AMC’s The Walking Dead The Same Boat TV Show Review. The Walking Dead, Season 6, Episode 13: ‘The Same Boat,’ was a fake-out on so many levels; but this was a good thing – and not just for being a breath of relief, for fans of its spotlight characters, either.
Carol (Melissa McBride) had to have known that being tethered to Maggie (Lauren Cohan) put her at a dangerous disadvantage, going into Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) raid gone wrong; but she followed through, anyway. She needed Maggie to be someone else, and following through was the only way to see to it, at the moment. So was playing along.
After inadvertently creating a crisis, for their already unhinged captors, Carol again proved that adaptability may be the best survivalist quality of them all. Of course, having a reflexively sharp mind (and the ability to modulate personal pride) helps; but it turned out that you didn’t really have to be Hans Gruber, or Kaiser Soze, to get one over this group of Saviors.
It was a colorful bunch, to be sure, and I give the ep some credit for establishing some of their individual character prior to exposition. I’d like to think it was an opportunity for viewers to size them up the way Carol did.
Molly (Jill Jane Clements) was the nihilist, Donnie (Rus Blackwell) was the baby hiding behind misogyny, and Michelle (Jeananne Goossen) was seething with vengeance; but Paula (Alicia Witt) established Alpha status with more than just some blustery negotiation style. Beyond her apparent powers of command & assessment, there was clearly more to her, beneath the tough surface she projected. Most notable, though, was Molly declaring that they “were all Negan” – a sort of “I am Spartacus” show of solidarity, or a misdirection tactic, I dunno. What Carol may have seen of their opening interactions, however, may have brought down the curtains before any of them realized that they were even on a stage.
Does it sound like I had fun, watching the play unfold? Yes. Yes, I did.
In keeping with its surface-vs-what-lies-beneath theme, Molly also made a series title reference to Carol, by quoting the episode title – so, right there, we got the meaning behind the title. Only, I don’t think we did; and that exchange may have amounted to more misdirection.
The people in The Same Boat were Carol & Paula.
The parallels were all there – from spousal abuse, to sacrificing colleagues, to trading in a family woman’s past for a road warrior’s present & future. The difference, that determined which occupant got to be Fredo, was in how they each wore their respective experiences. Paula wore hers on the surface – flaming bright colors, to ward off predators. Carol internalizes everything – relying on stealth & patience to get what she wants, rather than just expecting everyone else to make way at her approach. Even coral snakes get eaten, if they advertise to the wrong predator.
Now there are bound to be more than a few of you, out there, thinking that some kind of injustice was done to Carol’s character. I would be inclined to agree, had I bought into her being an outright badass; but I never did.
I said it before, but if I were to compare Carol to any natural born killer, it’d be the Assassin Bug (look them up – they’re impressive/terrifying). Carol is a survivor, not a warrior. It was never about the kill skill-set, it was about adaptability, and the old maxim that if you do things right, people may not realize you did anything at all. Look at the cookies, Alexandria.
What she is not, however, is a machine, or Vulcan. That level of compartmentalization takes a toll, assuming you’re not a psycho/sociopath. These last two episodes gave us a peek into Carol’s inner workings, after having borne the burden of being the-doer-of-whatever-needs-to-be-done; and at the very least, they could very well serve as a set-up, for some come-to-Morgan moment. If so, then so be it – those two have to arrive at an understanding, at some point, and this has been as good a reason for her to even want to as any.
As for Maggie (having shared a rubber dinghy with Michelle, for much of their time)… well, I suppose she learned her lesson, ultimately; but that wasn’t the redeeming part. Diplomatic apprenticeship, under Deanna, may have taught her not just the importance of timing, but also how to play for time. As far as I was concerned, she redeemed herself the moment she took a cue from some Rosary beads, and followed Carol’s example with barely so much as a knowing glance between them. Maggie is the best kind of team player, by this ep’s account; but when the time came to step up, she stomped. Watching the Diplomat go Mamma Grizzly only underscored her ability to play the game. It also underscored Carol’s concern about needing her to be someone else.
Of course, Carol playing to Paula’s contempt for weakness (takes one to know one), and Maggie using her pregnancy to soften Michelle’s edge, sort of confirms – at least for the moment – that maybe they were the bad guys, after all. Depending on your world view, a rat is worse than a snake. You can trust a snake to be a snake; but rats can turn on you in ways you may not see – and definitely not like.
If Carol & Maggie playing the rat wasn’t enough, consider how Rick dealt with the next person to declare Spartacus.
The point, I guess, is that beyond playing up the expectations game, regarding the source material (we all know they’ve been doing that), the show may have gone a step further – inverting the source material in ways to keep viewers morally off-balanced. What was originally a group of hardened survivors set upon, by a competently ruthless warlord, may now be a case of competently ruthless mercenaries (they agreed to kill strangers, on another group’s behalf, for compensation – it is what it is) incurring the wrath of a competently ruthless warlord.
I’ve made a point of avoiding the source material, specifically so as to not fall prey to the expectations game; but I still know what’s coming – maybe not the whos & hows, but definitely the what. At this point, my concern isn’t so much about what kind of fallout Rick’s raiders may come under, but with the notion that they may have spent the last few episodes earning it.
Ah, well – let’s see which fan favorite is next up at bat….
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