By: Casey Johnston (@DarthHockey)
WARNING: There are spoilers ahead for the latest episode of The Walking Dead.
A Plot: The Contrast of Rick and Negan
Since the days of the Governor, the writers of this series have hit us over the head with storylines that compare and contrast Rick to the main villain and how they’re often not all that different. We get it, Rick isn’t Superman. He kills people, often in exceedingly brutal ways that leave us wondering if there wasn’t a better way. Tonight was no different as we watched Rick bargain with the Saviors while Negan bargained with Jadis. They both promised to let their captors go if they could just be freed from their bonds. One person kept their promise and one didn’t and, surprise, it wasn’t Rick.
I should be tired of this message by now but tonight I thought that it was done in such a subtle way that it didn’t feel like we were being hit over the head with it like we have in the past. It wasn’t something that was clear throughout the episode. Rick was only captured for a short time and the bargaining phase was so short that it didn’t stand out immediately to me. And then Rick and Morgan killing the Saviors was so shocking that it made me think of how it would effect Alden’s standing with the Hilltop and not how it was contrasting with what we were watching with Negan and Jadis. If the writers are going to continue going back to this well then at least they’re keeping it interesting.
All that being said, I think we might actually be done with the whole “Rick is just like the bad guy” stories for a while. The real point of his story tonight was how he’s dealing with Carl’s death. We learned that Rick still hasn’t read Carl’s letter and isn’t thinking about his son’s vision for the future. This episode had to bring Rick to the brink before he could take a step back. Now, I think everything will change now that Rick has read the letter. He’s still going to fight the Saviors and he’s still going to try to kill Negan, but I think Rick will start thinking about his humanity and the future of all living people. This mostly felt like filler before we get to next week’s penultimate episode but it still carried a powerful message for Rick and was important to his overall story arc.
B Plot: Morgan and Carol’s Quest
Morgan is going crazy pants again and it’s really sad to see. Since Morgan returned to the show full-time in season seven, I feel like he’s gone on a journey from fan-favorite to a guy that the writers just don’t know what to do with. His personal no-kill philosophy when he returned made him an intriguing character who had managed to hang onto his humanity (or, more accurately, recapture it) in this crazy world. We all knew that wasn’t going to last. In the world this show has built, people have to kill to survive. Morgan was going to kill one day and it was obvious. What’s unfortunate is that after he did kill he mostly got written just like every other character on this show. Sure, we see him struggling right now with the demons that haunt him, but before that, he was just another guy who seemed to think he could kill his way out of his problems. That’s boring writing and an actor the caliber of Lennie James deserves better. Hopefully, he will find that on Fear the Walking Dead.
Thanks for reading!