Let’s look back at episode 513 of The Walking Dead: Carol’s threat.
Episode 513 of The Walking Dead seems to explore a different kind of enemy: One’s own brewing sense of distrust, rooted in past trauma. It’s a pernicious enemy, and the trauma can be seen as an individualized or collective experience.
“Forget” begins with Sasha Williams all but inventing an enemy out of thin air, waiting for the next thing to go wrong. Obviously, in the world of The Walking Dead, there is no reliable police, medical help is scarce, and there apparently isn’t a forensic team on the planet. One can’t say “Sasha is just being paranoid and need to return back to Earth,” because her fears are almost entirely practical.
The Alexandria Safe-Zone appears to be, well, safe. However, a pack of walkers can show up at any time, or it can be a full-blown army of them (such as the memorable final moments of season two). Then again, an army of people could be a huge problem as well. Alexandrians are only safe because, in their view, they’ve built a wall. However, as this episode progresses, Sasha wants to help make sure no one crosses — and she’s not the type who walks away from her responsibilities.
The Walking Dead: A breakdown of the breakdown
“Forget” has two kinds of breakdowns. Sasha obviously freaks out over the disconcerting normalcy of life in Alexandria, and how it almost seems wildly inappropriate compared to the vast craziness outside the walls. It almost appears that she’s using drugs, but her “drug” is actually the starkness of reality. This is also why Rick and Carol seem intent on building a hidden molehill of guns (and possibly other supplies). While happiness isn’t completely alien to The Walking Dead universe (look at Maggie Greene and Glenn Rhee), it is fleeting.
Something else starts going awry in this episode, too. Carol ends up getting caught taking some weapons by Sam, Jessie’s son. He threatens to tell on her, but she threatens to tie him to a tree where he’ll be savaged by walkers! She also promises him cookies if he keeps it a secret. In addition to being dangerous. Carol has become a very intuitive person, knowing she can influence people with her words, her demeanor, her eyes, you name it.
Let’s not downplay what Carol did
Let’s not forget something: Carol had murdered characters who had the flu. She is lucky not everyone was just like her, and still is. However, she rationalized it as a survival tactic, to prevent the pig virus from spreading. Here, she pretends to just be a “housewife” type, whose primary concern might be creating a tasty peanut-butter sandwich for Alexandrian kids.
Looking at all this, it becomes clear that Carol is not just a “good guy” character. While it’s tempting to frame events in those simplistic “good vs. evil” terms, it takes some guts to write those in-between characters. Other than something like Amazon’s The Boys, such characters are surprisingly rare. In fact, some people can’t even process characters who are morally ambiguous, which is exactly why more characters like Carol are needed in fiction.
As the season continues, characters continue to unravel in interesting ways. Rick and pals continue to struggle in creating a new path forward, but their main hurdle is uncertainty. They are excited about the arrival of something, but not sure what.
However, they seem less concerned about a zombie bite than those offering a new safe haven. While Alexandria may be better than a makeshift camp or a mere tent, the characters still don’t know what to make of normalcy.
What are your thoughts on this episode of The Walking Dead? Let us know in the comments!