In “The Same Boat,” The Walking Dead focuses on Maggie and Carol after they’ve been captured by a group of Saviors. The episode was dominated by powerful female characters. Maggie and Carol find themselves facing women quite similar to themselves, but who took a darker, more violent path than their own. Both Melissa McBride and Lauren Cohan gave outstanding performances that showcase their characters’ strength and emotional vulnerability.
Saviors lieutenant Paula was skillfully played by Alicia Witt, who provides a parallel to Carol’s journey. Maggie also has a Dark World counterpart in Jeananne Goossen. “The Same Boat” was directed by Billy Gerhard (“Crossed”), and was the 13th episode of The Walking Dead written by Angela Kang. In “The Same Boat,” The Walking Dead tells a suspenseful story that serves to examine the transitions that both Carol and Maggie are struggling with while also introducing us to the darkness of the Saviors and the path not taken.
Rick’s mission to kill all of the Saviors didn’t go quite as planned, and a group of survivors have captured Maggie and Carol. After contacting others in their group, the Savior survivors take Carol and Maggie to a “safehouse.” The safehouse is no longer quite so safe as it has quite a few walkers roaming about, and it has no more food or supplies. Carol wounded Donnie, one of the Saviors, when she shot him in the arm. The Saviors take Maggie and Carol to the safehouse to wait for those they have contacted to arrive with help.
Welcome to the Kill Floor
Bound and gagged, Carol and Maggie are left alone in the kill room of a slaughterhouse while their captors take care of the walkers. Maggie uses this time to try to get the rope off her wrists while Carol grabs a rosary left by a dead walker. As their captors return, Carol begins to hyperventilate. Molly, one of the Saviors, removes Carol’s gag and she questions how someone with such frailty could have survived all this time. Molly sees the rosary, which Carol grabs and cradles. Maggie stares at Carol, trying to understand what’s happening. Is this an act, or is Carol finally having a well-deserved breakdown?
The leader of the group, Paula, asks Carol is she’s actually afraid to die. Carol tells her, “It doesn’t matter what happens to me. Just don’t hurt Maggie. Don’t hurt the baby.” The leader scoffs at Maggie’s choice to have a baby in a post-apocalyptic world. Other members of the Saviors have mixed reactions to the baby news. Molly has no qualms about smoking around the pregnant Maggie, while Michelle seems more sympathetic.
The wounded Donnie is in pain and wants Primo, who must have some kind of medical skill. Primo is being held by Rick, who offered a trade, but Paula is waiting for reinforcements to get there. Maggie points out that Primo doesn’t have 30 minutes to wait for help to arrive and suggests that Paula negotiate with Rick. Paula isn’t interested.
Donnie isn’t happy that Carol is still in one piece while he’s been shot. He gets increasingly aggravated and eventually approaches Carol. When Paula steps in, he punches her. Maggie and Carol take turns protecting each other from Donnie until Paula steps in and knocks him out. Carol stares up at the walkers on the other side of the window of the door. Perhaps she is finally breaking.
Maggie is taken away by Michelle for questioning. Seeing how Maggie is dressed, Michelle knows that they must be living somewhere good. Maggie throws up, which seems to affirm to Michelle that Maggie really is pregnant. When Maggie doesn’t respond to her questions, Michelle tells her captive, “You’re not the good guys. You should know that.” It does seem like they are following a dark path with this mercenary job. There are no heroes in this terrible new world.
Carol thanks Paula for helping her, mentioning her own experience with her dead husband Ed. Paula cuts her off before she says more, recognizing the domestic violence parallel that Carol is going for before it’s even put into words. She tells Carol that Donnie is just a body for her bed and she could kill him in his sleep. Paula watches Carol hold the rosary.
Paula: “Do you really believe in that crap?”
Carol: “My faith got me through the death of my daughter.”
Paula: “Well the good news is that maybe you’ll see her again soon.”
It seems like Carol is putting on an act, but she’s so good at it we’re just not sure.
Maggie’s interrogator Michelle questions Maggie, while also revealing a little of her own story. She tells Maggie Michelle’s finger was cut off as punishment for taking a car to go and look for her boyfriend’s body. She lost a baby whom she had hoped to name after her dad. Despite all this, it’s clear that Michelle is not softening. Maggie and Michelle know where they stand, aware that one of them is likely to die today.
Rick radios Paula, urging her to make the trade. He tells her, “The other option won’t work out for you.” Paula rejects his offer. Rick’s quiet but threatening tone reinforces that they are a force to be reckoned with. Though Paula doesn’t realize that she’s holding a deadly warrior hostage, Rick knows what Carol is capable of when push comes to shove.
Carol goes to work, playing helpless with Paula and Molly. Tears run down her face as Carol explains that they were defending themselves after being attacked on the road. Paula asks why they didn’t stop after blowing everyone up. Carol tells Paula that they heard about Negan from the Saviors and he sounded like a maniac, making them afraid. Molly tells her, “We are all Negan.” That’s creepy.
Be the Coffee Beans
Paula talks about her old life as a secretary. Her boss was the first person she killed when everything started. Carol challenges Paula, pointing out that she’s the one who’s afraid to die. When Paula asks if Carol’s going to be the one to kill her, she responds, “I hope not.” Carol truly doesn’t want to add another to the list of those she’s killed, but the difference between her and Morgan is that she will if she has to. Carol isn’t scared of these Saviors, but rather terrified of her own capacity to kill others and survive.
Paula radios Rick to make the trade, but Paula realizes he agreed too quickly and he must be close by, perhaps waiting outside. Paula is a pretty skilled killer and survivor herself. Carol tries to assure Paula, telling her, “Rick is a man of his word.” Paula and Molly leave Carol to secure the building. As soon as they leave, Carol turns on her game face, uses the rosary to cut the duct tape off her hands, and finds Maggie. Carol tells Maggie that they can sneak past the group, but Maggie insists they have to finish this.
They find the already-dead Donnie starting to turn. They let Walker Donnie loose on Molly, and then Maggie finishes her off. Paula finds dead Molly and she’s angry. She doesn’t seem like the kind you want to get mad.
Maggie and Carol find the slaughterhouse entrance booby-trapped with walkers. Before they can fight their way through, Paula arrives, shooting. She runs out of bullets and Carol pulls the gun she took from Molly on Paula. Carol pleads with Paula to run away, ignoring Maggie’s directives to shoot her. Paula advances on Carol, challenging her to go ahead and shoot, “You have no idea. The things I’ve done, what I’ve given up, what I had to do. … Go ahead. I’ve already lost everything.” A walker gets free and grabs Carol, triggering her to shoot Paula. Maggie quickly kills the walker.
They hear Michelle’s voice calling for Paula. Maggie springs into action, realizing that Carol may not provide the assistance she needs. As they fight, Michelle manages to cut the shirt over Maggie’s stomach. That’s one step too far, and Carol shoots Michelle in the head. They realize that Paula is still alive. Before Maggie can step in, Carol tells her she’ll take care of Paula.
Paula: “You’re good. Nervous little bird. You were her. But not now, right? Me too.”
Carol: “I told you to run.”
Paula: “If you could do all this, what were you so afraid of, Carol?”
CaroI: “I was afraid of this.”
Paula knocks the gun out of Carol’s hand and they fight as Maggie looks on. Eventually, Paula is impaled on a pipe making her face a meal for one of the booby trap walkers.
When Paula’s backup calls on the radio, Carol grabs the walkie. She takes a moment to steel herself, then tells the Saviors to meet them on the kill floor, imitating Paula’s voice. As they wait in hiding, Carol tells Maggie:
“I think I might have killed 18 people. 20. I should’ve killed Donnie, too, in the woods. I had a clear shot. I didn’t miss. None of this would’ve happened if I had just killed him.”
When the men arrive, Carol traps them in the aptly named kill floor and lights it up with one of Molly’s cigarettes. They head towards the entrance while a song plays that sounds like a stripped down version of the theme from Escape from New York. Maggie kills the walkers blocking their way, including Zombie Paula.
When Maggie opens the outside door she finds Glenn standing there. Daryl tries to comfort Carol as she tells him she’s not okay. And she’s not. Whether it was Morgan’s influence or something inevitable, Carol is broken.
Maggie tells Glenn that everyone is dead. When he asks if she’s all right, Maggie replies, “I just … I can’t anymore.” Maggie’s realization that she can’t continue this kind of risky fieldwork now that she’s pregnant is a relief. Having a life growing inside her makes the brutality of killing that much more grim for Maggie.
Primo finds himself alone amongst a group of killers. Rick wants to know where he got the bike, but Primo sticks to his story that they found it. Rick asks if Negan was in the building they attacked last night or if he was at the slaughterhouse, to which Primo answers, “Both.” Primo shifts, telling Rick that he’s Negan and offering to talk. Before any chatting can begin, Rick shoots Primo. Rick really needs to work on his impulse control. Won’t Rick have egg on his face when Carol tells him that the captive was actually a man referred to as Primo.
The Walking Dead gave us a fascinating portrayal of powerful women, told as much through their actions and reactions as the dialogue. We also get to see a bizzaro-universe version of Carol and Maggie through Paula and Michelle. “The Same Boat” was an outstanding episode of The Walking Dead, providing fascinating character study set within the framework of a gripping story.
Molly’s statement, “We are all Negan,” as well as Primo’s enigmatic references to Negan’s omnipresence, indicates that Rick may not have gotten his man. If the cold-blooded killers that Negan has recruited show us anything, it’s that Negan is a dangerous foe. In “The Same Boat,” our heroes, or anti-heroes depending on whom you believe, have unknowingly set off a massive bomb with their attack on the Saviors. Welcome to the human race.