Go Getters Review for The Walking Dead 705 by R.C. Murphy
Slow your roll, buddy. There’s episode spoilers in this review. Sure you’re ready?
Just so happens, for now at least, we get to hold onto the knowledge that Glenn’s child lives and is actually perfectly healthy, despite the scare during the season six finale. I spent the first seven minutes clutching a tissue because they kept hitting the Blubbering Idiot button. When Sasha hands over Hershel/Glenn’s watch at the graves, the anguish from both deaths kick the audience in the chest. I wasn’t ready for that callback.
Then Gregory walks over and I want nothing more than to strangle a fictional character. This little slug needs to be salted and left on hot cement already. Everything from his mouth is disgusting and sexist. He’s so self-centered, he can’t remember his own people’s names. And the icing on the cake? Gregory is such a coward, last week’s Rick looked like William Wallace. Gregory damn near licks Simon’s boots when the Saviors arrive to establish a new outpost—by taking half of Hilltop’s stuff. Astoundingly, it only took Gregory five minutes to roll over and attempt to betray Sasha and Maggie. Jesus and the ladies are always five steps ahead of the cretin. Probably because Jesus has lead Hilltop from the backseat while basking in the freedom to roam. Unfortunately, his game made Gregory believe he was the one calling all the right shots. Accordingly, his ego grew. Now that ego threatens to ruin them all. The false bravado of an egomaniac is cheesecloth. One good twist and secrets pour like whey. Only instead of spilling about the ladies hiding in the settlement, he accidentally hands over his scotch supply. Serves him right. By the time all’s said and done, Gregory will have as much power as a thirty year old AAA battery. But I kinda want Maggie to run him over with the tractor, too.
If anyone thought a difficult pregnancy would slow Maggie, they were grossly mistaken. Not long after Dr. Carson delivers the good/bad news, she’s helping Jesus and Sasha dismantle a Savior-made nightmare in the shape of wide-open gates and an armored car blasting music for all undead to hear. They handle the dead. Maggie gets creative, fetching Hilltop’s tractor and going Gravedigger on the musical menace. What does their fearless leader do? He slinks back to his study. Which is what Simon expects from Hilltop. He’s surprised to find their service wasn’t required, that somehow the gutless farmers took care of a horde on their own. There’s many more surprises like that coming, Simon. Jesus wants Maggie to lead. They should probably do it together, with Sasha providing a huge assist. The three of them shut down the Savior’s game in a blink. That’s the response time Hilltop needs from their leadership.
Kids these days. Roller-skating, holding hands, kissing, and plotting to assassinate vicious overlords. Tsk, tsk. Enid can’t wait for news to travel down the grapevine, so she’s going to the source—Maggie. At first, Carl plays cool. He’s not saving her anymore. Yada, yada, yada. She’s peddled maybe two miles down the road by the time he steals a car and tries to impress her by crashing it—twice—while killing walkers. They have a blast on their trip, eventually wheeling to a stop outside Hilltop as Saviors load their loot. That’s when Carl lays out his plan. He’s going on. It’s time to find Negan’s hideout and get revenge. Carl’s plan is daft. One teenager. All alone. No depth perception. Open wound in his face. Enid does what she can to convince him to stay with her. Like that’s going to work. Have you met his father? She goes inside to say her goodbye to Glenn—although she left the balloons on the wrong grave, I still cried. Carl climbs into a truck bound for Saviorland.
He’s not alone. Jesus is on a side mission from Sasha—find Negan. He’s more popular than Beanie Babies during their prime. Someone’s going to regret this little trip. Finding the big guy won’t be so easy.
The episode’s action is boring. Maggie’s tractor bit is the highlight. Some of the fights look choreographed. There’s nothing really at risk when the walkers enter the gates because everyone was in bed. The arguments have more at stake, but are so one-sided because Gregory is written as pond scum that we know the outcome before Maggie and Jesus finish laying out their verbal traps. The episode does establish a new Savior outpost. We now have two good guys infiltrating the bad guys like the world’s lamest spies, sitting in the back of an open truck and chatting. Hilltop is staged for a feminist revolution, which we saw coming way back when Maggie first met Gregory. None of this is surprising. There were the emotions I expected in this episode, but other than that it failed to deliver much to the party. This isn’t the time to hit a lull. Not after a lackluster extended episode. Someone isn’t looking at the big picture again.
Yeah, the warning is right on top this week. We’ve got a lot to discuss and little time to pussyfoot around with generalizations and all that rubbish. You guys waited months for this episode. Was it worth the anger at the producers and writers who said we’d be glad for so much time to stew over who died? Do you feel cheated by the dual deaths? How about all that brain matter on the ground, was it too much? Most importantly, are any of us really feeling the emotion between Rick and Negan or will the directors continue leading it to an awkward place where it’s laughable?
I, personally, feel cheated out of the surprise. The producers showed their hands months ago when they continuously stated that the show would gradually realign with what happens in the comic books. One death talked about constantly is Negan murdering Glenn. Hell, someone just released an action figure featuring Glenn’s mangled face as it’s shown on the page—which is almost identical to what’s on screen for that heartbreaking apology to Maggie. Almost in the same breath as the realigning statements, TWD higher-ups denied that Glenn would die. Red flag. Red flags everywhere. It was raining them at SDCC 2016. Since then, I’ve spent the time away from TWD saying goodbye to my favorite character. So when Negan first hit Glenn, my reaction was a resigned sigh. Then profanity, and more sighing. The show which constantly states they want to break boundaries and do new things is still utterly predictable.
Abraham’s brutal murder wasn’t overly shocking either if one stops for even a minute to think as Negan would when sizing up his newest assets. Manipulation is his bread and butter. One look at Rick’s people and how they handled interactions with the Saviors told Negan everything he needed to know—kill Abe because he’s ride-or-die loyal, keep Daryl because he’s mentally fragile and can be manipulated just like Rick. This is easy for Negan. Twisting people’s minds to do what he wants is the sole reason he’s not rotting in a walker’s gut. So why would an astute audience willingly overlook this? Why, TWD writers, would you go for the two characters who make the most sense if your desire was to shock, surprise, and devastate? Anyone with half a brain who tunes in regularly knew we’d lose Abraham. Daryl sells too much merchandise. Rick’s demise would’ve been awesome, but ultimately disappointing because the lead-up to the murder scene was so lackluster and drawn-out. Killing a woman would’ve started a feminist war in the fanbase. Carl was a good candidate, but he’s got too much potential to carry the show forward now. Plus in Negan-sense, he’s a carrot to dangle in front of Rick to ensure good behavior. The remaining gentlemen, as much as we adore them, just wouldn’t have the same impact. I would’ve been more shocked by that scene if Negan didn’t kill anyone, but just as pissed off with the direction the show took for the season premiere.
I mean, since when is five minutes of Rick staring at a set we’ve already seen before gripping television? He’s supposed to have a breakdown during the whole axe-fetching scene. Okay, that’s believable. So why did it involve long shots of walkers shuffling through smoke cut with the footage shown at SDCC with Lucille and the main cast? The scene felt like something from an indie band’s music video—a lone, agonized man surrounded by the cheesiest surroundings ever, just to feel spooky. Then, to make the death scenes mean even less, they show clips with Rick imagining everyone else getting a kiss upside the dome from Lucille. Why? We already know what he’s thinking. A good actor can do that, and Andrew Lincoln is no slouch when it comes to his face betraying every thought in Rick’s head.
They wanted to come into the Negan Era with a loud noise. In order to make noise, the plot’s gotta move faster than a snail’s pace. Inertia. Ever hear of it? The ball doesn’t roll and keep rolling without a hell of a push. It took the show fifteen minutes to get to the murders. I almost turned it off, thinking they’d strung us along for yet another week, and I was done if that were the case. It wasn’t, but the scene is buried so far in the episode, it does no good other than to turn stomachs. The only reason the scene is hidden in the episode is because of the backlash from the season six cliffhanger. Many fans felt as I did; we’ll watch the opening scene for season seven to learn who died and move on to another, more entertaining show which actually strives to write coherently. In a direct thumb-nosing to the noise-makers speaking against the cliffhanger, they cut together the episode just to make us wait through a couple commercial breaks. How nice of them to ensure the show makes a buck from a group who’re pretty likely to throw out their TWD fan badges after learning who died. I’m not tossing my badge in the fire just yet because I have hope the Negan era will smooth out, but it’s a near thing after this episode.
The violence in the episode really struck some sour notes across the fandom. Every complaint I see is met with a laugh. Fans derided the writers when there wasn’t enough undead violence. They scream for blood anytime a character or group disrespects the main cast. Yet the bad guy, who we’ve been warned about constantly since the show began by fans of the comics, comes in and does exactly what he’s supposed to, and it’s suddenly too much for the delicate flowers planted on their couches. Take up gardening if you can’t handle fake blood on a show centered on how messed up humanity is without actual rules to govern it. Were the close-ups too much? Possibly. I’m not one to judge. Horror and gore are my jam. I only started watching TWD to see what KNB FX could do with extended time to develop creatures and death gags; they’ve yet to disappoint. I will state that wanting a show built on the premise of killing things in order to survive to shy away from gruesome murders is like expecting a unicorn to lick away your tears while curing cancer. It won’t happen.
For the most part, we already knew what’d happen plot wise: Someone dies, Rick and Negan have a long moment to deal with Rick’s stubbornness, the Alexandria crew is absorbed by the Saviors, and Maggie wants blood, but she’s in no position to even walk, let alone lead a war. Daryl as the cause of Glenn’s death was the lone surprise for me—as I stated, I saw the death coming, just not how it’d happen. We’ve waited since Merle’s death for Daryl to be relevant to the plot again and now I want him to be the next big death on the show. Why? Because Daryl knew dang well that someone else, not him, would die for that single punch. They all knew Negan’s M.O. by that point. Abe died because of Rick’s hubris, yet that wasn’t lesson enough for everyone’s apocalyptic savior? Yeah, no. I’m beyond done with their failed attempts to make Daryl into an actual character. He’s been a two-dimensional promotional tool for so long, they’ve forgotten the character has a brain.
Now that the clunky season opener is behind us, maybe the ball will roll through season seven better. But, wait, we’ve still got a whole ‘nother group to introduce over at The Kingdom. If that episode is as awkward and poorly timed as the Negan/Rick glare-downs in the RV, I don’t know how much longer they can continue to pretend they know how to produce a show, let alone write one with so much potential for real depth and ability to shine a light on the massive problems in today’s society. They keep dropping the ball. I’m tired of waiting for someone in the TWD production office to finally pick it up and run it in for a touchdown. It’s time they returned to giving fans entertainment of substance instead of shilling the Walking Dead name and filling their coffers.
Week three’s departed cast members were two of the hardest to deal with. The Greene family started out on rocky feet with the whole barn thing, but by the time Hershel and Beth met their demise, they’d become integral to the team’s survival.
I’ll be honest, Hershel’s death hit me the hardest of any since the show began. Combined with the genuine good guy Scott has proven to be over and over again during his convention appearances—where he’s often one of the last to leave because he strives to thank every volunteer—and it really felt like losing Hershel meant losing a weekly dose of Scott in our lives. Luckily, he’s not one to rest on his laurels. While still traveling for conventions, Scott has also filmed episodes for Bosch, and had a recurring role on A&E’s Damien. Currently, Scott is working on a Netflix original, The OA, slated to release later in the year.
When Daryl carried Beth Greene from the hospital, many, many hearts shattered. Beth was one of the last gentle souls, the one who stayed behind to care for the baby, the one to sing a song when the silence grew too heavy. Emily Kinney took on some vastly different roles after her time on TWD ended. On Arrow and The Flash, Emily was Brie Larvan, a pun-heavy villain with a fondness for bees. For her role on Showtime’s Masters of Sex, Emily stepped far away from the small-town country girl vibe she used as Beth. She also appeared in several episodes of Cinemax’s historical drama The Knick. Conviction is a new legal drama releasing Fall 2016 from ABC starring Hayley Atwell, Shawn Ashmore, and Emily Kinney. When Emily isn’t filming, she’s recording music—her album This is War dropped in late 2015—and performing, often at horror convictions where she also meets fans.
During week two of our series, we take a moment to peek in on Emma Bell and Laurie Holden, the women who brought us the sibling bond most hope they’ll have during the apocalypse. But with, you know, way more time together and less things trying to kill you.
Amy Harrison didn’t last long on TWD. Her death sets off a world of hurt for her sister, Andrea. They were pretty balanced together. Without Amy’s light, Andrea walked murky paths which inevitably lead to her demise as well.
After leaving Amy behind, Emma Bell appeared in Final Destination 5, and guest starred on several shows, including The CW’S Arrow. She went on to star in a few short films, the TV film Midnight Sun, and a couple indie movies. When TNT brought the revival of Dallas back for a second season, Emma came on board to play Emma Brown. A role she held through the show’s third and final season. Emma stars opposite Cynthia Nixon as the young version of Emily Dickinson in A Quiet Passion. Dating in the social media age isn’t a snap, as the characters on the go90 original show Relationship Status discover. Emma played Claire on the show, which also stars Shawn Ashmore and Molly Burnett. Earlier in June, Emma announced via Twitter that she guest starred on an episode of Rizzoli and Isles during the drama’s final season. Taking to Instagram, she’s given a couple behind-the-scene peeks as she directs the short Scratch.
As Andrea Harrison, Laurie Holden lasted a little while longer in the apocalypse than her on-screen sibling. Unfortunately, Andrea left the TWD world during the season three finale. In a striking change of pace, Laurie’s next role came in Dumb and Dumber To opposite Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. She went on to guest star on prime time dramas Major Crimes and Chicago Fire. Stepping behind the camera, Laurie produced The Time of Their Lives and Honeytrap. The Abolitionists documents OURrescue.org and their teams as they liberate enslaved children around the world. Laurie is a vocal human rights activist and steps in to help rescue trafficking victims in the film.
You know what? I don’t just miss the characters. The actors behind the fallen survivors are talented, caring people who get pigeon-holed into this one moment in their career. Many have gone on to do amazing things since. It’s time we took a look back at some of the show’s more memorable deceased characters and played catch-up with the actors who brought them to life.
This week, we’re reuniting with the Peletier family.
Adam Minarovich played abusive Ed Peletier opposite Melissa McBride’s meek season one version of Carol. Since his character was eaten in a tent at the quarry campsite, he’s gone on to guest star on Banshee, One Tree Hill, Rectify, and Gang Related. Not only does he have a strong on-screen presence, Adam has written several short film scripts, co-wrote Remnants which stars Tom Sizemore, and penned Pawn Shop Chronicles starring fellow TWD star Norman Reedus along with Paul Walker and Elijah Wood. Adam also has roles in these films, proving his never-tiring spirit. A spirit he’s taken on the road to appear at horror/comic conventions and meet fans.
We all wept when Sophie Peletier shuffled from the Greene family’s barn during the second season’s mid-season finale. Madison Lintz brought youthful light to a dark, dreary show. When her character was turned zombie, it’d take a few seasons to find another actor capable of bringing the same energy. After her final send-off, Madison filmed After as the younger version of the lead character Ana. She was also in Parental Guidance with Billy Crystal and Bette Middler and appeared on an episode of Nashville. School took precedence for a little while. Then she landed a role as Maddie, daughter to the namesake on Amazon’s original show Bosch, which was just picked up for a third season. During downtime from filming the show, she starred in Tell Me Your Name, a horror film with a demonic twist. Madison occasionally travels the country to appear at conventions, but remains focused on finishing school.
Next week, we take a look at the women behind ill-fated sisters, Amy and Andrea.
Warning, the following contains show spoilers and a strong opinion.
I’m a die-hard fangirl. When a show gets my attention, I hang on to the bitter end—anyone who saw my reaction to True Blood‘s final season know what happens when a show lets me down like a frayed guide rope while climbing Half Dome. At least that show started pretty strong. This show never really found its footing. Every time I thought they’d stepped up to the plate, wanted to be good horror, they failed to follow through. In the two episodes before the mid-season break, they lean toward the macabre. First with Celia’s guests in the cellar. Then they opened the mid-season finale with Ofelia’s face peeling off, only for it to be a dream. The cellar bit? We saw the same plot on TWD when they found the walkers in the Greene’s barn, put there because Hershel believed they weren’t lost causes. Celia saw it as evolution, driven by divine intervention in the form of zombies. Both think the undead are worth our love and care. No part of me was surprised to discover Celia ran a freaky suicide/mercenary side business. Nor did the religious slant surprise me. When they steered the Doomed Ship Lollipop toward Baja, I knew they’d use the culture this heavily. Why not? It gives them the perfect scapegoat to rehash the tiresome but-they’re-family plot. On Z Nation the Zeroes, based just south of the border, worship death. I guess FtWD thought they could do something similar and have it work as anything but somewhat insulting to an entire culture’s intelligence just because they’re constantly portrayed as chill with Death.
The effects gags just aren’t worth the effort to pay attention to the story-telling anymore. In the season opener, I called them out for using the boat propeller in the face gag. Since, it’s been more of the same bland infected action. Why? They set the first half of the season on a boat. Their human bad guys were as interesting as watching leg hair grow. So where does that leave us on the tension front? Bickering and nagging, occasionally silenced by an actor in zombie makeup limply shaking his arms at the lead actresses while they flail a fishing pole at it. Some shows are salvaged by the action when the story goes bad. But when nothing happens in the story or the action? What’s the point? Then it’s just people making bad decisions, living on a yacht, and yelling at each other.
“So we’ll make one of them insane!” Nice try, guys. I’d totally buy it . . . if Chris had any actual reasons not to trust Madison and her family. At what point have they left him behind or put him second? Madison and Travis drove into a riot to save him. They made a deal with perfect strangers in order to secure safe haven until the riot passed. Nick jumped off the yacht thinking Chris wanted to swim away or drown himself. They staged a funeral so he’d have a chance to deal with his mother’s death. So why he’d snap, threaten Madison and Alicia, and run away to hold a family hostage is beyond my reasoning. Nick is a more likely choice, seeing as they laid the groundwork for it with his rampant drug use. He does some batty things, like willingly walk around covered in walker goo on numerous occasions—so much so, the original scene from TWD in “Guts” has lost its impact entirely. Now he’s fearless and buying into Celia’s bull about life eternal. Also so apparently broken, Madison—mother of the decade—asks Strand to sort her crap out while he’s digging his lover’s grave.
If I even start on how they’ve written Madison, I’ll break my keyboard. She’s by far the nosiest, indecisive, and nagging character ever to survive to season two in a show. Seeing as she’s the universal mother figure, I hate to hear what the people at the writing table say about their mothers. Somebody in that writing room needed a hug as a child.
The characters have no backgrounds. They’re all blank until they need convenient problems—Chris’ insecurity and psychosis, Daniel’s PTSD and hallucinations, Nick’s trip down sociopath lane. Alicia led the group to their first real bad guys in the season and we still know nothing about her except she’s impatient and bravery makes her do rash things. Travis has the personality of a jellyfish, only finding a backbone to salvage the weird Chris-Is-Crazypants story. Strand actually has this decent backstory, except it came too late in the game to salvage the damage done before Tom was introduced, and then swiftly killed off to avoid that whole messy gay character issue. Leaving Strand the outcast yet again, essentially a blank slate so he can resume being a prick. Instead of writing a world and characters living in it, they’re writing caricatures to manipulate how viewers see the world and what happens in it. It’s not good storytelling. There’s no consistency. Narrators, the characters driving the story, must be consistent. Someone suddenly sporting a raging case of PTSD leading him to burn a building at the behest of his dead wife just means the writers wanted to blow something up for the mid-season finale. It works for Z Nation because explosions are a part of parodying the genre. It does not work for FtWD in episode 207 when it’s painfully obvious the only reason any of this took place was to burn things on camera. Again, this entire story was lifted from TWD season two, right down to the main survivor group disbanding at the end.
So why should I keep watching? If this show refuses to stick to their characters, follow a coherent story, or just rob content from the mothership, it really isn’t worth my time. I watched in the hopes that someone would bring another quality genre show into viewers’ living rooms since TWD is bogged down by expectations. What I got was essentially the discarded ideas from the main show, stretched beyond believability, and crammed into a glitzy, Hollywood setting. The grand settings are an attempt to mask everything the show lacks. All it did was tie their hands trying to make zombies work on water. I mean, there are ways, but it requires thinking outside the box. AMC didn’t buy outside-the-box. They wanted TWD, but with a longer name. What they can’t buy is my time.
This is the last review I’ll scribble for FtWD. There’s no salvaging the mess they’ve made. I’m jumping ship before it gets worse.
Warning: This article contains episode spoilers and a strong opinion.
How on earth does the show’s producers expect anyone to give half a damn about this show? I don’t get it. Since day one there’s been nothing personally at stake for the main family. The only deaths are fringe losses, people who weren’t even fully fleshed out with a personality, let alone on screen long enough for the viewers to care about their fate. Liza kicked the bucket, so what? Travis’ reaction and Chris’ weird corpse cuddling pretty much made her death a circus side show. Daniel lost his wife, who was only on screen to be the religious figure and when she became problematic for the writers, she died. Even in this episode when we should have genuine concerns about Travis’ survival, it’s not there. Not even remotely. My biggest concern was making it to a commercial to get more coffee before I fell asleep from all that excitement. We got one infected man on screen. He kills people we don’t know. Yawn. Snooze. Wake me when it gets interesting.
Interesting doesn’t mean Madison lords over the yacht crew, nagging every single one of them about this, that, or the other. We get it. She’s a mother. She cares about all these people. There are other ways for her to say, “I love you” without nitpicking every decision they make. I’m waiting for the scene where she follows Nick into the bathroom to wipe his backside. Then on top of this become The Madison Knows It All Show, she’s apparently the only able-bodied person on board who can handle any tough task. Strand is conveniently unwell after his swim—I told you he wasn’t shot; FTWD’s social media people tried for days to make viewers react to his possible injury and all I did was laugh. Daniel is looked over once again because he’s not family. Ofelia could wander around nude with a flamingo on her head and no one would notice her. Nick is grounded because mommy is worried about him. Chris can’t handle his own mental mess long enough not to screw up. And Luis? That guy is still around? Just listen to the dulcet tones of a man in the apocalypse whining about money. Pro tip, dude, money means jack-all now. That leaves Madison to play the cavalry and she’s no Agent May (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.).
But why does Madison have to stage a one-woman rescue? Here’s the quick version of the plot: The yacht crew (read: Madison) decides they won’t head south as planned just yet. Madison cashes in a favor from Strand, buying them half a day to find Travis and Alicia. Daniel manages to get information on the pirates from Reed and leaves Chris to watch their captive. With the information, they find a possible location for Connor’s crew. On the pirate side, Travis is locked up by request of Alex, the woman they left adrift in episode 203. She blames Travis for her plight. In the main cabin, Alicia is treated to a dinner she doesn’t get to eat, cooked by Connor himself. He’s called away and Alicia runs into Jack. Jack teaches her how to track other boats for looting. Eventually they concoct a plan to steal a boat and run after the approaching Abigail because Alicia assumes the boat’s early arrival means her family wasn’t taken to shore as promised. Back on the yacht, the crew is hailed by Connor, who tells Reed—his brother—to bring the Abigail in. Madison replies. They agree to a hostage trade. Just then, Chris shoots Reed. But it’s okay, even at point-blank range, Chris doesn’t destroy Reed’s brain. They truss up and head bag the new infected and Madison takes him to do the trade. Alicia hides from the pirates when they look for her. Travis is taken to the docks. The trade works . . . until the bag comes off Reed’s head. Connor flails and is bitten. Travis fights free from the last pirate on the dock. Madison just stands there. Alicia and Jack have a “How dare you” moment before she slides down the side of the dry-docked boat Connor made his home. Madison, Travis, and Alicia return to the Abigail. Jack watches, looking like a kicked puppy.
Now we’ve got no immediate danger for the family. No tension save the meager and trite “family comes first” bull everyone repeats ad nauseam. And they’ve killed off the only season-arcing baddies. Where to go now? Mexico and the mysterious people who still take cash to cross the border? That’s not interesting. That’s idiotic. Any person with half a brain understands money means nothing. So the guy says no he can’t take them. What’s stopping them from just sailing to the Baja coast and skipping the border crossing altogether? This show continues to fail to have a plot. Every time they get close, everything resolves in favor of the yacht crew. I get more excitement watching my turtle kill snails.
Even fans who’ve been upbeat and optimistic got to the last thirty seconds in the finale and probably had a similar reaction to what exploded from my mouth. No, I can’t repeat it. We’re a family-friendly site. It’s so frustrating seeing a glimmer of what they can do with this story line, but realizing it’s too late. The damage is done. Negan’s introduction should’ve come in episode 608, no later than that. Heck, I may have even accepted this ill-advised cliffhanger if it were the mid-season finale. However, after sixteen episodes of virtually nothing, they cannot dangle the Biggest Scariest Bad Guy in front of us and not give any resolution. Yes, death can be a resolution. The group needed to be brought fully into the New World Order. The only way to do that is for one person to die. That’s the deal they’ve been told all along. Each time someone mentions the Saviors taking over, it’s accompanied by a mandatory death to make a point, or in this case get even for a lot of dead guys. Imagine Lord of the Rings ending with Gollum tackling Frodo. Is the ring destroyed? Does Sauron get a clue and regain his property? Every writer knows there has to be resolution to the plot, even if it’s just to wrap up part of what’s going on.
What’s the point of spending all this time and effort to film Negan’s cat and mouse game if the bad guy isn’t really all that bad? Don’t get me wrong, Jeffrey Dean Morgan is better than anticipated as Negan. He blew me away with one smile and, “Pissing your pants yet?” I could not be more pleased with where the show is going in terms of a quality antagonist. Well, an antagonist besides Rick’s massive ego.
Negan stole the show, hands down. He wasn’t the only one delivering a stellar performance despite a script lacking any real depth. Everyone gave it their all. I understand why so many were weary after, but where’s the vomit-inducing portions? The most shocking thing is the hanging, really. Hysterically, they shot that in full detail, yet kept the ever-promised major death a cliffhanger. And while, yes, it has an impact, there’s nothing personally at stake for the characters until they’re shot at and run. Much like the ending; we came into the finale expecting to put any character’s life at stake and came out with no one immediately in danger. There’s six months to shrug it off. Where if they’d given us a death, it’d be six months wondering how they’ll survive without so-and-so.
I’m at the point where I find fun where I can with the show before I lose my mind. Honestly? Negan is fun and I want to see where he’ll go.
Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier; Walker – The Walking Dead – Season 6, Episode 16 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
It’s irritating that it’s no longer enjoyable to watch the people we’ve grown to love or love-to-hate for six seasons. Carol has been a favorite character since the get-go, but when her life was seconds from ending, I didn’t care. The writing changed her so much, the character begging for death wasn’t the one I’d invested my fan-love into. The best part of her story arc is Morgan killing for her after she warned him that caring will always lead to doing anything to keep them alive. Again, it’s a long, drawn-out arc for a twenty–second payoff.
So here we are, waiting to find out who bites the big one and none of us are happy about it. The TWD team are scrambling to defend their decision. You know what? I’m not even going to bother reading their excuses. That’s what it is now, nothing but excuses. They got too comfortable being on the pedestal. When it came time to put Lucille to work, they didn’t have the guts to push their boundaries, lest they fall. It backfired. How many fans will stay with season seven after the premiere? I have a feeling most will watch to find out who died and move on to bloodier pastures.
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.
I’m not sure one can write spoilers for an episode so utterly predictable, the only parts which surprised me were the few glistening moments where we saw some actual character development. Nevertheless, that’s why we’re here, to pick apart the show, find more tidbits to feed our need for decent entertainment. So many fans lay their hope for TWD’s future on the Negan storyline. This is it, the chance for the show to realign with the chaos within the comics. Producers have promised fans they’d get what they want from this whole thing. If a nap was their ultimate goal, they succeeded.
(Watch out! Spoilers lurk below!)
Maybe that’s not entirely fair. There are stellar moments in the fight at the end which made the skin on my neck tense. But, honestly, maybe five minutes of quality writing are buried deep in cliché dialog, phoned-in emotions, and Rick being Rick. Some of my favorite scenes are with Glenn and Heath.
The original survivor, Glenn, is not keen to kill again. Heath hyped himself up the moment he heard Rick’s plan at the town hall meeting—exactly the reaction their leader wanted from his little pep talk spouting how they need to “get them before they get us.” It became Glenn’s job to talk sense into the young man. A position Glenn found himself in a lot during season one. Remember the car with the alarm? Yeah, a great impulse idea, but the aftermath cost many lives and their camp. Heath may think it’s the right thing to go into the raid ready to kill, but how would he feel the day after? How about a week down the road when he remembers the way his knife wouldn’t quite go into the skull right? Killing haunts the survivors who’ve been in the wild for long. Glenn’s fault is he wants to spare Heath, retain the young man’s innocence. When it comes time for them to do some of the most intimate killing scenes on the show—attacking Saviors in their bed and dispatching them with a single knife thrust trough the eye socket—Glenn takes the kill guilt upon himself. Being no coward, Heath still gets a few kills to notch on his belt when he and Glenn hold the line to guard the enemy’s armory. But even though his kills weren’t up close and personal, Heath still flees in the morning, more than ready to go on the two-week trip with Tara for supplies.
Where Glenn grows as a character, Carol is undermined at every turn. On top of her unfounded refusal to trust Morgan—up until they created a reason with him holding the Wolf in the cell—they’re now making her the “bad boy” to ease fans into the reality of Negan’s notorious potty mouth, plus reintroducing tobacco products to the show since Daryl’s smoking has petered off. In stark contrast, she’s been acting like the town’s mother, something Tobin calls her out on during a random romantic encounter after sunset. During a day full of doubts, concerns, and knowing death is near again, Carol gathered friggen acorns to make cookies for everyone. Even Sam. It’s been a while since the show side-swiped me with emotions, but I teared up seeing the lone cookie on his grave. Then I got angry—Sam gets more care after his death than before.
Carol’s mom-ness spreads to Maggie’s welfare after the pregnant woman insists she go on the raid. Glenn gave up that fight before it started. Rick is told rather bluntly what Carol thinks, but she never spells out why Maggie shouldn’t be there. It’s more of the same when Carol and Maggie, who were left to guard the perimeter and RV, hear the alarm triggered by a Savior—Sasha kills him, but not in time—and rush to help. Carol stops in her tracks, refusing to let Maggie move. Her hesitation because Maggie will also become a mother is why the episode ended in such a convenient manner. Carol, of all the fighters they have, should understand why Maggie is at the raid. Maggie laid out the terms for Gregory. She dug this hole for Alexandria, now either she helps fill it in or it becomes their graves. In Maggie’s shoes, would Carol honestly sit at home baking? Not this Carol. Even weeks out from her last kill, this Carol wouldn’t let others take full responsibility for something she set in motion.
Short note: Abraham is an a-hole. Rosita should shoot him in the foot.
The raid itself is pretty straight-forward. The group sends Eddy to offer Gregory’s head to the Saviors. Don’t fret, it’s a walker they disguised to resemble the injured Hilltop leader. The guards take too long to examine the head, not in terms of creating tension, but it just felt like, “Oh, they’re going to be d-bags and make Eddy sweat.” After one guard fetches the kidnapped Hilltop member, the gang dispatches both guards without a sound. The Hilltop people retreat to a standby vehicle with Jesus, Tara, and Gabriel. Rick, Michonne, Abraham, Sasha, Glenn, Heath, Rosita, and Daryl enter the compound. They pair up, searching each room they pass. If the room is occupied, they kill the Savior inside. If the door is locked, they pry it open. Why the random searching? They know nothing about they layout, only a vague idea of where the armory is and the location for the pantry. The locked rooms turn up a supply closet, a marijuana growing operation, and the armory Glenn and Heath defended.
Things run smoothly until Sasha and Abraham are caught breaking into a room. After the alarm is pulled, the gang mows through the stragglers—who aren’t unarmed, but have aim like Stormtroopers. Jesus, Tara, and Gabriel join the fight. Jesus saves Glenn and Heath from the lone survivor outside the armory. The other Hilltop men take the car and head toward home. Gabriel shows his backbone, praying for a Savior before putting a bullet in his head.
At sunrise, everyone from Alexandria and Hilltop are still alive. Heath scouts the Saviors’ cars and picks one to take on the trip. He and Tara roll out without much fanfare. Michonne wants to know which dead guy is Negan. None of them, duh? Plus, not everyone died. One guy on a motorcycle makes a run for it. He’s shot down. Rick and company surround him, making demands. A woman’s voice over the radio makes her own demands. When they fail to comply, she informs them that her people have Maggie and Carol.
Of course they do. I knew the second Maggie and Carol were left on the outskirts alone that they’d become a bargaining chip. It’s easier to kidnap the women, despite Carol’s ferocity, than the men on the mission—except maybe Heath. This is how they’ll likely force the face-to-face with Negan. A kidnapping. It’s so uninspired.