This Week On “The Walking Dead”
If “The Bridge” is a slight downturn from last week’s promising premiere, it’s only because it’s stuck between the shock of the show’s new status quo and the build towards the rest of the season. It exists to further flesh out the conflicts that are driving the action and to tease mysteries for later episodes, but it does both with an aplomb the show hasn’t regularly been exercising in seasons past. It has modest ambitions, but it fulfills them quite well.
Community Tension Assessment
Things could be better! While the episode opens with a sunny monologue from Rick about how everything’s hunky dory now, we know for a fact that’s not so. The episode centers around the reconstruction of a bridge, and the metaphor of the difficulties in constructing connections between the communities is not exactly subtle.
A fuel delivery from Sanctuary to Hilltop has gone missing, along with the Saviors doing the delivering, and Maggie won’t cough up more food until she gets her fuel. What’s more, additional Saviors have vanished from the work site.
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Alden (the sensitive Savior) informs Rick that none of the missing Saviors have returned to Sanctuary, so maybe arming them would be a good idea. Rick says no, and that he’ll protect them. Alden: “So they work for you, and you protect them? Who’s that sound like to you?” Rick does not appreciate the implication.
Justin, a beefy Savior with a bad attitude, tries to hog the work site water for himself, only to run afoul of Daryl, and a brawl ensues. Rick breaks it up, but Daryl makes it clear that he doesn’t appreciate having to work with the Saviors. There’s an intriguing tension this season where Rick seems to be the only person every faction will listen to, but the viewers know he won’t be around for much longer. After he’s gone, what happens then?
Jackson Lee Davis/AMC
Obligatory Zombie Action
The good news is that this week’s zombie fight arises from and furthers to inflame the tension between the settlements, plus there are major consequences for a major character. Plus a bunch of zombies get squished by rolling logs!
A mechanical failure leads to a zombie herd interrupting construction on the bridge, and in the ensuing melee, Aaron’s arm is crushed under a log. Aaron is brought to Enid, who’s been studying under Siddiq, and she has no choice but to amputate the ruined arm. Aaron pulls through, and still manages to remain optimistic about the new world Rick’s trying to build. A stand-up guy, that Aaron.
The failure was due to Justin’s negligence, and as a result, he’s kicked off the work site, but not before receiving another beating from Daryl, who’s just about had it with every one of the Saviors. The rift between Daryl and Rick continues to grow.
A Shred of Humanity
If you were worried that Maggie’s execution of Gregory last week was the precursor to her becoming some sort of murder-happy dictator, this week works to assuage those fears. Maggie still has Earl, the blacksmith who assaulted her at Gregory’s urging, locked up and can’t seem to decide what to do with him.
Maggie takes the time to talk to Earl and get his story. He talks about his alcoholism and how he once drove drunk with his son in the car, which led him to dry up with Tammy’s help. He’s genuinely curious why Maggie executed Gregory and not him, since he was the one who actually committed the assault. Maggie is cagey with Earl, but admits to Michonne that her father Hershel was also a recovered alcoholic and he helped many people because he was given a second chance. Gregory had many, many chances and he squandered them all. Well, she’s not wrong.
Maggie frees Earl and agrees to give Michonne the food delivery she promised. She’s also open to Michonne’s idea for a community charter. Maggie’s a good leader, but she, like Daryl, has a blind spot when it come to the Saviors.
Jackson Lee Davis/AMC
Man Is The True Monster
As Justin returns to Sanctuary alone, he’s snatched by some unseen assailants. The intriguing thing is that Justin lets his guard down because he recognizes his attackers. Looks like the Savior disappearances are a coordinated effort, and a mystery for next time.
- This episode has a framing device where Rick’s chatting with Negan, telling him how great everything’s going. Negan tells Rick he’s not saving the world, he’s just getting it ready for Negan. He better not escape anytime soon.
- There’s that helicopter again. What are you up to, Anne? Besides seducing Gabriel, that is.
- Fun detail where Carol says, “Aren’t you forgetting something?” to Henry, and he thinks she meant to give her a kiss when she really meant that he forgot his fighting stick. Carol always remains practical.
- Another nice detail: Anne’s artworks hangs in Maggie’s office.
- Carol agrees to give Ezekiel’s ring a test run, but stops him as he drops to one knee. “But,” he protests, “I wrote a speech.” Never change, Ezekiel.