SPOILER ALERT! DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW UNLESS YOU’VE WATCHED THE LATEST EPISODE OF THE WALKING DEAD! SERIOUSLY, I’M NOT KIDDING!
Right now, I would say that 75% of The Walking Dead fandom is heartbroken. The end of tonight’s episode has generated some very real angst among some people.
As for me, I’m actually feeling rather proud of myself because I predicted that all this would happen. I predicted it way back on November 5th and I’ve even got the tweet to prove it. But, before I go on, I think it might be good to consider the words of a song from 1965. Here are the Poets with That’s Way It’s Got To Be:
See, it all gets back to what has always been the underlying theme of The Walking Dead. Nobody is going to get out of this show alive. It doesn’t matter how good you are. It doesn’t matter how likable you are. It doesn’t matter how much the audience loves you. Everyone on this show is eventually going to die. The only question is whether someone will be around to keep them from reanimating afterward. Negan, Rick, Maggie, Carol, Daryl, Michonne, Eugene … none of them are going to get out of this alive. Death will come for everyone eventually and tonight, it appears that it’s coming for Carl.
As I tweeted on November 5th…
I don't think they have much choice but to kill Carl off on #TheWalkingDead. Chandler Riggs is aging faster than the show's storyline.
Tonight’s episode featured a lot of Carl. When Negan and the Saviors showed up at Alexandria and demanded that Rick be given to them, Carl is the one who offered to sacrifice his life so that the rest could live. (And, of course, we now know why Carl was willing to do that. He literally had nothing to lose.) When the Saviors were blowing up Alexandria, we watched as Carl made his way through the flaming wreckage of his former home. Throughout the show, we got flashbacks of Carl arguing with Rick about Rick’s harsh philosophy. Tonight, we saw more of Carl then we’ve seen in a while and I spent the whole show assuming that meant that Carl was probably not going to come to a good end…
But still, it’s hard to overstate the emotional impact of seeing Carl there at the end, bitten by a walker and fighting to breathe. As Chris Hardwick and Khary Payton stated at the start of Talking Dead, Chandler Riggs really did grow up over the past few seasons of The Walking Dead. It’s always kind of been easy to make jokes at Carl’s expense. Early on in the show, it always seemed inevitable that he would end up getting lost or picked up the by the wrong people. Whenever I live tweeted those early seasons of The Walking Dead, I almost always suggested that the ideal solution to almost any problem would be to sacrifice Carl. But tonight, Chandler Riggs showed why Carl has become a favorite of many fans of this show. The episode ended with Carl still alive but fading. Will he die? I really don’t see how he can’t. He’s been bitten on his side so it’s not like they can just chop off a limb, like they did with Herschel. If the show is to have any integrity, Carl has to die and he will be missed.
Up until that final scene with Carl, tonight’s episode could have just as easily been called “Everyone Better Do What Rick Says.” Darryl took it upon himself to crash that truck into wall of the Sanctuary, which is actually what Rick did not want him to do. As a result, the Saviors escaped, were able to launch a counter attack, destroy Alexandria, and take over The Kingdom. Carl, meanwhile, went off on his own, helped out Siddiq, and ended up getting bitten for his trouble. From now on, everyone better listen to Rick.
Rick got the line of the night when he asked Negan, “Don’t you ever shut the Hell up?” That’s something that I’ve been wondering for a season and a half now. Tonight, Negan actually lived up to his fearsome reputation. As for the other Saviors, Simon made me say, “Oh God, this fucking guy again…” as soon as he got out of that truck and Gavin came across like a teacher trying to control an unruly classroom. I guess Dwight is officially a part of Rick’s group now.
This was sometimes a hard episode to watch, not because it was bad but because it literally took place in the dark. All of the action played out at night and the show actually did good job of using the darkness to its advantage. There was an eerie and horrible beauty to scenes of Alexandria burning to the ground.
But you know what?
In the end, all anyone is going to remember about this episode is that final scene with Carl.
That’s the way it’s got to be.
And with that, The Walking Dead is on hiatus. Season 8 will resume in 2018 and so will our coverage!
Before I say anything about the 100 episode and 8th season premiere of The Walking Dead, I want to say thank you to the show’s producers for including a dedication to George Romero at the end of the episode.
Even in his later years, Romero never quite got his due from either Hollywood or the critical establishment. He struggled to raise the money to make movies that would stay true to his vision. The critics who praised him often only did so grudgingly, often acknowledging his influence while still making snide remarks about his films. Too many critics are still unwilling to give unqualified praise to anything related to the horror genre. Despite all of that, George Romero is one of the most important and influential filmmakers of all time. It can be argued that without Romero and his Dead films, modern horror would look very different. If there’s one thing that we can be sure of, it’s that without Night of the Living Dead, there would be no Walking Dead.
As for tonight’s episode…
Well, it was certainly different from what we had to deal with for the majority of season 7. I mean, Rick actually did something other than sitting around in a catatonic state. While Negan was featured in this episode, he was used sparingly. He didn’t hijack the show, like he did for most of season 7. We didn’t have to sit through any fifteen minute Negan monologues. When this episode started with the various groups preparing for war, I figured that — following the usual pace of The Walking Dead — we would have 6 episodes of everyone getting ready, 6 episodes of everyone talking about being ready, and then 1 episode of actual fighting. Instead, for once, the show got right to it.
Does this mean that the show’s producers actually learned something from the less than positive reaction that some fans and critics had to the sluggish pace of season 7? We can only hope so.
I was happy to see Rick finally acting like the Rick that we once knew and loved. Gone was wimpy Rick. Instead, this Rick went straight to Negan, shouted out some threats, and then launched an attack on the Sanctuary. All of a sudden, Rick became a badass again and it’s about time!
At the same time, I think it can be argued that the attack was a waste of bullets. Sure, Rick and his people wanted to make a statement. They wanted to show the Saviors that they weren’t going to allow themselves to be pushed around anymore. But, as I watched round after round being fired at the Sanctuary, I remembered all of the times that we were shown Darryl pulling his arrows out of the head of a dead walker. Why? Because resources are limited in the world of The Walking Dead and anything wasted — like thousands of bullets — will never be replaced. Rick and his allies have a lot of guns but what good are they going to be if they run out of bullets?
That said, during the show, I was willing to set aside those concerns. Negan has been such a hateful and, if we’re going to be honest, annoying character that it was impossible not to feel a visceral thrill at the sight of someone finally fighting back.
As for the rest of tonight’s episode:
Is Carl growing disillusioned with his dad? To be honest, I’m just surprised that Carl’s still alive. Someday, Carl is going to have to shoot his father in the head, in order to keep Rick from turning into a walker. I have a feeling that’ll be the last scene of the last episode of The Walking Dead.
Why is Gregory still alive!? God, what a dumbfug toadsucker that guy has turned out to be.
So, now, Father Gabriel has been captured by Negan. I hope this doesn’t mean that we’re going to have to listen to Negan give a lecture on his opinion of organized religion.
Throughout tonight’s episode, we were given scenes of an older and happier Rick. He was living with Michonne and Judith. Carl was nowhere to be seen. There was a lot of talk of an upcoming festival. Were these legitimate flash forwards or were they just Rick’s fantasy of what life is going to be like if he defeats Negan? I’m leaning towards thinking they’re Rick’s fantasy. Rick always thinks that life can somehow get back to being normal and happy. All he has to do is find Sophia or defeat the Governor or make a new life as a pig farmer or kill Negan. It never works out like Rick thinks that it’s going to. However, it’s Rick’s refusal to give up his faith that makes him both a compelling and a tragic figure.
Rick was proud of himself after his battle with Negan but, as I watched Rick celebrate, it occurred to me that Rick always ends up thinking that, just because he’s won a battle, he’s won the war. Again, it just never seems to work out for him.
The Walking Dead is back! I thought this was a good episode and I’m cautiously optimistic about the rest of the season.
How does everyone else feel? What do you think? Is season 8 going to be a return to form for The Walking Dead or are we looking at another season 7? Regardless of whether you agree with me or not, I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments below.
So far, season 7 of The Walking Dead has been pretty inconsistent.
Often times, I have felt like a lone voice in the wilderness, vainly defending the season premiere and continuing to hope that, at some point, Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s portrayal of Negan is going to become something more than a one-dimensional caricature.
Like a lot of people, I kind of enjoyed the second episode but, in retrospect, that was mostly because of the weirdness of King Ezekiel and the majesty of Shiva. The episode itself was extremely slow and featured one of those overly sentimental musical montages, the type of thing that never holds up particularly well on repeat viewing.
The Cell … oh, I tried to enjoy The Cell but basically, it was just an hour of Daryl not speaking and Negan doing his Negan thing.
So, with all that in mind, I am going to cautiously state that I think that the latest installment, Go Getters, was a definite improvement over the last few episodes. It was hardly a classic. It certainly wasn’t The Walking Dead at its absolute best. But, at the very least, it held my attention for 60 minutes, it seemed to actually move the story forward (as opposed to just being a stagnant portrayal of doom and gloom), and it left me looking forward to seeing what would happen next week. Coming nearly halfway through an uneven season, Go Getters provided just a little bit of hope for the show’s future, telling us, “The Walking Dead‘s not dead and growling in Herschel’s barn just yet!”
Of course, it helped that Go Getters was centered on Maggie, the only one of the main characters who has not left me pissed off or disappointed this season. Following the deaths of Glenn and Abraham, Maggie and Sasha are hiding out at Hilltop Colony. Gregory wants to kick them out, Jesus wants to protect them. Eventually, the Saviors show up and we get to know Simon (Steven Ogg, investing the role with such menace that it’s hard not to wonder how different the season would be if he had been cast as Negan), who is one of Negan’s liuetenants. Simon collects his tribute, humiliates Gregory, and leaves. Meanwhile, Carl and Enid show up at Hilltop, having run away from Alexandria. One-eyed Carl has decided to take revenge on Negan and who can blame him? At this point, he has to know that his red-eyed, sniveling, neutered father isn’t going to do anything…
(Which brings up an interesting issue: we’re supposed to look down on Gregory for being so weak and subservient to the Saviors but really, he didn’t do anything different from what Rick did last week. We’re supposed to give Rick a pass but not Gregory, which doesn’t seem quite right. Gregory may be an ass but, as we should all know by now, nice guys don’t survive the apocalypse.)
So far, each episode this season has featured a different community being harassed by Negan. I’m assuming that these communities are eventually going to come together to take out the Saviors. If that’s the case, I can understand and even respect the deliberate build-up. At the same time, this season is moving so slowly (and has been so repetitive) that it’s hard not to get frustrated when you’re watching on a weekly schedule. One gets the feeling that Season 7 will be better when binge-watched but, for now, I find myself wishing the show would pick up the pace.
But, with all that in mind, I liked Go Getters. I love the fact that Maggie refuses to surrender. Despite all of the terrible things that have happened to her and the people that she loved, Maggie has not given up. She hasn’t turned into a weak shell, like Rick or Daryl. Nor has she retreated to a world of fantasy, like Carol. Instead, Maggie lives, Maggie fights, and Maggie endures. Glenn may be dead but Maggie the Cat is alive.
“Because you can tell the good guys from the bad guys.” — Aaron
Tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead saw Rick and his people continue to try and assimilate themselves within the safe confines of the Alexandria Safe-Zone. It’s a situation they’ve been hoping to find on their way to Washington, D.C., but also one that seems to have unnerved a good portion of the group when it falls into their lap.
“Forget” is a tough episode to sit through because it highlights both the show’s strength and also one of it’s recurring weaknesses. It’s a well-written episode by series writer Corey Reed with some fine direction from series director David Boyd, but at times the story-arc for certain characters landed with a thud instead of expanding on that character or moving the story forward.
Let’s go with the lowlights before moving onto the highlight of tonight’s episode.
We’ve known that the Alexandria Safe-Zone had time to build itself when the zombie outbreak began. We learn this from Deanna herself during her introduction in last week’s episode. Yet, something about how the writers have done to build-up ASZ (what I shall call Alexandria) as this well-protected haven from Aaron don’t seem to mesh with what they’ve shown on the show, so far. Maybe it’s a slow burn the writers are going for. Maybe we’ll find out how ASZ ultimately survived the lean years since civilization broke down. For now, there’s less a hidden, sinister agenda of how the ASZ has survived this long and more of it’s surprising and lucky they’ve lasted this long.
The next thud would be the story-line for Sasha herself. We see her during the episode’s cold opening unable to sleep in the house Rick had claimed as his. Pictures of it’s previous owners seem to gaze down at her. We later see her venture outside the walls of the ASZ to practice some shooting with those same family portraits as targets. Her behaviors borders on reckless and suicidal. It’s hard to judge the character for this considering she’s lost both her lover and her older brother right after each other. Traumatic experiences will do that to a person, yet when it happens to Sasha it’s hard to sympathize with her. It’s not that she’s a bad person. She just seems to be a badly-written character who doesn’t have her own voice with Bob and Tyreese now gone from the group.
We get description of what sort of character she is from other’s describing her to strangers. Tonight we find out from Maggie that she’s the group’s best shot, but we never really see this skill develop. The rest of the group we find in some way or another how they got to where they are in regards to their skills. With Sasha one day she’s someone who leaned on her older brother for protection then next she’s suddenly the next reincarnation of Annie Oakley.
It’s a weakness in the show’s way of handling such a huge cast of characters. They get rid of characters who were interesting or becoming one, but keeping characters who remain relatively unknowns to the audience. It’s as if the writers can’t find a way to make Sasha become an interesting character without having to repeat themselves in turning her into one (Carol, Maggie and Beth being three who improved over time).
So, while Sasha’s suicidal tendencies could be chalked up to her growing PTSD due to the experiences she has had to deal with recently it’s impact on the story seems to be minimal. It’s not that we as an audience don’t care it’s just that we don’t know Sasha well enough to bother to even care.
That’s not the same when it comes to Rick, Carol and Daryl. These three have begun to form a new sort of triumvirate leadership group. Everyone who has come this far with Rick are survivors in their own right, but it’s these three who have come farthest within the group. They’ve grown from who they’ve were when we first met them. We first met them as the lawman, the housewife and the rebel. They’ve outgrown those initial labels and become complex characters who harbor both positive and negative qualities. They’re not black and white in their behaviors anymore. It’s because of their character growth (most seems to be once Scott M. Gimple took over as headwriter and showrunner) that we’ve come to care what happens to them.
With Carol we see nothing left of the mousy and battered housewife who couldn’t defend herself until pretty much everything had been taken from her. She had gone from victim to survivor in order to never be dependent on others and to protect her new found family. While she has employed a cold logic to how she must survive and protect her people she does seem to be the one in the group who has adjusted best in this new world. She’s able to be the one willing to do the dirty work if it means keeping her group alive another day. Her threat towards Jessie’s young son, Sam, was both hilarious and chilling. Never could we have seen Carol from season 1 through 3 threaten a young boy of death by being zombie bait in order to keep her duplicitous behavior from being outed to the rest of the ASZ community.
There’s Daryl, the rebel loner we first me in season 1, whose lone wolf behavior has become tempered by his realization that he needs Rick and the others to keep himself human and sane. He doesn’t need them as a crutch, but instead sees in them the family he never had growing up and for being the redemption for his past failings. Yes, he still remains sort of an outsider maneuvering his way through the new dynamics that ASZ opened up, but his interaction with Aaron (another one who feels like an outsider despite being a longstanding member of the ASZ community) shows that he’s grown away from his intolerant beginnings in the show and sees in Aaron a kindred spirit. The fact that he’s aired some doubts about their original plan to takeover the ASZ community if they deem it necessary shows that Daryl may still be a badass but he also understands that making something like ASZ work in the end would be to the group’s benefit in the long run.
Then we have Rick. The lawman and father whose personal beliefs and principles have become the fulcrum by which the show has explored varying themes throughout it’s five season on the air. We’ve seen Rick the reluctant leader in the first two season. Finding and protecting his family had been his only concern during those initial seasons, but betrayal and the knowledge that there was no cure for the zombie pandemic unleashed the Ricktatorship which led the group to becoming the hardcore survivalist they’ve become. Yet, even this version of Rick made mistakes that cost him those closest to him. He’s tried to be less a leader and more a provider. We call this Farmer Rick, but we knew it was going to be a temporary reprieve from what we’ve wanted Rick to become and that’s accept his role as leader and take ownership of that role with all the good it brings and all the bad it brings out.
We see Rick take to this role with such a focus that he teeters on the brink of becoming the very thing he despised when he saw the Governor. This Rick is willing to depose those in the ASZ community leadership group if he thought they couldn’t hack it when times got rough. This Rick sees danger everywhere and plans several steps ahead even when we as an audience sees it as a sort of madness creeping to latch onto Rick’s psyche. This Rick seems willing to take what he wants when he wants it even if it means contemplating murder. This is a Rick that seems to be exhibiting the worst qualities of the leaders of three groups who have fallen into the abyss: the Governor, Joe of the Claimers and Gareth of Terminus.
While Rick has learned to become a better leader of the group from having Hershel and Tyreese as his moral compass, they seem to have been pushed to the back of Rick’s mind by the ghosts of the Governor, Joe and Gareth. These three showed Rick that surviving at any cost was the only currency left in this new world. It was all about protecting what was his and that was Carl, Judith and the rest of his group. The people of the ASZ community were strangers to him who he felt were ill-equipped to survive in this new world. He even mentions to Carol and Daryl that this community was lucky to have them as new member because only they could protect them from the bad people beyond the walls. It doesn’t dawn on Rick that he was now acting and behaving in some fashion like those very bad people he warned Deanna about.
“Forget” could easily have become one of the best episodes of the season if it concentrated more on this triumvirate of Rick, Carol and Daryl and just jettisoned the Sasha plotline. Yet, despite Sasha’s role in tonight’s episode we still got a strong foundation on what could be the role of the Power Three for the final three episodes of season 5. Will Carol and Daryl follow Rick if he ever goes too far? We have three more episodes left to find out.
Tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead, “Forget”, was directed by David Boyd and written by series writer Corey Reed.
Carol had herself some a breaking Bad moment when she confronted Sam, Jessie’s youngest boy, after he saw her taking guns from the armory. Some have said that her “speech” to Sam was reminiscent of Walt’s “I’m the one who knocks” speech.
Deanna’s husband is named Reg. In the comics, Douglas (Deanna in the show) has a wife named Reggie. The show also added Aiden as a second son. We met the other son, Spencer, in tonight’s episode.
Interesting choice of a song to end the episode on…Spicks and Specks by the Bee Gees.
The shippers of Rick and Michonne seem to have gone insane since they’ve gone on a social media rampage against the actor Alexandra Breckinridge who plays Rick’s potential paramour Jessie in the show.
Talking Dead guests tonight are Kevin Smith (writer/director), Ross Marquand (Aaron from The Walking Dead) and Alexandra Breckinridge (Jessie from The Walking Dead)
Can a group of people who have survived through the most dangerous situations ever remember to return to some form of normalcy? Can they ever accept such an offer and not feel out of place?
Tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead brings up this question as we finally see the group enter the fortified walls of the Alexandria Community. Rick and his people have been on the road for as long as they’ve found themselves a safe haven to call home since the zombie apocalypse began. They’ve lost many along this journey through attrition, carelessness and betrayal. This is a group that has lived every day in a constant state of war. It’s something that the people of Alexandria seem to be very short in.
There’s an almost comical difference in how Rick’s unwashed, hardened survivors when compared to the people of Alexandria who seem to have been able to weather much of the storm that the apocalypse has rained down upon the world. They’ve been able to have constant running water, electricity and an abundance of food. They also have walls which seem to be designed to maximize protection from both zombies and raiders alike. It’s the gated community for the apocalypse and it’s current inhabitants either put too much faith in what has kept them safe and alive or playing at being badass survivors when we as an audience can see the opposite.
Alexandria is not like Woodbury where just enough of what was past was brought back to keep people happy. It’s not like Terminus which became corrupted once the dangers outside the walls entered. This is a community that seems like paradise and willing to give Rick and his people a chance to fit in and contribute. It’s the hope they’ve been searching for since they left the prison. A place that has a chance to sustain not just everyone physically but mentally and spiritually.
Yet, we also see that Rick and his people still have their guard up despite it all. Like pets who have gone feral, Rick and his people want to accept this hopeful situation as genuine, but also aware that when things look to be too good to be true then it probably is. They search for a hidden agenda in what Alexandria’s leader, former Ohio Senator Deanna Monroe, has for taking them in when she has admitted to Rick herself that his group was the first large group of outsiders they’ve deemed worthy enough to invite in.
Characters like Carol, Daryl and Glenn seem to share Rick’s doubts about this new safe haven in one way or another. With Daryl we see him become even more outward with his belligerence towards the strangers in their midst. There’s nothing hidden about how Daryl feels, but he’s willing to go along with things while Rick and Carol play along. With Glenn he wants this opportunity to finally get off the road and settle down to work, but we can see that he’s already waiting for that hidden agenda to reveal itself as another betrayal.
Outside of Rick it’s Carol who seems to be looking to play the long game with Deanna and her people. We see how Carol begins to act like her former self from all the way back in season 1. Melissa McBride’s performance during tonight’s episode shows why she has become one of the stalwarts in this huge cast. One second she’s the observant, veteran killer looking for the danger she knows is just waiting for them. Then next moment she’s the clumsy, mousy and battered housewife we first saw in season 1 and 2. She understands that this place can be a good place for them, but once again willing to be the one to do the dirty work to protect her new family when the time comes.
Tonight’s episode was all about Rick Grimes and whether he’s able to remember how things were suppose to be for him and his family when they had something good going in their prison community. Since they fled that sanctuary’s destruction Rick has been going through several moments of crisis that just chip away at the Officer Friendly that we first met in season 1. The bigger and more unkempt his beard got the more Rick steeled himself form the dangers that strangers posed for him and his group.
There’s a moment when he’s being interviewed and videotaped by Deanna that showed Rick’s two side at war with each other. The Rick of the road was ready to strike at the possible dangers around him. Unable to sit still and even uncomfortable to be sitting in a nice sofa chair. This is the Rick that has learned what deprivation and constant danger means and lived through everything this new world threw at him. Yet, we also saw the Officer Friendly of those early seasons wanting to accept this offer of hope and renewal. Even the act of shaving off the beard was a powerful symbol of Rick trying to shed some of the mistrust and paranoia he’d acquired since leaving the prison.
The Walking Dead will always have it’s great moments of zombie gore and action. It’s the show’s bread and butter, but when the show’s writers decide it’s time to lay down the seeds for a much longer game the show under current showrunner Scott M. Gimple seem to have gotten better. Not much zombies or action, but the episode still was full of tension as we’ve all come to expect that other shoe to drop and when it does it comes from a surprising source.
Will Rick and his people remember what it was to be able to trust others again? Will Rick be able to get back to that balancing act of being both pragmatic and compassionate when it comes to being leader of his group? Or are Rick and the group too far gone to remember what made them decent people even when the apocalypse landed in their laps.
Tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead, “Remember”, was directed by series producer Greg Nicotero and written by series writer Channing Powell.
It looks like Law & Order‘s own Danielle Melnick (Tovah Feldshuh) will be the leader of the Alexandria Community.
In the comics the leader of Alexandria was also a senator but was a man named Douglas.
Alexandra Breckinride has gone ditched the red locks of her American Horror Story character and gone blonde as Jessie of the Alexandria Community.
Deanna’s son Aiden, a former lieutenant in the ROTC (snicker), does not deserve the rifle he was carrying when he took Glenn, Tara and Noah our for a dry run outside the walls of the Alexandria community. I think that SCAR-L should be given to someone who can use it better like Glenn or Carl or Abraham.
I do believe that was Scott Ian of Anthrax playing the zombie that Carl killed with the steel pole.
Talking Dead guests tonight are Timothy Simons (Veep) and Alanna Masterson (Tara of The Walking Dead) and Denise Huth (series producer)