The Walking Dead: Consumed
The thing that stuck out to me about Consumed is that we pretty much knew what was going to happen before the episode even started. In Slabtown, we saw Carol being wheeled into the hospital. The only question was “how did she get there?” Turns out the answer was a completely implausible car accident. How does that even happen in a world without traffic? Ninja car? Carol is officially the worst pedestrian in the apocalypse.
We knew from Strangers that Daryl returned to camp with someone and that he wasn’t exactly in a chipper mood. A lot of people guessed that Daryl’s guest was Noah after meeting him in Slabtown. The episode revealed how the two strangers met. Noah disarmed them and basically left them to die. They teamed up less because it made sense than because the plot dictated that they must.
What I’m getting at is that we already knew the outcome of all of the events of Consumed. What we didn’t know was pretty obvious. And sometimes the explanation I came up with on my own was better than the one the show gave us.
J. Riddle at The Dig made some excellent points about the mounting coincidences that were necessary to bring the show to this point. Starting with the fact that a car from the hospital just happened to speed past Carol and Daryl back in Strangers, it’s been one coincidence after another. It’s coincidence that brings Daryl and Noah together for what is sure to be the mid-season finale assault on the hospital. That much coincidence can be a little hard to swallow at times.
The episode also features a pretty ridiculous action set piece. Daryl and Carol are searching for clues to Beth’s whereabouts in a van that is teetering over the edge of a bridge. They are beset by zombies and decide to pull a Thelma and Louise by riding the van off the bridge. They both walk away from the incident with a few scratches.
The logical part of my brain wants to cry “foul”. It seems like it would have been a hell of a lot safer to kill the zombies from inside the van by cracking a window. There had to be more sensible options available to them than van-diving off a bridge. On the other hand, if you didn’t think too much, the van scene was kind of awesome. If only for the payoff of zombies following the van over the edge and raining down on the van afterwards.
Later, Daryl and Carol pass a bunch of zombified campers. It’s a pretty creepy visual. But it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. How did these campers die? Why would they be trapped in sleeping bags and tents. We’ve seen zombies get through barriers much more substantial than camping gear. The answer is that the tent full of zombies will come into play when Noah robs Daryl and Carol of their weapons.
Having said all that, I mostly played along with Consumed. The Walking Dead works best when there’s not a lot of dialogue. Daryl and Carol communicate non-verbally. So there’s a lot less speechifying then when an episode focuses on some other characters.
When the characters do speak, it’s largely melodramatic nonsense about how Daryl and Carol have changed in the zombie apocalypse. This isn’t really something that needs to be said. As per usual, the dialogue isn’t especially well-written. It exists merely to pad the episode’s run time. But Melissa McBride and Norman Reedus are so comfortable in their characters that the sell this stuff.
The episode’s best moments to me were the ones that just allowed the characters to exist. While spending the night in a temporary housing building where Carol and Sophia spent a night prior to the zombie apocalypse, they come across a pair of zombies that look like a mother and a child. The implication is clear. This could have been Carol and Sophia under other circumstances. But the characters don’t comment on it explicitly.
Instead, Daryl takes it upon himself to kill the two zombies while Carol is asleep. He then burns the bodies in what passes for a funeral in the world of The Walking Dead. It’s an emotional moment that works because the show doesn’t feel the need to spell out all the context the way it does just about everything else.
By the end of Consumed, we’re really no further along in the season’s overall story than we were when the episode began. This is perhaps the least essential episode of the season. But it was an hour spent with two of the show’s most compelling castmembers. So I find myself in a forgiving mood. Hopefully the show pulls out the big guns over the next two weeks.