Of course it happened. I got the flu. And as I watched the last two episodes of the Walking Dead, I sympathized hard with the characters in the prison. I can’t imagine having the flu without the comforts of my couch, Netflix and a carton of Tropicana. Yeah, I’m pretty much doomed in the apocalypse.
Due to my illness, I skipped last weeks recap. Instead, I was clutching my carton of pulpless OJ for dear life. But I did watch the last two episodes. And maybe it was the haze of congestion and a mild fever, but Carol started to fascinate me. She has slowly and surely increased her value in the post-zombie world. This season I’ve found that she has quickly become one of the most interesting characters on the show. As her time on screen became more and more interesting, she got closer and closer to being off the show. Now she’s gone. Exiled by Rick. And I can’t help but think that Carol is better equipped for this new world than Rick is.
Oh, Rick what have you done?
We have seen Carol evolve from a meek, frequently screaming woman to an unflinching woman who basically doesn’t scream at all anymore. She makes hard decisions not based on personal preference or emotion, but makes rational, effective analyses of any given situation. Due to her history with a seriously abusive relationship, Carol is operating on ‘Fight or Flight’. While the pre-apocalypse Carol would have likely chosen ‘Flight’, the new Carol chooses to stand and fight every time.
The first time we met Carol she was being harassed by her disgusting misogynist of a husband, Ed. She hadn’t yet shed the trappings of her abusive relationship, and apparently Ed wasn’t having any second thoughts regarding his bad behavior even though the world was collapsing around him. Thankfully, Ed the pig only lasted a few episodes before he became a midnight walker snack. When he died, the rage and power inside Carol surfaced. She surprised Daryl when she repeatedly hacked Ed’s dead head to pieces with an axe. Daryl took notice of Carol, and one of the most interesting relationships of the show was born.
Then, a season later, Sophia died…and then died a second barn zombie death. It’s like a regular Oregon Trail up in this piece for poor Carol. “Ed has died.”, “Sophia has died.”, “Sophia has died…again.”. But she moved on, kept her head up, and kept herself busy. Season Three brought us Carol as multi-tasker, and one of her most memorable moments was when she went out to the prison fence by herself and killed a walker for the sole purpose of C-Section practice. Unfortunately she didn’t get to utilize those skills, and T-Dogg gave his life for her during the prison alarm debacle. She went missing for a bit, but then her buddy Daryl found her. She was a consummate survivor.
The defining moment for New Carol came when she was engaging in a mild flirtation with Axel in the prison yard when, BAM! his head gets blown off. Carol doesn’t miss a beat. She doesn’t get emotional, she reacts, throwing herself behind his body as a human shield.
This season, just as she gets a juicy storyline (and some pretty diesel boots) Carol is exiled by Rick. Because he’s threatened by her. Maybe it’s because of her choice to kill Karen and David in an attempt to curb the spread of the flu, but it could also be because she intimidates him as a strong and decisive leader. He has a right to be. She’s better adapted to this new world than Rick is.
Rick continues to resist the realities of the new world. He wants to hold on to the old. Where he gets to be a cop, and hold up order. Well, order in this world is different. Carol knows that and has adapted. Will Rick be able to adapt? He is our consummate hero, and has been impressed/suprised by all the things that Carol has been doing on the show over the last few episodes. His mouth was literally agape on multiple occasions, such as when she treated the hippie Sam's dislocated shoulder, and when she fixed the water pump . But he's afraid because he cant adapt. He can’t let the past go and move into this horrifying future. He’s made the decision to step back up as a leader, and for that to happen he needs to oust another leader. Unfortunately for Carol, that leader was her. Somehow, I think she’ll be ok.
Carol’s evolution on the show has been slow, but steady. Organic and believable. Carol’s character is an example of an individual who flourishes under pressure. She is determined to not be a victim again. No. She is strong and will not let the world get her down, even if that means putting her guard up. She has adjusted to the new world without having to be a warrior or losing her nurturing feminine side. Sure, she’s brusque with Meeka and Lizzie, but it’s for their own good. She’s straightforward with them, whereas Rick isn’t with his son. He’s too permissive. Carl is the strong one in that relationship. Carl is going to be mad that Carol’s gone for sure. So is Daryl.
(Aside – in the media, relationships always seem to need some sort of hard and fast definition as ‘romantic’ or ‘conflicted’, etc. It was so great to see Daryl and Carol’s relationship as an ambiguous and undefined twosome. I’m going to miss that a lot.)
I’m curious as to how the other characters are going to react to Carol’s exile. Is Rick going to tell them the truth? If he lies, it will be telling that he saw Carol not as a threat to the camp, but only as a threat to himself. If he tells the truth, there might be hell to pay.
Carol was a likeable female character on the show, and just as she started to get really interesting, poof, she’s gone. Hopefully not for too long though. Maybe she’ll hook up with Morgan and they’ll be an unstoppable team. That’s my dream scenario. She's a survivor. I bet she'll be back.