The Walking Dead: “Consumed”

Season 5, Episode 6

TV Reviews The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead: “Consumed”

Shane Ryan and Josh Jackson review The Walking Dead each week in a series of letters. You can also catch them talking about the show Monday afternoons on HLN.



Poor Daryl. He’s one of the three best characters on the show—probably the best—and yet he keeps getting paired up in these duos that just don’t work. It’s a little bit like when the teacher decides to have a group project in school, and partners the smartest kid up with the dumbest in an attempt to “elevate” the dolt. We all know that ends, Josh. The smart kid does all the work, the dumb kid does nothing, and everyone leaves bitter. To be fair, Carol has been pretty solid this season and the end of last, and I don’t think of her as dead weight like I did when she took her bizarro psychopath turn at the prison. But last night’s episode, “Consumed,” was a bit of a bore, and a weirdly sentimental one to boot.

The idea here was pure set-up: They introduced the whole hospital world two weeks ago, and next week we get to see the rescue mission, but apparently the writers decided we needed an episode between to set the scene. Which is fair enough—Daryl and Carol (can we call them DC United? Maybe cross-brand it with Paste Soccer?) had to find out where Beth was, get information from Noah, get Carol into the hospital (though I thought that particular infiltration would be intentional, rather than real), and steal a vehicle to get back to the group and plan a rescue. The mystery of who’s behind Daryl in the woods has been solved—it’s Noah—and I bet next week’s episode is going to be incredible.

My question is, did we really need an entire dedicated episode of this? Couldn’t it have been accomplished in ten minutes in a normal episode, where we get to see some of the camp and maybe Sgt. Abraham’s continued descent into madness? Instead, we got a few weird Carol flashbacks that felt like clips from a different episode that I don’t want to see, and some laconic dialogue from DC United delving, in a very shallow way, into their past. We sort of crop dusted the serious issue of Carol’s history of abuse, used it to try to rationalize her murders at the prison, and threw in a couple lame laugh lines for good measure—”good thing we skipped breakfast” and “we made good time on the way down.”

I don’t know, Josh. Sometimes I enjoy when we get these slow-paced examinations into one or two characters, but “Consumed” just didn’t work for me. Too little action, too much wandering, and the only exciting moments came late, when they met Noah. The little pieces of half-deep wisdom from Daryl, the whining from Carol, and the lack of a cohesive narrative all just left me cold. From what I could glean, though, the basic takeaways here are that Carol feels guilty, Daryl has become a man, and everyone needs start over because they have to.

We also need to talk about the group strategy here. Daryl and Carol are supposed to be among the toughest, wiliest characters in the zombie apocalypse, but almost every move they made in “Consumed” left me amazed that they hadn’t died yet. How about a quick round-up? First, they followed a car on a full moon night from a distance of about 15 feet. Second, Daryl burned a pair of bodies for some symbolic reason, drawing attention to what was supposed to be a spy mission. Third, they entered a rescue van that was hanging over the edge of a bridge, at which point both of them clambered into the front seat, and then took so long that zombies snuck up on them…the same zombies that travel about 3 mph and make noise at every moment of their existence. Fourth, they got disarmed by a dude with a limp. Fifth, Carol attempted to run away from a rescue vehicle by dashing out onto the road directly into its path.

Bad record, Josh. With that, I’ll send it back to you. We’ve been too much in agreement lately, so I hope you’re going to tell me I’m dead wrong and didn’t understand the genius of this episode because I’m a jabbering half-wit. Until then, I’m standing by my gut instinct. “Consumed” was like the fancy painting in that guy’s office—aiming for high art, but giving off the faint whiff of dog excrement.




I can’t give you full-fledged disagreement by saying I loved this episode, but I will say that I like DC United (the pairing of Daryl and Carol, not the soccer team—I’m saving my fandom for Atlanta’s 2017 MLS expansion team). Their relationship has been one of the most unexpectedly meaningful over the years as Carol was the first one to buy into Daryl as a good man, even before Daryl himself. They’ve both been abused: Carol by her husband, Daryl by his father and to a lesser extent, his brother. If this episode wasn’t very subtle in making that connection, that’s fine. These are two characters who’ve been through as much or more as anybody else since the apocalypse, but they’d had their share of pain long before the zombies rolled into town. Carol kind of blew her fresh start when she killed the infected patients at the prison, but that’s not even what keeps her up at night. She had to kill a pre-teen psychopath back at the pecan farm after the prison burned. She saved Daryl emotionally (in Season 2) and actually (when he was trapped at Terminus). Now it’s up to Daryl to return both favors.

I was bothered by a lot of the decision-making we saw in this episode, though, particularly Daryl’s funeral pyre (used as a “scene from next week” fake out, making us think Beth had died) and watching both of them unnecessarily climb into the front of the van. Those kinds of unconsidered actions and plot shortcuts in the writing have plagued this otherwise engaging season in a way that rarely bothered me in prior ones. I’m still not quite over Noah telling Beth she needed to steal keys for an open elevator shaft two episodes ago.

But I do think they made the right call not to try to squeeze in a rescue of Beth and Carol in the hospital into this one, even if it made for a slower-paced episode. The hospital is the most heavily fortified structure they’ve tried to attack since Woodbury, and there was no way Daryl and a limping Noah could have pulled it off. Besides, Carol was still lost. Nothing is going to help her find her way back into the group than some quality time with Daryl. We already see her softening when she decides to save Noah. And if the group comes guns a’blazing to her rescue, there’s hope she can really feel a part of the team again.

But I’m not sure we’re going to see the whole rescue next week. Game of Thrones has made a habit of packing the penultimate episode of each season with action, but The Walking Dead has become known for going out (even at the mid-season break) with a helluva bang. Next week will probably leave us dangling off the cliff, or at least out a Grady Memorial window. All I know is that I wouldn’t want to be one of those Grady guards with Carol and Beth working from the inside and Rick, Daryl and company on the ground.

So you said you were a little bored by this episode, Shane. And I may be biased since it’s a pretty cool thing to recognize your city in a post-apocalyptic world, but I’m glad to see the gang back in Atlanta. We’ve spent a lot of time in rural Georgia, but there’s something about the urban zombiescape that I dig. Maybe it’s just the lack of traffic.

So I want to hear your thoughts of zombie Atlanta in this episode, but what I really want to know is where will you take refuge when the zombies come? Feel free to make it a top five.




I will agree with you about the bombed-out urban zombiescape. It’s especially fun in the office buildings, when each new turn, and every open door, holds endless possibilities for peril. I read Colson Whitehead’s Zone One—zombie novel—last year, and in that story, the narrator and a “clean-up crew” would go around the office buildings of midtown Manhattan, clearing out offices and buildings in an attempt to restore the entire city. I wouldn’t necessarily call the book suspenseful, but those scenes definitely packed a punch. So yeah, I’m definitely on board for the Atlanta era, even if it’s short-lived. I think they need at least one Children of Men-esque extended single-take tracking shots as the good guys staged a pitched battle with the hospital squad.

I think the problem with the awful decision-making is that it’s so clearly a device to get to awesome plot turn the writers dreamed up. You get the sense that they were like, “oh man, how amazing would it be if they had to escape by tipping the car over the bridge?” And one guy was like, “okay, but we’re going to have to make them act super stupid in order to reach that outcome, and that might insult our viewers’ intelligence” and everyone else was like, “SHUT UP MARTIN, YOU STUPID BUZZKILL.” Ditto for the key-stealing scene with Beth. She had to get in that office with the creep-o cop and kill him, so they were basically like, whatever, just have her steal a key. And later in the writer’s room, Martin was like, “hey, um, what about the key we had her steal a second ago?” and they just beat the hell out of him.

I will take that gentleman’s bet with you about when the actual hospital invasion goes down. The Walking Dead does love to cliffhang us, but in this case I think the cliffhanger will be whatever comes next. So I’m counting on hospital stand-off next week, then a bit of resolution with Crazy Abraham at the start of the finale, and then an ending where we see something completely ominous on the horizon, or meet some fresh new psychopath who will feature in the season’s second half. They can’t go another FULL episode with no hospital attack, can they, Josh?

Also, very clever asking me where I’d hide in the zombie apocalypse. You know who else would want that information? A zombie.

Okay, fine.

1. The peak of Mount Everest. Literally the highest high ground on Earth. I can’t see even the most motivated zombie making it up there. Of course, I can’t see myself making it up there either, without a helicopter or like 35 sherpas.

2. Space.

3. Obama’s bunker.

4. Obantlis. Obama + Atlantis. Obama’s underwater kingdom.

5. A building with signs all around it that say, “Zombie bingo night! The only bingo night run exclusively by and for zombies!” Nobody likes bingo, and the only reason zombies would come is if they thought there was a person inside. I’d be totally safe there.




You’re on. I think Beth and Carol won’t be free until the mid-season finale, at which time we’ll be introduced to some new threat for the latter half of the season. Winner gets to live in Obama’s bunker when the zombies come.

I can respect your top five, though, and I really hope the top secret Walking Dead spinoff takes place in Obantlis. Because free health care.

As for my own zombie survival plan…

1. A 60-foot luxury sailboat. I’ll live off seafood, rainwater and a well-stocked wine cellar. I’ll only have worrying about zombies during supply runs. Of course, pirates and scurvy become real threats.

2. A Little Debbie factory or distribution warehouse. I think I’ll appreciate the irony of getting in a gunfight to protect my Little Debbies. Plus there are so many good varieties of Little Debbies. Do you think Little Debbies would be willing to sponsor our reviews? #LittleDebbies

3. A rich prepper’s bunker. Suddenly they don’t seem so crazy. Since I couldn’t take it by force, I’d befriend them with talk about how the zombie apocalypse was all Obama’s fault.

4. My local, The Brick Store in Decatur. The cellar is a like a bank vault filled with great beer. I’ll take liver failure over getting eaten alive.

5. Bill Murray’s house!

Please don’t die, Daryl Dixon.


Follow Shane Ryan and Josh Jackson on Twitter.

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