This review contains spoilers.
Talk about a satisfying payoff!
I’ve been saying for weeks now, they are building towards something, not just the turn of the tide in the war, but also in regards to a significant character departure. Ok so THAT departure did not happen in the way I thought it would, but it was still one of the characters I picked as a potential candidate.
We are here already, so let’s talk about that ending. Carl has been bitten by a walker, we didn’t see it, but it was implied that it happened when Carl and Siddiq were attacked in the woods. It explains his movement and his journey throughout the episode as well as his ‘dead man walking’ attitude. Carl has been a character I have never really cared about, but I praised Chandler Riggs in Episode Six for his outstanding performance. And he was just as good again here, if not even better. First of all, his interaction with Negan was sublime, the two have great chemistry. Secondly, the way he lured the Saviors away from the Safe Zone was expertly executed. Not only did he ‘Batman disappear’ but he also had a real ‘Rick vibe’ about him. Alas, by the time Rick joins him in the sewer tunnels, we have the big reveal of the bite.
Now. Some are saying that it’s because he’s off to college, but in a recent interview, Riggs said it was solely an executive story decision. We know Riggs has one more episode in the can, which will be the first episode after the Winter break. It’s going to be interesting to see how they handle it. So long as they don’t pull an immunity angle, they should be ok. As I’ve said, never been a favourite character, but he’s had a great season, and his death could instigate a change in Rick, so from a story point of view, it makes sense.
The second highlight of the episode was Rick and Negan coming face to face again. Their fight was raw and visceral, seeing Rick with Lucille was such a great visual. Just like with Carl, Negan has great chemistry with Rick, and this scene was really well choreographed. It was good to have Negan out and about again in the world. I have a very strong feeling that he is going to have an outstanding second half of the season. I’m already visualising more stunning dialogue, terrifying menace and that unnerving smile in full flow. Negan and The Saviors are fighting back, and there will be many casualties, both secondary characters and red-shirts along the way.
As for Daryl, well, hasn’t all his actions come back to bite him in the backside? Same goes for his accomplice Tara. I’m still unsure of what the end game with Daryl is. I know what they should do with him, but the show’s producers would fear a backlash. I think he needs to go. For me, Daryl going down a self-destructive path ending in his death is more palatable than him apologising and moving on as if nothing happened. He got Glenn killed. He caused innocent Savior workers to be killed. He allowed the Saviors and Negan to escape. But, now on top of his plot armour, he has the rating issue and the fact the show doesn’t want to lose any more fans. You piss off the Daryl fandom, you better expect a negative fallout. So he’ll move on like nothing happened, and all this is coming from someone who is a fan of the character! I just think they don’t have the guts to do it, and if they continue to wash over his character in this way he will remain a constant weakness in the show.
Speaking of weakness, Tara and Rosita. What on earth was their comedy duo act about? The scene with the equipment just felt so out of place in comparison to everything we have seen from them this season. I have zero investment in both of these characters now, but at least they had some consistency. This scene was just very bizarre.
Another downside to the episode was the fact that it looks like Oceanside is coming back into play. They may be a smidge above The Scavengers, but they are still another group I don’t have much time for. But on the flip side to all of this, Aaron got some more screentime which I am all in favour for. If it has to be a storyline involving Oceanside, then so be it.
The other scenes with Maggie, Carol etc were fine to pad out the episode but never really stood out. It was fine, they served their purpose and will probably have a better payoff when we return in terms of the fallout. Ezikel’s save and apparent self-sacrifice was also a good moment, and I’m still glad they are they are taking their time with his storyline. As for Eugene, I stated last week he is now a true Savior, and despite letting Gabriel and the doctor go, I still believe this. I fully expect him to die this season, and by showing us this glimpse that he might turn back, it only helps add to the emotional payoff that will come before the season closes. They want you to feel sorry for him, they are building it up nicely. It was also great to see Dwight take down some Saviors, even if he catches the woman who shot him, Eugene’s recording still in-play who knows what will happen there.
Overall, a very strong episode going into the Winter break. It delivered some great character driven performances, some intense action and a dramatic cliffhanger that was able to be shocking without being frustrating. I have loved this season of The Walking Dead so far, and I can only hope that this quality continues to follow on from this when the show returns for its final push in February of next year.
What did you think of the episode? What do you think will happen to Carl when we return? What next for Negan and the Saviors? Let us know in the comments.