No More Heroes
While last week painted Rick and Friends as heroes, this episode of The Walking Dead made us question that. Despite a shaky moral compass, the episode did not undermine the quality of last week’s installment, so we are still riding high this season. This episode was an action movie, primarily, and while we got some morally gray areas, I’m confident that things will (mostly) come together at the conclusion of this arc.
If the meat and potatoes of this episode was the assault on Negan’s compound, then Carol’s story is the weird beet cookie. While not as clear of a lens for the audience as Abraham was last episode, Carol did function as the voice of pure, emotionless calculation. Negan’s people needed to be eliminated. Sounds tough, yeah, but this is the apocalypse after all. Despite seeing her desire for a more innocent life (“Let’s bake cookies!”), Carol opts for what needs to be done, not what they want to be done. Morgan makes a plea for negotiation, but this falls on deaf ears, as the people of Alexandria decide to travel the path of brutal attack.
And brutal attacks are what we get, as we witness Rick and Glenn stab a bunch of dudes in the head while they sleep. This was the shaky moral ground I referred to earlier, as murdering sleeping dudes is a pretty merciless way to go about dealing with things. Everyone in Hilltop assured Rick that it’s the right thing to do, and I’m sure (in the grand scheme of things) it does make sense, but right now we have very few details on Negan and company. We haven’t seen a whole lot to warrant this brutal slaughter, we’ve only been told “Oh yeah, these are bad guys, don’t worry.” We were told, not shown, which led to a degree of discomfort I’m not sure the showrunners had intended us to feel.
Removing any emotions from this sequence, the rest of the episode was dynamite. In stark contrast to the schlock-fest that was episode two of this season, all of the action was tight and refined. It was an intense operation of expert caliber, and the execution was near flawless, both from diegetic and non-diegetic standpoint. It was a fantastic action sequence, even if our morals weren’t quite at ease.
In an ending the surprised no one, things went a bit awry at the end of the episode. Turns out while Rick and the others were inside wiping out the base with military efficiency, Carol and Maggie were kidnapped outside the base. Maggie, who we were just reminded was pregnant, is now a bigger bargaining chip for Negan (even if he is unaware of the baby) and Carol, who we just spent the episode getting to know again, is going to make for a bigger emotional impact down the line.
There is a lot to chew on for the next week, and after several solid outings, it looks like The Walking Dead has gotten the shot in the arm it so desperately needed after last season.
Odds and Ends
-The citizens of Alexandria mainly stayed behind, which was nice. I would have hated seeing a no-name character die just to up the stakes.
-Those guards were meanies. They got what was coming to them.
-Can’t stress enough the wonderful execution of the action. Clear movement, steady camerawork, excellent framing and blocking.
-Beet cookies sound gross.
Alex Russo likes to talk about television. You can read more of his insane ramblings on Twitter.