The story continued to loop back this week, following branches of the main stream, this time with Carol and Daryl. It's yet another step sideways, as we're still in the run-up to seeing just who emerged from the bushes with Daryl at the end of "Four Walls and a Roof." Good news for those getting impatient: It appears we'll finally get some convergence next week.
As an added bonus, the story flashed back even further to unseen moments from Carol's "Walking Dead" past, including how she spent her time after Rick banished her from the group and how she handled the burial of Lizzie and Mika. In short, some of the toughest moments of Carol's life.
She's a survivor, that Carol. Not just of the horrors of the walking dead, but of domestic abuse. It's a point of her past that is mostly ignored week to week, but it was touched on in many ways this week, perhaps as a reminder of just how far she's come since society collapsed. She's powered through and come out on top. But after this week, who knows how long that will last?
Carol and Daryl, currently the fans' favorite twosome, easily surpassing Glenn and Maggie, were hot on the trail of Beth this week. And that led them into the heart of walker-infested Atlanta. After an unfortunate encounter with Noah (last seen escaping from the hospital in "Slabtown"), Carol and Daryl barely survived a "Thelma & Louise"-like plunge in a van off a freeway overpass. Then, she nearly got chomped. Then, she got hit by a car and taken off to the sinister hospital of "Slabtown" where her "debts" to the people who hit her will be worked off. Carol must have nine lives, but surely she's on life eight at this point.
The flashbacks of "Consumed" showed just what a tough woman Carol was, but inner toughness isn't the same as physical invulnerability and after being put through the wringer this week, there's a real question as to whether Daryl will be able to rescue her from the clutches of Dawn and the hospital crew.
Daryl isn't going to let Carol be captured by the hospital goons without a fight, however. And though he might have successfully rescued her right after she got hit by the car, Noah proved himself to be a helpful advisor to Daryl. Patience, he instructed Daryl. After Carol's accident, she would need medical attention and that's exactly what she'd get at the hospital. But in order to get her out of there, he'd need more than just himself and Noah.
Lucky for Daryl, he knows a whole church-load of people just crazy and loyal enough to launch an all-out assault on the hospital. Any questions what the big blow-out confrontation of the season's first half will be?
Nearly five and a half seasons in, and "The Walking Dead" continues to give us bizarre and inventive new walker encounters. This week, we got a walker "hailstorm" when bodies fell off the freeway onto the top of Daryl and Carol's van. And a bizarre scene in a downtown Atlanta skybridge had several walkers bound in sleeping bags and a large zip-up tent.
The disturbing thing is that we've now gone three weeks without a major character death. And in "Walking Dead" time that's an eternity. With the mid-season break coming up, the clock is surely ticking for one of our favorites. Now, who's it going to be?
Our eyes uneasily turn to Carol.