Oh my God!
Is it possible that we’ve actually had two good episodes of The Walking Dead in a row!?
Indeed it is. In fact, I would say that tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead was the high point of the season so far. I don’t know if the show’s production team has been listening to the complaints that many fans had during the first half of the season but, with both this episode and last week’s, it’s hard not to feel that the show is trying to correct some earlier mistakes.
For instance, there was no Negan in this episode. Now, don’t get me wrong. Negan can be an intimidating bad guy. But, like many great villains, Negan is at his most effective when he’s off screen. The big mistake that the Walking Dead made during the first half of season 7 was going for an all-Negan, all-the-time format. With each appearance, Negan became just a little bit more cartoonish and, as a result, he became less and less intimidating.
However, though this episode largely dealt with people trying to figure out what to do about the Saviors, Negan was still kept in the shadows. As a result, Negan’s becoming a threat again.
Tonight’s episode followed two storylines, which is a definite improvement over the plodding pace of the first half of the season. Both storylines were equally interesting, though I think everyone’s heart was invested in Daryl and Carol.
So, let’s get Rick out of the way. Last week, I assumed that Rick had come across the Oceanside community but it turns out that I was wrong. (And that’s not a bad thing because the Oceanside community kinda sucked.) Instead, this is a community of people who live in a junkyard. In many ways, they’re just as ritualized and borderline ludicrous as Ezekiel’s Kingdom. The only question is whether or not the Junkyarders, like Ezekiel, realize how silly their little community is. Are all of their rituals designed as an escape from grim reality or are they all just crazy?
The Junkyard is run by Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh), who seems to have a permanent smirk and who speaks like an evil Queen in an Italian Hercules film. But, and this is largely due to McIntosh’s performance and her chemistry with Andrew Lincoln, Jadis is still likable. When she and Rick finally formed their alliance, I was happy because Jadis looks like she’s going to be a valuable ally in the inevitable battle with the Saviors. Seriously, who doesn’t want to see Jadis kick Negan’s ass?
Of course, before Rick could talk to Jadis, he had to defeat an armor-covered walker that the Junkyard crew appeared to be using as a gladiator. That was exciting and it’s nice to see that The Walking Dead is trying to think up new things to do with their undead.
But, ultimately, this show was all about Carol and Daryl. Daryl has been hiding out at the Kingdom. When Richard told Daryl that he had an idea for how they could convince Ezekiel to go to war with the Saviors, Daryl was all ears until he discovered that Richard’s plan involved leading the Saviors to Carol. “She’s going to die anyway!” Richard exclaimed.
Obviously, Richard doesn’t know Carol!
After giving Richard the beat down that he deserved for underestimating Carol, Daryl went to Carol’s cabin and seriously, their time together was everything. For once, we got a moment of joy in this relentlessly grim series.
I always love the scenes between Carol and Daryl. I love the way that both Daryl and Carol drop their guard when they’re together. At its best, The Walking Dead has always centered around the question of how people can keep their humanity, even in the worst of circumstances. Tonight, Carol and Daryl provided that humanity.
This was a good episode, one that reminded me why I watch this show in the first place. Let’s hope that the rest of season 7 is just as good!