TV Review: The Walking Dead – Season 4 Episode 14 “The Grove” (USA, 2014)


It had to be done, right?

‘The Grove’ didn’t move the plot along at all, opting again for a stand-alone type episode in similar fashion to Beth and Daryl’s alcohol-driven journey in ‘Still.’ The third to last episode of season four took it’s time to slowly crush us with one of the most intense episodes in this entire series. And it was all driven by yet another outstanding performance by Melissa McBride.

Comic fans knew something like this was coming, as Lizzie and Mika mirror two similar characters in the source material, but I don’t think anyone expected it to be as heartbreaking as it was.

The hoped-for sanctuary that is Terminus can wait; Tyreese, Carol, Lizzie, Mika, and baby Judith opted to stop and catch their breathe on some narrow train tracks. What they found (or should I say, Carol and Mika found) was their own little house on the prairie for rest and relaxation. And it’s perfect; there’s a man, a woman, three kids, and very few walkers in sight. But walkers aren’t what drive the destruction this time; sure, they are part of it, but this time it was the warped view of young, animal-killing Lizzie that flips this new-found peace right on it’s head.

A bit of a con here is that this episode quite explicitly deals with rushing Mika’s development – seeing as she’s hardly spoken a word since she was introduced – and trying to endear her to viewers to make her death all the more impactful. The writers succeed here, but they also border on straight-up sloppy soap opera dialogue. There are several, cliche, lines which drill into our heads that Mika is a good girl and she’d never harm a soul. First we have Carol comparing her to her dead daughter, then we have Mika telling Carol about how she didn’t like cutting worms open in science class, and then we have her unable to shoot a dear. Surely showing us that Mika was too much of a pacifist to survive a zombie apocalypse could have worked into the story with exposition a bit more delicate than this. With that being said though, I did start to really like Mika; I think everyone did.

The impact of this episode very much depended upon how you felt about Lizzie and Mika; if you didn’t care either way, then perhaps the episode was just a well-shot, jarring filler to you. For those of us who did start to care – even just a little bit – ‘The Grove’ was as rewarding as it was soul crushing; it reminded us of the harsh realities moreso than any other episode has simply because Carol completed her transformation from a scared, nervous wreck, to a very dark, cold, and pragmatic survivor.

Carol’s devastating decision to execute Lizzie after Lizzie had murdered Mika – so her sister could live with them as a lovable walker – gave McBride the best performance she’s had so far – and she’s had a lot. Carol’s restrained shock when her and Tyreese found Lizzie standing over her sister’s dead body – with Lizzie indicating that Judith was next – was heartbreaking, as were her tears as soon as Lizzie was out of sight. It took a scene which could have easily been seen as absurd and grounded it with McBride’s exceptional acting.

Lizzie naively thinking Carol was just mad at her because she pointed a gun at her adopted mother was so naive that it made the scene all the more devastating. The whole “look at the flowers” speech was melodramatic in itself, but Carol’s shock while she repeated the phrase and raised her gun while fumbling over the trigger, took any negative about this scene and filled it with excellence.

In mentioning great acting, respect must be given to Chad L Coleman who has been playing the gentle-giant quite well. His crazy wide-eyes have become somewhat of a joke among fans of The Wire and we finally got to see them here as Carol came clean and admitted to killing Karen (and that David guy, whoever he was), sliding a gun towards Ty and telling him “Do what you have to do.” This could have been seen as Carol trying to commit suicide.

I think we all knew that Tyreese wasn’t going to shoot Carol; and his struggle to calm down was portrayed very well. There was a nice tension all throughout the episode with moments where we thought Carol might just blurt out the confession, but saving it towards the end – right after Carol killed Lizzie – was very effective and suddenly made the pair of Carol and Tyreese one of the most interesting dynamics in the series.

Special mention must go to the episode’s director Scott Gimple – who also helmed season 3’s stand-out ‘Clear’ and ‘Save the Last One’ from season 2 – for some of the most beautiful shots in the entire series. The overgrown shrubs on the train tracks, the intimacy of the house, and – even though it was a bit cheesy – the start sequence with the boiling kettle and Lizzie playing with a walker all spoke highly for Gimple’s excellent work on The Walking Dead, him, the producers, and the writers really made ‘The Grove’ one of the creepiest episodes to date; in true old school horror movie fashion.

Having the voice-overs at the end felt a bit excessive as Carol and Tyreese made their hasty exit from the secret garden like area and ventured back onto the tracks; continuing towards terminus with none-the-wiser baby Judith in their trembling arms. Tyreese and Carol have now been through an awful lot together; it will be interesting when they meet back up with the group.

Only two episodes left as this brilliant second-half of season 4 continues!


The Walking Dead screens on FX in Australia.


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Chris Singh

Chris Singh is an Editor-At-Large at the AU review, loves writing about travel and hospitality, and is partial to a perfectly textured octopus. You can reach him on Instagram: @chrisdsingh.