Carol Is Forced to Come to Terms With Her Past on ‘The Walking Dead’ (RECAP)

Spoiler Alert
Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 10 Episode 14, “Look at the Flowers.”]

You’d think an episode titled “Look at the Flowers” would be mostly about Carol (Melissa McBride).

It’s not.

Of course, it does have something to do with her; just not as much as fans might think. Honestly, the 14th episode of TWD’s 10th season (now its penultimate!) has a lot to juggle. It spends its time balancing four storylines; Carol (duh) and her determination to flee once again, Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Beta (Ryan Hurst), and Eugene (Josh McDermitt)’s team. Here’s how it all comes crashing down.

Wandering the Woods

So Carol let Negan out… and now she’s not exactly holding up her end of the deal. As we learn in a flashback, Negan agreed to help Carol as long as she could make sure that killing Alpha (Samantha Morton) was “what the people remember him for.” But after Carol puts Alpha’s head on a pike, when the time comes for the duo to head back to Alexandria and for Carol to make that announcement, she tells him he took too long and she “needs to be alone.” She leaves an angered Negan standing at the pikes with nowhere safe to go. Bummer, Negan.

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But Carol’s not really alone — she has Alpha! Well, her subconscious manifestation of the bald-headed Whisperer leader, anyway. As Carol treks through the woods, Alpha taunts her, implying that what Carol “really wants” is her own death. And Carol darn near gets it. She makes it to a cabin and tries to pull down a kayak, only to have the whole structure come crashing down on her.

She survives that, but all the noise gets the attention of a waterlogged walker. It crawls up from the riverbank, and as it does so, Alpha goes through a list of everyone Carol’s lost: Sophia, Henry, Lizzie, Mika, Ezekiel, and soon, she says she’ll lose Daryl. “I can’t let that happen,” Carol says, and she comes to the realization that while Alpha told her to “look at the flowers,” it’s not too late for her to start over. With seconds to spare, she frees herself and kills the walker.

The New Alpha

Negan’s having yet another really, really bad day. After being ditched by the person who was meant to clear his name, he heads to the cabin where Lydia (Cassady McClincy) was tied up only to find her gone. But the place isn’t empty — Daryl’s there, and he wants to know where Alpha is. No amount of explanation or showing the archer Alpha’s mask is evidence enough to quell Daryl’s disbelief, so he brings him to the pikes… but Alpha’s head is gone (Beta took it).

Things only get worse from there. A couple of Whisperers approach, and Negan and Daryl both ready for attack. Except the Whisperers bow to Negan, telling him that since he caused Alpha’s death, he’s the new Alpha. Of course, Negan’s not on board with leading the Whisperers. When the opportunity arises, he takes one of the Whisperers’ guns and shoots him, then stabs his companion. He and Daryl then wait at the pikes until morning — for Carol, who doesn’t show — and Negan admits that he did enjoy being free and respected with the Whisperers until Alpha took things too far. They head back to Alexandria.

Eugene’s Crew

Turns out, Eugene gets to go on his mission to find Stephanie after all (yay!). He rallies Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) and Ezekiel (Khary Payton) to his cause, and they head out to the big city. On the way, they find some walkers being held in cages, and they have to fight their way out of a sticky situation. This is where Zeke falters a little: it seems his strength is fading.

That incident, combined with the death of one of the group’s horses, convinces Zeke he shouldn’t have gone. He wants to turn around, but Yumiko stops him, and they all head into Atlanta together. There, they find some truly weird stuff. Someone’s been cuffing walkers into daily-life scenes; sitting in diners, driving cars, etc. Ezekiel cracks up at all the absurdity, but when he calms down, they find a newcomer: a woman (Paola Lazaro) with pink-highlighted hair, goggles, and a fur coat.

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“Oh my god, hi!” she exclaims. She seems like a real Princess, if you know what I mean. Comics readers, you know what I mean.

Beta’s Secret Life

You know how Beta seemed like the most devoted of the Whisperers? Yeah, maybe not totally. He finds Alpha’s head on the pike and takes it (but not after giving her a little taste of one of her followers’ faces), heading into a town and one specific building. There’s something of a memorial to his former self set up there, complete with a guitar he breaks and a record of himself performing as a country artist under the stage name “Full Moon.”

He uses that record to draw a horde of walkers, they begin marching toward Alexandria. He also ripped his mask during this ordeal, but he managed to fix it, by using part of Alpha’s zombified face. It’s nasty, but it’s very Beta.

Coming Home

Carol, having realized she does indeed want to live, comes home at the end of the episode. Daryl meets her at Alexandria’s gate, and although he doesn’t say anything, he does let her in… so that’s something, at least.

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Other Observations

  • Man, comparing this to last year’s “Scars” makes “Look at the Flowers” feel like a bit of a letdown. I had hoped the show was starting a new trend of having game-changing fourteenth episodes, and while a lot did happen here, none of it had the emotional weight of that Michonne and Daryl story. Oh, well.
  • On that subject, I hoped this episode would focus more on Carol than it did. With a title like “Look at the Flowers,” I’d been hoping we’d get some kind of a reconciliation/reasoning for her behavior, a realization that her revenge wasn’t going to make her whole, or some kind of in-depth emotional journey that took up a majority of the episode. “Ghosts” did her mental state really well, and I thought “Look at the Flowers” would be a mirror image of that: an exploration of her returning from that bad mental place to a good one. While that did happen, unfortunately, I felt like her storyline was almost a side plot. But again, kudos to Melissa McBride for making Carol’s coming to terms with her past emotionally resonant.
  • Negan called Carol Daryl’s “girlfriend,” so… that happened. Might mean nothing. Might mean something. Guess we’ll have to see how the next two episodes play out, whenever the finale ends up airing — and what happens when Daryl finds Connie, assuming she’s alive.

The Walking Dead, Sundays, 9/8c, AMC