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'The Walking Dead' 4.14: Too Far

Paul Levinson Paul Levinson
March 17th, 2014 3:29pm EDT

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Everyone has their limits. Years ago, I recommended The Sopranos to a well-known science fiction author. She told me that from what she had seen and heard of the series, the violence went too far for her.  I understood that, even though the violence in The Sopranos - and in many other television shows - doesn't bother me.

But everyone has their limits. And The Walking Dead reached mine in the brutally powerful episode - 4.14 - Sunday night.  There's something about killing of children - whether by a psycho, or as the result of a cold-blooded irrefutable logic - that I just can't abide.   It of course happens in reality.  But it upsets me too much to give me what I want in my entertainment.

Both killings made perfect, horrendous sense in the narrative. Lizzie, the older sister, had an irrational but understandable view of the zombies. Like Hershel, she believed that they were still in some sense human. She believed she could communicate and even be friends with them.   And if she could do that, if she could imagine she could be friends and play with them, why would she want to kill them with a bullet or knife in their brain?  Challenged by everyone on this belief, it makes sense - a sick, deluded sense, but sense -  that if she killed her sister Mika, she was only transforming Mika into a different kind of person, and this would prove to everyone that Lizzie was right about the zombies. That was logical, but it was horrible to see - more horrible that any of the other deaths in the series, including Lori's.

In some ways, though, Carol's killing of Lizzie was even worse, precisely because it was completely logical and pretty much the only thing to do.  Melissa McBride gave a tour-de-force performance as Carol.  In effect, Lizzie had killed Carol's surrogate daughter, Mika.  But Lizzie was Carol's surrogate daughter, too.  To then have to kill Lizzie, as a way protecting Judith, was an unimaginably, impossibly harrowing decision.  But, honestly, I would have rather not experienced what Carol had to do.   In the vast possibilities of narrative arcs on television, I would rather not have gone down a road that led inevitably to Lizzie's death by Carol's deliberate hand.

Everyone has their limits. I guess I'll keep watching The Walking Dead, because there's a lot in the series that is exceptional television. But I don't know what I'll do if I ever see anything like this again.

Photo Credits: photo by AMC