Fair warning: if you haven't yet watched the Sunday, March 16 episode of The Walking Dead, entitled "The Grove," and want to avoid spoilers, do not continue reading!
Um, wow. Did The Walking Dead just have its "Red Wedding" moment? The body count on last night's episode of the AMC smash was a low one, but the deaths this time were especially devastating and agonizing to watch -- prompting audible gasps in living rooms across the country (at least one, anyway). Using this season's vignette-style narrative, "The Grove" honed in on the makeshift-family of Carol (Melissa McBride), Tyreese (Chad Coleman) plus kids Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino), her sister Mica (Kyla Kennedy) and baby Judith as they make their way to the mysterious Terminus.
It's Lizzie -- seen "playing" with a walker underneath the shade of a pecan tree on Sunday's creepy opening sequence -- that was this episode's shocking revelation. While the tween orphan girl had previously registered on the show as simply intense and hardened to the post-apocalyptic universe, her true, dark nature emerged as the quintet finds temporary, cozy refuge (complete with a working kitchen, fireplace, and a dolly for Mica) in a bucolic country house in the middle of the woods.
As the show began, Carol tells Tyreese she's more concerned about sweet, guileless Mica than her older sister. As Carol tells Mica that she must be prepared to kill anyone -- zombie or a living, hostile person -- at any time. But Mica pivots the conversation back to her brooding sister, who has a bizarre empathy for the walkers, and often pleads not to kill them. "She doesn't see what [the walkers] are. She just thinks they're different," Mica explains. ""I'm not messed up [like Lizzie,]" she says. "I know what they are. I can't kill people. I can never do that."
Cautions Carol, still haunted by her own secret murder of Karen and David back at the prison to ward off a deadly outbreak: "Things don't just work out."
Indeed, Lizzie is later seen feeding a live mouse to a walker trapped on the railroad tracks. "I can hear them . . . They just want me to change and make me like them," she reasons to Mica. When Carol kills another walker (a young girl) outside the house to save her life, she throws a freaky tantrum. "You don't understand! You didn't have to kill her. She was my friend and you killed her!"
Later, a band of zombies (smoking from a fire) descends upon the house, forcing Carol, Tyreese, Mica and Lizzie to fire their guns for protection. "I had to help stop them," Lizzie, now eerily calm, says. "I know what I have to do now. Being mean is okay . . . sometimes."
And then the unthinkable happens. Carol and Tyreese go hunting and gathering in the woods. When they return, Lizzie -- with baby Judith fussing on a blanket nearby -- has stabbed little sister Mica to death. "Don't worry, she'll come back," Lizzie assures a shocked Carol and Tyreese. "I didn't hurt her brain," she explains, adding that she was "just about to" kill baby Judith as well.
Back inside the house, with Lizzie locked in her room, Carol and Tyreese realize Lizzie's sociopathy was there all along, and that no one will be safe in her presence: She was the one feeding mice to the walkers at the prison, and Tyreese reveals she once crucified a rabbit for "fun."
"This is how she is, it was already there," Carol says. Destroyed but resolved, the next day, Carol leads Lizzie out into a field of wildflowers, tells her she loves her, and shoots her.
Brooding hours later over a jigsaw puzzle, Carol finally confesses to Tyreese that she murdered David and Karen, his girlfriend, out of necessity for the safety of the group at the prison. "I forgive you, but I'm never gonna forget," Tyreese tells her. "It happened. You did it. I feel it. It's part of you now. But I forgive you."
Tell Us: Was Carol's decision justified?
This article originally appeared on Usmagazine.com: The Walking Dead "The Grove" Episode Spoiler: The Most Shocking, Controversial Deaths Yet