Spoilers for 6.12, past seasons and mild spoilers for 6.13
The Walking Dead season 6 episode 13, “The Same Boat”, takes place immediately after episode 6.12 “Not Tomorrow Yet” in which Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and members of the protagonist’s group attack an outpost run by the saviors in an attempt to free a captive member of the Hilltop Colony, retrieve weapons and food, and to potentially eliminate the villainous leader of the Saviors, Negan, in the process. All seems to have gone well for the group until two of their own, Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan) and Carol Peltier (Melissa McBride), are captured by returning Saviors.
“We are all Negan” chimes Molls (Jill Jane Clements), an older Savior. Carol (McBride) and Maggie (Cohan) sit captive awaiting for their chance to escape or be rescued by Rick and the rest of the group. The latter half of Season 6 has teased the introduction of a new human villain by the name of Negan and has done so in a fashion that leaves viewers anxious for the glimpse of the new villain but not annoyed at his absence thus far. Angela Kang has written a good character driven episode, something the series has been criticized for not doing well in the past. Under current showrunner Scott Gimple, The Walking Dead has mostly excelled at character driven episodes and “The Same Boat” is no different. This episode is driven by the relationship between Carol and Maggie, the knowledge that Maggie is pregnant and Carol’s extreme character change since her introduction in Season 1 and her continuing arc. From meek and depressed to the Rambo of The Walking Dead, fans knew that Carol wasn’t stuck captive with the Saviors, they were stuck with her, or were they? The Carol that fans have come to know in the last three seasons has changed, she appears to be tired of her kill-first-ask-later mantra of surviving in the apocalypse. Maybe the pacifist Morgan has gotten to her. At first, she makes herself appear to be a weak older woman who can barely defend herself and is afraid of everything. It looks like she’s plotting for the right time to strike, making the Saviors feel like she isn’t a threat, but then she doesn’t. She tries to escape with Maggie when the opportunity arises without killing, or doing so only if necessary. She pleads with the leader of the small band of Saviors, Laura (Alicia Witt), to just leave so she does not have to kill her when she would have dispatched her quickly in the past. The initial change from meek and mild to hardcore killer back in Season 4 may have been jarring at first but the way her arc is shifting in recent episodes is the most believable of her story, even if it is the most infuriating. After the death of her daughter Sophia back in Season 2, she became closed off and decided to kill any and all possible threats to her group’s survival, all of which is now catching up with her and her realization that maybe she doesn’t have to kill anymore is what drives all of her decisions in this episode.
This emotional performance is one of many brought to the show by Melissa McBride, arguably the best actor currently on the show. Season 4’s “The Grove” another character driven episode featuring Carol, should have garnered McBride an Emmy nomination and she brings out everything in her acting arsenal again for “The Same Boat.” Lauren Cohan is great as well and her chemistry with McBride leaves fans wanting more interaction between the two characters. The story does not feel sluggish or slow, as some character oriented episodes of the past have, and lead character Rick’s minimal role in the episode is not a hindrance. McBride can, and has, carry an episode on her own and they usually end up being the better ones of the series. The episode brings the kills and gore of the show but does not rely on it to make it enjoyable. Every technical aspect of this episode is great, Greg Nicotero’s zombie prosthetics are perfect as always and the writing mostly works, some clunky dialogue from Savior Laura is noticeable but not too cringe worthy and other than Molls (Clement) and Laura (Witt), the other Saviors in this episode feel like glorified Red Shirts. My biggest problem with the episode is Savior Laura. She tells a story about being at work with her weak boss when the breakout started and was not able to reconnect with her family, the biggest problem with that is she claims to have killed her boss right as the outbreak started when even the most badass characters have had to get used to killing others for survival but this little nitpick is a small grievance. Overall, this episode has the right mix of character and action to make in enjoyable and feed the flames of anticipation over when we might see Negan. Savior Primo remarks to Rick at the end of the episode, “I’m Negan shithead” garnering him a bullet in the head, to Carol’s shock.
Episode Reviews will be posted every Sunday night. Let us know on Facebook and Twitter, what did you think of the episode? Has the group really taken care of Negan? What repercussions will the group face in their attack of the Savior outpost? Next week’s episode, entitled “Twice as Far” may bring the answers.