Oh, the world of The Walking Dead. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
This season started with everyone finally standing up to the Saviors. For once, Rick and his allies had Negan on the run and, regardless of what you think about season 8 overall, it was certainly satisfying to see the Saviors starting to get a little desperate. Personally, I don’t think it was necessary to devote five episodes to just one battle but the Saviors are such a loathsome group of people that it’s definitely enjoyable to watch them get their asses kicked.
However, even with Rick and his allies declaring full out war, I knew that the action would eventually have to be interrupted by an episode of mourning. Every season of The Walking Dead has at least one episode where everyone looks depressed and either thinks about a lost loved one or obsesses on whether or not there’s room for kindness and compassion in a post-apocalyptic world. When the series started, the mourning episodes were a part of what set The Walking Dead apart from other shows. (Remember when kindly old Dale Horvath was gruesomely attacked by a zombie?) But, eight seasons in, it’s become a bit predictable. Any episode where something big happens is going to be followed by an episode where not much happens at all.
“The King, The Widow, and Rick” is a mourning episode. Everyone has returned from attacking the Saviors and now, with no bullets flying and several minor characters dead (and SHIVA! I’m still sad about that…), it’s time to sit around and reflect. This time, a bit more happened during the reflecting than has happened in previous mourning episodes. Even if this episode still felt like it stretched things out a bit too much, it wasn’t quite as slow as some of the episodes that aired during season 7.
This episode opened like a Ken Burns documentary, with everyone reading letters about the war against the Saviors. It ended with Rick naked and locked up in a shipping container and I was definitely okay with that. Don’t get me wrong about this. I do like Rick but occasionally, there is an arrogance to him that just strikes me the wrong way. He’s a lot like Lost‘s Jack Shepherd. He gives a good speech. He is trying to do the right thing, even if he sometimes resents having to be the leader. But Rick is always so sure of his ability to sway everyone over to his side that it was somewhat satisfying to see the Trash People respond to his latest speech by shrugging their shoulders and then locking him up. I’m not sure why Rick felt the need to, once again, go over to the garbage dump. The attack on the Saviors was a success without the help of the Trash People. My theory is that Rick just can’t accept that not everyone wants to be a part of his alliance.
Meanwhile, at Hilltop, we had another one of those patented Walking Dead debates about whether or not people can survive the end of the world without losing their humanity. Jesus was going out of his way to treat the Savior prisoners humanely. Gregory said the prisoners should be executed. Maggie responded by tossing Gregory in with the prisoners and then saying she would keep them alive so that they could be used for prisoner exchanges in the future. Jesus said he was happy with her decision and … you know what? I like Tom Payne’s performance as the character but I feel like an idiot whenever I call that guy Jesus. Yes, he has a beard. Yes, he’s kind. BUT HIS NAME IS PAUL! The whole “They call you Jesus” thing is so heavy-handed and kinda stupid. Last night, one of the saviors said, “Well, Jesus, I’m no angel,” and I’m glad I didn’t have anything nearby to throw at the TV when he said it.
Anyway, I could have done without all the debate about how to treat the prisoners. We all know that they’re going to end up dead, regardless. The only prisoner that Negan might exchange would be Father Gabriel and, honestly, is getting Gabriel back worth the trouble? Maggie should have just listened to Gregory.
Ezekiel was depressed, as well he should be. SHIVA’S DEAD, DAMMIT! Carol told him to stop feeling sorry for himself and to lead his people. The best part of Ezekiel’s subplot was that Jerry was still standing guard, even though Ezekiel told him to go home.
Carl is apparently not dead. Or, at least, he’s not dead, yet. Instead, he ran off and spent some time hanging out with Siddiq, the man who Rick previously chased away. They killed some walkers and bonded over shared pain.
And, of course, Rosita used a rocket launcher to blow up a savior. That made me cheer. Maybe Maggie should step down and let Rosita lead the Hilltop Colony. There certainly wouldn’t be any debate about what to do with prisoners then! However, for now, Rosita, Michonne, Daryl, and Tara are just doing their own thing. Rick probably wouldn’t approve but Rick’s in a shipping container right now.
Anyway, this wasn’t a bad episode. It may have been a mourning episode but at least it wasn’t just Rick sitting around in a catatonic state while Negan circled around him, giving a speech. That’s the important thing.