This review contains spoilers.
Before I get into the meat of this week’s review, unfortunately, I have to address more hate that the show is currently receiving. I think it’s becoming very boring now. This week’s criticism is “not enough action”. This from the same people who have been saying the show is all action and that they have ditched the characterisation. But we just had an incredible episode with brilliant character performances and development. They have given you what you wanted and you complain that it is boring?
It’s not just angry Twitter folk, its also coming from big named Youtube reactors and influential bloggers. Sure, complain and call the show out on things if there is a genuine issue, constructive criticism is healthy. But that’s not what is happening. The continued hate towards the show is illogical and unfounded. Please, for the sake of your own health, and ours, if you no longer enjoy the show just stop watching it.
With that out of the way, let’s get back to what really matters, reviewing this week’s episode of The Walking Dead. And boy were we treated to another great episode.
We haven’t seen Negan or Gabriel since the opening episode of Season 8, so a Negan/Gabriel heavy episode was a great way to break up the intense action that we’ve been treated to so far. It was also an episode where The Savior generals were given some more screentime and character development which will be a benefit in the long term. Their potential deaths or dishing out death to other characters will carry more meaning and impact if their characters are fleshed out more.
I loved the long opening of the episode. Sitting down with The Saviors during the meeting set during the first episode was a great way to re-introduce Negan back into the season. It was good to hear Eugene again, the way he structures his sentences coupled with Josh McDermitt’s delivery is just a joy to watch. Negan and Simon were also very strong during this scene. The way the scene ended, transitioning into what we saw in the first episode was well executed.
The main focus of the story was centred around Negan and Gabriel and we are treated to some tantalising dialogue and acting. It’s hard to pick who was the strongest as they both had some exceptional moments. Gabriel’s smile as he told Negan he was there to take his last confession was truly haunting. It was at that moment I knew we were in for a great episode.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan is really enjoying the role of Negan, every time you see him he shapes the character, even more, he is compelling to watch and you find yourself glued to the screen during all of his scenes. He was faultless here. His delivery of the outstanding dialogue was exquisite and the subtle pauses and facial expressions he delivers really add to the performance.
The episode was broken up with Rick and Daryl’s ongoing mission to hunt down the guns. We’ve already seen Daryl show no mercy this season, despatching Morales without blinking, and that ruthlessness returned as he wanted to blow up the Savior compound allowing walkers to clean up the rest. When Rick points out that there are families inside, Daryl is still in war mode and is willing to accept casualties. But once again Rick, like Jesus, is trying to follow the ‘hearts and minds’ play by not creating more enemies. This scene did enough to create some tension, but that tension was quickly resolved, at least for now. There was also a great throwback to Season One with the ‘Choke holds are illegal’ line which was a nice touch.
Last week I stated that we had just witnessed the best episode this season. I now have to make a correction, it is now the second best. ‘The Big Scary U‘ was a triumph in terms of the portrayal of the characters and the strong writing throughout the episode. This was an incredibly well-written episode with Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Seth Gilliam rightfully taking all the plaudits for their exceptional performances. The Walking Dead continues to deliver high-quality television, we just need the unfounded hate towards the show to end, because it looks even more foolish as every week passes.
What did you make of the episode? What was your favourite moment? Who was in that helicopter? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.