'Walking Dead' recap: New ways to shock fans

AMC Handout

AMC Handout

Steve Tilley, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:08 PM ET

No show in recent memory has killed off so many primary characters in so few seasons as The Walking Dead. We know this. And the show knows we know this. It toys with us. It teases us. It says, “Get ready, here it comes.”

And then we get blindsided.

Even on cable TV, kids being murdered in cold blood is a delicate plot device to wrangle. The Walking Dead has gone there before. Sunday night, it went there twice.

Since its midseason premiere, AMC’s zombie apocalypse drama, which marks its Season 4 finale on March 30, has followed the fragmented group of survivors who fled the prison they once called home.

On Sunday’s episode it was time to catch up with Carol (Melissa McBride), Tyrese (Chad Coleman) and sisters Lizzie and Mika (Brighton Sharbino and Kyla Kennedy), as they stumble across a secluded farmhouse on their way to a potentially safe community called Terminus.

The group decides put down roots at the farmhouse, at least for a while. But Lizzie, who has always seen the zombies as living, feeling creatures – and who grows more and more distraught over the others’ willingness to destroy them – goes over the edge, killing Mika with a knife and insisting that once Mika turns into a zombie, it will prove that the undead aren’t to be feared.

Knowing Lizzie will never understand the true nature of the undead, and knowing she can never be alone with other people – particularly baby Judith, who remains in Carol and Tyrese’s care – a heartbroken Carol takes Lizzie out into the woods and shoots her.

Oh. Em. Gee. Cue the reaction videos hitting YouTube, a la Game of Thrones’ Red Wedding.

We’ve come to anticipate characters being killed on The Walking Dead. Even the previous week’s episode began with a flash-forward that suggests either Maggie (Lauren Cohan) or Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) – or possibly both – won’t live to see the end.

But even though Lizzie and Mika were minor characters, and even though both killings happen offscreen, their deaths are somehow even more unsettling. Part of the allure of post-apocalyptic fiction is wondering what you’d do if it was you standing at the end of the world. What would you ultimately fight for and live for?

But now, these broken characters have been rebroken, then rebroken again. Their levels of misery are bordering on perverse. If there was ever a cure for romantic notions about being a survivor after a catastrophic, world-ending event, The Walking Dead is it.

After murdering Lizzie in a grove of wildflowers, a shattered Carol confesses to Tyrese that is was she who killed Karen back at the prison, and bids him to do what he has to do. Tyrese somehow forgives her, and the two move on, once again heading for the figurative and literal end of the line.

Maybe it’s a good thing there are only two episodes left in the season. Zombies may not be able to feel anything, but our human hearts can’t take much more.

 


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