The Lost and the Plunderers: Review for The Walking Dead 810

The Lost and the Plunderers:
Review for The Walking Dead 810
by R.C. Murphy

Before you mosey down this road, just know there’s episode spoilers ahead.

Is now the appropriate time to say that Rick Grimes is literally the worst character to ever be propped up as the hero of a show? His actions alone make Rick a villain, not even a decent one at that because he wastes so many opportunities to better his people and delves into the tiresome lone-wolf terrorist mentality. Dude has a family relying on him, but they’re some of the last he considers. For Pete’s sake, he just buried his kid, then turns around to do some astounding gymnastics. The mental kind, that is. How else could he listen to Carl’s final plea, then have the gall to ask a likewise grieving Michonne what the dying boy meant by begging for peace between the communities? Carl had this entire dream for their people, for all people, which he confessed during a painful, slow death. That still isn’t enough to convince Rick to move on. No, no. He wastes precious time finding guns, which don’t exist anymore, and then boasts about his plans to Negan in the same breath as he uses to absolve the Saviors of Carl’s death.

Negan’s right, folks. Rick Grimes is the sole reason his son perished. But not simply because Rick wasn’t there that one day, but because Rick hasn’t been there for his son since the prison. Not since Carl killed Lori after Judith’s difficult birth. One could make an argument for Rick never really being there for Carl at all—since the day he arrived at the quarry, Rick’s schemed and fought for power within their group, and any other community they come across. Sure, there’s bursts of paternal activity, but Rick has the focus of a child. Without someone or something to force him to focus within his family, he’ll seek other forms of excitement. Rick’s loyalty is to Rick, yet he demands everyone around him be willing to die for his personal morals without question. Carl dies chasing someone else’s moral code, Siddiq’s, and it’s a rock in Rick’s throat that he can’t use this as an excuse to nuke the Saviors and piss on their graves.

Sounds like a real hero, huh?

The Saviors are in a slightly better position now that they’ve reclaimed Sanctuary from the dead. Time has come to get their house back in order, and Negan wastes no time dispersing his lieutenants to the communities—except Hilltop, which will require a significant show of force to bring to heel. With so much in the air, one man feels it’s his time to shine. Simon demands they make examples of everyone who went against them, starting with the Scavengers. For a hot second, I thought Negan would pop a new hole in Simon’s head and go on with his afternoon. No such luck. Simon doesn’t get his massacre order, just a command to stick to their typical M.O. to reaffirm relations between the communities. Since all the men on this show are so predictable, it’s no surprise when Simon takes offense to Jadis’ stoicism, ordering his men to wipe out the Scavengers. The best part? Simon thinks he can hide it. Boy, that’s not going to be a pretty scene when Negan hears the truth.

Alone for the first time in a long time, Jadis finally lets the gag slip. She’s not some enigmatic, alien-like leader. Art is in her blood, and that love for art made her look at the apocalypse as the best way to art harder, turning the entire landfill into a museum populated by the kind of people she thought should populate her new world. Sure it meant completely changing her dialect pattern, but artists are weird, y’all. I fully believe someone out there might go, “Zombies, huh? Time to become a weird, monosyllabic cult leader who fancies cats.” Whatever works to keep oneself one step ahead of the undead, right?

We can’t talk about the Scavenger’s demise without addressing the meat grinder scene. Okay, I know it’s an industrial grinder, but a whole load of ground people comes out at the end, so my statement stands. Not that I want it to, because I’m fully, totally off ground meat for at least a year. Not only is the gore too much to handle with a snack in-hand, but the acting from Pollyanna McIntosh during Jadis’ final goodbyes is astounding, heartbreaking. And frustrating. If she can put out that kind of performance, why aren’t they using this character better?

On the week of International Women’s Day, we have yet another example of Rick’s machinations leading to undue turmoil within the women-led Oceanside community. Last episode, Enid shot Natania. This episode, they deal with the fallout from that murder. A murder Enid insists she was forced to commit. But, uh, no one told her to go harass these women again. For what? They don’t have the weaponry needed to fight Negan’s army. Enid and Aaron barge into this community with nothing to bargain with, blood on their hands, and the bold demand that these women become cannon fodder in an ego war between Rick and whoever’s in his way this week. To add insult to injury, after Cyndie spares their lives, Aaron plans to subvert Oceanside’s commanders by manipulating fringe members, convincing them to join the fight. Leave these women alone, already. They’ve done nothing to anyone, but over and over again they are forced to sacrifice their well-being to meet men’s demands. This isn’t entertainment anymore. It’s watching some dude’s ego waft around on screen with a soundtrack and occasional explosion.

The war continues despite Carl’s plea. I fully believe Negan would’ve at least signed a temporary cease-fire in the kid’s honor. JDM twisted that knife all over again with Negan’s sincere condolences to Rick. Then Rick blew it off and I found a whole new flavor of hate for the character. So cool that I’m learning new things about myself when it comes to this show eight years down the road, huh? Too bad it’s only confirming that if the main character died, it’d improve my opinion of the show a thousand-fold.

How It’s Gotta Be: Review for The Walking Dead 808

How It’s Gotta Be:
Review for The Walking Dead 808
By R.C. Murphy

Slow your roll, pal. Just need to let you know there’s episode spoilers in this review. Now you may proceed.

They went through all of that killing just to get to this? We saw this coming. Everything which happens on screen, save one or two surprises, is exactly what Negan told us would happen back when all this grandstanding and one-upmanship began. Who didn’t see two of the three safe havens falling to the Saviors? Hilltop was never, ever under threat. Maggie could’ve locked the gates and shrugged with the same result and more of her people left above ground to tend crops. Yet now we’re going to believe she’s grabbing this metaphorical warhammer Rick dropped and wants to ram it down Negan’s throat? Why? She’s lost enough and despite her part gets a pass. There’s Saviors galore in her prison cell to use as leverage. Hell, give Negan Gregory to use as a pet in exchange for prenatal care or something. Why should the woman with everything to lose be the one to save Rick and his people from his ego?

Who else will pay the price for Rick’s actions? Enid sure isn’t going to be the same after her own ill-considered attempt to recover resources squandered in the secondary attacks—namely fighters. She and Aaron take off for Oceanside with no real plan, just a sense of urgency gripping their throats. Which explains why they think stopping at a distillery to grab a hostess gift is the thing to do instead of, oh, giving them their gun back or, gasp leaving them alone so they don’t cost the women any more lives. They park the truck near the community and wait. Aaron is caught when the women do come for them. Enid shoots first, thinks later, and Natania goes down for the count. This. This is why I think Rick’s influence is the real evil in that world. There’s no way Enid or Aaron on their own would have thought to further harass the women they robbed at gunpoint on their own had they never met Rick. Now one’s a murdered and the other lost his husband in a pointless war.

There’s so much wasted time in the episode. First, flashbacks to Rick’s argument with Carl after saving Siddiq and the revelation that Carl doesn’t even consider the war necessary. Then those over-dramatic slow-mo reaction montages just keep popping up whenever they pleased, dragging the action to a standstill, and all to deliver one gotcha moment. Yeah, Jerry’s car accident works as a surprise. But it would’ve been better had I not been rolling my eyes through the umpteenth such montage this season.

And yes, I yelled at the TV when they dared threaten Jerry’s well-being. I’ve lost one favorite character already, if Jerry goes, I’ll riot.

Everyone’s trapped in their corner of the world by the newly liberated Saviors. Hilltop is stopped on the road by Simon’s team. They hold Jerry’s life over Maggie, giving her an ultimatum. She and the jolly guy bite the big one and then the walker horde clears Hilltop, or Hilltop pays the price of one soul for the honor of returning home unharmed in order to continue farming. One minor character’s death later, they’re home sweet home. Maggie vents her frustration while venting a Savior’s chest. The guy’s packed up with a message for the Saviors and dumped for them to find, triggering Maggie’s dumbest decision to date, which is perpetuating Rick’s war when they’re clearly going to get dead sooner rather than later if they continue down this path.

Gavin’s rounding up The Kingdom’s people to flush out their batter and bruised leader. Ezekiel takes the time to spring a plan. An explosion draws the Saviors away while he drives a bus between them and his people. Everyone flees past Carol, who’s only just arrived from magically saving Rick from himself. Let’s take a break here for a second. I want a legitimate answer as to how Carol and Jerry just so happen to drive by as Rick arrives with Jadis. It makes no sense for them to be driving that close to Sanctuary when they didn’t even have confirmation Rick made it out of the dump because the snipers were gone after the truck did its job. Even if they did hear him on the radio, they still made it to the Sanctuary in record time. Nothing about this makes sense. They waste Rick for two episodes dealing with the Scavengers just for Jadis to order a retreat the instant the Saviors open fire. Then he’s snatched up by Carol like a stray kitten in a storm like it’s the most normal thing for her and Jerry to have their Sunday drive right then and there. By the way, if Jerry and Carol were patrolling, why didn’t they report the Savior’s escape when they heard the firing squad doing its job? This is a frustrating example of the ways the show screws itself up to save a main character so flawed by male ego, he should’ve rightly died five seasons ago.

But back to The Kingdom. Everyone runs for it, leaving Ezekiel behind. Carol assumes he’ll lock the Saviors in. Nope. Ezekiel sacrifices himself to keep the Saviors occupied. After all, he’s the target, not the innocents living in the community. There’s always hope in the wings, however. Morgan lurks outside the gates. Will he save Ezekiel or let the Saviors use him to send a message to everyone involved in Rick’s war? Looks like the former, but it’s hard to tell with Morgan. He’s not alright anymore.

Bombs away! Alexandria’s undergoing some drastic structural changes. Negan’s cool ran out about the time he hid in that trailer with Gabriel. It’s time to send a clear message to these communities and how can anyone ignore the sound of their house blowing up? Trying to get ahead of the damage, Carl orders everyone to evacuate. It’s not a popular call. Michonne is aghast at the idea of giving Negan their community so easily, but Carl is in charge and he says run. While they make his plan work, Carl buys time chatting up Negan. It’s a great scene for the guys. Shows promise for those moments they talked about wanting back at SDCC. But all we’re going to get is this one moment.

For the most part, Carl’s plan is a success. Everyone makes it to cover ahead of the Saviors invading the residential section. Daryl, Michonne, Tara, and Rosita thin out the enemy by drawing a guard post away from the rear gate. Dwight helps them lay the trap and is outed by Laura as a traitor. They take his wounded self to the spot where everyone’s laying low and wait.

Rick makes it back to Alexandria just in time to see it lit beautifully by massive flames. Negan greets him at his house for a chat. By chat I mean fight. Rick takes the chance to run for his life after Negan forces him out a window. Down the street, Michonne turns a Savior into ground beef. Rick hauls her off the bloody mess and she leads him to the sewers where everyone’s hiding. Even Judith is down there, safe with Uncle Daryl.

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Danai Gurira as Michonne, Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 8 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Know who’s not safe? Carl. For some random reason, he shows up at the end with a walker bite to his stomach. We’re lead to believe Carl was bitten while saving Saddiq. So this whole time he’s been dying and hiding it? Sure. Okay. Way to write off one of the major characters in the most anticlimactic way possible. He doesn’t even get to go out in a blaze of glory. We get no real closure with Carl here. He’s going to die in a friggen sewer, probably. The guy who maintained more heart than the rest, even after murdering his mother out of mercy, is written off with a whimper after all that build-up for something with Negan? This smells fishy. How insulting for Carl to die this way, too. And how weird for this death to be so public despite Carl not actually passing in this episode. I found out in a spoiler the next morning because there’s approximately five thousand rumors as to why Carl, a character who is still alive and kicking in the comics, dies now on the show in a lackluster way, tagged onto the very end of the mid-season finale like an afterthought.

So we’ve got that to look forward to when the show return from hiatus. Plus, figuring out how everyone else will move on after this setback in the war against the Saviors. Will anyone be left on Rick’s side to fight this fight?

Time for After: Review for The Walking Dead 807

Time for After:
Review for The Walking Dead 807
By R.C. Murphy

From the looks of it, sense and reason has abandoned everyone during this mad rush to rid the world of Negan. Rick allocated most of his town’s resources for the fighters, sparing precious few capable people to guard their children and pacifists while he fails to negotiate with the Scavengers. The Kingdom will need generations to recover from their massive losses on the battlefield. Hilltop is a powder keg with a couple dozen torches crammed in a cage just inside their fence. Daryl’s leading an off-mission strike force straight into the heart of Savior territory. So far the only one to speak a word of sense is Rosita. It took watching Sasha lurch out of a coffin and her own near-fatal injury for Alexandria’s wild woman to learn a little caution. For Rick, there will never be enough cautionary moments like that. He’s wired to take control no matter what life throws his way. At some point, dumb luck will run out. With the Saviors one step closer to freedom, that point could be now.

But first he’s gotta get out of that shipping container.

Jadis has a simple plan to rid herself of this roach who insists her people must join the fight: kill him with a walker and celebrate the death with a sculpture. I guess it makes sense in her head. As per usual, when Rick’s pitted against the undead, he comes out on top. The armored walker becomes his primary weapon against Jadis and her guards. They fight over Jadis’ gun, but Rick gets the upper hand, pinning the leader’s face in the dirt perilously close to the snapping walker head. Truce time. The pair talk terms, with Rick coming out on top because of course he is, he’s the white savior who just takes what he wants at every single turn. Honestly, Rick’s story lost its appeal because he never grows beyond this desire to be at the top. What we’re seeing now? It’s the same behavior which cost them the prison and three-quarters of Alexandria’s population since his arrival. But good ol Officer Friendly has his new fighters. They head to an outpost, ready to trigger the end to his plan . . . only to discover Daryl’s beat him back to Sanctuary.

We all knew this was a stupid idea when Daryl said it the first time. Now it’s just ridiculous that despite the two ballsiest fighters in their ranks pulling out for moral reasons, he still feels compelled to go off-book to subvert the mission everyone worked and bled for to make a success. Oh, Tara’s still right there, ready to kill ’em all with a grin on her face. What’s pushing her other than the dead girlfriend thing? Regret that she didn’t get the women in Oceanside killed sooner so Alexandria could have the guns. For character motivation, it sucks. Everything about Tara’s behavior screams she’s going to get herself killed soon. Rosita got a second chance, not sure that’ll be the case here. The writers are making sure we’re not going to mourn too hard when Tara’s bloodlust goes awry. Pushed by her eagerness, Daryl rams a truck into Sanctuary, letting the undead inside. They don’t realize the quickest mind in the east is already at work scheming his way out of this mess in the name of his master.

Eugene is a worm. But a worm with convictions which put his safety as important as, oh, a Christian’s belief that Jesus died for their sins. He’s serious when he says numero uno is his sole concern. The only reason Negan is even considered in Eugene’s plan is because the guy’s got means, motive, and a mean streak a mile wide which will come in handy. Everything Eugene needs to do puts him head to head against Dwight and Gabriel. The latter man finds himself in the infirmary in Dr. Carson’s care, a condition Eugene says he brought upon himself. For Dwight’s part, he’s doing his damndest to keep the bloodshed to a minimum. His goal is to save everyone. Only Negan dies in the original plan. That will not happen should the bat-wielding guy get an earful about his good pal helping the enemy. They call a timid truce. Inspired by a request to fix a boom box, Eugene builds a speaker drone to draw the undead away. Dwight halts the maiden flight moments before the truck sends everyone into emergency mode. This is where Eugene’s bluster slips. He freezes once, flies into a rage, and winds up making a deal with the devil before drinking himself stupid. It’s a knee-jerk reaction to an immediate threat. The walkers have to go. The only way is if they unload the armory into the growling mass trapped on the first floor. He’s got what he needs to make more bullets, all he needs is the time. Time he gets. Negan okays the action and they unleash lead hell in the warehouse. Eugene is so focused on the undead, he doesn’t bother trying to find another time to tell Negan about Dwight after they’re interrupted. And as far as getting the doctor out? No way! The doctor stays put should Eugene need his services. At least the guy knows what he needs. Doesn’t mean I gotta like him.

We’re at the mid-season already, yet it feels like we haven’t gotten very far. A lot of people died, but the odds are more or less still the same, given the Scavengers flipping sides. Everyone is down on ammunition, the Saviors more so after clearing house. Negan is still alive. Rick’s free to cause more chaos. Culling the supporting cast doesn’t exactly mean they’ve progressed the plot a lot in seven episodes. Siege warfare told long-form isn’t always compelling for network television and we’ve seen this kind of thing before on the show so the reactions and deaths are predictable. Even this reformed Rosita’s desire to let fate roll without her interference was foreshadowed. We wanted something new, but this war they promised is more of the same Rick-driven drama they’ve given us for eight season—which has never, ever made sense from a survival-focused standpoint. Pretty much everything this guy does is on our Don’t Even Consider It list. Where can they go from here? We’re right back where we started, only now the bad guy’s really pissed off.