The Walking Dead “The Same Boat” Review (Season 6 Episode 13)

Previously on The Walking Dead . . .

The group made good on their deal with the Hilltop by attacking the Saviors and saving the Hilltop resident being held hostage. As Michonne aptly observed at the end of the well-executed attack, it was still not clear if they had taken out Negan. The episode also featured interesting character beats for Glenn, who made his first human kill, and for Carol, whose list of human kills suggested that the character was starting to take stock of the person she’d become over the last few years. We were left with an unsettling cliffhanger at the episode’s end, as we discovered that there were more Saviors and they had captured Maggie and Carol.

On to this week’s episode, “The Same Boat.”

Call The Walking Dead Writers Hot Butter . . .
Because they’re on a roll! Sorry, couldn’t resist. Seriously, the second half of this season has been one of the strongest group of episodes throughout the entire course of the series. The writers have ventured away from the time manipulations and in telling a more linear storyline, we’ve gotten an excellent balance of action, suspense, tension and character development.

This week’s episode was not subtle in its effort to draw the parallels between Carol/Paula and Maggie/Michelle, which was fine by me because it helped further the shifts we are seeing in Carol and Maggie during the second half of the season. I’m also not going to complain about an episode that puts strong, self-assured women at the forefront.

Mirror, Mirror
One thing was clear by the episode’s end, Carol may be pragmatic, but it has not caused her to lose the core of who she is as a person. As alluded to in last week’s episode, Carol still has a conscience and the hard choices she’s made for the greater good of the group have not left her without inner conflict.

The episode opened with the argument between Carol and Maggie, in which Carol told Maggie that she is not supposed to be the person accompanying the group on dangerous missions in which it is all but certain they will have to kill. In all fairness to Maggie, I can understand why she would insist on joining the group as: (1) the person who closed the deal with Gregory and (2) a wife who has been separated from her husband more times than I can count now. I had to remind myself that while Glenn was hiding under a dumpster and avoiding death, Maggie was back at the Alexandria Safe Zone (“ASZ”) worried about whether she would ever see him again. I can understand how those repeated close calls would strengthen her resolve to always be at her husband’s side.

The argument between the Carol and Maggie is cut short when Paula’s group arrives and takes them captive. Although I had no idea if or how the two would escape, I never doubted that they were both going to go down fighting, if necessary. Once in custody and at one of the Savior’s satellite locations, Carol quickly went to work, using a rosary to cut away at the tape around her wrists.

I cannot say enough good things about Melissa McBride’s performance in this episode. Once Paula’s team returns to the room where Carol and Maggie are being held, Carol starts with her scared, fragile housewife routine and starts hyperventilating. This results in both Maggie and Carol having their gags removed. Because Carol was so convincing with her act, no one thought to take the rosary away from her once they discovered it. Wrong move, Team Paula. Wrong move.

After a bit of a kerfuffle with Donnie, Maggie and Carol were separated into rooms with the women who would serve as a reflection of who they were and who they could potentially be. It was interesting to see Michelle caution Maggie that she was not with the good guys. We learned that Michelle was also once pregnant and lost her baby. It was also revealed that Michelle’s boyfriend was among the group blown up by the grenade launcher courtesy of Daryl. Michelle stole gas in order to search for her boyfriend and in return, received a chop to the finger for her theft.

At the same time, Carol tried appealing to Paula as a fellow victim of domestic abuse. Paula revealed herself to be very much like Carol, as she was a mother who lost her family to the ZA and became hardened and pragmatic in order to survive.

In addition to the parallels between the women, I found these interactions interesting because of the different perspective the Saviors had about Team ASZ. Those of us in the viewing audience know what our core group of survivors have been through, what it took for them to survive and we know that they have and will continue to make hard decisions in order to survive. Michelle seemed to be aware that her boyfriend was part of a group that gave other survivors a hard time, but it was not clear if any of the women knew about the whole bashing in someone’s head as a negotiation tactic. Frankly, I’m not sure if it would have mattered to them. From the Saviors’ perspective, Rick and crew attacked them first and any fallout from that is fair game. Putting my personal attachment to Team ASZ aside, I can’t say that I disagree with this perspective.

Once left alone, Carol gets loose and goes to help Maggie. The pair then navigate their way through the walker obstacle course and in doing so, put a permanent stop to Molls, Michelle (who came frighteningly close to cutting Maggie’s stomach) and eventually, Paula.

The final exchange between Paula and Carol was quite eye opening, as Carol was clearly reluctant to just outright kill her. The two get into a bit of a shoving match, which resulted in one of the few awkward moments of the episode. I couldn’t quite understand why Maggie just stood there and watched, rather than helping Carol. I get that Maggie was likely in shock after nearly getting stabbed by Michelle in the stomach, but it felt more like a writing choice designed to allow for the exchange between Carol and Paula to play out more until the walker bit Paula in the face. Further, whatever hesitation Maggie felt seemed to go away as she was very clear that they had to finish off the nearby scouting crew en route to help Paula. That crew arrived and met a fiery end thanks to Carol.

The pair finally meet up with Glenn, Rick, Daryl and the rest of Team ASZ. Both women were very visibly shaken by the experience. I loved that although the other survivors played a minimal role in the episode, the moments still felt meaningful and had weight. Daryl reaching out to Carol was great and I loved how McBride played Carol’s reaction as Rick killed Primo. I also loved the shot of Carol grasping the rosary so tightly that her hands began bleeding.

It will be interesting to see how this experience changes Maggie and Carol in future episodes. The hard choices Carol’s made in order to survive have not left her completely cold and hardened. I also suspect that spending time with Morgan only deepens her internal conflict. Although I do not think Carol will start wielding the stick and joining Morgan’s Ninja Mutant Turtle gang anytime soon, I absolutely think we will see her opting to stay behind the next time the group has to go out on a mission such as this.

Stuff, Thangs and Other Observations . . .
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
– I loved that Carol was quick enough on her feet to make an effort to take deliberate steps that would ensure a trail that Team ASZ, especially an excellent tracker like Daryl, would be able to pick up on and follow in pursuit of her and Maggie.

– The “we are all Negan” line was a nice comic book tie-in. In the comics, the line is uttered by other characters several issues before the issue in which Negan actually appeared. For the show’s purposes, the line goes a long way at demonstrating the lengths to which the Saviors will try to protect Negan. It was interesting to see how loyal the group was to a man who punishes theft by amputating fingers.

– We’ve now discovered two sites being used by the Saviors, which I think is a testament to the group’s size and organization. It will be interesting to see how Team ASZ processes such information. Will it cause their confidence to waver?

Survivor Of The Week
Without question, Carol. No matter how you feel about the character, there is no denying that Carol has gotten one of the most complete character arcs of this series. Melissa McBride brings so much heart and brilliance to the character and I am glad that she talked the writers out of killing Carol in previous seasons, which would have deprived viewers of a very satisfying character transformation.

Until Next Week!
What did you think of this week’s episode of The Walking Dead? Sound off below!

*Gif from giphy