Melisa McBride’s Performance in “The Same Boat” Propels this Episode of ‘The Walking Dead’ to Greatness

Maggie and Carol are taken hostage by a group of Negan’s people and, with no hope of a rescue, the two must rely on their own wits to survive but, for some reason, the thought of killing just doesn’t excite Carol the way it used to.

This season half of the season has been a marked improvement over the last which, despite the adventures of indestructible Glenn and other silliness, was a pretty good stretch of episodes on their own.  This half-season has been a lot more focused and a lot more propelled, marching towards… or rather tumbling down a hill uncontrollably towards the first confrontation with the full force of the storm that’s coming.  To me, it’s giving this half-season a sense of urgency that we’ve been missing of late.  It’s making the show a lot more enjoyable and it’s giving me ulcers because I can see what’s coming and I don’t think I’m going to like it.

“The Same Boat” was an incredible episode.  Everything worked, everyone was great — from Melisa McBride and Lauren Cohan who were aces to the incredibly strong guest cast of villains.  The tension in the episode was in top form and, even with the tension, even with the action… it also served as a very in depth character piece.  Carol is starting to fall to pieces.  She’s looked into the abyss, the abyss is her, and she doesn’t like what she sees.

McBride doesn’t get the credit that she deserves for Carol.  I’ve touched on before that Carol has been on a constant evolution since the series began and is almost unrecognizable compared to what she was.  She is a warrior, she is a mother, and she is a woman… Few television shows or movies ever seem to find that balance of strength and vulnerability, but McBride does it and does it very well.

This is one of those side-quest episodes I’ve talked about before, with only a couple of members of the cast off doing their own thing, and usually I don’t like them but “The Same Boat” was like a barbed-wire wrapped bat smacking us in the head with its brutality and honesty.  It was a character examination and a look into a mind that is, at long last, fracturing from the stress and wondering if there is a way back.  Sadly, it looks like the answer is no.

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