Has the cost of killing become too much for Carol to handle? Or can she handle the bloodshed enough to escape her captors?
The realities of killing that nipped at Carol’s conscience in the last episode come back with full force in “The Same Boat,” a bottle episode that traces what exactly happened to Carol and Maggie during the Saviors raid.
And as the radio communiqué at the end of last week’s episode suggested, Carol and Maggie have been taken by Saviors who were out during the night’s bloodbath. “Boat” opens with the opposite end of that conversation, as a group of Saviors corner Carol and Maggie, holding them hostage as they watch Rick and his group emerge from the building.
The group, comprised mostly of women save for one man Carol shoots in the arm upon first seeing him, radios in as they watch Daryl tackle their fellow Savior, Primo. The woman on this end of the line, Paula, knows they need to keep these two alive as collateral, but she doesn’t take kindly to Rick’s offer for a trade.
He suggests they give up Carol and Maggie for their man and their lives. Rather than agree, Paula tells Rick she’ll get back to him when they decide before the group leads Carol and Maggie to a secreted away location.
And the duo’s first look at the place is a foreboding one — the camera follows their first-person perspective as they’re led through the woods, into a car, and eventually to this hideout. With the words “Killing Floor” stamped on the ground, Carol and Maggie find themselves in a Saviors safehouse. This house is anything but safe, with walkers having infested the place since anyone last inhabited it.
The most clear and present danger for Maggie and Carol, however, is Paula and her group, who hold the two on opposite sides of the room while they contemplate what to do. Paula is just itching to kill them, so she leaves them with a warning as her group goes to survey the rest of the area, and Maggie uses the ensuing moments to claw at any hope of freedom. Bound with her hands duct taped together and gagged at the mouth, Maggie scurries around to find something to free her hands with, but doesn’t make much progress before Paula’s people return.
Carol, on the other hand, simply grabs at the rosary she finds in the room and begins to fake hyperventilate as the Saviors return until they finally ungag the two of them.
While doing so the Saviors mistake Carol’s little show as signs of weakness. They wonder how someone like her has made it so far in such a cruel world, pegging her as little more than a meek, religious nut.
Carol leans into their beliefs of her, coming out as a concerned woman who just wants to make sure Maggie and her baby aren’t harmed. This includes chastising one of the Saviors, who chain-smokes like she’s got little time left to live — and she doesn’t appear to, as she’s coughing up blood.
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But perhaps the worst among them is the solitary man, who Carol shot in the arm. The pain is worsening, and their scout crew is still 30 minutes out. Maggie warns them that in 30 minutes he could lose the arm or his life — his nerves are dying as far as she can tell.
Naturally not wanting to die but hearing he might, he goes into a bit of a panic mode, wanting retribution for his injury. He wants to kill Carol, or at the very least have her pay an arm for an arm. Paula tries to stop him only to be smacked in return, setting off a chain of struggle as Maggie knocks him down and headbutts him. Carol jumps in to help Maggie, but is repeatedly kicked in return until Paula hits him over the head with the butt of her gun, knocking him out.
NEXT: Time to hatch an escape plan.
Following the commotion, they split Carol and Maggie up, hoping to get some intel out of the latter while Carol continues to play the victim with Paula. But she’s not having much of what Carol’s selling, while Maggie’s interrogator goes tragedy for tragedy with her by revealing she lost a child (most likely during pregnancy).
They want answers from their two captives, but so too does Carol. As she reveals that her people killed the group of Saviors on the road, blowing them to ash and dust, she says they continued coming for them because Negan sounded like a maniac. He needed to be stopped.
And Carol receives some information she likely didn’t expect. “We are all Negan,” she’s told, a quizzical, seemingly nonsense answer that goes unexplained as Paula berates Carol for being weak. But Paula, no, she’s not weak. The man on the floor is just a warm body for her bed, a body she could kill at any time. She’s used to killing, having murdered her boss when the walker-pocalypse first began, because she knew his wimpy state would take her down.
So, stuck with him and not her husband and four children, she killed him, and enough people to reach double digits. Of course, she has no idea of just how many people Carol has killed, so she lords her high-and-mighty status over her captive. The real Carol begins to poke out, however, when she tells Paula she’s the one afraid of dying, which she’s going to do soon if this doesn’t work out. Paula asks if Carol will be the one to kill her.
“I hope not,” Carol says in perhaps her most honest moment since she’s been held prisoner.
Largely unfazed, Paula radios Rick (who radioed earlier) to make the trade. She agrees to it and plans to meet in a nearby field in 10 minutes. The call worries her, though. There was no static, which suggests they may already be at the safehouse, ready to strike as soon as they leave.
While Carol pleads with her to believe in Rick’s promise, Paula makes other plans, planning to move and pick Rick’s people off at the door. She leaves Carol alone as they clear the place out of nearby walkers, and the resourceful captive fashions the rosary’s cross into a pick that she uses to free herself. Fleeing the room, she eventually finds Maggie, who has also been left alone. Carol wants them to just get the hell out of here while they can, but Maggie knows they can’t. They have to finish this. They have to kill these Saviors.
So they hatch a plan. Returning to the original room, where the man remains lying on the floor after Paula coldcocked him in the head, they remove the rope helping to stave off his injury. He bleeds out, but he was already dead and is now beginning to turn.
The duo uses this fresh walker to their advantage, looping him to a nearby pipe and using him as a surprise for the chain-smoker as she enters the room. She kills him, but not before he gorges on a good chunk of her arm, sealing her fate, but Maggie appears from behind and kills her just to ensure a swift end.
The two escape before Paula enters the room and, witnessing the death around her, prepares to seek vengeance. Carol and Maggie have made a break for the exit, but find the way there littered with walkers just injured enough to keep them in place but make them no less hungry. They’re a safety protocol, meant to keep everyone in and keep any interlopers out, and the momentary shock gives Paula a chance to catch up to them.
NEXT: Has killing become too much for Carol to handle?
Paula appears, gun blazing, and Carol threatens her with return fire. She baits Carol, who just keeps begging Paula to run so she doesn’t have to kill her. Carol is willing to do what needs to be done to survive, but her continued concern over how much life she has taken, the effects of war finally getting to her, make her willing to let Paula go free if she just chooses to run.
But a walker that breaks free of its position goes for Carol, causing her to accidentally let off a shot that pins Paula in the shoulder. Maggie saves Carol from the walker attack, but the other last remaining Savior comes into the midst of the battle and only complicates matters. She slashes at Maggie’s stomach as the two tussle, until Carol shoots her dead at point blank range.
They return to Paula, who’s on the floor and comes to the realization that Carol was lying all along. She seems resigned to her death, but as Carol approaches her, the last bit of fight in her shows itself as she knocks the gun out of Carol’s hand. The two fight until Paula is impaled and then clawed at by a nearby walker that rips the flesh right off her face.
Conveniently, Paula’s men radio in that they’re approaching as her screams echo throughout the base. Carol grabs the radio, and with a slight affectation, imitates Paula to bait them into meeting on the kill floor.
And so Carol and Maggie hatch one final plan. It also gives them a brief respite as Carol considers the blood she has shed. She tells Maggie that she’s killed 18, now 20, people, and blames herself for not having killed the man in the forest to prevent any of this from happening. Maggie tells her not to worry because what’s done is done. It’s best not to think about it, especially as they have a new task at hand.
The new batch of Saviors appears in the hallway, Maggie and Carol shielded from view in a neighboring room. The door slightly ajar, the two monitor these newcomers movements as Carol lights up a cigarette. The men have cornered themselves in a room flooded with gasoline, and Carol flicks the lit cigarette into the room before she and Maggie lock them in with the raging inferno.
The cost of it all is taking its toll on Carol, but she and Maggie make it out, the latter furiously killing every walker left by the door for them as they leave. They open the door to find Glenn, Rick, and the rest waiting for them, prepared to strike.
Instead, they find two of their people beaten down, coming out of a demanding fight, one that pushes Carol to say she simply can’t anymore. (It’ll be fascinating to watch how the dynamic between her and Morgan shifts in the wake of these last few episodes.)
And faced with the death of his fellow Saviors, Rick asks their captive Primo to talk. Daryl would rather let him burn, but Rick is hoping to get some information out of him, particularly where they got the motorcycle and, most importantly, whether Negan was in the base last night or in this safehouse today.
He receives in turn an answer akin to what Carol learned, and one that will likely leave the group needing to figure out a new plan. Primo tells them Negan was in both places, because he is Negan (an answer that, while Rick may not know at the time, falls in line with what Carol heard that all of the Saviors consider themselves Negan).
So Rick shoots him right on the spot, another killing that takes its toll on Carol, who stands gripping the sharpened cross so tightly in her hands that her blood spills as well.
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