The Saviors take a break from war to scrub the refuse from their ranks. The level of manipulation in this episode reaffirms how damn good Negan is as a character. But why did we have to wait this long to get into the intriguing bits of his personality? This entire season takes place in such a truncated timeframe, what feels like years to us is nothing for them and it’s just not working anymore when it comes to character development. The production cannot save the pacing with one solid episode here and there, but I’ll take what they’re offering simply because these actors are giving their all every day on set. It’s just a shame the writing isn’t reflective of what we know the actors can do. We should’ve already seen this side of Negan. JDM keeps alluding to it, doing his best to BE Negan around all this macho, chest-pounding, ridiculous fallout from the Sanctuary attack. It’s not until he confronts Simon that I feel we’ve met the real Negan. He plays his opponent like a fiddle, getting whatever information he wants from the wannabe leader in order to flush out every single backstabber lurking in the shadows. When Rick tries to get rid of his detractors, it creates hell for everyone around him. Negan does the same with cold efficiency and only the people he feels need killing wind up dead. Weird how that happens. It’s like he knows how to lead a group. Not that I condone murder, but this is the fictional apocalypse and Negan’s got the loyalist, healthiest crew in the region shown on-screen now that Rick ruined The Kingdom and Alexandria, on top of Gregory abandoning Hilltop to chase promises for his own safety over his peoples’ future.
Tension is a whole distinct character in the Savior scenes. Negan’s carefully considered course of action to reaffirm his place at the top seems so clear-cut. Seems being the key word. Dwight thinks he’s mostly in the clear, as long as he’s careful not to get wound up in Simon’s scheme. Which is, quite frankly, impossible because Simon needs his fellow leaders to back his play before someone else steps up to challenge him. At no point does Simon consider Negan’s actual fate. The look on his face when Negan pops up is worth every second watching Simon slime his way to the top. He wants to be the boss? First he’s gotta beat the boss. These post-surprise scenes are some of few in eight seasons to make me lean forward, eager for the outcome. Then comes the actual twist, putting Dwight right where he doesn’t want to be—exposed as a traitor and spoon-fed information to harm his new pals at Hilltop. Negan’s mysterious hitchhiker is Laura, the sole survivor from Dwight’s betrayal outside Alexandria. Let me tell you, her joy in exposing Dwight should be bottled and sold. Whatever comes from Dwight handing over the intentionally false map, Laura will be first in line to celebrate. Conversely, Gregory’s regret over helping Dwight may be the only mood bigger than Laura’s rabid revenge, seeing as he’s back in the prison cell at Hilltop after delivering the map.
At the end of a long day the last thing Negan wants is anyone from the opposition contacting him out of the blue. Driven by Carl’s memory, Michonne does just that and risks reading his letter to Negan over the radio. Boy is it the wrong day to approach the man. Dude snaps. He lays the end out for her nice and clear; the only way out of this is through mass casualties on Hilltop’s behalf. The Saviors didn’t pick this costly fight, but they’ll end it. Negan’s done throwing away resources butting heads with Rick.
In order to fight, the Saviors will need way more ammunition. The folks at Eugene’s outpost can only move so fast, but it’s not good enough for their boss. Let me just pause right her to say, we need to petition the showrunners so they’ll never, ever, ever show Eugene eating on-screen again. Back to matters at hand. Eugene’s workers trudge along despite the nasty food and shoddy pep talk. Even Gabriel is roped back into the production line. Things look bright for Hilltop for a while when Rosita and Daryl manage to kidnap Eugene with little incident. That is until Eugene straight up pukes on Rosita and runs. If I didn’t dislike this character before, I certainly do now. Disgusting little snake hides and just returns to his outpost like he isn’t covered in ash and God knows what.
Aaron’s self destructive streak reaches new lows as he slowly starves to death outside Oceanside. No one extends a helping hand to the outsider. When walkers find him, he’s too weak to fight them all off. But the gall of this guy comes when he passes out, wakes to his rescuers’ faces, then lays into them about avoiding the war. To cap it off, he blames them for Natania’s death. They should’ve smacked him good. I’ve heard some bull on this show, but lecturing a bunch of traumatized women for avoiding a war none of them should be involved in really takes the cake. Why must these women in particular come in to mop up Rick and Negan’s mess? Leave them alone. They’ve lost too much already.
It’s finale time. Wonder how much of this wreckage they can fix in order to transition smoothly into season nine. Probably not enough.
Still Gotta Mean Something: Review for The Walking Dead 814 by R.C. Murphy
Watch out! This review has episode spoilers.
Something weird is going on back at the Scavengers’ scrap heap. I’m not talking about Jadis’ adorable pod home, which is so at odds with the persona she presents the world, the change is mindboggling. No, what has me scratching my head is A) the Tetris piece walker on a cart, and B) why hasn’t anyone addressed this friggen helicopter thing yet? Negan’s in the same confused boots, but far worse circumstances seeing as he’s lashed to a cart of his own. These scenes are great pace changers, with a few awkward timing bits like when Jadis shuts Negan up with Lucille, only to draw short and stand there for a few beats. It didn’t feel threatening, but that’s an example of how editing can change a scene. A tighter cut would’ve made her threat jarring. In typical style, Negan talks his way free without unnecessary bloodshed. We get a glimpse of a gentler side to the man behind the bat, and insight into how well Jadis adapts to life without her chosen family. It’s no big surprise to see that she’s barely holding in there after her plan to flag down the helicopter fails.
The theme for this episode is the survivors doing whatever it takes to save each other from their traumas. Michonne lives her life in memory of the kindness Andrea payed her by saving her from isolation in the wild while literally dragging her emotional baggage around. Carl’s letters are all about using his end-of-life insights to inspire the people he loves and respects to save each other. Carol goes the extra mile to save the last people she’s allowed into her heart, reflective of how hard Morgan and Ezekiel worked to bring her back from the brink a few times. Even Jared fights to save his guys by being brutally honest about the best method to get in good with the Saviors again. On the flipside, Rick uses the promise of salvation to sway the Saviors hiding with Jared into trusting them after the roadhouse is surrounded by walkers. Morgan’s only promise is death. Dude drops a great speech about the incoming herd—it’s no wonder the others turn on Jared later. Because they have no guilt when it comes to killing perceived threats, it takes one second for Rick and Morgan to turn on the men who cut them free. They mow through the Saviors while taking out the undead. Jared’s death gag is slow, full of shrieking. The production sets a higher and higher bar for Morgan’s kills. Utilizing the dead to his advantage leads to an agonizing demise for his enemy, different from the quick deaths from a gun or staff.
Joshua Mikel as Jared, Lennie James as Morgan Jones – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 14 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Morgan’s trip into the woods began far differently. After passing up Ezekiel’s offer to join him on a search for Henry, Carol instead pairs up with Morgan for the rescue mission. Her motivation is purely in the interest of keeping her friend alive given his alarming outbursts of late and propensity to devolve into rambling. Also, the whole he sees dead people thing is concerning. Morgan isn’t a medium, folks. These are hallucinations, as proven by Henry’s fate at the episode’s end. Even if he understands that truth, Morgan doesn’t see a different path ahead. There’s nothing but death to his left and right, yet it doesn’t touch him so he just keeps going, listening to the visions which nag him to Do The Right Thing. This may be the last time Carol tries to reach out to her friend. They part ways on the road between Hilltop and Sanctuary. Morgan’s need to put down the dangerous men he didn’t kill way back when he first had the chance overrides his desire to save Henry. Once Carol has any sign to track the kid, her priority flips. The mission is a success all around, with Henry safe and the escapee Saviors taken out of the war, but we’re seeing the end of an era with the probable dissolution of the Carol/Morgan friendship.
Side note, did anyone feel a little déjà vu? When Carol finally hears Henry and tracks him to a cave in a creek bed, it felt eerily similar to a scene from when the gang were looking for Sophia. Can’t remember exactly which, though. It’s just a weird sense that they’re been there before.
Looks like Tara’s finally ready to forgive and move on with her life. Daryl, not so much. He’s not buying the idea that Dwight’s shot was intentional to keep her from being infected by someone else. But seeing as he can’t get to the guy he wants to take out, Daryl finds another way to keep himself occupied. Rosita has an epiphany which may be the turning point in the war and takes the idea to Daryl. If they can cut off the Savior’s ammunition supply, they can cut the legs from under the giant with minimal work. All they gotta do is capture the man with the plan, Eugene. Rosita and Daryl find Eugene’s outpost and make a quick plan. She’s itching to get back at the guy for jumping sides. Eugene’s in so much trouble.
There’s many, many questions in the air as the season wraps up. Who does Negan pick up on his ride back home? How can Hilltop sustain a war with their meager supplies and three combined communities? Which problem will implode first, Rick’s constant warmongering or Simon’s bid to dethrone Negan? What will be the straw to break the camel’s back when it comes to Morgan’s mental state? We have much to learn, but we have no time. Expect some cliffhangers, that’s for sure.
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 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 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.
Monsters: Review for The Walking Dead 803 By R.C. Murphy
Whoop!Whoop! Spoilers below!
One thing’s for certain in the apocalypse, there’s sure a lot of walking. Why the show’s producers thought we needed an episode relying heavily on scenes of troops moving from one fight to another, I’ll never understand. This is supposed to be war, so how about they save the parades for later? Between the constant time jumping and the moments wasted during long walking scenes with dialog rehashing problems addressed during numerous occasions this season, this episode is the most filler-feeling episode ever. There’s a few golden nuggets of action, everything else is either forgettable, unimportant in the long run, or worse, a heartfelt moment which should be expanded, but passes with little to-do. That’s two episodes in a row which don’t feel right timing wise. Episode 802 because the slow-motion bookends brought the pace to a sharp stop and this one, where apparently the Kingdom possess a time-turner and Hilltop marches down the street, making it home around the same time as Gregory—who drove home from Sanctuary before the secondary attacks even began. What did they get right this week? The feels, as usual.
Joshua Mikel as Jared- The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
If you were hoping we’d get to keep Morales, I’ve got bad news. Actually I’ve got horrific news. Not only do they get our hopes up for a decent reunion by bringing Morales in at the end of the last episode, then proceed to yank our emotions around for a little bit. All it takes is a little backstory to kill Miranda and the kids. Given the writers’ love for flashbacks, they couldn’t even give us one of those PTSD-colored hallucinations like Morgan has just to get one more peek at Morales’ family? Here is this perfect mirror for Rick to stare into—a man so broken by the loss of his family that it took a bunch of savages to get him to come back to reality—and the show kills him off with no remorse from Daryl. None. He might as well have shot a squirrel. That’s, quite frankly, a waste of time and effort. The whole little side trip to visit with an old pal may as well not happened, save to finally give closure to that last lingering thread from season one. Rick isn’t going to learn from yet another glimpse into the abyss. Negan threatened to maim his son, killed one of his best friends in front of him, yet Rick continues to go after the Saviors; as far as I’m concerned that’s all the proof one needs to understand Rick will never, ever be written to react as an actual human being would. Once upon a time, yes, but now he’s a mess we’re forced to endure until the writers come up with some spectacular way to kill him off. Maybe he’ll go like Morales; a man who defends his family, fights harder after they die in order to survive, and is taken out by an emotionless hunter in the line of duty.
The Kingdom, bolstered by Ezekiel’s endless victory speeches, mow their way through several Savior battalions. Sounds exciting, right? Not really. These attacks are covered somewhat like montages. Yes, it’s as weird as it sounds. When they aren’t bouncing from speeches to quick shoot-outs, they’re walking. Ezekiel promises his people they won’t die. In that they’re successful. Almost. During the last stop on their conquest tour, Ezekiel and his guards fail to properly secure the building after taking out the Saviors on the front lawn, opting to celebrate a little instead, then kill the newly risen undead. The guns Rick and Daryl are searching for were moved without warning, and now they’re cutting down the Kingdom forces. Jerry better make it out, man.
One group does actually spend the episode walking. Hilltop’s brigade march their Savior prisoners down the freeway. The Saviors are bound into chain gangs, following a lead truck carrying the dead. Large groups of people who’re talking attract walkers, of course. The group is attacked by zombies who, weee!, roll down a hill to get to them. Several Saviors are attacked. Even more try to escape. Not on Morgan’s watch. He chases them with every intent of killing Jared and the men he’s leashed to. Jesus intercedes on the Savior’s behalf, attempting to talk reason to Morgan. Yeah, uh, dude’s not home. At all. Morgan’s still actually in the trauma-haze which started when he woke after the near-miss in the satellite station. The fight between Jesus and Morgan is astounding. A ballet, really. It’s always a treat to sit back and watch Morgan’s fights, let’s be honest. They picked a great fighting style for him. Once Morgan snaps back to reality, he bolts. Just leaves everyone behind. Jesus and Tara rejoin the Hilltop group to push onward to home. Gregory has something to say about the new arrivals. No one wants his input and Maggie uses her burgeoning Mom Voice to send the former leader off so they can debate what to do with the new burden Jesus has dropped at Hilltop’s gate. Weird how none of them push Gregory to tell the truth about the car and Gabriel before sending him away to deal with the next emergency.
It’s not clear what the total body count is for Rick’s army so far. Sadly, we do have to say goodbye to Eric this week. Unfortunately Aaron doesn’t get a chance to be there for his husband at the end. Knowing full well death is coming for him, Eric sends Aaron to help hold the Savior’s attention while Rick and Daryl finish searching for the guns. When the chaos clears and the Saviors are dead, Aaron finds Eric’s reanimated body shuffling toward a herd near the road. There’s not even a chance to put him to rest. But I guarantee you if it’d been a lead character, the other characters would’ve gone to great lengths to make sure they didn’t just wander off as a zombie. It’s a little unfortunate that this is how Eric’s time on the show ends, drifting off like a cloud of smoke after years hovering in the background of every group shot as the token LGBTQ+ representative.
Next week we’re . . . still in the same day. Also, we’ll figure out which Kingdom fighters survive the ambush. Judging from the preview, the body count is going to get much, much higher.
Mercy: Review for The Walking Dead 801 By R.C. Murphy
It’s a grandiose plan, that’s for sure. Armed to the teeth and prepared with steel-plated vehicles, a large militia formed from Hilltop, Alexandria, and Kingdom fighters begins the episode by running through the last gut checks and minutiae required to successfully survive the day ahead. The plan itself is pretty simple: Rick will convince the Savior sergeants to step aside and give them the head of the snake, or they’ll pin everyone in the building with gunfire and another teams will draw walkers to it to finish everyone off. Rick has an unreasonable moment when he once again fixates on personally murdering Negan himself instead of compromising on any method to contain this threat. Because that plan has worked so well any other time he’s tried it. The only difference is now Rick’s dragged two other communities into his vendetta in order to secure weapons since he got all his taken away.
Maggie and Ezekiel don’t seem all that put out with Rick and his whole scheme, which is weird because if I ran a community the last thing I’d do is let some guy drag me into a fight he keeps provoking. Yes, the Saviors are giant turds, but Rick is the one who set everything in motion by insisting he and he alone should lead the most ruthless group in a fifty mile radius. Honestly, this has gone on so long, I firmly believe they never should’ve stayed in Alexandria once the threats became too much. But this is someone else’s sand box and they want Rick to pull everyone into all-out war, so off they go after a hearty round of pep speeches from each leader. Before anyone points out that Maggie is not the official leader, she’s the only one other than Jesus looking out for those people at the moment and he doesn’t want the job, therefore Maggie is in charge. No one has a problem with it, either.
On that thought, it’s strange that Maggie’s pregnancy doesn’t progress in the least, but the show’s children all aged greatly during the hiatus. They’re insisting she participate in the war, or at least the first part of the plan at Sanctuary. That being said, the optics of sending an obviously pregnant woman into a fight is pretty sketchy and I can understand why they’d hold off a little longer on the great bumpining. As a Glenn fan, though, I just want proof he’s living on in some little way. The longer they put off actually acknowledging that their most successful woman is also a mother, the more frustrated I get. Maggie can be both at the same time, just let her be her whole self instead of treating her like Mrs. Potatohead, cherry-picking different traits to use each season/episode.
Seth Gilliam as Father Gabriel Stokes – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
For once, the battle plan goes more or less as intended. There’s no great triple-cross putting people in the middle of a trap. Rick amazingly keeps his calm until the end of the firefight when the bloodlust finally gets to him and he again fixates on being the soul responsible for wiping Negan off the map. The dialog is kinda laughable at points. It’s painfully obvious Rick is buying time so the secondary team can get the walkers in position and he fails to make a compelling argument against violence which just leads to a firefight. A firefight in which some of his best fighters are elsewhere. Remember, the real plan is to kill them with walkers and save the cavalry for cleaning up the rats who jumped ship before they closed in. The only snag in the plan comes at the end when they’re forced to flee or get trapped in the walker horde. Just about everyone makes it into a car. Then Gabriel goes back to grab Gregory—who threw in his hat with Negan, and then ran like a startled chicken when the fighting began, only to get pinned by gunfire in the walkers’ path. One of them makes it out of Sanctuary in an armored car. It isn’t the one we want to get away.
The stage is set to watch the fallout from this fight stretch across at least the first half of the season. They’ve got more Saviors to contend with, not to mention that snake still has its head and until Negan is out of the picture, Rick won’t rest.