Head’s up, there’s spoilers in this review
Just when it felt like the writers were about to decimate the Alexandria cast to make way for the newer communities, the action flips into high gear for the Kingdom at last, and WHAM, they take their most brutal hit since aligning themselves with Rick in this war. Does anyone make it off the gore-slick field? The dead are rising faster and faster. It takes mere moments for the Kingdom’s army to turn on the scant few survivors. Three, then only two men shuffle off the field with heartbeats. What good did Ezekiel’s grandstanding do if he has no one to bring home in the end?
The problem with possibly half the season playing out over the same day is the unrelenting desire to shake it up somehow in order to make it feel like time is actually passing. Four episodes in and maybe an hour or two has passed on the screen. That drags everything down, despite breaking for intense fight scenes or emotional goodbyes. How does one combat this problem without confusing the plot or halting the forward progress altogether? There’s no one answer, but I’m pretty sure bringing in conversations from before the fighting began which are echoes of things already said isn’t the best method to help time appear to move faster. Repetition doesn’t always sell a point the way a writer intends once it comes out of an actor’s mouth. Ezekiel’s speeches, for example, quickly went from charming, uplifting oases in the turmoil to tiresome, eye-rolling moments where they really just should move on to the next problem instead of verbally beating a dead horse.
That being said, Ezekiel’s arc in this episode alone is some of the best character development the show has seen in, oh, probably three seasons or so. I was there with him emotionally, hobbled by a wound and trapped on the field of his dead. His dead. He brought every single soul onto that silver platter for the Saviors. That knowledge breaks him. We watch this guy’s façade shatter like a mirrored mask, chip by chip sliding away until that moment in the polluted stream when Ezekiel exposes his true self to Jerry. My only complaint is that the jumps back to other conversations broke the emotional momentum for Ezekiel too much. Even then, by the end the emotions dragged me in again for that last bit of heartache.
Is there a petition anywhere to get these people to stop killing animals? At this point, given that both Walking Dead properties are likely to linger on an animal’s death more than any humans—look at Eric, he died off screen and didn’t get a proper goodbye—it’s safe to say they enjoy writing these particular death gags. Which is not something I say lightly. Look at the track record, though. Then look at the scene they gave Shiva. It’s great that they wanted to get as much emotion out of the cast as possible, but the scene itself becomes really uncomfortable to watch. Like we’re hostages forced to endure a pet’s death in order to ensure the safety of the others. We only sit through the drawn out tiger death to make sure Jerry and Carol get Ezekiel to safety. The entire time my gut screamed to turn it off. Walk away. Why put someone through that and call it entertainment? I just don’t get it. And yes, I know they’re sticking to the comics. That doesn’t mean the scene should have lasted so long. Would they devote the same detail to a human’s death? Not usually. Not anymore. There’s so many bodies on-screen at any given time, no one notices if twenty or so never show up again.
The gun plan looks doomed, considering those very guns just took out everyone. Carol ends up being the sole person capable of slowing down the Saviors tasked with taking the weaponry to Sanctuary in order to clear the dead and liberate those trapped inside. It doesn’t take much to get the drop on some of them, but there’s more than she thought inside. Waiting outside seemed more prudent, except there’s still too many to take out solo. Carol is classic, manipulative, cunning Carol this episode. She plays the Saviors for fools, dang near getting the prize by herself. Until she hears Jerry and Ezekiel, who are pinned against a locked gate by an oncoming horde. It’s a good thing she came out of retirement to save these guys from themselves, right?
All’s not lost on the gun front. Carol worries about the future for about five seconds before Daryl’s motorcycle roars in the distance. The cavalry arrives to finish the job and the others stumble back to the Kingdom as a trio, sans a ferocious, loyal protector. How long has it been since they’ve treated us to a chase scene? I can’t remember. It’s a tad ridiculous, believing the Savior couldn’t hit Rick’s Jeep with their huge gun. Barring that, it’s a little bit of action movie fun, down to the crash at the end and the buddy-cop vibes from Daryl and Rick.
Well, one large part of the plan is finally in place. Is the cost worth it? Is any of this worth what’s to come in the near future? Rick thinks so, but I have a feeling he won’t have as much moral support from here on out.