figure out where the car went. LOVE the writers, who make sure we see Rick’s hideout tank – the tank from which Glenn rescued him, season 1 (the writers are getting sentimental this season)! It makes me wonder about the Vatos, and if we will see them again. “Caryl” make their way to the luxury office suite of a high rise, killing walkers along the way. They are amazed at the view of downtown. The city is overgrown, dirty, sad looking. She tries to talk about what happened with the girls, but the conversation turns, as if Daryl knows and doesn’t want to force her to talk about it. Instead, they talk about a white van with white crosses on the back windows, partially hanging off of a bridge. It is clearly linked to the cars they’ve been seeing. As they leave, they are jacked for their weapons by (NOAH!), who takes the gun Carol threw ahead of her when she and Daryl were squeezing past a chained door. What a bad first impression. Noah cuts open a couple of tents holding survivors who attempted to ride out the apocalypse by hiding in the building, and turned into walkers. They are walkers no more, Daryl still has a hunting knife.
Daryl becomes angry when Carol grabs her pistol, the one weapon Noah didn’t get, and shoots at Noah. She tells him she didn’t want to hurt him but they’re in the city with three bullets. He reminds her that the robber was just a kid. Carol tells him she doesn’t want to die and didn’t want Daryl to die. It is why she planned to leave. She can’t take watching anyone else die. As they approach the white van, we see her flashback to killing Karen (and the plot device guy who was with Karen and whose name I can never remember). With walkers approaching they search the van and realize the equipment belongs to Grady Memorial. They try to fight their way out and can’t, there are too many walkers. They decide to get in the van and try to get away. They’re pushed over the bridge and somehow survive. GLORIOUS! Walkers are throwing themselves overboard to get them. Mass walker suicide.
Carol is hurt and they need to stop, only three blocks from Grady. Daryl decides they should find a place to scope out the hospital. They stop inside another building filled with the bodies of people who also tried to wait out the apocalypse. Daryl takes a machete from a walker and kills him with it! As they’re talking, Carol, she tells him he was a kid, before. Now he’s a man. She tells him how she and Sophia stayed at the shelter for a day and a half before she went back to Ed and he beat her. She felt that, at the prison, the old Carol was gone, the woman who prayed for change but didn’t make it happen. She got to become the person she always should have been, and then that person was gone, too. She says that everything now just consumes you, when Daryl reminds her that they are not ashes. They hear pounding. In the hall there is a walker pinned to the wall by an arrow. Gunshots are fired. It’s Noah. He’s trying to block a door with a bookcase when Daryl tackles him and knocks it over. Noah begs for help when he’s pinned under the fallen case. Daryl refuses to help him even as the walker breaks through the door. Now it’s Carol’s turn to be shocked. Change of heart? Daryl, who has retrieved his bow, puts an arrow through its head.
Our next flashback is of Carol in the woods, just after Terminus, before she reveals herself. A few seconds later and we’re back, with Noah telling them that they have to get away before the people at the hospital come for him. He knows they heard the shots. The hospital? When asked about Beth he tells them she’s there. Noah tells them that for now they can hide in the building next door, it has a clear basement. Carol runs ahead while Daryl helps a hurt Noah. The Grady cops hit Carol as she runs out, and then pick her up and take her. Noah convinces Daryl not to do anything since they have medicine and a doctor at Grady Memorial who can save Carol. The men decide to get help and come back for Beth and Carol, stealing a truck and heading out of town to get everyone else.
Is it wrong that I would love for Noah to be Tyrese’s son? Noah mentioned having a strong father who could have fought back against the cops at Grady. I hate the thought of that kid being alone, and Tyrese needs something to give him his fight back! Sure, it would be a formulaic “Christmas Miracle of the Apocalypse” moment, but I could live with that, no problem. Not every fan is happy about this season’s slow pace. I am. The writers are finally letting us in and telling us who our survivors are.