As promised, a double-dose of my nonsense this week. I couldn’t be bothered to blog last week for two reasons: 1) I had to get busy making a costume to wear to a Toys for Tots drive a few days later, and that seemed more important. And 2) I didn’t like enough about the episode to feel compelled to push off my other project. I’d intended writing yesterday, but then malware decided to pay a visit to my laptop. After 4 hours of resolving that nonsense, I once again found myself looking for more enjoyable things to do (like drink tea and watch Terminator) than have to write this blog. Alas, it is Tuesday and I should probably get things done. So, here goes…
First off, if you haven’t already watched the episodes in question and would like a refresher you can check out these spoiler-filled recaps. Just CLICK HERE for Episode 5, and then CLICK HERE for Episode 6. I’ll do my best to keep things brief.
The Big Scary U
I know that I have said this before, as much as I appreciate single-focused episodes, the show runners need to return to multi-faceted story telling. Wait, you say, both of these episodes were multi-faceted! True. But were they any good? No. I grew up watching soap operas and prime-time dramas. I can handle a lot of story coming at me at once, particularly if the character development is captivating. TWD has spent a lot of time in the last year and half presenting us with single or sometimes dual story episodes and they fall flat. Some are good (Morgan and the Cheesemaker) and some are not (Tara discovers Oceanside). Currently, the writers are trying to include a little bit of everyone, but it doesn’t feel the same as it used to. I have no problem with the Vantage Point method of story telling. Nearly the first half of season 6 was spent conveying the action of the same 24 hours from the experiences and views of different characters (and a blaring truck horn). It was beautifully done and filled with action, tension, and all the things a fan could want. Season 8 is attempting to present a similar style of story telling, but this time around I am not buying it. So much of what is happening is redundant and unnecessary to the overall arc. Move the narrative! Things are happening at a snail’s pace and I am finding myself becoming more and more distracted while watching. Not a good sign, my friends, not a good sign.
The build-up and advertising for episode 5 was relentless. I was expecting a one-on-one Gabriel/Negan showdown complete with proper pre-ZA flashbacks–something we haven’t had in more years than I can count. Instead, we were-finally-given a few sentences describing Negan’s ‘betrayal’ of his wife, Lucille. That was it. The guts as disguise trick from season 1 was deployed…again. Which, by the way (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) is used to better effect on Fear the Walking Dead.
It’s always fun to watch our buddy Ogg in action; his portrayal of Simon is a bright spot on the show. Oh! And I cannot believe it took me so long to realize that the Savior Lieutenant, Regina, is Pamela Barnes from Supernatural. Once a hot bad ass, always a hot bad ass. Good on you, girl. Eugene sleuthing Dwight’s identity as the mole was not as shocking a moment as intended. What will be shocking is when we ever see Eugene’s story arc come to its inevitable conclusion. Pick a side, son.
And then there was the Rick and Daryl fight. Save for that one sucker punch that Rick should have seen coming a mile away (dude…you grabbed his left shoulder…that always leads to a follow through with the right…duh). It’s not the first time we’ve seen them at odds. Back when they were planning to break into Grady Memorial, Rick was the one wanting to sneak in and execute everyone swiftly and silently. Much to Rick’s ire, Daryl defended Tyreese and suggested they find another less cold-blooded way of rescuing Carol and Beth. And back on the farm, Rick initially wanted to deal with Randall in a humane way, whereas Daryl just went out to the barn and beat him silly. The Rickyl duo has always been a yin and yang relationship. One of them always has to be the grounding force and voice of reason for the other. Right now, Daryl clearly has a lot of reasons for being in vengeance mode (as do Tara and Rosita), and for a time it seemed like Rick was on board. But, then he orphaned a baby and grew a conscience. He always does that, did you notice? Rick stopped being the ‘good guy’ when Lori died. He portrays himself as the good guy, but more often than not he is behaving exactly like the leaders of the groups he encounters. Nice throwback with the choke hold, though. Made me miss season 1-2 Daryl who still had a voice.
So, the only mystery we are left with after episode 5 is the helicopter. “Fat Lady” is identified in episode 6 as the speaker truck, but this mystery chopper–ridiculous though it may be–was the only thing that peaked my curiosity.
The King, The Widow, and Rick
Which brings us to episode 6. The biggest takeaway for me was the following question: Can you regret kindness or mercy?
Here are some examples that will predictably bring trouble:
- Carol giving Henry a gun and allowing him to feel like he is part of the mission, because she pities all that he has been through but reluctantly appreciates his spirit
- Jesus convincing everyone not to kill the Savior prisoners
- Maggie, reluctantly building a prison for said Saviors
- Maggie for also allowing Gregory to a) live, b) reside in the Hilltop, and c) continue to live and reside, albeit in the new prison
- Jadis for keeping Rick alive rather than just being done with him, as she claims to be
- Carl for bringing food to Saddiq (not saying Saddiq is a ‘bad guy’ but this new association, and the fact that it was done behind Rick’s back will cause issues…the kind of issues that have the internet spoiler freaks insisting that Carl will die in the mid-season finale…I’m not buying it. The show runners make a lot of mistakes, killing Carl at this juncture in the story would be a HUGE one)
- Anyone at Hilltop openly discussing anything in front of Jared and the other Savior prisoners
We finally got an answer to Rick’s new photography obsession; he needed proof of their successes to show the trash people. Though, why we are even bothering with Jadis and co. and this point is beyond me. I look at them and I see a junkyard full of red-shirts.
I know a lot of Ezecarol shippers are going to hate me for this one, but I do not believe their conversation was romantic in any regard. Carol’s insistence on getting Zeke to admit why he kept checking on her may have been an acknowledgment of his little crush, but it was a device to get him to realize that he is capable of that persistent caring of those in his charge. As someone who has always ‘played a role’ even when it pained her to do so, Carol recognizes Zeke’s conflict and understands how to deal with it. She will get him back on board because people need him. When you start something, you have to finish it. That’s where the Governor failed. As soon as things stopped going his way and the scales shifted, he stopped acting like the Governor and let Phillip take over; an angry, bitter man who had lost everything and was taking out sick vengeance on the world. “Anger makes you stupid. Stupid gets you killed.” Thank you, Michonne. Negan knew that he needed to get back inside the Sanctuary, not to save his own ass, but because his people needed him. Gregory attempted to resume his role, but since he had already broken character the suspension of disbelief was lost on his people and his role was recast. Carol and Jerry are doing everything they can to show Zeke that they believe in HIM; it wasn’t the ‘King’ characterization, but the man himself. Once he gets his grief in check, Zeke will be back on board.
MVP award for this episode goes to Rosita for blowing that Savior to smithereens. I have to say, I was extremely disappointed in the choice of Morgan for crossover character to FTWD. First of all, rather than allowing fans the mystery of who it will be, and the comfortable knowledge that TWD films May-Nov and FTWD begins filming this week, in their off season, Lennie James went on air and confessed his sorrows in saying his goodbyes to cast and crew. He all but admitted he is done with TWD. I mean, Morgan should have been long gone by now if we’re following the comics, but still. You just inadvertently announced the end of the line for a beloved fan-favorite. Second, there are more continuity issues at play with this decision than were created by the addition of the War Doctor on Doctor Who. Stop!! Just…don’t!! FTWD is approximately on day 64 of the ZA. That is right about 9 weeks. At 9 weeks, TWD gang was prepping for Hershel’s farm to fall, possibly already on their way to the prison. Rick woke up at the 6wk ZA point. His first day awake, he encountered Morgan and Duane, who had wound up in Rick’s neighborhood and were holed up in someone’s house that Rick knew. So, at day 64, the 9wk ZA mark, Madison (alone now) Walker and Big Dog (who are already en route) have just decided to head towards Houston at Alicia’s mentioning. They haven’t even arrived in Houston yet. How in the name of all that’s holy is Morgan-and I’m assuming his newly recast family?-supposed to have crossed paths with Madison or the Native Americans and made it all the way to a suburb of Atlanta by week 6????? INCONCEIVABLE!!! And third, Rosita was the perfect character choice for the crossover. We already knew Abraham’s backstory and a touch of Eugene’s. Rosita gave a few tidbits of info to Glenn when they were looking for water to bring back to the firetruck, when she explained her survival skill set predated her time with Abe and was, in fact, a factor in his choosing her to join their mission. And, in the most recent episode, Michonne reminds Rosita that she had recently been shot. Rosita replies, “I’ve been shot worse than this.” Intriguing stuff!! Her ethnicity, the fact that she was with a group before joining Abraham in Texas, the fact that timeline-wise it fits better in the continuity. I would have LOVED to have seen her in action with the FTWD crew in the early days of the ZA. Sadly, we are stuck with wibbly wobbly, timey wimey impossible adventures. I can suspend my disbelief about reanimated dead people, but not about this. It makes my head hurt and was a slight at what had the potential to be a fantastic story arc for Rosita.
But, I digress.
I liked Siddiq’s sentiment about what his mother had taught him, believing that putting down walkers would free their souls. In all the ugliness and despair, his mother kept faith and reminded him that the ‘monsters’ were once people, too. [As Negan’s confession about his life pre-ZA was intended to do] If you’ll recall, Carol had a moment at the start of season 7 where, on the way to the Kingdom and all shot to hell, she began to hallucinate the attacking walkers as living humans. These are/were people. What physically happened to the humans is a reflective question on what happened to humanity. The things that twist and contort us and make us empty and ugly inside; it’s like Rick said “We are the walking dead” [though Daryl disagreed with him…as per.]
We’re still working within the themes of wrath and mercy. We’re still waiting on the main character deaths they touted. And, we are still waiting for the season to gain momentum. This season has had its moments. Not all of the episodes have been bad. But, there is still something missing, some spark that hypnotized viewers in seasons long past that left us wanting more. Which reminds me, I read an article the other day (well, it was more of a Ranker of Buzzfeed type list than an article) about TV series whose finales and/or final seasons pissed off fans so much it made them regret all the time they had put into watching the show. Examples were Dexter, Lost, How I Met Your Mother, Trueblood, The X-Files, Roseanne, etc. The one thing I noticed was that, in nearly every case, the shows on the list each took their horrible turn thus ruining the entire series experience, somewhere between seasons 7-9. No joke. Just something to think about.
True fans will stay until the bitter end; be it bitter because we’ll miss it or bitter because it ended poorly. But the writers and show runners who elect to keep a series going past that 7 mark need to work extra hard and tread carefully, as those same fans can shift from mercy to wrath in an instant.
As Maggie said, “Don’t make me regret it. Or you will.”
Fingers crossed this season has a projected path and we aren’t just running in circles like Jesus being chased by a Rickyl truck.