This review contains spoilers.
Episode 2, ‘The Bridge’ is essentially split into two main stories. The primary plot is the different communities working to repair the bridge. While the secondary plot sees Maggie and Michonne at odds over resources and law at Hilltop. There was a nice juxtaposition between the two stories. At the bridge, it was about the physical infrastructure of the ‘new world’ while at Hilltop it was about working towards a common human infrastructure in terms of crime and punishment, as well as working together to share resources. It was a nice way to incorporate both story points in one episode.
Recently, in previous seasons, the amount of character development and world-building, that we get in this one episode, would have taken the course of two to three episodes. That is a massive improvement. They are not dragging out frustrating storylines or character choices. They are raising the issue, then resolving it, but even more satisfying is that they are making the right story and character choices. So far this new approach is a winner. Hopefully, this will continue.
The episode also uses its own version of the Sith’s ‘ Rule of Two’. You had Maggie and Michonne, Daryl and Justin, Gabriel and Anne, Carol and Ezekiel, and then you have Rick and Negan. Pairing off characters in both confrontational and romantic capacities was, again, a nice way to continue to push forward with character development and the story building. On the romance side of things, both Carol and Ezekiel and Gabriel and Anne are at different stages of their relationships. Both featured elements of humour, which helped add a sprinkle of relief from the tense drama of the episode. The biggest question here though is when Anne witnesses the helicopter. This has been teased previously. Does she know who it is? Is the show hinting that ‘The Commonwealth’ will be joining ‘The Whisperers’ in jumping from comic book page to the small screen? I’m interested to see who it is and where they go with the story in regards to who it is.
As for the confrontations, the main source of antagonism comes from Justin, who comes to blows with Daryl. Zach McGowan is a sizeable name in TV terms, so he’s going to have a big part to play in the show. After Rick exiled him for his actions, he encounters, what appears to be a familiar face off-screen. Thus ending the episode on a cliffhanger. My gut reaction is that it will be a character that we already know. Maybe leading to some sort of new splinter faction of Sanctuary, consisting of those loyal to Negan. But it could just as easily be a way to introduce The Whisperers, I hope that they are introduced sooner rather than later.
It’s not uncommon for The Walking Dead to bookend an episode with one scene. In this case, it was a conversation between Rick and Negan. This was an intense, dramatic encounter full of outstanding dialogue. My favourite interaction was when Rick asked Negan “Don’t you get tired of acting like you’re still in charge?” in which he replies “Do you?”. Wow. What execution! It also hints at a little foreshadowing possibly? I also can’t end this review without mentioning my boy Aaron. One of my favourite characters from the comic, who has been used sparingly over the past few seasons. I was hoping he was finally going to take on a larger role in Season 9. Well, after saving a fellow worker, his arm is crushed and is subsequently removed. Well, that’s one way to backdoor in a comic accurate version of Rick Grimes into the show! The whole amputation scene was brutal and superbly acted. Hopefully, this means Aaron will get some more focus, its long overdue.
Episode 2 was stronger than the season opener because they stamped out some of the silly character actions and applied more logic. But so far, Season 9 has been consistently good. ‘The Bridge’ really pushed on with character development and building up this ‘new world’. We have lots of unanswered questions and plenty of potential subplots were set up. There’s an excitement about the show again, in other words, so far, so good! Let’s keep this up, yeah?