In true Walking Dead fashion, the pinnacle fourth episode of Season 4 was something to talk about! Having just learned that Carol was the one who killed and burned the bodies of Woodbury survivors and fellow prison mates David and Karen, Rick decides that it is time to take Carol on a run for supplies and food. As they salvage a suburban cul-de-sac for medicine and food, Carol explains her actions. Rick silently takes it all in, when they come across a couple of young, seemingly optimistic kids begging to belong to their group of survivors. Rick tries to figure out if they could be trusted, while Carol comes up with the idea of having them scavenge for supplies in the abandoned houses, and meet back in two hours. Rick and Carol soon come across the severed limb of the girl they just met; Rick is horror-struck and Carol is barely shaken. They head back to the meeting spot, and wait for the boy’s return. They wait well over two hours, at which point Carol decides that they should just leave, while Rick wants to hold on just a little bit longer. The fact that Carol has no real regard for whether or not the boy survived and might return, and has no intentions of waiting around to find out, leads Rick to make a shocking decision: Carol needs to leave the group. This will no doubt leave fans divided, but I believe that there is reason to be seen for both sides of this conflict.
Sure, Rick advising Carol to leave the group was sad, and probably a difficult decision given she has actually been with the group longer than Rick, but there are reasons behind his madness. Carol’s actions were smart for sure, but they were not necessarily humane. She may have been able to stop the spread of a deadly disease, or at the very least save them from suffering, but David and Karen also could have survived if the other members of the group returned with the much-needed meds. The fact that Carol was the one who brought them to their untimely demise instead of a “walker,” could have been another reason for Rick’s decision because in a world riddled with death, and difficult decisions, our humanity could be the only thing keeping us from losing everything. Rick made the decision because he began to see a side of Carol he had never seen before; he did not recognize the person standing next to him. Her rash decisions, and lack of concern for human life outside of their close-knit group of survivors has turned her into someone unrecognizable, and this kind of behavior is not something Rick would be able to have around his children. What if it had been Carl or Judith who had been the carriers of the disease? Would Carol have made the same brash decision to kill and burn the bodies in order to protect the group? What other kind of matters would Carol take into her own hands? I believe that this is ultimately what pushed Rick to the decision he made. He is not just a leader, or just a farmer, he is first and foremost a father, and the survival of his children is what he cares about most.
Carol has gone through quite a transformation. She has gone from being a meek, mild-mannered, abused wife afraid of her own power and not aware of the strength she had within her to a woman who can do what needs to be done. It might have taken a zombie apocalypse for her to realize it, but she has learned to adjust to her new life, and has made a choice. She could have stayed the person she was, and probably would have withdrawn even further into herself when her daughter Sofia tragically turned into a “walker.” But instead, she adjusted. She decided to take her survival into her own hands, and has actually started to thrive in the zombie apocalypse. While Rick was busy seeing ghosts, having his own mental breakdown and decided to stretch his green thumb playing farmer, Carol held down the fort. She helped create “The Council,” and discussed problems, and came up with solutions; she was practically the Mayor! So should we be so shocked that she saw the problem the flu outbreak was causing and decided to nip it in the bud? Maybe she was saving David and Karen from suffering any further. They could have choked on their own blood. They could have passed the disease on to Carl and Judith. Carol was looking out for the safety of the group. It might not have been the most humane thing to do, but in her eyes she was doing what needed to be done.
Perhaps we will see Carol again; perhaps she will find another group of survivors that will take her in; perhaps Daryl will use his expert tracking skills to track her down, or perhaps she will survive on her own with her newfound badass-ery. Ultimately, Rick did not force her to leave; she didn’t even fight him on the decision! Maybe it was due in part to the fact that if she did go back and Tyreese found out it was her who killed his Karen, there would be little anybody could do to protect Carol from his wrath! Or maybe it was because she respected Rick’s decision, or even felt a little remorse for her actions. One thing I know for sure is that I will definitely be tuning in to find out!