Gene Page/AMC
February 27, 2015 at 04:55 PM EST

It’s easy to brush off the deaths of Lizzie and Mika as just two more character deaths on a TV series. With a shrug, you can chalk it up to annoying kids finally gone. It’s also easy to scoff at the depiction of child-on-child violence and the killing of two children as unwatchable or inappropriate for television. You can be unconcerned about what’s in the comic, on TV — this is unacceptable!

The Walking Dead has always been a dark show. But week after week of awesomely gruesome zombies, violence and gore can seem commonplace, even blasé. It’s with the gruesome, tragic demise of the Samuels sisters that the series receives a jolt, reminding the audience just how torrid and brutal the world of The Walking Dead is. Because, you know, flesh-eating corpses wasn’t enough. For more insights on this game-changing episode, check out Dalton Ross’ interview with creator Robert Kirkman as well as his quick take on “The Grove.”

This episode’s cold open is shorter than most, capturing a glimpse of what’s to come rather than featuring an extended establishing sequence or flashback. All we get is the portrait of a copper kettle rising to a boil on a gas stove while outside, a child giggles and plays tag with a nice zombie lady. Oh, and “Maybe” by the Ink Spots plays in the background, just in case the creep factor wasn’t high enough already.

After the opening credits, Carol and Lizzie keep the night’s first watch as Tyreese and Lizzie sleep on the tracks. With Judith safely in her arms — and not Lizzie’s — Carol tells Lizzie to sleep, too. Lizzie offers to take Judith if trouble arises. Oh yes, give the baby to the girl who did this. In discussing Tyreese protecting Lizzie and Mika, Lizzie asserts that she saved Tyreese, shooting an armed man and woman (Tara’s girlfriend) back at the Prison. “I didn’t mean to shoot her in the head,” she says. An odd comment — one of several clues to to Lizzie’s warped worldview.

Carol opens up about Sophia. She calls her sweet and recalls “she didn’t have a mean bone in her body.” Lizzie then asks, “Is that why she isn’t here now?” Damn, Lizzie way to be tactful. But this is New Carol she’s talking to — this Carol is pragmatic and brutally honest. She simply replies, “Yeah.” Finally acquiescing to Carol’s urges for her to sleep, Lizzie gives Carol a hug — not before taking a furtive (threatening?) glance at Judith.

The next day, Carol treats Tyreese’s scratched arm with sap, or as my stepdad calls it, “tree blood.” She points out Lizzie and Mika’s pitfalls to Tyreese. Lizzie may be tough, but she doesn’t see Walkers as a brainz-craving threat, merely different than other people. According to Carol, however, Mika is worse: like Sophia, “she doesn’t have a mean bone in her body.” Lizzie and Mika continue to follow Carol’s lead like chicks after a mother hen.

Never having finished Tom Sawyer, Carol explains to them the ending in a rare moment of levity. Mika wants to be like Huck Finn whereas Lizzie thinks of herself as more of a Huck Finn and Mika as a Tom Sawyer. (In my book, the true Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn are Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Brad Renfro, respectively.) But Mika agrees with her older sister, noting that Lizzie is more like Huck Finn because she’s “not even grossed out by dead rabbits.” Yes, she’s not grossed out by the rabbits that she stabbed and made dead. Clue 1,001.

NEXT: There’s something about Lizzie

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AMC’s zombie thriller, based on the classic comic book serial created by Robert Kirkman.
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