This review contains spoilers.
After last week’s stuttering episode, The Walking Dead needed to come out swinging. So did the show manage to land any of its punches this week? Or was it left on it’s back, lying on the canvas gasping for air?
The main story-arc of the episode was centred around Gabriel believing God has a plan for him. The objective was to grow the character, something which the episode failed to do. Now, I’m not taking anything away from Seth’s performance, but the writing and the way in which they executed the story was badly mishandled. It was a slog to get through the story especially when you already could see what was going to happen. Here we have Gabriel in full ‘happy clappy’ mode, of course, he was going to be brought down to earth with a bang, literally. The Saviors turn up and Carson is killed. Losing his eyesight and now ANOTHER crisis of faith on the cards? I think I’ll pass.
Elsewhere, Daryl and Co are heading to Hilltop but have swamp zombies and bands of Saviors to avoid. The main narrative here was the groups distrust of Dwight, mainly Daryl and Tara. Now, I liked Tara initially, but as the seasons have dragged on her character is more and more unlikeable. She is a frustrating, annoying watch and when the show is dragging its feet, focusing on this type of character hurts the show even more. Her scowling is beyond boring now. Here she tries to kill Dwight until he steps out to draw the Saviors away, rejoining them as a mole.
Dwight got some decent screen time here and he accepts that he will die sooner rather than later. Here is a character who just wants Negan dead and the war to be over. Then you have Tara who has been doing her own thing all season long and going against ‘the plan’. Just like Daryl. Speaking of which, his meltdown over wanting to kill Dwight in the forest was the best thing he’s done since the show’s return. He soon stops, however, when he sees Judith getting upset. I think I’m now at a stage where if we lost Daryl and Tara this season I’d take it. It’s going to take something special to turn their characters around.
When the group reach Hilltop the news is broken about Carl. We don’t hear it mentioned but we get the reaction shots over the soundtrack. It was short, but better not to drag it out too much as this episode was doing a lot of that already. Siddiq offered to help Maggie out with the medical side of things, so already he’s establishing himself in a key position within the community. I approve of this as his character has a lot of potential going forward. Much more than Tara, that’s for sure. We also get a little bit of Gregory here, though when he does not have the full episode for his weaselling to play out, the impact of the character is lessened. It’s more irritating than anything else, which is a shame.
Back with The Saviors, Gabriel is brought to the compound where Eugene is making his bullets. I’m not sure what happens now with these two, the lack of attention to their characters recently has meant that losing either one, or both, at this point would free up screentime for others. I thought that this episode would have elevated Gabriel a little, but by the end, we are pretty much back to where we started with him. As for Eugene, sure he still has some amusing one-liners, but even these are wearing a little thin due to the lack of story he currently has. But, it is the number of characters the show now has to juggle that is causing the character development issues. I think the cast is bloated, but we’ve crossed that point now where to show has evolved into a larger-cast product, and so we have lost that more personal feel. They can’t and won’t go back to the early season’s numbers, but going forward there has to be some trimming to the roster as the writing quality is not consistent enough to sustain a large cast.
Finally, we get some Negan time, and as always it elevates the episode. He gathers The Saviors together, Dwight included and informs them basically that they are going to contaminate their weapons and the like with zombie gore to hopefully infect the group at Hilltop. How exactly all this will work out is a different matter.
Overall this was definitely a filler episode with promises of more interesting things to come. The show has hit a bit of a lull since its return, which is a shame given how strong the season started. Hopefully, things will pick up next week, but that’s a phrase that fans of The Walking Dead are getting a little too used to.
What did you think of the episode? Let us know in the comments below.