Alicia Witt has done tons of television the last few years but it's television I haven't seen and it was a pleasant surprise to see her on THE WALKING DEAD tonight. "The Same Boat," the ep, was a bottle episode--a few characters on a modest set. We start with an event that happened off camera last week--Carol and Maggie are apprehended by some of the Saviors who weren't at the compound Rick and co. hit. Their captors talk with Rick over walkie-talkie then hole up with their captives, who, after a lot of everyone talking to one another about things that don't matter, eventually escape and kill them all. Basically 15 or 20 minutes of plot needlessly stretched to an hour.
Earlier in the season, uber-confident, wisecracking ass-kicker Carol v. 3.0 was suddenly and arbitrarily devolved to her 2.0 version, a model that was a humorless, depressed fret. Throughout much of this episode, we're even getting glimpses of Carol 1.0. She acts as though she's terrified of the Saviors. Tells them Maggie is pregnant and seems horribly concerned when talking to them that some harm will come to the baby. Even hyperventilates! Throughout the ep, one expects this to eventually be revealed as a clever ruse, psychological manipulation, an effort to make her captors drop their guard. But that moment never really comes. Even when Carol escapes and manages to get her hands on a gun, she's still shaking as if she can barely hold it. Pleads with Alicia Witt's character, tells her to run away so she won't be killed. Nervously grasps a rosary until her hand bleeds.
After our heroines are free, Carol randomly blames herself for their getting captured, even though we see their capture and there was neither anything she could have done about it nor anything for which she could possibly blame herself either. As their capture had played out in the cold opening, Carol shot one of the Saviors who had come out of nowhere and was charging Maggie but she only wounded the guy rather than killing him. The wounded man's companions, who had obviously been creeping up on them, appeared all around them almost instantly. Killing the fellow wouldn't have made any difference at all but Carol insists that if she'd done so, none of this would have happened. It's TWD; angst, even if it's utterly random and nonsensical, is always the order of the day. Carol's recent depression about killing people, something on significant
display here as well, is also entirely random, something that was never a problem before.
Maggie, for her part, behaves like an imbecile throughout the ep, needlessly throwing her pregnant self into dangerous situations, even, toward the end, with an armed Carol on hand who could have handled the rough stuff. If one were to examine this rationally, rather than with the soap expectations built into TWD, one would get the distinct impression she really doesn't want to have a child.
By the end, the villains are destroyed and the escaped captives reunited with the larger group. By TWD standards, this wasn't really a bad ep, but considering how rigidly mediocre, needlessly padded and packed with randomness it is, I'm not sure that accounts for much. The brief preview for next week's installment, which makes it look like another slam-on-the-brakes-and-throw-out-the-drag-weights filler ep, makes me ache. Maybe it will defy expectations.
 The version of Carol I most liked appears to have been sacrificed to the writers' compulsive habit of making the show a dreary slog. It looks like a going-away-miserable party. There aren't enough good things about TWD to so casually eliminate something that actually worked.