By: Casey Johnston (@Darthhockey)
WARNING: There are spoilers ahead for the latest episode of The Walking Dead.
After last week’s episode, this was almost like watching an hour of Ruff, Tweet, and Dave (you can tell I have a two-year-old). Okay, it really wasn’t but this episode was such a welcome relief after that gut-wrenching bloodbath we endured in episode one. I won’t spoil much, but if you’ve read the comic then you know the writers are setting up a big war between the Saviors and the other groups (even if you haven’t read the comics, you’ve probably figured that out on your own). This will probably be the longest and most ambitious storyline the show has undertaken. I wouldn’t be surprised if this stretched out into multiple seasons; Jeffrey Dean Morgan has already hinted that Negan will be around beyond season seven. If this is true, then along the way we’re going to get some intense episodes. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the writers balance out that intensity with some more levity like they did tonight. As long as they don’t overdo it or turn the show into a parody of itself, then I look forward to some lightheartedness every once in a while.
We got our first look at the Kingdom tonight and it was everything I had hoped for. I mentioned the levity, and it’s almost impossible to write in a community with a leader that acts as a king without adding in some laughs. Taking things too seriously can make the show ridiculous, but the writers used a bit of lampshade hanging to let the audience know that it’s okay to be a little wary of what’s happening onscreen. It’s good that they didn’t drag out the mysterious nature of Ezekial. If you paid attention to Twitter during commercial breaks, then you probably saw a number of people already asking, “Why on earth does this guy have a tiger?” The writers astutely explained that one quickly. They also let us in on the fact that Ezekial isn’t delusional; he’s simply putting on a show for the benefit of his people. In that way, he’s kind of the anti-Governor. He’s charismatic and calculating, but unlike the Governor, he’s caring. He cares about his people and is simply trying to give them a happy distraction from the horrors that this world now has to offer them.
We got a scene with the Saviors tonight and it gave us another example of the group making a “deal” with another community. After the Hilltop and Alexandria, this is now the third group we’ve seen the Saviors exploit. Negan doesn’t seem to realize it yet, but that’s a lot of large and well-organized enemies to make. And soon they will all know about each other. This is the slow setup for the war against the Saviors that we’re seeing, and it’s exciting to watch.
I don’t know about you, but I’m still fascinated by Morgan. Outside of The Walking Dead, two of my all-time favorite characters are Batman and Superman, so I’m immediately drawn to a character that tries his best to live by a code of not killing. The writers had Morgan break from that code last season to save Carol, but that only seems to reinforce his belief that all life is precious. Now it looks like he will atone for his transgression by teaching Ben the way Eastman taught Morgan. That will bring Morgan’s story around full circle in a nice way.
I just have one short thought on this: the writers have gotten really good at telling stories that don’t involve Rick. The few from last year were also good. Hopefully, this becomes a trend because I do not want the show to regress back to the tone of seasons four and five when I had to force myself to sit through some of those episodes that were missing Rick Grimes.
Thanks for reading!