The Cell Review for The Walking Dead 703 by R.C. Murphy
Spoiler warning! Not that there’s much to spoil . . . .
Number one, the unavoidable Reedus nudity. I signed off on the last review with a snippy remark about Daryl being nude as a selling point for The Powers That Be at AMC. Sure enough, it took nearly ten minutes into the episode for Daryl to be sufficiently clothed. Master Dwight may have given Dobby clothes, but he’s not a free elf. Much to my chagrin. This story line has the potential to go nowhere given the lack of know-how when it comes to handling the Character Development Forgot.
To balance out the awkwardness of cramming Daryl into the Sanctuary lifestyle, they give him a woman to talk to—a misnomer, she talks, he bobs his head or gives soulful eyes. Sherry originally came onto the show with her sister and Dwight after they stole insulin for the sister. Now she’s back to make sure the show doesn’t devolve into a sausage fest during Sanctuary scenes, and to give fans a woman to ‘ship Daryl with, because that’s so necessary. It’s obvious no matter what comes out of her mouth, she has no agency to actually make it happen. Daryl doesn’t listen to her. Dwight and Negan treat her like a commodity, though the former at least has the decency to blush as his boss lays out the full transaction for their new guest. She skulks around the compound like a frightened cat, and is always hidden the minute the big guy is nearby.
The inevitable showdown between Daryl and Negan only ever had one outcome. He effed up and got Glenn killed, that guilt will keep Daryl on the side of the angels for as long as possible. And now that he has a woman to fight for, or help Dwight fight for, he’ll stubbornly remain Rick’s attack dog. Until they beat it out of him, that is. Negan’s not going to keep giving him free Alpo sandwiches, clothes, and shelter for long. Just like in The Kingdom, you reap what you sew in the Sanctuary. But you better be sewing a lot more than what the boss lets you reap. No one upstages that man except Lucille.
Dwight may be a potential ally, if Daryl could stop being an A-class jerk for half a second. His self-pity will prevent this pair-up from happening for too long, probably. Meanwhile, Dwight stews in his resentment, ripe for turning against Negan with a push in the right direction. Of course, it’d take a chess partner as skilled at manipulation as Negan to really make it work. Not sure Daryl is up for five coherent sentences in a row, let alone convincing Dwight to work from the inside out to dismantle the Saviors. Maybe that’s why Sherry was brought along as baggage. She’ll do the convincing so Daryl can brood enough for twelve TV bad-boys.
We meet more Saviors, some who’ll probably be go-to men throughout the season. Only one of the goons got a name outside the official “I am Negan” moniker—Fat Joey. Dr. Carson seems reasonable, but is completely in Negan’s sway. If the big guy crapped a rainbow, the doctor would say, “I told you so.” On the flipside of the coin, Dwight chases a doomed character, Gordon, down the road a ways. This guy is done living in Negan’s wet dream for the apocalypse. He just wants an out, any out. He’d rather take a bullet than serve Negan again. Instead of complying, Dwight’s insecurity about his place in Sanctuary push him to permanently enslave Gordon as a walker on their fence line.
Why is it the actions of a new character scream development, but a man who’s been there since episode two hasn’t grown at all? If anything, Daryl has regressed into even less of a character since they stripped away his remaining family and doused pretty much every relationship he started which delved deeper than passing acquaintance. What are they waiting for? Why hold back with this one character? Crap or get off the pot, already. They need to find a way to make him an actual part of the story, not just an object the story happens to or around. I would’ve rather we see an episode without any of Rick’s people involved to get a real taste of the Saviors. So far, everything’s been from someone else’s POV. If they want to truly shock us, let us see what it’s like when the machine runs smoothly. Negan’s efficiency is what’s truly terrifying. He gets things done. But how? All we ever see is him reprimanding one man, maybe two. Show us how he handles all his business. Intelligence can be serious nightmare fuel in the right hands.
Next week, Negan makes a house call. It’s supposedly a long episode, so anticipate me saying they added unnecessary things to make a non-event writing wise feel like a big to-do. It’s all they ever do with these extended episodes. But I’ll take it for the extra time to watch Jeffrey Dean Morgan smirk.
Yup, you guessed it. There’s spoilers in this review. I highly suggest you watch before reading.
Last week I mistakenly labeled episode 214 as the penultimate, when this week’s episode is the one leading into the now-inflated finale. My bad. In my defense, these last few episodes blurred together with nothing truly standing out until the last fifteen seconds in this episode. That gunshot is the only reason fans are hanging in to see the finale. They don’t care about this boogeyman we’re promised. They’ve bitten the Daryl-is-in-danger bait and swallowed the hook.
How did we get to a point where the most reliable defender for Alexandria winds up with an enemy bullet in him? I don’t even know. A lot of the logic they have Daryl working on right now doesn’t fit the Daryl we’ve known since he first calmed his roll and became a team player. Yes, people regress when stressed, but for him to completely snap and spiral in this guilt loop is whoa, wait, what? He’s a better man than the one they needed in order to lure so many valued fighters into the middle of nowhere. Yet again, they’re relying on the revenge trope to undermine character growth and create bad situations. Even Rosita gets sucked into Daryl’s mindset. Not that Glenn and Michonne fare much better after leaving the two to hunt Dwight and his gang. They’re surrounded and used as, yup you guessed it, bait. Snap. Reel. Toss the catch into the ice chest. Well, not yet. We know Daryl was shot, but not the severity of the wound. I’m gonna guess it didn’t tickle, though.
So that’s four fighters out of the way. Five including Carol, who snuck out during shift changes early in the morning with a fully-loaded go bag and a coat with some interesting modifications—which I totally want should the undead hit the fan at some point. They want Carol to seem traumatized, on the brink, but she’s premeditating pretty much everything that’s happened in the hours after burying Denise. An insane person would not take the time to cook herself that much food, let alone pack enough gear for a few weeks and sew a friggen gun into her coat sleeve. It’s like they don’t know who the character is anymore. Oh, wait. I’ve said the same thing since they set her on the Morgan witch hunt. A hunt which is flipped on its ear with Morgan and Rick awkwardly buddy copping it through the countryside looking for Carol. An homage to Rick and Shane’s fight way back in season two? Possibly, but the whole mistrusting Morgan story line is so convoluted, their discussion has no impact other than, “Duh, we know that’s how Rick thinks now.” It’s not a surprise he thinks Carol’s murders at the prison were justified. He just sanctioned widespread murder to wipe out the Saviors. Nor is it a surprise Morgan feels this is a poor plan. Killing leads to killing. Morgan saved a man, who saved a woman, who saved Carl’s life. Which is the preferred outcome? This is something they’ll never agree on. Matter of fact, things between the men are downright tense after they follow the blood trail to a barn and a man just looking for a horse. Rick assumes the armored man is a Savior or fled from Hilltop and wants to shoot him—ignoring the encroaching walkers. Morgan sabotages the shot. There’s some eye daggers before they continue the hunt for Carol, any surviving Saviors, and the Horse Guy—who may or may not be a hint to another comic book tie-in. We never find out what happens after Carol leaves the road where she killed a handful of saviors.
We have seven fighters incapacitated thanks to Daryl’s revenge scheme, Morgan chasing Carol, and Maggie’s sudden complications from the kidnapping. Seven of their best fighters just happen to be out of town the episode before the Big Bad huffs, puffs, and blows their gates in. Why stack the deck against the protagonists this way? Oh, right? They have no tension left for Negan’s arrival. All they can do is make overwhelming odds for the characters and hope it’s enough to make fans ask questions on social media, driving up word of mouth advertisement and allowing them to repost the few good things fans say or ask in order to convince everyone their poor plotting for season six was worth it in the end. Going into next week, I’m convinced they’ve lost the love of story and are simply milking the cash cow until they can switch beasts and attempt to get milk from the shriveled dugs Fear the Walking Dead sported throughout its freshman season. Basically, they have no writing integrity because they got too comfortable being the best in their genre and stopped trying to do new things. Rehashing old ideas and generalized plots is nothing new or surprising. We did most of this before with The Governor. Honestly? I get more enjoyment from just about every other post-apocalyptic show than what the Walking Dead franchise has offered in three years.
Is there a point to this episode? All it does is establish that Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham cannot return to Alexandria in time to help with the Wolves, walkers, or internal morale troubles. Which we knew because, gasp, we’re stuck in the same two-day timeframe six friggen episodes into the season. If we’re forced to relive the same day over and over, let it at least have a cheeky groundhog with smooth dance moves. I will hazard a guess that with everyone finally accounted for in this time frame, we’ll finally move forward with the plot. Won’t hold my breath, though. The writers have forsaken common sense in storytelling. It’s like the current writing room is populated by teenagers who swear they know what they’re doing, but really all they’re doing is making a huge mess and Mom—the producers—gave up cleaning.
Storytelling 101: Time must always move forward. On cue you say, “But, Groundhog Day. You just mentioned a movie stuck in a time loop.” Now, now. It’s not that easy to dismiss what I’m saying. Time still flows forward for the main character. Each day is different for him, he still has tomorrow and yesterday, they just happen to have the same events. People who work on repetitive production lines still move forward in their personal time line even though they repeat the same thing all day every day. They progress emotionally and physically. It’s an entirely different beast than breaking chronology to backtrack and tell portions from the story we already really know without writers leading us by the nose to figure it out.
Even within this episode they break that cardinal rule. There is no reason for the story to follow Daryl through to the following day, only to wind back the clock for Sasha and Abraham’s scenes. Everything the duo did in the episode could have taken place within the time line set by Daryl’s ordeal, including their initial entrance into the office building where they wait out the night. It would’ve taken no time at all to establish their location and well-being if edited into the episode during a specific moment to ramp up tension for Daryl’s abduction scenes. What they’re doing is stealing time for character building. Something which should flow naturally as each character finds their footing within the plot. The writers constantly fail at this basic storytelling skill. Whenever they realize they’ve forgotten character emotions, they create an awkward lull in the story and cram in as much as they can. It puts two essential fighters in this world on the sidelines simply so the writers can create yet another love story subplot. At least I think that’s what they wanted to do in this episode. Abraham’s dialog is so clunky, I have to watch his scenes three times to figure out what he’s actually saying.
Abraham and Sasha are useless in this episode—except for the missile launcher he recovers near the episode’s end. What about Daryl, does he do anything vital to the plot? Ha. Ha ha ha. Yeah, right.
The episode opens with the trio shaking the walker herd at the twenty-mile mark. When they turn off the parade route, someone shoots at them. Daryl dumps his bike, but recovers enough to ride out into the woods. Yes, more forest scenes. I’ve started naming the trees, because surely every scene in this show is filmed in the same acre of forest and I’ve developed more of a relationship with the foliage than any character since Hershel died.
Daryl isn’t alone in the forest. Burned walkers litter the ground. As he flees further into the trees to hide from whoever attacked them, he stumbles across two women who obviously think he’s one of the shooters. A man knocks him out. There’s weird Daryl POV sight gag taking us into the next day. Fancy another walk in the woods? The strangers bind Daryl and set out to find their friend. No friend at their destination. Daryl escapes when one woman, Tina, faints, stealing their bag containing his crossbow and pack. It also has Tina’s insulin. Yup. He takes it back. Just in time to grab his abductors and hide from the shooters. There’s no interaction between the groups. The search is called off. “We only wanted to take this so far,” one man tells his cohorts over the radio. Essentially, there’s no point to these men other than forcing Daryl to interact with his abductors a little longer.
After the shooters leave there’s, you guessed it, more walking. They find a bunt-out greenhouse where friends of the abductors once lived. The friends burned in the fire the abductors set. They also turned walker and are trapped under a layer of melted glass. Tina is bitten. Driven by who-knows-what, Daryl asks them the standard questions for bringing someone new into the community. They pass with flying colors. For about five minutes. When Daryl recovers his motorcycle, they steal it and the crossbow.
That’s okay. There just happens to be a conveniently placed truck fifty yards away. No spare crossbow, though.
When the two story lines finally hit the same time line, Daryl arrives in the small town to retrieve Abraham and Sasha. They drive toward Alexandria. The only interesting part of the entire episode is a short message over the radio. Is it a distress call from Glenn? Man, I hope so.
Shh . . . . Was that rustle a walker or a spoiler? Tread carefully.
Death rituals in the zombie apocalypse are odd. More often than not, there’s no corpse to bury or they’ve been forced to cremate their pals because there just wasn’t time to dig a grave. Deanna and family memorialize Aiden by listening to one of his mix CDs. Music has been a vital part of this season, keeping the tone just a little off balance. Aiden’s death does the same to Deanna. She isn’t thinking as rationally as usual when it comes to confrontations and playing the intrigue games they’ve already established between the factions. Typically it’d be an ideal time to pounce, but her opponent isn’t playing with a full deck, either.
At least this means Deanna won’t have time to yell at Sasha for going Lone Ranger in the forest around Alexandria. The second Michonne discovers that Sasha is gone again, she takes off after her. Rosita tags along to be the voice of reason. “You seem screwed up that we found something,” Rosita says to Michonne while they’re on Sasha’s trail. She holds a mirror up to Michonne’s guilt about Noah’s death—if she hadn’t pushed, they wouldn’t have been there for him to die. Irrational, yes. Just like Sasha’s quest to single-handedly decimate the walker population. She’s not a human nuke, but does make an impressive dent in the walker numbers near Alexandria—with assistance when the dung hits the fan at one point. Not that Sasha wants or needs Michonne’s help, of course. She’s beyond saving.
Someone else blows off steam by taking out a few walkers. Carl follows Enid out into the woods on one of her numerous outings to simple run free, away from the nightmares. She’s got a few tricks up her sleeve to deal with walkers—including using a kitchen timer to draw them away. At one point they end up cornered by a horde and hide inside a dead tree. Enid tells Carl, “It’s their world. We’re just living in it.” Which them? The walkers who outnumber the living? The adults making all the wrong decisions, costing the children their homes and loved ones repeatedly?
Things in Doc’s house aren’t getting any better. Carol is fed up. She wants to see an end to it and prods Rick toward making a decision. She’s been digging into the problem. Discovered that Jessie tells Sam to lock himself in his closet during Pete’s outbursts, and once Sam came out of the closet to find her unconscious, bleeding on the floor. Rick decides to try negotiating before following Carol’s suggestion to kill Pete. Rick’s idea of good negotiating techniques may need some work. Like, say, not cornering your opponent in a graveyard. Deanna has all the right answers to Rick’s suggestion—separate them—but she’s thrown for a loop at the suggestion that they kill Pete if he doesn’t comply. The answers aren’t enough. Rick pokes at the hornet’s nest, goes to Jessie and tries to make her see that she can’t fix what’s wrong with Pete.
“You’re only going to make things worse.”
“If things get worse, it means he’s killed you and I’m not going to let that happen.”
Why is Rick fixated on solving Jessie’s problems? Is this an attempt to save one woman, therefore saving the countless others he’s failed since waking in the hospital so, so many moons ago? Certainly it can’t be love. How wrong it is that we question his motives so much simply because he wants to do the right thing. But he’s going about it all wrong. His motives may not be transparent, but the window Rick and Pete break through during their fight is crystal clear—and shattered like Rick’s hope for a future in the walls of Alexandria.
Grab your Kleenex and let’s go. Just watch out for the spoilers below.
Let’s get the worst part out of the way. The supply run had potential at first. For once, Aiden didn’t have his head wedged so firmly he couldn’t hear Glenn’s advice. They followed procedure. Well, except Eugene who just didn’t want to be there. Cowards don’t do brave things and helping find replacement parts for the power grid borders too close to heroism for his taste. But the coward wasn’t the problem. Once inside, things start to unravel. Nicholas and Aiden lose their calm once the walkers close in on their location. That’s the only way to explain how Aiden failed to see the grenade pinned to the chest of an armored walker before he took another shot. Unbelievably, that’s still not the worst thing to happen on this run. After both Nicholas and a dying Aiden admit they were the reason four of their previous supply runners’ deaths, everyone jumps from frying pan into the fire. Eugene single-handedly carries Tara through the walkers to the van outside. Nicholas runs the wrong way—ending up cornered in the building’s lobby which they knew was overrun. Glenn and Noah try to save him and each other, but Nicholas’ panic eats his last two brain cells.
Noah’s death is by far one of the hardest to sit through. Steven Yeun’s performance during the scene breaks my heart. It says so much about Glenn and his morals—he let go of Noah, the least he can do is be there for him until he’s gone.
There’s an unspoken code amongst native Alexandrians when it comes to walker interactions. From the examples given during the supply run and at the construction site with Abraham, it’s safe to assume the code is, “Every man for himself.” Abraham is the only man to step up and save Francine after walkers invade their trip to grab supplies for the wall expansion. Slowly some of the others turn back to help, but it takes a while and they’re still not totally convinced they did the right thing providing backup for Abraham. Tobin, their overseer, knows they reacted wrong. He almost got one of his crewmembers killed. After he returns to camp—leaving the others behind—Tobin resigns from his position and tells Deanna to give it to Abraham. Is it wise to put yet another “outsider” in charge? Maggie convinces Deanna that it certainly won’t be the end of the world, plus her people are competent and she has faith in their ability to help Alexandria.
“They’re not good people. They’ve done things. They’ve done unspeakable things.”
Gabriel could undo all the good press Maggie has been putting forward for the group. Usually it’s Rick to put his foot in the crazy mess and drag it all over the carpet. Not this time. The guilt-crippled priest is everyone’s worst enemy. He can’t accept what he sees in himself and instead of dealing with it, finds an external source to blame. Rick, unfortunately, makes a great scape goat—possible more so after Deanna learns of her son’s death. Despite all their mistakes, do they deserve paradise? Is Alexandria the best they will find or is there a better paradise for them to take over?
The takeover may have a hiccup if Rick wants to do this thing covertly and without killing innocents. Over the course of the episode, it becomes alarmingly clear that something isn’t right in the Doc’s house. Sam spends more effort trying to stay at Carol’s house than it’d take for him to walk home. This is after she terrified him into keeping mum about the guns she stole. Even after all her effort, she’s still not the most frightening thing in the boy’s life. Once she realizes something is wrong, she sees the patterns emerge. Rick sees them too when Pete drunkenly accosts him about bringing Carl and Judith in for checkups. When Carol asks Rick to kill Pete, it’s inevitable. She’s been there, done that, and knows it’s going to take something drastic to shut down an abuser his size. Can Rick do it? Can he kill for Carol, for Jessie and her children—whom he hardly knows yet seems to care about her? What happens if Rick does kill Pete? They need a doctor more than a law man. Deanna may reconsider her stance on his place in Alexandria if he costs them the town’s doctor.
Head’s up! There’s spoilers in the rest of this review.
One of the last hold-outs to fit into life in Alexandria is Sasha. She’s not sleeping. Wakes with the sun to use someone else’s family photos for target practice. At no point does she attempt to get along with the locals—not even effervescent Olivia. How can anyone resist home-cured meats and pickles? Her erratic behavior puts everyone at risk. Deanna won’t put up with her for long. Neither will Michonne.
Sasha isn’t the last round peg refusing to fit in a square hole. Carol, Rick and Daryl are very much on the fence—do they start taking over now or wait to see what their new neighbors can really do? More importantly, how quickly can they establish their own weapons cache? Never mind what’s actually coming out of Deanna’s mouth—making Rick and Michonne the town’s law, reestablishing civilization, a future for their children. Matter of fact, Rick looks terrified at the prospect of Judith remaining in Alexandria past next week, let alone when she’s Carl’s age or an adult. He has to see the potential in her as a leader, but too long scraping by to see tomorrow makes him jumpy, unable to trust in anyone. Which leads to one of the best-acted scenes on this show this season—Carol and Sam in the armory. Melissa McBride does an amazing job showing just how good Carol is at lying to everyone around her. The two sides we see—the soccer mom and the ruthless killer—are drastically different. Carol loves kids, but in that moment she needs Sam more afraid of her than anything else in the world. It works. But is Carol’s remaining humanity really the price Rick should pay to obtain a security blanket?
“…longer they’re out there, the more they become what they really are.”
If Daryl finds out how far down the rabbit hole Carol goes to get the guns, his tune will change pretty quick. As it is, he’s slowly warming up to Aaron. Or at least I assume that’s what it means when he grunts more than five words at a person. The guys had an unfortunate bonding experience with the doomed horse, Buttons. They tried to help and in the end, that help cost Buttons his life. How many times has this happened with humans on the show? So many deaths in the name what’s supposed to be kindness. Except, kindness is as foreign as flying to Disneyworld for vacation in their reality. Losing Buttons doesn’t put a damper on the kinship of sorts brewing between Aaron and Daryl. While everyone else is dragged to the welcoming party at Deanna’s, the guys join Eric for a spaghetti dinner. Over dinner, they pop the question—will Daryl take Eric’s spot as recruiter for Alexandria. There’s a signing bonus, too. Plenty of parts to build a custom motorcycle. Something changes for Daryl during that day. He went from covert meeting in the woods to agreeing to recruit for the town. If he can be won over, who will follow next?
Last week, we caught up with the long-lost Beth. This week, we’re on the road with Abraham and the gang determined to see Eugene safely to D.C. so he can work on the virus that may very well eliminate every walker across the globe. To say their trip is a tad rocky in this episode is a gross understatement.
A part of me feels like there were some character tweaks to make this episode in particular hit a certain vibe—not a pleasant one, either. Abraham’s anger has never been hidden, but the extent of his emotional baggage hasn’t been on the screen in this way before. It’s difficult to balance what we know of the man with what we’re shown in this episode. We get glimpses of his past throughout, relating to the early days after the outbreak and his attempts to keep Ellen, his wife, and two children safe. The ease with which he kills stems not from a long military service, but from understanding that sometimes people must die. Others may judge him—his wife was so terrified she took the kids and ran to their deaths—but at least he knows he’s done his part to keep his people safe. There’s a fine line Abraham walks. More than once we saw Rosita, who’s been with him for almost the entire trip from Texas to Georgia, take a step back from his anger. She’s romantically involved with Abraham and looks to him as their leader, but at one point she has to put her foot down before Abraham marches them into a herd of walkers so thick, one can’t see the road through all the decaying flesh.
That’s after they managed to kill every vehicle they rode in for longer than a mile. What is with people after the apocalypse having horrible luck with transportation which doesn’t require manpower? Yes, Eugene sabotaged the bus, but there’s been a string of bad timing with cars running out of gas or crashing throughout the show. Remember Lori and the walker pushing his face through the safety glass? Yuck! It’s like once the dead rose, everyone forgot how to operate cars. Convenient for the writers—it keeps their locations isolated to a specific area and gives them a chance to add in more fight scenes with walkers. Awful for the characters who end up with concussions and who knows what else from all these crashes.
Tara is finding her footing within the group. Unfortunately her footing puts her in the path of Eugene’s weirdness. For most of the episode, I yelled at her to get away from him. She’s naïve and kind. Lately, Eugene has been written like a sociopath. He understands emotions, but they don’t connect with him on more than a surface level. He’s got one concern: his safety. Tara, meanwhile, wants to make sure everyone is okay and happy. That’s a tall order considering the mess they get into after the bus flips in the middle of the freeway.
Speaking of, what sort of sense does it make to walk forward into uncharted territory, given that your ride and supplies catch fire on the road, instead of backtracking to a known safe location? Fifteen miles out from the church, the glass Eugene dumped in the gas tank causes the bus to flip and the engine to catch fire. Despite losing everything except the bag of weapons, Abraham orders everyone to continue on their set path. He’s running from something, which isn’t clear until the end of the episode. What I want to know is, how the heck did they happen to find a walker-free place to sleep in by sunset given there was nothing but forest stretching down the road they traveled? The same sort of plot gap happens toward the end when we though the gang were good to go with the fire engine and suddenly they’re walking toward at least two thousand walkers. Uh, what?
I’d like to take a moment to gloat. All this time, I’ve said Eugene wasn’t what he seemed and guess who was right? Yup, this reviewer. Eugene made the best of a bad situation. He knew he couldn’t hope to make it longer than a day without clinging onto someone and convincing them to help him. He’d done the math, Washington D.C. should be the safest place within the undead-infested United States. But he was in Texas, and that’s a long way to travel alone when one cannot defend themselves. Luckily enough, he stumbled across Abraham at exactly the right moment. A minute or two later, Eugene would’ve stumbled across a woman and two children who’d been eaten by walkers, and a man beside them with the top of his head blown off. Abraham feels he owes Eugene for saving him from suicide. The need to balance the debt pushed him for so long, when Eugene finally told the truth—that he’s not a scientist capable of destroying the walkers with a virus—Abraham snapped. The last we saw of Eugene, he was T.K.O.ed with everyone hovering over him. Honestly? That’s what he gets for getting everyone’s hopes up. Numerous people died to get him to D.C. and it was all a lie.
This episode was still a tad slow, save the last few minutes when the truth hit the fan. If this trend sticks, the show may have a hard time ramping up for what is always an epic mid-season finale. For now, we play the wait-and-see game.
A little forewarning for the second episode of season five—don’t eat anything when you watch. Or rewatch. At no point in your life will it be okay to consume much beyond water while watching . . . and even that’s questionable depending on the strength of your stomach.
Spoiler Alert! The following review contains episode spoilers.
For the first time in too long—possibly since before Hershel’s murder—we witness a survivor group who are somewhat happy. It may be mostly relief. Giddiness from finding each other once again and surviving escape from Terminus with no casualties on their part. Rick smiles and takes time with his children, something he hasn’t been able to do since the prison attack. Even then, he was plagued by Lori’s ghost and could not fully bond with Judith. Everyone has banded together to take care of the baby.
Judith, along with Bob and Glenn, became the heart and soul of the group. Anyone needing a mental time-out takes a turn watching the baby. Tyreese in particular has done a lot of mental healing since his time taking care of Judith. His world simplified to one focus—protect her and provide for her, no matter what dangers lurk around the corner. Because of that focus, he’s ready to forget that Carol killed his girlfriend and move on. He can kill again, without feeling a strangling sense of moral wrongness. Bob and Glenn, in their roles as heart and conscious, focus on Rick and keeping him grounded despite his overwhelming need for revenge. Even though Rick is smiling and reunited with his family, there’s a darkness in his eyes that won’t go away. The pain he’s gone through has forever changed him. Even if Eugene’s scheme to infect the walkers with a super virus that’ll kill them off works, Rick will never be the same. He will need people like Glenn and Bob to thump him over the head and remind him he has two children relying on him to stay grounded and in control of his anger.
Unfortunately, Bob may not stick around long enough to help. We’ll get to that later.
This episode introduced Gabriel Stokes—a priest with a strange sense of humor (and awful comedic timing) and a secret which may or may not come back to bite the entire group in the backside. Gabriel doesn’t kill, not even the walkers who threaten his life. He’s been isolated in his church since the undead outbreak reached his neck of the woods. Luckily for Rick and company, the church is far enough out of the way to have little walker foot traffic. They hole up in Gabriel’s safe haven to take a breather and have a nice wind-down session reminiscent of the party down in the CDC’s basement back in season one. Let’s hope the church isn’t rigged to blow up.
The safety the church offers is an illusion. Rick, Carl, Daryl, and Michonne all sense something isn’t quite right. For days they’ve thought someone may be tracking their movements. Carl found evidence of an attempted break-in at the church, but couldn’t tell if the knife marks on the windows or the threat, You’ll burn for this, were fresh. We know that Morgan isn’t far behind the group, and he was a tad loony-pants the last time Rick saw him, but is he the threat?
Nope. It is far, far worse.
Poor Bob. He’s finally found a groove after the apocalypse—a solid relationship with Sasha, good standing within the survivor group, sobriety, a solid plan to help Abraham and Eugene reach the epidemic center in D.C., and a sense of relief so great he can’t help but weep. The latter proves his undoing. When Bob takes a time-out from the party, someone sneaks up and clubs him over the head. Next thing we know, it’s Bob-aque time. Hold the sauce. He’s still alive, but for how long? Gareth seems like a patient man, despite his disgusting diet choices. The group who survived the Terminus attack is small. How much can they consume before Rick realizes they’re a man down? Do cannibals diet? Guess we’ll find out next week. Cross your fingers and hope Bob makes it out only missing one limb.
Never Again. Never Trust. Review of The Walking Dead 501 By RC Murphy
It must be October. Everyone as far as the eye can see is trapped in Walker Fever—not to be confused with the fever the infected suffer before turning into the undead. We here at the ZSC Command Center are not immune and fell head-first into the fifth season of AMC’s The Walking Dead with snacks at our side . . . which we quickly ignored, given how bloody the first episode of the season turned out to be. With that in mind, let’s see what our favorite band of survivors are up to after being captured last season.
Spoiler Warning! Below are show spoilers. Turn back now if you haven’t watched this episode.
This episode had one flaw—the Terminus flashbacks. There were only two, at the beginning and end, but the information delivered was something clearly conveyed through dialog and set decoration in the middle of the episode. All the flashbacks provided was a little confusion as far as the timeline went. For half the episode, it appeared as though there was a time gap between when Rick and company were captured and the moment Carol and Tyreese were within hearing range of Terminus and all the gunfire. It wasn’t until Carol saw her once-friends bound and gagged that things started to make sense. Sometimes in story-telling, less is more. This was one of those cases.
Rick is still embracing the Ricktatorship, pushing everyone to arm themselves with whatever they can find in the train car. Miraculously, in the short time they were apparently imprisoned, they managed to build a good number of gnarly weapons using rusty nails, leather belts, hunks of wood, and who knows what else. All their work was for naught. Glenn, Rick, Ben, and Daryl were still taken by surprise and dragged into Terminus’ slaughterhouse. Which is the exact moment everyone set aside their popcorn and clutched the couch cushions so tight, their knuckles turned white.
Despite internet rumors, this was not the moment we said goodbye to any main cast members. Glenn is still alive and has taken on Hershel’s role, becoming Rick’s conscious when his desire for revenge threatens the entire group’s survival. It’s a position Glenn has filled before, but his youth and inexperience usually costs him solid ground to stand on in the face of Rick’s anger. This time Glenn seems better prepared to stand up for what he feels is right. He’s got far more at stake with Maggie at his side and committed to staying there no matter what. Not even his good friend will force him to risk her safety.
Carol is far, far removed from the character we met in season one. Now she can walk up and kill a walker without blinking, even while Tyreese stands behind her saying he’s not prepared to kill again. In the face of his perceived weakness and possible judgment, Carol doesn’t balk, doesn’t care. She will live, that’s that. She will make sure Tyreese and Judith live, no matter the cost to her. But she has no plans to stick with them. Being ousted from the group changed her more than the death of her husband and daughter. Solitude fits the new Carol. She’s truly free to do what she wants when she wants after years of being the steel backbone for her family. Will her resolve to remain a lone wolf stay firm after reconnecting with the rest of the group? Hard to tell, but the reunion hug she shared with Daryl was perhaps one of the happiest moments on the show in years.
This episode was all about escalation. One group wrongs another, the afflicted group seeks revenge. That’s how Terminus became a cannibal’s Fantasy Land—their once sanctuary was overrun, the women abused, countless murdered, but they took it back and became something ruthless and without morals. That’s how Carol and Rick ensured Terminus could not recover from their attack and escape. Even Tyreese did not escape without having to step up his game to not only kill walkers, but also a human who posed a serious threat to Judith. By the end of the episode, even viewers felt panicky, waiting to see how far the escalation would go. What would be the ultimate cost of this revenge pushing Rick forward? So far, no one in his group has paid. That luck can only go so far.
We were visited by a long-lost character at the end of the episode. What role do you think he’ll play in the grand scheme of things? Last time we saw this guy, he was twelve crayons short of a full set and sure to die at any time. That’s the wonderful thing about this show, the people we think will die, don’t. Those we wish would live, keel over without warning. It’s impossible to predict what’s around the corner. But that is half the fun of watching. It is also why The Walking Dead was picked up for a sixth season days before the fifth season premiere.
Being alone is rarely a pleasant thing. Humans crave contact with others, need the interaction to keep themselves happy and mentally healthy. Finding companionship in the zombie apocalypse is next to impossible. From what we’ve learned on the show since day one, human nature demands that most folks take care of numero uno first, then their family. If you’re a stranger, kindness has to be earned. Even after making that vital, living connection, there are moments when a person may find themselves surrounded by others, yet utterly isolated by circumstances no one else can understand. This week on “The Walking Dead” we saw a lot of people suffering on their own, forced to make terrifying personal sacrifices in order to keep one step ahead of not only the walkers, but also the illness plaguing the prison population.
Spoiler Warning: This review contains potential spoilers. If you aren’t caught up with the show, what are you waiting for?
The graveyard in the prison yard is larger than the garden. That alone speaks volumes about the harshness of life for the characters on the show. By the time this illness plays out, many others will join the dead already in the ground. At some point, they’ve stopped creating new life and instead focus on tending to those who’ve passed. Rick tried to convey the importance of focusing on the living to Tyrese, explaining how his time was better spent securing their future food sources than looking into the past and crippling himself with their losses—a rare moment for Rick considering how far afield his mind wandered last season after losing his wife, Lori. Is justice something that even factors into their world? How far can it go toward righting wrongs in a lawless world full on unnecessary death? Tyrese is uneasy killing walkers, even those who are an immediate threat to his survival, yet he demands the head of whoever killed two of their own. We’re seeing a turning point in his life. He’s consumed by rage, becoming a different man. Rick is still on that road and no longer recognizes himself, especially after his fight with Tyrese. What will Tyrese do when he learns the truth? Venturing too far down that road leads to trouble.
Glenn wishes he could move on into the future. He’s never been one to linger in the past, with the exception of Maggie’s abuse at the hands of the Governor. The couple have been the poster children for a promising future since they finally got over that awkward relationship stage in season two. Despite all odds, they found love. They’re planning to marry. At some point, Maggie wants to start a family—when Glenn feels it is safe enough to birth and raise children. Everything they do is focused on tomorrow, what it could bring in the way of happiness and an end to their troubled times. The two of them aren’t stupid. Nothing is going to be fixed overnight. And now, the bright lives ahead of them are in trouble. Glenn is sick and without him to keep her grounded, Maggie turns to her family. Only they’ve been separated from her because of the illness.
The Greene family firmly believe in duty above all. If there is any way they can be of help to their fellow survivors, they do it. Maggie remains on duty as a council member and one of the guards while everyone she cares for is taken away from her. Beth has grown in leaps and bounds emotionally since leaving the farm and accepting the reality of their world. She doesn’t behave like a teenager, takes responsibilities no one should ever ask from someone her age. Would anyone so young willingly be locked away from her loved ones to care for a child who isn’t part of her blood family? Not only that, Beth has learned to accept her father’s calm demeanor. She’s become the voice of reason for the family, allowing Maggie and Hershel to act in instinct—something their positions on the council require. There’s not a lot of time to think when one threat to their survival will eat them alive, and the other takes no prisoners and cannot be stopped in a world where modern healthcare is as rare as a unicorn. Hershel sets the bar for honor and sacrifice for his girls when he willingly walks into the quarantined section of the prison to care for the sick, knowing full well the medicine they need may come in a day, or a week—there are no guarantees in their world.
“We don’t know if we get a tomorrow.” Unlike Glenn and Maggie, Carol is not as convinced they can make everything work in their favor. She’s stood by, quietly caring for everyone under their roof as she’s always done. But there came a point when she knew it wasn’t enough. Being the quiet, motherly figure wouldn’t keep the children from getting sick. Wouldn’t provide the water they need to keep going on into a future she can’t even fathom at this point. Her hand aren’t tied by the position she’s in with the council. At one point or another, they’ve all done horrific things to protect the group. In this episode, we saw just how far Carol would go. Her transformation throughout the series is astounding. We met Carol when she was broken, powerless in the face of her husband’s abuse. After she lost her daughter, her only living relation, she adopted the group as her new family. Some of the impotent rage she suffered then, simmering over the weeks spent searching for Sophia, blew up this week. She went to the dark place and gathered that rage close in order to do what she thought necessary to protect everyone. Only time will tell if it changed her like Rick’s kills changed him, and Tyrese’s rage is beginning to morph him into a colder man.
Too many lives hang in the balance. It is impossible to figure out what will happen next on this show. Daryl, Michonne, Tyrese, and Bob are on foot, surrounded by thousands of walkers. We have no clue how many folks in the prison are sick, or will be sick and waiting for medicine that may never arrive. How long can the remaining council keep them safe and healthy with two of their best fighters in the field?
Did Carol go too far in this week’s episode? Could you have done what she did? If not, what would you have done differently to stay one step ahead of the illness in the prison?