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The Walking Dead, Ep. 5.06, “Consumed” a welcome return to the show’s most compelling characters

The Walking Dead, Ep. 5.06, “Consumed”  a welcome return to the show’s most compelling characters

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The Walking Dead, Season 5, Episode 6: “Consumed”
Directed by Seith Mann
Written by Matthew Negrete & Corey Reed
Airs Sundays at 9pm ET on AMC

“Consumed” follows Carol and Daryl in pursuit of the mysterious vehicle that belongs to Beth’s kidnappers. The dynamic duo make good progress into the city eventually arriving at a safe house while running into the occasional zombie along the way. The hour proves harmless enough for the pair of seasoned veterans, and while at times exciting, “Consumed” is a predictable, voyage into the heart of Atlanta. But despite a lack of suspense and horror, “Consumed” is a welcome return to two of the show’s most compelling characters; and an episode that gives two of our least talkative survivors a chance to express themselves and some much-needed breathing room to examine how much they’ve both changed in five seasons.

Despite Daryl’s presence, the episode is largely dedicated to Carol. We get plenty of time flashing back to various points in Carol’s journey filling us in on what she was doing offscreen before saving the rest of the group from the the cannibals at Terminus. Each flashback is carefully framed with the image of her seeing smoke rise up in the sky, a visual indicator linking back to the horrific events of the past. If it wasn’t already obvious, it is now: Carol is conflicted, consumed-by-guilt, and emotionally torn up ever since placing a gun to Mika’s head and pulling the trigger. “Everything now just consumes you,” Carol tells Daryl. Fire is a reoccurring motif this week: We see smoke rising from the prison after the Governor’s attack, again rising from Terminus when Carol burns Karen and David’s bodies, and again after she the blows her way through Terminus. We see Carol literally burning a body in one of the episode’s flashbacks, and in the present time line, Darryl does the same. Finally, we see Carol and Tyreese dispose of Lizzie and Mika’s bodies in the final flashback – an image that will burn in her memory forever.

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Daryl: “Hey, we ain’t ashes.”

Carol reminds us that she was once the victim of domestic abuse, and worse, a woman who always ran back to the man who beat her. But that Carol has long since been replaced. Ever since the days spent at the prison, Carol has been strong, determined, and ready to take action. But guilt and tragedy over her decision to kill Karen and David at the prison along with her decision to kill the girls has dragged her back into self doubt and despair. Her words in this episode serve as a stark reminder that happiness is fleeting in the world they now inhabit, and I wonder just how much fight she has left in her? Despite being a fan favourite, I feel as if her time on the show is coming to an end.

While the episode is driven by Carol’s inner turmoil, it does take time to remind us just how much Daryl has grown over the years. Carol makes an astute observation that he’s changed from a kid into a man, and we get plenty of examples this week to back this up, starting from his decision to burn the bodies of a mother and child who had become walkers in the temporary housing shelter, to his decision to step in and stop Carol from shooting Noah. The teaming of Carol and Daryl is a cause for celebration since they are the most beloved characters on the show and their relationship has grown more and more fascinating with every season. They’re also the two survivors who have the most in common; both are emotionally complex characters but nevertheless, they are also ruthlessly efficient in taking out walkers. Carol and Daryl also like to keep their emotions hidden, and they rarely express what they are feeling. “Consumed” gives us a rare moment in which the pair truly open up – a moment that perfectly illustrates how well they complement each other, and a moment that allows time for reflection.

“Consumed” also does a great job in opening up the world by returning back to the streets of Atlanta.  The city seems somewhat less overrun than before (perhaps because AMC cut back on their budget),  but nevertheless, the wide shots of the desolate landscape is a refreshing change from the usual countryside. This episode doesn’t offer much in the way of big action set pieces, but in one memorable sequence, Carol and Darryl find themselves trapped inside an abandoned van balancing over the side of an overpass, while a horde of zombies surround the vehicle, threatening to tip it over. With no way out, the vehicle is hauled off the freeway, dropping 30 feet onto the level below. (The walker bodies following and landing on the roof of the van was also a nice touch). It’s a spectacular action set piece brimming with suspense, and one of the show’s best (I especially loved the point of view of Carol and Darryl right before the van flips over).
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“Consumed” is an efficient reminder that the show doesn’t necessarily have to be swamped by special effects; that the best of it comes when offering an insight into the troubled minds of our heroes. What sets season five apart from the other seasons, is that it makes you care about the characters. For two people who try so desperately to hide their humanity, “Consumed” does a superb job in reminding us just how noble, heroic and complex they both are.

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With two episodes left till the mid-season finale, The Walking Dead is finally living up to its full potential.

– Ricky D

Extra thoughts:

At one point, Darryl and Carol come across a corridor where a number of zombies are trapped in sleeping bags and tents which are riddled with bullet holes. I wonder if this was the military personnel who bombed the city or the Grady cops who the killed these people?

Carol appreciates art.

Daryl: “I bet this cost some rich prick a lot of money.

Daryl Dixon: “I bet a dog sat in paint and wiped its ass all over the place.”

Does Carol take the “Treating Survivors of Child Abuse” book for Daryl’s sake, rather than her own?

Daryl always seems to be the one finding alcohol and cigarettes.

This episode has the most quiet soundtrack yet, but I found it incredibly distracting since it sounded very much like a slowed down version of Junip’s “Line of Fire”.

I love the small details such as using fire to lure walkers away.

Carol: “You said we’d get to start over. Did you?”
Daryl: “I’m tryin’. Why don’t you say what’s really on your mind?”
Carol: “I don’t think we get to save people anymore.”
Daryl: “Then why are you here?”
Carol: “I’m trying.”

I mentioned predictable at the start of the review. It was pretty obvious that Noah was trailing behind Carol and Darryl, and given the final shot from last week, we already knew Carol would wind up in Grady’s Hospital. But perhaps the one big misstep in this episode was watching Carol slide her way through the locked door without ever checking to see what is on the other side. Carol is just too smart to make such a silly mistake.

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The devil is often in the details, and it’s worth our time to consider if Carol was actually aiming to kill Noah or not?

Finally, in their first encounter with Noah, Darryl was willing to let him go harm free even though he stole their weapons, yet in the second encounter, he’s willing to let him die even though they get their weapons back.