Norman Reedus in "The Walking Dead."
Gene Page/AMC Norman Reedus in "The Walking Dead."

LAST WEEK'S REVIEW: 'The Walking Dead' Season 6, Episode 13, 'The Same Boat': Know Your Enemy

Whose Episode Is It?

Denise is the main focus, as she leads Daryl and Rosita to a pharmacy she remembers passing on her way to Alexandria. Meanwhile, Eugene and Abraham are on their own exploratory run, and just when you think it's over, BAM! Carol makes a fateful decision.

Little Town, It's A Quiet Village

I can't remember an episode of this show that has frustrated me as much as this one. This could have just been one of those bad, one-off "Walking Dead" installments, where nothing much happens except some unsuccessful attempts at character development and you figure they'll pull it together for the last few episodes, but then the last 15 minutes of "Twice As Far" wind up having major consequences, and it makes a dumb episode into an aggravating one.

We open with a montage of quiet life in Alexandria, since everyone seems to think they successfully killed Negan and eliminated all the Saviors. Apparently Carol didn't tell anyone that the Savior Rick killed at the end of the last episode was referred to as "Primo" multiple times by the Saviors who were holding her captive, and that one of the Saviors explicitly said "We're all Negan," which would certainly seem to indicate some sort of "I'm Spartacus" situation, especially to someone as sharp as Carol. But I guess she's got a lot on her plate, what with her multiple murders weighing heavier on her with each passing day.

Anyway, Doctor Denise remembers an apothecary that she passed a long time ago, and wants to make a supply run. Daryl and Rosita are willing to go, but Denise insists on coming along, despite admitting that her experience outside the walls is "zero." This is an insultingly stupid decision by Denise with an almost equally stupid decision by Daryl and Rosita in agreeing to bring her along. She's the town's only doctor. Sure, she's not formally trained, but she's been learning, and she's the best Alexandria has got, so taking her out into the wilderness is basically insane. Even if the Ricketeers think the Saviors are all gone, there are still the endless hordes of the undead to contend with, not to mention whatever other nightmare humans might be around. Do they think they killed all the Wolves, too? No one in the Wolves said "Oh yeah, I'm definitely the last member of this nutty cult." Yet Daryl and Rosita agree to bring Denise with them after only some cursory badgering. Man, no one tell Rick, I bet he'd be pissed if he knew! (We don't know what Rick thinks about the whole situation, because Andrew Lincoln isn't in this episode. Convenient!)

Merritt Weaver in "The Walking Dead."
Gene Page/AMC Merritt Weaver in "The Walking Dead."

Most Embarrassing Death

If that wasn't maddening enough, once Denise is outside the walls, she keeps taking insane risks. She investigates a closed room containing a zombie by herself, despite not knowing how to hold a machete. She insists on breaking into a car with a zombie in it because there's a cooler inside they could salvage. It turns out she's feeling useless, which again is crazy, because she's the town's only doctor, but she's also feeling guilty about not telling Tara she loved her when she had the chance. This all builds to Denise, Daryl, and Rosita getting into a big argument about how dumb Denise is being, with Denise insisting you have to take chances in order to live. There's a fine line between "taking a chance" and risking your life, which Denise learns the hard way when her big, passionate speech is interrupted by a crossbow bolt through her eye.

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What's worse is that this plot would make a lot more sense with Eugene instead of Denise, which is why it's even more frustrating that Eugene is actually in this episode, in a subplot with the same basic character arc but with much less airtime -- he and Abraham scout out a factory that Eugene claims they can use to start manufacturing bullets. Like Denise, Eugene wants to prove himself against a zombie, but, unfortunately, faces off with one that's got a helmet of molten metal (one of the episode's only clever bits), and Abraham comes to his rescue. Eugene tells him off, and Abraham ditches him. Eugene's actions here actually make sense, considering his cowardly past and the power dynamic that existed between him and Abraham. Abraham was his protector for months, but Eugene wants to show him that he can handle himself now.

The solidity of this plot line just shines a spotlight on the main plot's weaknesses. Denise's story this episode seems to exist simply to get her away from Alexandria so she can be killed off. The script gives her some cursory backstory to give some heft to her "shocking" death, which is a shame, since Merritt Wever was a great addition to the ensemble. Even if her character was never meant to exist long-term, she still deserved a better write-out than this. This is also another annoying example of "Walking Dead" killing off newly-introduced characters as a way of artificially raising the stakes, so the world can still seem dangerous but none of the regulars have to go. Watch your back, Heath!

Man Is The True Monster

Josh McDermitt in "The Walking Dead."
Gene Page/AMC Josh McDermitt in "The Walking Dead."

So yeah, turns out there's a bunch of Saviors left. Denise is killed by Dwight, the guy who stole Daryl's bike and crossbow back in "Always Accountable," and he's sporting a scarred face, presumably punishment for going astray in his earlier appearance. He shows up leading a pretty large group of Saviors who have managed to capture Eugene, but of course, Abraham, being in the sensible plot, didn't really abandon Eugene, and he manages to get the drop on the Saviors after Eugene offers some misdirection. Daryl and Rosita get to cover and the Saviors are forced to retreat. In a downright odd bit of business, Eugene contributes to the confusion by biting Dwight's crotch, which is certainly a unique and effective method for slowing a guy down. Considering how many Saviors the Ricketeers have killed, at this point Negan's going to have to nuke Alexandria from orbit in order to even the score.

(Imagine if you were Dwight and you had to go back to the Savior camp after what happened. All your pals saw it, so you couldn't just make something up. When Negan demands to know how the Ricketeers got away, you'd have to say, "The nerdy guy bit my dick." You would never live that down.)

Line Of The Week

The honor goes to Abraham: "You know how to bite a dick, Eugene. I mean that with the utmost of respect." This is undoubtedly hilarious, but it's an odd tonal decision in an episode that writes out two major characters.

One More Bad Idea For The Road

That's right, I said two major characters, because in the last few minutes of the episode, Carol sneaks out of Alexandra, leaving a note saying she can't kill anymore, and that she knows she'd have to if she stayed. The last few episodes have clearly been building to something with Carol, but this decision still comes out of left field, plopped in as an addendum to an episode where Carol is largely absent. It might have felt less shoehorned in if Carol got more screen time this episode, but I guess we couldn't miss a second of whether or not Daryl and the others were going to take the road or the railroad tracks.

We've been down this road with Carol before when Rick exiled her (as Carol mentions), so this feels like a retread of an earlier plot. Either Carol's really gone forever (unlikely), or she's just on walkabout for a few episodes again. It's enough to make you want to pull your hair out, which makes it an appropriate capper to "Twice As Far."

Grade: D