[rating:3/5]

“Indifference” is a fitting title for this week because that pretty much sums up how I feel about it. There were moments I loved, don’t get me wrong, but as a whole it’s certainly not the best hour The Walking Dead writers have given us.

After last week’s tension-filled quarantine drama, it was an abrupt change of pace to get this slow, quiet, minimal cast kind of episode. It’s frustrating not to know anything about what’s happening to Hershel, Tasha, Glenn, and the others who are sick. Sure, we get some opening exposition from Lizzie but all we know is no one hass died yet. Oh, and that this week’s episode is brought to you by the theme of “change.” Seriously, if you rewatch this episode and you need a drinking game, go for every time someone says the word “change.”

Speaking of change, Rick has swapped out his khaki sheriff/farmer shirt that he burned for a slimming black one. An obvious symbol for him slipping into the darkness of Ricktatorship Rick? A wardrobe choice designed to highlight his lush beard? Both? Hard to say for sure, but his silence throughout the episode was an ominous build up to his banishment of Carol. I like that she calls him out on his track record of making decisions for the group; she’s totally right, and Rick’s definitely stepping back up to the leadership plate in the chaos of this flu. During the crisis he’ll be a good guy to have around, especially since most of the council is out of commission in one way or another, but there’s no telling what will happen to him after.

“Indifference” is split up into two distinct plotlines: Rick and Carol’s run, and Daryl, Michonne, Bob, and Tyreese’s trip to the veterinary school.

The group at the vet school sees a lot more walker action along the way than Rick and Carol. Their first encounter is with some walker-laden shrubbery concealing a car at a gas station. Everyone dispatches their attacker easily enough (though I don’t know why Bob is using a gun for everything when he could be using a knife) except Tyreese, who grapples with his walker a lot longer than someone without a death wish would.

Thankfully, Michonne calls him out on his anger and potentially dangerous attitude, all without belittling his problems. She can handle everything from zombies to tough love discussions, even when that means admitting she isn’t so sure about her own mission to find the Governor.

Daryl has his surprising moments in this storyline too, like bonding with Michonne and reassuring (and then threatening) Bob. I’m frustrated we still don’t know exactly what’s up with Bob, but we can all agree it’s fishy that he’s been the last one standing out of two different groups, right? I’m not saying he did anything to them necessarily, but something is definitely up there.

The group manages to get everything on Hershel’s list while they’re at the super creepy veterinary college. The sight of all those empty cages is so spooky to me. It didn’t help that suddenly walkers were everywhere, and a bunch of them had died of the sickness. This is far away from the prison, so where did this disease even come from? Considering the limited resources of this post-zombie apocalypse world, we’ll probably never know for sure, but I hope answers are soon to come about this plague.

The most striking thing about this half of the episode is Daryl’s reactions to Bob. At the gas station, he’s very compassionate towards him, reassuring Bob that he won’t be the last one standing anymore. When Bob breaks his trust by valuing his alcohol over the medicine for the camp, Daryl gets scary. I seriously thought he might push Bob over the edge into the walkers for a second, but he settles for taking his gun and growling a threat directly into his face. It’s not violence for violence’s sake, the way Merle used to behave; it’s Daryl valuing the group’s welfare over everything. He’s finally found his people, and he’ll do what’s necessary to protect them.

Considering Daryl is closest to Carol out of everyone (Michonne’s clearly creeping up on his list of friends though and I love them together – buddy cop spinoff anyone?), how is he going to take the news of her banishment? Or her “death,” which is my guess for Rick’s explanation to everyone since he’d have to explain why he banished her in the first place.

I held on to such hope that Carol hadn’t really done it, or that she’d only burned them after they’d turned, but she’s 100% frank about her actions throughout her whole run with Rick. She thinks she did the right thing even though it’s morally wrong. She’s become super pragmatic over the seasons, and now she’s taken it to the extreme: she did what she thought she needed to do, and she’s accepted that.

She wanted Rick to accept that too, but he can’t. Even though—as Carol rightly points out–he’s often acted on the same logic, he’s not convinced her actions were necessary. He’s also completely freaked out by her cold, distant attitude towards everything, not just her recent murders. That conversation they have in the garden about their pasts is one of my favorite conversations on the show to date. Carol finally opens up about her abusive relationship after Rick asks where she learned to fix Sam’s dislocated shoulder, and it’s just as sad and character development-affirming as you’d expect. Rick talks about Lori and actually smiles, and his story about her making terrible pancakes every Sunday was incredibly sweet.

Of course, just when it looks like Rick and Carol are working their way towards some kind of understanding, everything goes wrong. Ana, the girl survivor they found in the house, has been devoured by walkers and Carol has no emotional reaction to it. Sam doesn’t return when he was supposed to either, and Carol pushes Rick to leave without him. These poor kids (I say kids, they’re honestly probably older than me but they act so young and naive) just wanted to help, wanted to prove they would be useful to Rick’s camp, and they end up dead and missing for their efforts.

For half a second I thought maybe Sam had locked himself inside the car when Carol couldn’t get in, but it was Rick. They have a painful conversation about how Carol can’t be around anyone at the prison now—Tyreese will kill her, the others will shun her, and Rick doesn’t trust her around Carl and Judith. He knows she’ll survive out here alone, despite every other conversation on this show preaching the opposite, and leaves her with some supplies and the station wagon they found. She gives him a watch her husband had given her years ago to replace the one he lost with Sam, and just like that, she’s gone.

The episode ends with everyone driving on lonely roads to a melancholic song that keeps repeating that “everything changes.” It sure does, and not for the better – Carol was a huge part of the show, and Melissa McBride played her so well. It won’t be the same without her, and the explanation for where she went will be interesting to hear from Rick.

I’m hoping since she knows how to get to the prison that she’ll just come back one day, but who knows. How tragic would it be if one day they’re out on a run and they get attacked by zombie Carol and that’s how we find out what became of her?

If it weren’t for Carol’s banishment at the end of the episode, “Indifference” would have been completely unremarkable. In a season that’s been heavy on the action and suspense, an episode like this feels a little out of place.

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