The Walking Dead: Carol’s big choice sets ‘East’ apart

Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier and Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon - The Walking Dead _ Seasn 5, Episode 2 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier and Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon - The Walking Dead _ Seasn 5, Episode 2 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC /

Even before season 6 of The Walking Dead, some doubted the series had anything new to say. Yes, there are walkers here and there, new hostile humans, and scenes to show the main characters are not there to play games, but I am almost forced to agree that events seem a bit formulaic with this episode. With the caveat that the death of Denise hit the characters differently somehow. Why is that?

The Walking Dead universe has a lot of wise, wholesome characters getting picked off, and each such death is almost like a scab that isn’t going to heal. The characters are written as if they want to return to normalcy, but each becomes unsettled at renewed threats. The groups are pressured to agree to others’ terms by this point, as they have been rendered more vulnerable with each attack. Daryl, who used to represent the “muscle” of the group, is acting more out of personal revenge, as the leadership is succumbing to random pressures, such as Carol’s decision to leave Alexandria. Daryl also feels responsible for Denise’s death, as he suggested the path they chose that rendered her a random victim.

The Walking Dead: What sets “East” apart?

Interestingly, season 6 of The Walking Dead is that it’s less focused on any one character but is rooted more in the situation facing Alexandrians. Sure, we get spare moments with Daryl, Maggie, Glenn, and others, but it’s more about the shared experience or maybe even the group’s broader issues. For example, Denise’s death reminded us that danger could lurk anywhere, whether you depart from the main road or stay on it. This chaotic shared experience inspires the characters to set out to seek order, knowing they won’t find it by staying still.

In the past, Daryl used to feel in his element while out in the woods, but his recent experiences have made him question even that advantage. So, Daryl’s main idea in this episode is to remain active. Rather than stay back and reminisce about Denise, he vows to get revenge. Interestingly, as this episode catches up with Rick and Morgan, it’s while they think they have tracked Carol’s blood trail, which is a literal symbol of the dangers of Dary’s own chosen path. Indeed, if a Savior emerges from the forest faster than Alexandrians react, it could easily mean “Game Over” for the whole enterprise.

The Walking Dead: Lost opportunities in season 6

As suggested, season 6 of The Walking Dead hasn’t been as zeroed in on the characters. As a result, there isn’t nearly as much focus on what someone like Carl is up to. We only know that he isn’t still convalescing from that lost eye. For the most part, it seems Carl is just there with the Alexandrians and maybe watches them from a distance. We did get some ideas about Carl and Enid, but a lot of that stuff was sidestepped for whatever reason.

Rick never thoroughly chastises Carol for leaving the camp, but he and Morgan set out to find her, deeming her essential to the group. That is a bit iffy, given some of her past extreme behavior. In fact, even from Rick’s current perspective in the episode, her decisions seem to signify a reduced responsibility to the community, or perhaps she feels she leads them astray and therefore must leave. Either that or she’s undergoing a personal crisis compelling her to leave. Either way, why not just let her leave at that point? It’s not quite a “missed opportunity” moment, but it does seem like some pieces of the puzzle are missing regarding her change in heart.

The Walking Dead season 6 episode 15

Tying “East” in with Hershel’s farm and the barn

Obviously, some elements of Carol’s transformation involve events of season 2, including the loss of her daughter, Sophia. Back then, it was already established that much of the group craved normalcy, which would have included things like crops and horses and security from both walkers and people. Carol had been a relatively minor character before Hershel Greene’s farm and Sophia’s early demise. By season 6, Carol always seems to have a plan to escape and is wary and weary of another failed attempt to regain what was lost. Really, who can fault her for that?

The Walking Dead: Diverged, Carol and Daryl’s parallel symbolic journeys. dark. Next

What are your thoughts on this classic episode of The Walking Dead? Let us know in the comments!