The Walking Dead S06E13 “The Same Boat” REVIEW

The Walking Dead S06E13 “The Same Boat” REVIEW

• Carol holds Paula at gunpoint

 

stars 4

Airing in the UK on: FOX, Mondays, 9pm
Writer: Angela Kang
Director: Billy Gierhart

 

 

Essential Plot Points:

 

• Michelle

  • We flashback to the confrontation between Maggie and Carol last week. Carol draws her gun and fires, injuring a man holding a gun on Maggie. They’re jumped by Paula, Donny, Michelle and Molly who hold them hostage.

• Paula watches the end of the last episode

  • We see the other side of last week’s closing scene with Paula negotiating for her fellow Saviour, Primo’s, release in return for Maggie and Carol. The pair have their heads covered and are driven to an unknown location. As they go, Carol overhears Paula talking to someone on the radio. They have back-up, staged fall back points, code words and military experience. The Saviours are far bigger than they’ve been led to believe.
  • They arrive at a not-especially-secure safe house and are tied up. Immediately they’re interrogated and Paula makes it clear the pair of women are going to die, soon. Carol begins to hyperventilate, panicking and gasping for air until her gag is removed. She begs them to leave Maggie, who’s pregnant alone and their captors mock her for getting pregnant “at a time like this”. They also reveal that every Saviour is Negan, implying that he’s a boogeyman used to terrify people into subservience rather than an individual.

• bound

  • The pair are left alone and immediately try to escape. Their captors are panicky and overtaxed, Molly dying of lung cancer, Donny bleeding badly from the wound in his arm and only Paula holding it together. Things come to a head and Donny tries to kill Carol, believing she’s mortally wounded him. The two women hold their own against him, even though they’re tied up and Donny is eventually knocked out by Paula.

• Maggie V Donny

  • Rick and Paula negotiate, badly, while fellow Saviour Michelle talks to Maggie. What becomes apparent is just how alike the groups are. Michelle loved her dad like Maggie loved Hershel and the pair bond over their shared brutal practicality. Meanwhile, Paula reveals to Carol that she was a quiet, put-upon woman who worked in DC. She was trapped with her boss when the officials were evacuated and, realising he’d slow her down, killed him. She was, in many ways, Carol.

• Panicking Carol

  • Carol tearfully tells them that the Saviours attacked her people first and explains about what happened to Sasha, Daryl and Abe. Paula and Molly concede that the man Daryl killed was almost certainly overreacting. Finally, Paula hears from her back-up and makes the call to Rick, arranging a handover. She figures out Rick and co are very close due to how good the radio signal is and prepares an ambush. Carol. Left alone, breaks free and retrieves Maggie.

• Reunited

  • They return to the cell, find Donny has died and is in the process of changing and form a plan. They tie him up and when Molly comes in, the newly turned Donny bites her. She kills him and Maggie beats her to death.

• Donnie dies

  • The pair escape and make it to the chained walkers Paula has used as security. She appears, holds Maggie hostage and Carol injures her. Carol tries to reason with her, all but begging Paula not to make Carol kill her. A walker breaks free, distracts Carol and she fires, injuring Paula. Maggie takes the walker down. Paula disappears and Maggie goes after her and finds Michelle. The two women fight, Michelle pulling a knife and swiping at Maggie. Maggie panics, convinced she’s been stabbed. Carol steps around the corner and shoots Michelle in the head.

• Carol executes Michelle

  • They find Paula nearby. Badly injured she confronts Carol and asks what she was so afraid of. Carol replies, “I was afraid of this,” and Paula laughs and attacks her. The two women fight and Paula is impaled on a metal railing. She screams in agony as the walkers swarm and eat her. Paula’s back-up calls in and a visibly traumatised Carol impersonates her, ordering them to the Kill Floor nearby.

• Saviours burnt

  • While they wait to spring their trap Carol admits to Maggie that she’s killed 20 people. Maggie tells her they’ve done what they have to do and the pair lure the Saviours into a locked room and burn them alive.

• Daryl and Carol

  • Carol is too traumatised to see the imminent threat of Walkers as they make their way out and Maggie defends them both. Glen and Maggie, and Daryl and Carol, are reunited. Rick demands to know if Negan was there. Primo, the Saviour they captured smiles and says he’s Negan.

• Negan

  • Rick shoots him in the face, apologising as he does so. Nearby, Carol clutches her rosary so tight her hand bleeds.

 

 

Review:

“We are ALL Negan.”

Just about a season ago, Andrew Lincoln managed to deliver one of the most iconic – and clumsiest – lines of dialogue from the comic: “WE ARE THE WALKING DEAD!”

The line itself may be clunky but the point is a good one. It’s also one that, a season or so into Alexandria, is being proved wrong. The characters aren’t just surviving any more, they’re living.

But they’re also all Negan. Or all could be.

The show isn’t going to pull some blood-soaked version of Anonymous with Negan. We will get the monstrous individual and we’ll get some variation on the awful things he does. But this moment has real resonance for every character. It’s an admission of guilt for the Saviours; we’re all Negan, we’re all killers and it’s a reminder of guilt for the Alexandrians. Carol has killed 20 people now, every character has been complicit in the slaughter of unarmed men and women and they’re all, Saviour and Alexandrian, united in one cause:
Survival.

The difference, as this episode shows, is in what they leave behind in order to do it.

“I stopped counting when I hit double digits that’s right around the time i stopped feeling bad about it.”

Carol never stopped counting. In fact, it’s implied that settling down in Alexandria gave Carol the time to count for the first time. That realisation and the horror that comes with it brings us to arguably the most interesting Carol episode the show has done to date. We genuinely don’t know how much of the fearful act she’s putting on is an act.

Neither does Carol.

This is her long dark night of the soul, confronted both with the inevitability of violence and the consequences of what happens when she turns from it. She’s an endlessly ruthless, competent killer but she’s also the quiet, traumatised woman she was when we first met her. For the first time, the signal to noise ratio in her life is low enough for the two to meet and they do NOT get on.

That’s why this episode is so gripping. We see Carol at war not just with the people who’ve held them hostage but with herself. Look at the closing scenes, where she executes a woman without a second’s thought but then shuts down so badly that Maggie has to keep them both alive on the way out. There are two women here, two versions of Carol warring for control of her. Those two sides are going to have to find common ground and her final line this episode shows just how aware of that she is. It also suggests her next conversation with Morgan is going to be very interesting and probably far less violent.

Paula and Rick Negotiate

“You were her, but not now right? Me too.”

Paula, and the brutal, cold bravado with which Alicia Witt plays her steals the show this week. Paula is the perfect embodiment of the Negan Ideal. Her origin story, which sounds much more interesting than a lot of what we got on Fear The Walking Dead’s first season, is delivered with a mix of self-deprecation and cold-eyed joy. It’s as though Joan from Mad Men got mad as Hell, took advantage of the apocalypse and went off to make a name for herself.

The fascinating thing about it that Paula is right, she and Carol are the same but they’re at different stages in their lives. She’s Carol when she led the rescue mission at Terminus, endless calm and planning and ruthlessness. Had she lived, it would have been brilliant to see if she’d find herself at the same spot Carol now does further down the line.

“Hey? You good?” “No.”

That’s why that final scene and the line Carol in particular delivers carries so much weight. The characters are survivors and soldiers but now they’re killers and family too. Maggie and Carol, faced with their own dark reflections, embraced those reflections to survive rather than live. They’ve been show just how thin the veneer of civilisation is and shown how many people have chosen to be the Walking Dead to survive. And the only thing that terrifies them more than how outnumbered they are is how easily they and their friends could fall into the same behaviour. Bleak, deeply philosophical and utterly character driven this is an hour of powerhouse performances, tense direction and fiercely, brutally well-written character drama anchored by the single best cast this season. Yet another bravura gear change, yet another brilliant episode, yet more evidence this show has never, ever been better than it is this year.

 

The Good:

  • “Oh. You’re one of THOSE.” In an episode full of subtle touches this, and the clear disgust at anyone who still has faith when the dead walk the Earth, is one of the best.
  • “Those things’ll kill you.”
    “They already have.” Likewise this – everything you need to know in two lines.
  • “You’re NOT the good guys. You should know that.” No one is. It’s just a matter of perspective and blind luck.
  • “Are you going to kill me?”
    “Hope not.” So much of this episode is perception. On the one hand this is a threat. On the other? Genuine sentiment.
  • “Are you okay?”
    “I have to be.” This goes by so quietly you almost miss it. Carol choking her own emotions down to protect everyone around her. Again. Only this time she pays the price for it.
  • “I can’t anymore.” And this is Maggie at the end of the path she started two episodes ago. She can’t be in the front line anymore, she can’t get her hands dirty. Because she’s too good at it and because now she can’t risk the other life she’s guarding.
  • Excellent direction this week. I especially liked seeing the other side of the closing scene from last week and the POV of Carol with the sheet over her head.
  • Phenomenal scripting too. Angela Kang is becoming the powerhouse of the Walking Dead writer’s room and she clearly revels the chance to do such a locked-down episode.
  • HOLY CRAP the acting this week is amazing. This entire episode is basically an excuse to lock the camera off and watch four amazingly talented actresses work. Every single one brings their A-game too, with Melissa McBride getting the most to do and doing the most with it. You genuinely don’t know what’s fake and what’s genuine with Carol and the genius of the episode is that neither does she.

Maggie terrified

  • Likewise, Lauren Cohan’s Maggie goes from dead-eyed relentless killer to traumatised, delayed-panic-riddled mess in the space of the time it takes to open one door. Then there’s Jeananne Goossen’s Michelle and the horror and grief she buries beneath rage at all the people she’s lost, as well as Jill Jane Clements’ cheerfully fatalistic Molly.
  • But Alicia Witt’s Paula steals the show. She’s Carol and Rick, a good person in a bad way who has done everything they needed to survive. Paula is a simmering tower of rage in the episode, completely fine with surviving and glorying in the end of her old life. She’s a monster and a victim, a heroine and a villainess. She’s Carol with one extra bad day and is one of the most captivating guest stars this show has ever had.
  • Little touches that impress abound. The difference between Paula’s tight, controlled voice on the radio and the panic in her group is a nice touch. Likewise the offhand way they’re dealing with the walkers throughout the episode. This show really is about people now, with the walkers as window dressing. Also interesting that Paula refers to them as “cold bloods”.
  • The entire episode is built around the idea of the people holding Carol and Maggie being one bad day away from BEING Carol and Maggie. The endless circularity of that and the subtle echoes between the two groups are really smartly done. This is Carol and Maggie confronted by their own worst natures and its electric, tense, horrible viewing.
  • Some great world building this episode too. The coded exchanges on the radio between Paula and their support team tells you far more about the size of the Saviours than a speech ever could.
  • Not every character has read the entire script. We cannot stress how much of a relief this is because TV in particular is rife with characters acting like they’ve got knowledge of scenes they weren’t in. Carol knows the Saviours are taught to all say they’re Negan. Rick doesn’t. Rick’s justification for killing Primo is, for Rick, rock solid. For Carol it’s everything Paula and her team accused them of.
  • The Daryl/Carol hug. So adorable.

 

The Bad:

  • Carol’s turn feels a little sudden, although I trust the show to back fill context on it in future episodes.

• Bad arm

  • It feels a little weird saying this a few weeks after Sam basically gets eaten on screen but the violence this episode was a bit much. Donny’s bloated, gooey arm was unpleasant but Paula’s insanely violent death either crossed the line or got very close. Carol and Maggie burning the Saviours to death set fire to that line and watched it scream as it died. That being said, given the episode was about Carol’s hyper awareness of her own violent tendencies, it’s understandable.

• Paula dies

  • That’s three Saviours who are tropey Hispanic thugs in two weeks. On the one hand we also get three female Saviours and the hugely whiny Donny. On the other, that’s still a bad trend.

 

The Random:

  • A couple of veteran, and welcome, faces in this week’s supporting cast. Alicia Witt is best known for her role on ’90s sitcom Sybil. She’s also recently had a brilliantly nasty turn as Morgan Le Fay on The Librarians and had a memorable nine-episode turn on Friday Night Lights.
  • Meanwhile, Jeananne Goossen has done excellent work in The Following, Alcatraz, Suits and others including Debug, which starred Jason Momoa as an evil Artificial Intelligence and was directed by the splendid David Hewlett.
  • Shot of the week is Carol’s bleeding rosary. A little on the nose but as visual shorthand for her arc this episode goes, it’s pretty much perfect.

• Carol bleeds

Review by Alasdair Stuart


 

Read more reviews of The Walking Dead season six

 

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