Sunday's episode of The Walking Dead was, as Lauren Cohan said in a clip shown on Talking Dead, "a female episode" in many senses of the word. The showdown between Maggie, Carol, and Paula on The Walking Dead delivered one of the best installments of the season, if not the series thus far. The bottle episode of sorts featured five female characters swapping post-apocalyptic ideologies and amped up the — to get real '90s on you — girl power.
Last Sunday, Carol and Maggie were kidnapped by this small group of Saviors. They eventually escaped and slaughtered everyone there. (Carol is going to have to add a few more tick marks to her murder Moleskine.) However, it was the conversations that the captors and captives had before all this went down that were most... captivating. Everyone in the Savior's group seemed disgusted with Carol's presumed meekness and Maggie's "time to make babies" in particular, which started some truly riveting conversations.
For Carol, this episode was about coming to terms with her newfound killer instinct. In fact, when she began hyperventilating while gagged, I couldn't tell if it was part of her plan, or if she was truly having a panic attack about her situation. Though that remains ambiguous, as the episode progressed it became clear that Paula, the leader of this small group of Saviors, was very similar to Carol in a lot of ways. They have both lost their loved one and large chunks of their own humanity as well. They both do what they have to do to survive. But while Paula found strength in her loss, Carol is not so sure about the effect her own tragedies have had on her.
But for all of their talk, the final showdown between the five women was no less ruthless than anything we've seen on The Walking Dead. "Paula has decided that she's not going to be a victim in this incredibly dangerous and helter-skelter sort of apocalyptic time," actor Alicia Witt said in an interview with Bustle. "She's decided that she's going to stand up to whoever comes her way and she's going to prove that what could be the end of all things is not going to be her end." While she did meet her end in the episode, she put up one hell of a fight and held her own until the very end.
Though Carol and Maggie's ultimate defeat of their captors proved once again that they are no damsels in distress, the episode also showed that the two women can still be vulnerable. Neither of them are OK after what they did to the Saviors, no matter how necessary it was. I think hearing Carol and Maggie admit their moral doubts is just as important as seeing them in kickass action sequences, because it both adds to their complexity and further demonstrates The Walking Dead's biggest themes.
There was truly something special about seeing Carol and Maggie interact with these women who were similar to them in some ways, but have taken such different paths in the apocalypse. It was a nice change of pace for The Walking Dead that really made me appreciate this show all the more and left me eager to see how this effects Maggie and Carol going forward.
Images: Gene Page/AMC; Giphy