The Walking Dead, “The Same Boat,” was written by Angela Kang and directed by Billy Gierhart. This episode belonged to the women with Melissa McBride (Carol), Lauren Cohen (Maggie), and guest star Alicia Witt as Polly all delivered nuanced and powerful performances. The episode allowed us to see an entire group of strong capable women and what this world has made of them. I would be remiss in not also mentioning those other women in the room – Jill Jane Clements as Molly and Jeananne Goossen as Michelle. Their performances were also powerful if not quite as much the focus. It’s clear that we are supposed to see Paula as a mirror for Carol and Michelle as a mirror for Maggie.
The scene fades to the next morning and Paula hasn’t killed either Maggie or Carol and is watching as Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the group take down Primo (Jimmy Gonzales). Paula very calmly uses the radio – chillingly calmly in fact. Rick immediately suggests a trade, but wants to talk to Maggie and Carol first. Once again, Carol acts weak. Paula isn’t interested in a 2 for 1 trade – it’s not much of a trade for her! Donnie whines that they need Primo to patch him up.
Paula isn’t making any rash decision, however, and tells Rick she’ll get back to him. In the meantime, she drags Maggie and Carol’s coats over their heads so they can’t see. They are tied with duct tape and taken to a building. We eventually see that one room is labeled the “kill floor,” so I assume it was a slaughterhouse. As they travel, the camera shows what they are seeing, glimpses of their feet and the landscape moving as they drive. It’s disorienting and helps to mimic what the characters are feeling and to ratchet up the unease of the audience. Paula is on the radio issuing a complicated set of orders and using an astonishing number of protocols, suggesting that someone with a military background is in charge.
As they take off Maggie’s homemade hood, she comes face to face with a walker. She is helpless to defend herself, but there’s a great close up of a knife through the walker’s face! We see this through Maggie’s eyes as well and while it is a good scare, it was interesting to me that I wasn’t anymore afraid than I am when one of the group is almost bitten – which is a testament to how attached the show get us to the characters.
Maggie and Carol are secured in a room, while their captures go off to clear the building – or fortify it by either killing the walkers or setting the walkers as traps. Paula threatens them before she leaves, telling them that it’s taking all she has not to kill them right now. She taunts them to try something to give her the final excuse she needs to kill them. When she is called away, Maggie immediately starts trying to get out of her duct tape. Carol, oddly, picks up a rosary and stuffs it in her pocket.
When the others return, Carol starts hyperventilating. Now, it seemed like she started as soon as she heard them returning. They are completely oblivious, but Maggie notices. She looks at Carol, confused. I have to admit that I simply thought it was a ruse. After all, the group does notice Maggie yelling at them, and it leads to the two getting their gags off. However, in hindsight, I have to wonder if Carol really was hyperventilating because she knew if they came back, she’d have to kill them.
Molly remarks that Carol is “a nervous little bird,” and when she finds the rosary in Carol’s pocket, she remarks with disgust that she’s “one of those.” She does give the rosary to Carol and holding it appears to calm her down. Again, I have to admit that I was loving Carol so totally fooling them – but hindsight makes you re-evaluate this scene too.
Paula tells Maggie it was stupid of her to get knocked up. Maggie asks when it was ever smart! I loved this answer. Maggie points out that women have died in childbirth since the beginning of time. Paula taunts her with “Cute. Children are our future…” She tells her the point of living is to stay standing. Maggie counters that she’s wrong – the walkers do that. I thought this was a brilliant way of stating that if you don’t strive for something better, you’re dead anyway – even if you keep breathing. Maggie tells her that she’s choosing something.
Molly starts smoking, and it is a little funny when Carol tries to get her to stop by saying, “the baby.” Molly laughs pointing out that they’ve got way bigger problems than second hand smoke, but she still puts out her cigarette! Carol tells her that the cigarettes will kill her – and just like the woman Carol told in Alexandria, Molly will die shortly. However, Molly is already dying, likely from lung cancer as we see her bloody handerkerchief after her coughing fit. Molly gives us the title as she says she’s a dead man walking – which puts her in the same boat as Carol and Maggie – they are likely dead too.
Carol eventually asks for a cigarette. Molly thinks it’s funny, and Paula sees it as a weakness that Carol can’t even stick to her own principles. However, is it something more? Does Carol now have some kind of death wish? Is this like a last cigarette before execution? Interestingly, it is her very convictions that Carol is afraid of – her commitment to keep the others and especially the children safe. And of course, she uses her cigarette to take care of the other Saviors at the end who they lure onto the kill floor and incinerate.
Paula gets a message that her scout crew is 30 minutes away. Donnie is still whining and complaining about his arm. Maggie says he doesn’t have 30 minutes. They’ve learned that Primo is a doctor, so Maggie urges them to make the deal to save Donnie. Donnie is angry and says if Paula isn’t going to trade them, he wants to kill Maggie and Carol for revenge. Paula tells him they have to be smart, and Donnie wants to shoot Carol in the arm.
Donnie hits Paula and knocks her out, so Maggie takes him down by sweeping his legs out from under him. He grabs Maggie by the hair, hauling her to her feet and she head butts him! Maggie was FIERCE in this episode and Cohen totally pulled it off. Carol jumps in at this point, but is really a distraction more than anything as Donnie turns his attention to her and starts kicking her in the kidneys. Carol merely curls up and takes it!
Paula jumps up and hits him, ending it. She tells Michelle to take Maggie to another room and find out what she knows. This sets up a terrific parallel between Michelle and Maggie and Carol and Paula. It’s telling that as soon as the adrenaline rush is over, Maggie throws up. We see that Michelle is missing half her pinky-finger – and it’s a recent injury. It’s only implied, but it would appear to be the punishment (from Negan) for her stealing gas to go and look for the body of her boyfriend. Who was clearly among the group blown up by Daryl (Norman Reedus). It’s also something that Maggie would do. We learn that Michelle was also pregnant – but not how she lost the baby.
Did she lose it naturally, or was it taken from her as it would interfere with her ability to do her job? Maggie also notices the name tattooed on her. Maggie assumes Frankie was her boyfriend, but Michelle says he was an asshole – we knew that! – and that Frank was her dad and what she was going to name the baby. So Frank and Hershel become another touchstone between the two. Maggie tells Michelle that she’s not planning to die today, and Michelle says neither is she, but one of them is wrong.
It’s even more interesting then that when Michelle and Maggie have their final confrontation that Michelle slashes at the baby. Is she most jealous of this one thing that Maggie has? That certainly seems like the thing she most wants to take from her. Of course, threatening the baby is the one thing that leads Carol to snap back to the Carol we love, and she doesn’t hesitate to shoot Michelle in the head to save the baby – and Maggie.
Paula and Carol also have a heart to heart chat. Paula asks Carol, who is clutching the rosary, if she really believes. Carol tells her that it was her faith that got her through the death of her daughter. A faith we really haven’t seen since.
Rick calls Paula and she reminds him she said she’d call him. Rick asks if it would make a difference if he said he was sorry. Paula tell him they’ll take their chances. Carol tells her that she doesn’t have to do this, that Rick is reasonable! Carol says they don’t have to fight. Molly points out that Carol’s people killed all their people. Carol starts crying, and I really thought this was simply an Oscar-worthy performance from Carol – but in hindsight, I’m not so sure. Carol tells them about the ambush on the road. Information that is clearly going to make Michelle unhappy and Molly remarks that at least they know what happened to that group now. Paula simply remarks that that was fair play, but the killing at the facility wasn’t – why keep killing?
Carol tells them that Negan sounded like a maniac – they were scared and felt they needed to stop him. Molly remarks that they are all Negan – ominously. What does that mean? It also fits in with Primo saying he’s Negan at the end of the episode. It all sounds like a cross between a cult and Spartacus!
Paula twits Carol about being too scared to stick to her principles, which is hilarious as Carol remarks, “You want me to stick to my own principles…” Which would be to kill anyone who even looks sideways at Carol’s group. To kill before asking questions. Paula relates her own story about being a meek secretary and mother of four daughters. She lost her husband and daughters when they were separated. Her first kill was her douchy boss so that she could live.
Paula tells Carol the story of the boiling water. You have three pots and put a carrot in one, an egg in another, and coffee beans in the third. The carrot goes in hard and comes out soft. The egg goes in fragile and comes out hard. The coffee, however, changes the water itself. At this stage, both Carol and Paula are the egg. But even a hard boiled egg can have the shell removed. Paula tells Carol that she stopped counting the people she killed when she hit double digits – we’ve seen that Carol is keeping a tally herself – and this comes up later in the episode when she adds to total in telling Maggie. Paula insists that she is the same as she ever was, just stronger. She’s better than she was. Carol asks her if she’s sure about that.
Then Carol tells her that Paula is the one who is afraid to die and she’s the one who is going to die if Paula doesn’t work it out. Paula looks shocked when she finally sees a glimpse of badass Carol. She asks her if she’s going to kill them. Carol says, “I hope not.”
When Paula calls Rick to offer to make the trade – most likely a set up – she demonstrates that she really is pretty smart. She suggests a field with the sign “God is dead” in it. A bit on the nose really. She notes the trade was too easy and there was no static on the line. She assumes that Rick and the group are close and must have tracked them – thank you Daryl!
They leave Carol alone, and we see Carol take a deep breath, and it seems that the “real” Carol emerges. She gets free – using the sharpened rosary cross. She avoids Molly on the way to freeing Maggie. The two hug. Maggie asks if she’s ok, and Carol remarks that they have to be – a different answer than she gives Daryl at the end of the episode. Carol just wants to go, but Maggie insists – rightly – that they have to finish it.
They find Donnie already dead and tie him up, letting him kill bite Molly, and then Maggie loses it, bashing in Molly’s skull. Bear McCreary’s music is simply fantastic in this sequence.
Paula walks in and sees both Molly and Donnie and knows that she is utterly screwed. She has nothing to lose now and comes after Carol and Maggie where they are trapped in the hall by the walkers.
Maggie yells at Carol to shoot Paula, but she hesitates until a walker behind Carol lunges at her, knocking her off balance and causing her to shoot. It’s the walker who forces Carol’s hand. The shot doesn’t kill Paula, however.
Paula finally sees what Carol really is and how alike they are. She asks Carol “If you could do all this, what were you so afraid of?” And Carol tells her “I was afraid of this.” Carol is afraid of turning into a cold, unfeeling killer. We get another epic fight between Carol and Paula with Paula ending up impaled with one of the walkers who proceeds to eat her.
Maggie is shocked, and Carol proceeds to pull it together enough to lure the scout crew to the kill floor. While they are waiting, Carol laments that none of this would have happened if she’d just killed Donnie in the woods. She admits that she had a clear shot. Of course, Paula, Molly, and Michelle were right there in the woods too, so they would have had to die – or killed Carol and or Maggie in the woods. But the scout crew wouldn’t have had to die.
Maggie knifes the walker and Paula – who has now turned as she and Carol leave. There’s another terrific shot as the door opens with Maggie on one side and Glenn (Steven Yuen) in the lead on the other, both pointing guns at each other. A good thing that they didn’t have a shoot first person right at the front!
Daryl goes straight to Carol, hutting her. He asks her if she’s good, and she admits to him that she’s not.
Glenn and Maggie also hug, and Maggie admits that she can’t do this anymore.
It’s telling that Rick doesn’t hesitate to shoot Primo in the head – in mid-sentence! – after he admits to being Negan. Rick is in full protect mode.
This was another powerful episode and continued to examine the effect of having to live in this world. There are hard choices to make and those choices have far reaching consequences. Do you think Carol was just faking it throughout the episode, or was she really having a breakdown? Were you sorry at all for the Savior crew? Favorite scene? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!