If the events of last week’s episode brought about the question, ‘where now’, then this week’s ‘Consumed’ made sure to assuage any fears about the first half of the season petering out, and set a course for the now-inevitable showdown between the main survivors and the Hospital group.
Alongside its scene-setting, the episode also acted as a two-hander to delve deeper into the personalities of Daryl and Carol. Melissa McBride and Norman Reedus carried the episode well, exploiting the script to give crucial glimpses into characters who, for all their screen time in the past, perhaps haven’t been fully fleshed out.
Here, they were presented as two opposing ideals – to remember, or to forget. It was handled rather bluntly – the script calling for Daryl to bring it up perhaps one too many times than felt right – but regardless, it had the desired effect. Daryl and Tyreese talked of a ‘clean slate’, of moving on from past decisions not just because the post-apocalyptic world of the show is in essence a clean slate itself, but also because those who cling onto the past rarely fare well. Thus, Daryl’s view made sense, yet so too did Carol’s – how can they move on?
It might be logical in principle to brush over the past, but it’s another thing entirely to actually put this into practice. The scars Carol bears from her life over the course of the show are no small matter, and could arguably be seen to be what has defined her and made her into the warrior she is now. As usual, it’s a philosophical conundrum that is wholly relevant to the series, as there is no ‘right’ answer.
We also got to fill in the blanks in terms of Carol’s backstory, and also her time away from the screen. Her speech about Ed’s abuse felt like we were treading familiar ground, but what the episode really did was present the reality that, despite them both being the ‘outsiders’ of the group, Carol and Daryl aren’t just the male and female versions of the same person. Carol’s interest in the abstract art in an Atlanta apartment surprised Daryl. She retorted: “You don’t know me”, and frankly, she’s right; their alluded affection has always felt a bit like fan service gone wrong, independent of the guidance of the comics given Daryl’s original nature, and simply a way of ‘pairing off’ two independent characters.
While the character development was strong, the plot development was less so. The ending – looping back to Carol arriving at the hospital and Daryl going to rally the troops – made sense, but the journey to get to that point felt rather forced. Having escaped last time we saw him, Noah is still extremely close to the hospital, and just happens to be the one person Daryl and Carol cross paths with. Everything from the ‘eureka’ moment where they realised they had a common enemy, to running into him again was just the show trying to get from A to B, without a natural chain of events to do so.
The setup promises exciting viewing in the near future, it’s just a pity it couldn’t have been achieved without departing logic along the way.