The Walking Dead recap: Cooking with Carol!
In which we imagine Carol as the star of her own post-apocalyptic cooking show.
This week on The Walking Dead, Carol shares her Alexandria famous soup recipe! And it only takes a few ingredients you, too, can find in the woods behind your house.
While there's nothing much to "Diverged," the 21st episode in this expanded season 10 arc — like, at all — there is some fun to be had imagining a world in which Carol has a handheld camcorder and films a recurring post-apocalyptic cooking show that airs every week in Alexandria on some kind of projector. One week could be her "You Won't Believe They're Not Poisoned" cookies from season 5. Another week could be "Dixon Deer Stew" (which is an actual recipe from the official Walking Dead cookbook). Another week, still, could be this "Not-Quite-Guilt-Free Soup." Let's do that, instead of whatever filler episode "Diverged" actually turned out to be.
Following Carol's argument with Daryl in the woods a couple of episodes back, the friends took a break from each other. Daryl stayed in the woods a bit longer and Carol went back to Alexandria. Dog, not knowing which of his parents to side with, chose to follow Carol back home, much to dad's surprise.
Carol tries to keep busy but there's not much to do. Everyone seems to have their jobs already fixing up Alexandria, and there's that quiet fear that maybe there's no place for Carol here anymore. She then hears Jerry's tummy rumbling and gets the idea that she can whip up a soup for everyone, even though the kitchen is practically bare, the solar panels for electricity are busted, and the grains were largely thrown out due to rats. It's The Walking Dead: Iron Chef edition and Carol is the only contestant.
So, Carol gets to work, but everything seems to go wrong.
There's a rat scurrying around behind the walls that sends Dog into a frenzy. He runs around tearing up the place and bumps into Carol's table in the garage/kitchen, knocking over her first soup attempt. Next, Carol switches things up to show her dedicated viewers watching at home how to make a rat trap using everyday objects you can find in your own house. With that complete, she goes out in search of more ingredients. She even fixes the solar panels to get the electricity back, but, as can happen with cooking competition shows, the unexpected happens. There's not enough sunlight in the day and she has to wait until tomorrow to actually cook the soup in her hotplate.
The good news is that she caught the rat in her trap. The bad news? Once she picks up the box, the rat slips out. Dog just watches as she scrambles around the room trying to grab the rat. (Again, this is much better when you imagine this as part of a cooking show.)
Jerry is concerned with her behavior, especially after she returns covered in blood splatter from the walkers she had to subdue in the woods. Daryl isn't doing much better on his own. His bike breaks down, and he's forced to scavenge abandoned cars for replacement parts. He also needs a new switchblade, after realizing he gave his old one to Carol earlier. He gets into some scrambles with walkers, but it's the predictable kind of encounters that happen all the time on this show: a walker that seemingly looks contained ends up getting loose and puts the character's life in danger, but don't worry because the character is able to quickly kill it.
Later that night, as Daryl is trying to fix his bike by flashlight, Carol wakes up in the night. She hears the sounds of that pesky rat. The scratching from inside the wall taunts Carol, who quickly goes into a rage and tears open the entire wall in the kitchen. There's nothing to show for it in the end except a busted wall. The rat is nowhere to be seen.
The next day, Jerry stops by to check on her and offer a sympathetic ear. He doesn't quite know what to say so he quotes some lines from Ezekiel, like, "A friend is someone who thinks you're perfect even if everyone else thinks you're broken" — the kind of quote you could find on Pinterest with a nice sun-and-cloud-covered background. When Carol finally has an emotional release and accepts a hug from Jerry, the rat leaves of its own volition.
Shortly after, Daryl arrives back. The two have an awkward hello, neither one acknowledging their fight in the woods or offering any kind of apologies. Instead, Daryl says she can keep the switchblade and the two go off in their separate ways to crash.
See? Not much to this episode at all. The show feels no more better or worse for having this. It just seems inconsequential... except for fueling this dream for Carol's Food Network debut.