Whose Episode Is It?
Daryl seeks revenge on the Saviors that killed Denise, Carol breaks her pacifism vow basically immediately and Rick and Morgan debate morality in a field. It’s one of those low-key, plodding "Walking Dead" episodes that isn’t terrible, but is far from exciting. Since next week’s finale most likely intends to deliver both Negan and some sort of terrible violence along with him, this week feels like the show’s looking at its watch as it waits for his arrival. There are a number of loose story threads, but none of them are particularly compelling.
Little Town, It’s A Quiet Village
As Carol prepares to leave, we get another patented "let’s check in on everyone" Alexandra music montage. Glenn and Maggie get some shower time together, Sasha and Abraham flirt right in front of Rosita and Rick and Michonne enjoy the bounty that Hilltop delivered. Meanwhile, Carl finds a pistol with an image of a barbed-wire baseball bat carved into the handle, leading me to believe that Negan is actually Mick Foley. That would be quite the twist.
A Shred of Humanity
The plot this week focuses on two pursuits: Daryl going after the Saviors that killed Denise (while being followed by Glenn, Michonne and Rosita), and Rick and Morgan trying to track down Carol. Since he’s finally alone with Rick, Morgan takes the opportunity to pitch his non-violence philosophy one more time. I’m usually a fan of when the characters on this show talk about their motivations for committing violence, but there’s a distinct lack of urgency in this entire story line.
Morgan does finally tell Rick about the Wolf he held captive, and that said Wolf wound up saving Denise, who then saved Carl when his eye got shot out. It’s a solid enough argument, but it would probably have more weight if the Wolf’s change of heart didn’t come on so suddenly (remember how confused the Wolf was at his very own actions?). It seems less like a scenario where Morgan’s philosophy wins out and more like he has some sort of short-term mind control. Eventually, Morgan convinces Rick to return to Alexandra, while Morgan continues the search for Carol alone.
Man Is The True Monster
Carol heads east, hoping to never have to kill again, so imagine her dismay when she’s immediately accosted by another pack of Saviors. (They demonstrate a disturbing amount of knowledge about Alexandra, so they must be doing some serious scouting.) Carol begs them to leave her alone, but of course, like everyone, they underestimate Carol and she’s able to gun them all down in a protracted shoot-out. Carol disappears after the violence, so we don’t get to see how these new killings affect her. It just feels like an extended set-up, which is all well and good, but doesn’t make this particular episode very satisfying. The gun fight is fine, but it’s long, and if there’s one thing this half-season has not been short on, it’s Saviors getting killed by Rick’s crew. One of the Saviors does manage to get away, grabbing Carol’s crucifix as he goes. Again, it’s supposedly set up, but it’s not compelling in its own right.
The most successful storyline this episode is Daryl’s, because it’s simple and makes perfect sense: He’s feeling guilty about Denise’s death because he’s the one who let Dwight live. Glenn, Michonne and Rosita try to talk him out of it, to no avail. There’s a pretty unintentionally funny moment when Michonne tells Daryl, "We’ll square it, I promise you." Considering the countless Saviors that the Ricketeers have taken out so far, that’s pretty rich, but it’s a decent indicator as to how righteous the Ricketeers consider themselves to be, despite all evidence to the contrary.
Daryl and Rosita opt for revenge while Glenn and Michonne start heading back, so of course they’re the ones who get captured by Dwight’s group of Saviors. (No word on how Dwight’s dick is doing after going one-on-one with Eugene’s teeth last week.) Daryl and Rosita attempt a rescue, but also get captured like total amateurs, and Dwight shoots Daryl point blank. Which would be a decent cliffhanger, if we didn’t hear Dwight say "You’ll be all right," right before the credits roll.
It’s pure speculation that the show is attempting to head off any accusations of messing with its audience after last year’s Glenngate debacle, but it’s hard to think of a better explanation of why the show would undermine its own suspense that way. It just shows how wrong-headed the Glenn storyline was in the first place, if now the show can’t let you worry about a character’s fate for a single week. Too bad this lack of suspense sums up this episode as a whole.
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