“We have to get ready. We have to fight.”
“We do … BUT NOT TODAY.”
Oh, for fuck’s sake! Will somebody please fight the goddamn saviors so that the damn show can move on to something other than tense stand-offs and rambling monologues from Negan’s goons!?
Okay, that’s out of my system. Let’s talk about the latest episode of The Walking Dead.
Judging from some of the response that I’m seeing online, a lot of people are proclaiming Bury Me Here to be one of the best episodes of season 7. I really can’t agree, though I will say that those who are saying that Lennie James was “Emmy-worthy” tonight are not incorrect. James had some great moments and it was nice to be reminded that Morgan is actually one of the more interesting characters on The Walking Dead.
For that matter, there was a lot of good acting on display tonight. Not just Lennie James but also Karl Makinen, who made you sympathize with Richard even if you couldn’t exactly blame Morgan for beating him to death at the end of the episode. The title’s episode came from Richard’s request and, by the end of the show, you did feel that Richard had earned the right to pick his own burial site.
(A lot of fans turned on Richard when, a few episodes ago, he suggested sacrificing Carol in order to bring Ezekiel in Rick’s war with the Saviors. Well, Richard shouldn’t have suggested that and yes, he did make some mistakes tonight. But goddammit, at least Richard was doing something other than growing melons.)
You know who else did a good job tonight? Logan Miller. He did a good job, even when the show’s script when out of its way to sabotage him. Has anyone ever been as obviously doomed as Miller’s Benjamin? From the minute Benjamin showed up tonight, we know he was dead. He offered to help out Carol. He looked up to Morgan. He had naive hope for the future. He had a girlfriend. He gave Morgan an uglyass painting for his uglyass room. Benjamin was so doomed and yet, Logan Miller brought at least a little bit of poignancy to his character’s obvious fate.
But, with all that in mind, tonight’s episode still moved way too slowly for me. It felt like a throwback to the first half of the season, before the show’s writers apparently realized how boring it was to have to sit through a new Savior monologue every week. There were hints of the show that we all want The Walking Dead to be. Even Morgan’s murder of Richard was a return to the unflinching yet plot-appropriate brutality that brought The Walking Dead its initial success. There were good moments but there were plenty of slow moments too.
Of course, that’s the way it’s almost always been with The Walking Dead. At the show’s best, the good moments are so good that they cause you to forget about the slow moments. At its worse, the slow moments are so slow that you give up on watching before the episode reaches the good moments. And then you have episodes like the one that aired tonight, where the good moments are good on their own and the slow moments are slow on their own and the whole thing never quite comes together. Tonight’s episode was a good thirty minutes stretched out to an average hour.
One final note — and I realize that I’ve said this a million times in the past and I’m probably say it a million times in the future — the Saviors are so fucking boring! Yes, I know that they’re bullies and they are properly hissable villains. You never feel anything but good when you see a savior die. But the show continues to act as if the Saviors are the most compelling bad guys since Milton inadvertently made Satan the most interesting character in Paradise Lost. Quite some time ago, I grew bored with various Negan lieutenants popping up, rambling on and on about tributes, and then demanding that everyone hand over their guns.
(That said, I am going to give some special credit to Josh Mikel, who, tonight, made Jared into the most loathsome savior of all.)
So, that’s why I say this: HURRY UP AND GET TO THE WAR! If Rick and Negan are not in the middle of an official war by the end of the season, I worry about the future of The Walking Dead….