By: Casey Johnston (@DarthHockey)
WARNING: There are spoilers ahead for the latest episode of The Walking Dead.
A Great Bottle Episode
As far as bottle episodes go (episodes with a limited cast, usually on a single set) this was a great one. I don’t know if it’s better writing, a more suspenseful plot, or both, but the bottle episodes this season have all been great (even the Morgan episode in the first half was good, it was just badly timed). I used to dread watching episodes that I knew would not feature Rick. They got so tedious that I almost gave up watching the show back in season four. Now the writers seemed to have figured out that episodes without Rick still need to be entertaining. This episode was everything I want from The Walking Dead. It was suspenseful, it furthered the plot, and it featured just enough action to remind us why this group has survived for so long. Keep it up, writers. Good job.
Everyone Has a Breaking Point
I think we knew from the moment Carol started hyperventilating that it was all a ruse. She’s been through so much and survived. The real twist, however, was that Carol actually has reached a breaking point. This is a theme I wouldn’t mind the writers exploring a little more. People like Rick, Daryl, and Abraham were made for this crazy world. People like Glenn, Maggie, and Carol were not. They’ve done what they need to do to get through, but now I think it’s probably time to explore the emotional consequences of everything they’ve had to do to live. It’s easy to watch the show and say, “Yeah, Carol’s a bad ass,” and she is, but what toll has that taken on her? What has it done to Maggie and Glenn? We’ve gotten to the point in the story where the characters think they have to be ruthless to live, and the audience has accepted that along with them, but that’s not a sustainable mindset for most people. Everybody has a breaking point, even hardended people like Rick. I’m looking forward to exploring what happens when everyone reaches that point.
“We’re All Negan”
I think people are taking this line, and Primo saying he was Negan, to mean Negan has a cult leader-like status among the Saviors. I don’t think this is the case. I think Negan just has his people conditioned to not give up anything about him. Saying “I am Negan” is more of a security measure than a “I am Spartacus” rallying cry. To me this is actually creepier than if Negan had a cult following. His people are sane and rational, but they’ve accepted death as an inevitability in this world. We saw tonight that these people don’t even seem to like each other, but they will do anything they have to do to make sure the group as a whole is protected. That is a frightening level of devotion to have. Rick doesn’t know it yet, but he’s picking a fight with the wrong group.
I like Paula, played wonderfully by Alicia Witt, telling the story about her life before the outbreak. The writers have done a pretty good job of keeping the past lives of everyone mostly a secret. Obviously we know Rick was a cop, Maggie was a student, and Glenn delivered pizzas. But how much do we really know about these people? Not much at all. That’s why is so captivating, and a little disconcerting, when someone tells about story about their life in the old world.
Thanks for reading!