When Carol (Melissa McBride) revealed last week she killed Karen and David, what was so shocking was not so much the action itself (which was still a pretty big surprise) but the cold indifference her character showed to her actions. This week's episode focused on this lack of remorse, as Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Carol let their feelings known whilst on a run for supplies. In a refreshing break, the majority of Indifference took place outside the prison, and alongside these two, we only saw Daryl (Normas Reedus), Michonne (Danai Gurira), Tyrese (Chad L. Coleman) and Bob (Lawrence Gilliard, Jr.), still out in the wilderness after having to flee their car by the roadside.
They have to put their differences aside and work together whilst they're still stranded out in the country. In an episode relatively light on zombies, we saw the group grapple with the undead emerging out of the undergrowth, and later on escaping from a college full of walkers. Michonne tries to steer Tyrese away from his grief by saying, "Anger makes you stupid, and being stupid gets you killed," before she admits she's not angry anymore at the Governor.
You might get killed if your emotions run riot, but we also see in Carol the dangers of ruling out all feeling. I'd commented in previous episodes how Carol has grown from being the meek and abused wife when we first met her in Atlanta, to grow in to one of the show's best characters, a clear headed matriarch who won't let emotions affect her judgment. Such pragmatism was taken to its most horrifying extreme when she murdered the sick Karen and David, and there is a clear awkwardness between her and Rick as they go about looking for supplies.
Rick himself abdicated his leadership after facing off two maniacal figures in best friend Shane and charismatic leader the Governor. But in their stilted conversations, Rick realises that Carol is a new kind of enemy. Whilst Shane's survival-at-all costs mantra came from his desire to challenge Rick over Lori, and the Governor's militant preservation of Woodbury part of a deluded attempt to recreate life before the catastrophe, Carol's action stem not from emotion but a lack of it. She's withdrawn herself from accountability by placing her actions in practical terms. As she tells Rick after nonchalantly putting back in place Sam's dislocated shoulder, "Just fixed what needed fixing". She might not have been bitten by a walker, but she's certainly turned in to a monster.
Sam (Robin Lord Taylor) and Ana (Brina Palencia) are the young couple they meet whilst out on their run, two eerily cheery people who clearly are created as a blissfully innocent contrast to the gloom and doom that surround Carol and Rick. The former sheriff's deputy gives them his three-question test to see if they can join the prison, but Carol throws down a much harder gauntlet by saying that the two, despite their poorly condition, can help hunt for supplies. Inevitably Ana is killed, whilst Sam doesn't return, but it's clear from her reaction Carol didn't mind sending out to their deaths a couple who never looked adept to survive on their own.
Rick's final decision to kick Carol out of the group is a bold one, but clearly done in mind to maintaining the harmony of the group. At this, she finally begins to cry and asks if she can take the girls she now protects at the prison. Whilst this difficult decision feels like the natural culmination of events, I hope this isn't the last we've seen of Carol. As the longest surviving female character on the show she's also one of the few to have actually developed and improved as the series has progressed, unlike the reactive Rick who seems stuck in a character cul-de-sac. The Walking Dead needs more characters like Carol to keep the show interesting, as I fear most of the current crop won't keep us invested for long.