By RODNEY HO/ email@example.com, originally filed Sunday, March 13, 2016
"We are all Negan," - Molls, the hacking smoker.
After last week's ambush, my feelings for Rick's crew has inexorably shifted. I can't see them as heroes in any sense of the word. They are survivors, yes. But morally, they've become cold-blooded murderers, pure and simple.
Or if we want to twist the analogy bad girl Paula used, everyone has boiled themselves into a rather crappy cup of coffee.
As we know, folks like Glenn and Heath are troubled by the ambush. And believe it or not, so is Carol. The evidence is clear in tonight's episode after Carol and Maggie get kidnapped by a crew of Negan followers: Paula, Molly, Donnie and Chelle.
Virtually the entire episode is focused in a so-called slaughterhouse "safe house" where Carol and Maggie are housed while the two sides negotiate. (Rick has one of the Saviors Primo.) It's very female centric since five of the six key people in the slaughterhouse were ladies.
When "Walking Dead" goes micro like this, it's often more effective. In this case, it's a fairly interesting mind game mostly between Carol and Paula, the ruthless, cold-hearted leader. Melissa McBride as Carol? Amazing as always.
Realistically, given how Paula is, Carol and Maggie should have been long dead before the hour was up. Paula even talks about killing them yet she doesn't. What's holding Paula back?
"You're not the good guys," Chelle tells Maggie.
It's hard to argue against Chelle, given what had happened last week.
Sadly, there are no good guys left. Or girls.
Early on, it seems like Carol - using her faith after finding a cross necklace - makes herself seem weaker than she is. She hyperventilates. She shrinks up. She looks sad. An act? She's good at placing people at ease, allowing them to under-estimate her. "A nervous little bird," Molls calls her.
You'd think that would make it easier for them to just kill her. And it's odd they don't shake her down for information the way they do Maggie.
Paula is confused. "What are you so afraid of? Are you actually afraid to die?"
We know Carol isn't necessarily afraid of death. She's afraid she's becoming like the Negan crew: Humanity almost stripped away.
But she doesn't say that. Instead, Carol talks about not harming Maggie's baby. She brings up her past. At the same time, Carol's guilty conscience over her many previous kills are catching up to her. She is truly pained by what's going on as well.
And Maggie tries to be helpful by telling them that Donnie is going to die quickly given his injured arm (shot by Carol, who purposely kept him alive instead of killing him and indirectly led to their capture.)
Paula says her friends are coming within 30 minutes. She decides not to negotiate.
We have time to learn Paula was an administrative assistant who toughened up once the apocalypse began. She killed her weak boss and never looked back. She lost count after hitting double digits and never looked back. She had shut down the empathy part of her being to survive. She didn't even care about killing her colleague Donnie when he acted up and punched her.
"You're pathetic," Paula tells Carol. "You think we're the same. [Donnie] was just a warm body in my bed. I can kill him in his sleep."
She notes how she lost her husband and four kids.
"I'm still me but better. I lost everything," she added. "It made me stronger."
And she notes the consequences of what Rick's group has done.
"Your people are killers," she said. "That makes you a killer."
There are some amusing scenes with Molls, the hacking smoker who knows she's dead anyway. Eventually, Carol asks for a smoke herself. And they bond a bit.
Chelle in a separate room tries to get Maggie to give up information about where Rick's crew is based. She fails miserably.
"I'm not planning to die today," says Maggie.
Eventually, Paula decides to accede to Rick's demand they trade hostages. But she knows they are nearby and will ambush them.
She knows her men are nearby. She's raring for a fight. Again, she should have killed both Carol and Maggie right then and there. But she doesn't.
Instead, Molls, Chelle and Paula leave the room to fight off walkers and ready for the fight outside. Of course, Carol uses the cross to free herself. She then helps Maggie get freed in the other room.
Using a walker Donnie, Maggie distracts smoker Molls, then kills her with extreme relish.
The Saviors had used walkers as a block to the entrance as Maggie and Carol try to escape. Paula tries to shoot them and fails miserably. (Of course, she's the bad guy!) She runs out of bullets. Carol has a gun on Paula. She doesn't want to kill again. Paula taunts her. A walker comes lose and Carol shoots Paula anyway, presumably in the leg. Maggie hears Chelle coming so they fight. Chelle has a knife and cuts Maggie in the stomach. Blood! (Is the baby in danger?)
Carol, in Terminator mode, just shoots Chelle in the head.
Next up: Paula. For a third time, she asks Carol what she's afraid of. Then she jumps Carol before she shoots and they battle mano a mano.
Paula ends up getting impaled, then chewed out by a walker in the face in classic "Walking Dead" gruesome fashion.
When Carol hears the Negan guys arriving via walkie talkie, she imitates Paula and says, "Meet us in the Kill Room." There, Carol pours some gasoline on the ground. She lights a cigarette using Molls' lighter, then flicks it into the "kill room" and sets the men on fire. This is beyond gruesome. Carol in this case appears more than pained by what she has to do yet again. And Maggie, who had killed Molls with such ferocity, even has trouble handling this.
They eventually reunite with Sasha, Abraham, Rick, Glenn, Daryl and the hostage Primo. There's a touching hug between Daryl and Carol. Glenn asks Maggie if she's alright. She's not.
When the hostage says he's Negan, Rick just shoots him. Oops. That's what they all say. Primo is NOT Negan. We'll see him before the season is out.