Thursday, April 7, 2016

Preparedness Review of The Walking Dead Episode 613: The Same Boat


Editor's Note: Sorry this is so late.  Real life has been very busy in the last ten days; I have have been doing "stuff and thangs" around the house and at work.

Episode 613: The Same Boat


Carol:  We had to stop him
Paula:  Sweetie, we are all Negan.

Synopsis:  Carol and Maggie are captured by survivors of the raid on Negan's compound and trucked to a safe house, where they are interrogated for information.   Carol fakes being afraid in order to make their captors believe she is weak.   Eventually, they both escape, kill their captors, and ambush Negan's scout team who comes to help the others, burning them alive.   Rick and the assault team, who have tracked the group to the safe house, enter with their prisoner, who Rick summarily executes.  Carol and Maggie are shaken by the experience, and Carol begins to doubt whether she can continue to kill in a world owned by the dead.

The Same Boat is the episode that needed to happen after the gut-wrenching, brutal Not Tomorrow Yet. The group has headed down a morally ambiguous path, and it shows just how far the members have strayed from their principles when one of the bad guys points out that they massacred and entire survivor group.   Make no mistake about it -- Negan and his followers are very bad people.   They prey on the weak and suck off of them like leeches, using violence and intimidation to have their way.   That being said, what price have our protagonists paid to vanquish them?  The most bitter truth of the events that have unfolded is that Negan leads a much larger group than previously suspected.  Alexandria has hit him first, and hit him hard, but Negan has survived, and now the element of surprise is gone.  They have taken down a couple of outposts and some random biker guys, but now a war has been declared.  Negan has a much deeper reserve of troops and, I'm betting, firepower, than Team Rick.

Outside Negan's compound, an armed man ambushes Carol and Maggie, who are guarding the perimeter around Negan's compound.   Carol shoots him in the arm but spares his life.  Three more Saviors, including a fierce redhead named Paula, get the drop on the duo and capture them.  Paula is the one talking to Rick at the end of the previous episode.   Rick offers to trade Carol and Maggie for Primo, the man Team Rick is holding.    Paula tells Rick she'll consider it.  They then bind and put hoods over Carol and Maggie and put them in a car.   Paula radios for backup, and they head for a nearby backup location -- a former slaughterhouse stocked with food, weapons and gasoline.  When they arrive, walkers are in the building, and the Saviors clear the area while putting Maggie and Carol in a makeshift cell.  Maggie begins trying to cut her bonds on the corner of a wall while Carol finds rosary beads on the ground and hides them for later use.  (Editor:  I found out later this was the same set used in the movie Saw).

Breathe, Carol, breathe.
Carol pretends to hyperventilate.  Maggie acts concerned, unsure of whether it's real or Carol is pretending. She insists the Saviors take off the gag, which they do, and express their disdain at her weakness.   She prays with the rosary, and begs them not to hurt Maggie because she is pregnant.   She asks an older woman, Molly, who is already dying of cancer, not to smoke around Maggie, and one of the Saviors, Chelle, sides with Carol and orders Molly outside.

The male savior Carol wounded is still losing blood, and his arm is going numb, dying from lack of oxygen.  He becomes violent and threatens to kill Carol, but Paula intervenes, telling him they need the pair as insurance until their scout team arrives.  They are desperate to get out, as the weapons and food stashed in the slaughterhouse have been stolen by persons unknown, but they still have gas for the scout team's car.    They are out-gunned and out-manned if Team Rick manages to track them to the safe house.   The male savior, Donnie, goes after Carol anyway, and Paul knocks him unconscious with a strike from the butt of her pistol.

Carol thanks Paula for helping Maggie, and Paula calls her pathetic.   Rick radios in, asking about the trade, but the transmission is filled with static and hard to make out.  Carol also lets it slip that they attacked the Saviors because of what happened on the road with the biker gang, thus keeping the link to the Hilltop settlement a secret.  She says they had to stop Negan. Paula laughs and tells her "we are all Negan."  It sounds like the Saviors are the "Cult of Negan" and since they call themselves Saviors, I think think we can assume there is a Christ complex happening with their leader.

Note the bug out bags.
 Chelle interrogates Maggie in another room, where she states that she and Carol "are not the good guys."  Chelle has some sympathy for Maggie because she was pregnant and lost the baby, but rebuffs Maggie's attempts at sympathy.  She is also missing part of a finger because she was punished for stealing gas to go look for her boyfriend, who Daryl killed on his bike with the RPG.

Paula tells Carol that her boss was the first person she killed after the fall of civilization, because she was trapped at her job while her family was dying at their home.   She stopped feeling bad about it after she reached double digits, and Carol tries to make her feel guilty by saying she lives among killers; Paula responds by pointing out Carol is a killer, too.  They are all killers now.   It's a continuation of the same kill or do not kill debate that his been raging since Morgan arrived.   The only difference between Carol and Paula is that Carol still remembers every person she has killed and keeps a tally of them in a notebook.  She still has her humanity.  It's a powerful scene, superbly acted, that reminds the viewer how narrow the line is between self defense and casual brutality.

Carol explains Rick will kill Paula and everyone else if they do not make the trade.   Paula radios Rick to make the trade, but realizes Rick's transmission is much stronger than before, indicating that he is close by.  Paula contacts her scout team, who is only minutes away.   Carol is left alone during this time, and she uses the solitude to sharpen the crucifix on the rosary and cuts her bonds.   She finds Maggie, who insists they have to kill the Saviors.  "We can't leave them alive."

She's a shell of herself.  Get it?
They return to their initial holding cell to find the male Savior, Donnie has bled out and died on the floor and is turning into a walker.   They rig Donnie up to a pipe next to the door as a walker trap, and he bites Molly when she returns.   Maggie beats the injured Molly to death, and they move to find the other Saviors now armed with Molly's gun.  Paula discovers Molly's body and gives chase.

Carol and Maggie end up in a hallway populated by still active but impaled walkers, designed to slow down intruders and prevent the pair's escape.   Paula empties her weapon at them but scores no hits (this far into the ZA and she misses with every shot?) and Carol aims her gun at Paula and tells her to run. Maggie insists that she kill Paula, but a walker attacks, causing Carol to shoot Paula in the shoulder.   Chelle attacks Maggie with a knife, almost slashing her belly, and Carol immediately shoots Chelle in the head.

Paula asks why Carol acted so afraid if she was so capable.  "I was afraid of this," she replies, indicating that she didn't want to have to kill Paula.  They struggle, and Carol pushes her into an impaled walker that begins devouring her face.   The radio comes alive, and the Savior scout team reports they have arrived.   Carol imitates Paula and tells them to meet them on the Kill Floor.  The pair pour gasoline on the floor, and when the Saviors enter, burn them to death.  Carol confesses she has killed at least 20 people, and when Maggie urges her not to think about it, she says "I can't stop."

Come on Carol, light my fire.
Maggie kills the impaled walkers, including Paula, and meet Rick and the assault team at the entrance.   As Maggie and Glenn reunite, Daryl asks Carol if she is okay, she tells him no, and they hug as she breaks down.   Rick asks Primo if Negan was in the building they raided, and Primo says, "I'm Negan."

Rick shoots him in the head, saying, "I'm sorry it had to come to this."   The question is, did he mean it?

It's ironic that Carol, one of the principal members of Team Rick that warned against the group becoming weak behind the walls of Alexandria, is now a shell of her former hardened self.

Preparedness Discussion

These reviews have discussed the mentality of survival -- specifically, the willingness to take a life to save yourself or those dear to you -- in depth, so let's dispense with that issue.  Obviously Carol is having a real crisis of conscience thanks to Morgan's efforts.  She doesn't want to kill anymore, and neither does Maggie, but the latter is going to to what it takes to end the battle between the Saviors and Alexandrians once and for all -- or so she thinks.

What stands out in this episode is what the Saviors are doing right:  for security's sake, they have
multiple locations.  It becomes obvious from the radio chatter and location switch that the building the Alexandrians raided is not the only compound controlled by the Saviors.  Instead of a first strike master blow, Rick has achieved a Pearl Harbor.  Sure, he won the battle, but he has awakened, I fear, a sleeping giant in the Saviors.   There are a lot more of them than anyone thought, and they have dispersed around the area to hide their numbers and minimize risks.

The survivors of Team Rick's attack have access to a safe house where supplies have been stored in the event their primary building is compromised.  They have the presence of mind to store food, water, gasoline and other supplies there.  It's been raided, and by the time they get there nothing is left but the gasoline, but hey, that shows real planning -- something Rick has failed to do for over five seasons.   Alexandria needs a fallback position like this one.    The Saviors have communications protocols as well.  As soon as they realize Rick has one of their radios, they switch to an alternate frequency.

Finally, it is apparent, since a recon team is in the area to rescue the survivors, that the Saviors are aggressively patrolling the area.  This is a huge tactical advantage.  They have developed a knowledge of the terrain, are comfortable moving through it, and have defense in depth.  If the recon teams detect a threat, they can radio back for reinforcements or warn  the main position so it can prepare for an attack.   This keeps potential adversaries and walker packs away from their base.

Remember these?
All this takes a lot of people, and Alexandria doesn't have them.  They send out a few at a time scavenging for resources, but mount no real recon patrols to ensure their perimeter is secure.   The woods and abandoned buildings around Alexandria allow for an enemy to approach undetected, as the Wolves did.   The best thing to do would be find some bulldozers and dump trucks and push back the obstructions for at leas a hundred yards all the way around the wall, then haul off the debris to the walker quarry.   They could then dig an anti-vehicle trench that would stop a large truck from making a direct run at the wall, and put in some chain link on the close side of the ditch to slow down walkers and infiltrators on foot.   Then they could build fortifications like they had at the prison gate to further break up the attack.   It would be a lot of work, but there are plenty of heavy equipment pieces back at the shopping mall site.  I would start at the main gate and move around the perimeter.

As it is, Rick has started the war, and the Saviors are shaping the battlespace around Alexandria.  

Preparedness Lessons for Episode 613:
  • Don't put all your eggs in one basket.  Have a bugout location, even if it is a friend's house or the house of a family member.  Get permission to stack some critical items -- food, extra water, clothes, medications, etc.  -- at that spot.  Pack a bugout bag, but orient it around spending a weekend at a motel of friend's house, not deep woods survival.  Most of the time you won't need to spear fish a salmon to survive an event.
  • Check your cached preps regularly to ensure nothing is out of date or has been tampered with.  The worst time to find out your canned food has expired is when you need it to survive.
  • Look for ways to practice defense in depth.  If you are bugging in at your house, how can you make it a hard target looters or robbers might pass up and head to the neighbor's house.  If you are bugging out and have purchased a separate piece of property, consider fencing, ditches, or other physical measures to provide stand off distance in case of some sort of attack.
 Next week:  Abraham and Eugene's bogus journey.

No comments:

Post a Comment