by Thom Yee
Between the bikers blown up on the road, Paula’s group and the back up they called in that all got trapped in that burning room, the guys who got shot from Dwight’s group, and the d*ckheads Carol shot in this episode, Rick and co. have probably picked off at least twenty-five Saviors, and that’s not even counting the massacre at the Saviors’ satellite compound. This entire season we’ve been waiting for the Saviors to launch their (counter)attack on Alexandria, but considering that there are really only eight or nine truly dangerous people in the town — all from Rick’s original group — if the Saviors ever got serious, if they only managed to build up a kill count even a third of the size that Rick and co. have against them, Alexandria would probably be all out of heroes already. It’s not a big group of fighters in Alexandria. And it’s probably going to get smaller very soon.
In today’s episode of The Walking Dead, the group wakes to find Carol has ditched them, and so, like always, almost everybody takes off in the least tactically sound way possible. Daryl leaves even before finding out that Carol’s gone, Glenn, Rosita, and Michonne follow in hot pursuit, and Rick and Morgan follow Carol’s probable trail, east, away from where they think the Saviors were from. And right now, I really wish Glenn wasn’t one of the ones who left when we know Negan’s coming.
“East” was definitely a slower, more introspective episode than we’ve come to expect from The Walking Dead at these late stages of the season, even if at least four Saviors were killed, all by Carol herself. Running across Carol as she’s leaving Alexandria, the Saviors blow Carol’s tires out, and in so doing, like Paula’s group two episodes earlier, signed their own death warrants. Just like that time, Carol plays the timid victim of the apocalypse that people naturally assume she would be, and just like that time she uses her own inner turmoil to fuel the outward appearance of fearing these new predators when in fact she’s really freaking out only because she doesn’t want to have to kill again. And she does, with a military precision that would make Jon Bernthal’s Punisher from Daredevil season two jealous. And he used to be on this show!
At its best, “East” is exactly the kind of slow, outwardly meandering but deeply introspective episode we need more of in the series, particularly with Rick and Morgan. Well, maybe not more of, it’s just that all of those slow episode need to be as good as this one. For some time now, we’ve flirted with and even embraced Rick’s growing loss of humanity, as he’s become the leader the group has needed more than the leader it would like to have, killing without mercy and leading the charge against the Saviors, people he only knows anecdotally. With Rick and Morgan, we finally get the airing of grievances between the two philosophically opposed figures, and we get it in a way that doesn’t draw out or rely on overt drama or violent misunderstanding. The two simply have a conversation, and we learn that, even though Morgan still believes that all life is precious, he now knows that there is no right way, only a resistance of the wrong way that he sees Rick going down. He wants to save Rick from becoming the monster, and that’s the kind of cause we can get behind after seeing our heroes literally kill living people while they were sleeping.
The rest of our heroes outside the walls eventually catch up to Daryl and find out that the regret he feels for letting Dwight live and the lives lost and communities threatened for doing so have driven him to hunt Dwight down, and it’s a lone wolf turn that’s consistent with the Daryl we know. What’s not consistent is that our usually invincible heroes are all taken captive by Dwight’s group as the show plays fast and loose with our unbeatable heroes now becoming vulnerable just as the usually inept Saviors finally get their sh*t together, even managing to shoot Daryl in the back. The way things played out, it’s clear that Daryl’s not dead [yet], and though I’m one of the few who would be okay with our longtime outlaw hero dying, I think we can all agree that it can’t be this way. Not by Dwight. Meanwhile, back at the homestead Maggie goes down in pain, leaving us to wonder not only if she’ll ever see Glenn again, but if she and her baby are going to be okay. It’s times like this that it sure would be nice to have a doctor around. Maybe one that doesn’t unnecessarily wander off into danger.
Y’know, as bad as Glenn’s faux death wound up being earlier on this season, I’m now okay with what it put us through. I was hit pretty hard at the time, and it kind of prepared me for whoever dies next episode. I don’t know it that’s what the showrunners were going for, but if it was, then I’m actually a little thankful for it.
The Walking Dead — “East” final score
Items of Note
- Coed showers!
- Jiro: “Why does everyone assume the worst just because we shoot out their tires?”
- With all of those spikes, Carol’s VW Golf looked very Mad Max.
- Just think, in this world Volkswagen never had to go through that emissions scandal. Wonder which world they prefer.
- That one guy who fell onto the front of the truck moved around a bunch after Carol shot him. Like maybe the actor fell on his keys and needed to reposition himself.
- Maggie’s haircut makes her look more like her comicbook counterpart.
- Considering the preview shows most of our major and minor cast members getting in on the action next episode, I think the season finale might end with the Saviors getting away with Carl. Or it might just end with somebody beaten to death by Negan. Or both.
- Y’know what I think would be a really ballsy way to introduce Negan? If he cut Rick’s hand off.