Another double review from Alex Rose as she looks at episodes six and seven of The Walking Dead season eight.
Episodes six and seven of this season of The Walking Dead of course continued with the All Out War story, with some pretty significant developments. Over the course of both episodes Maggie dealt with discourse at the Hilltop, Rick sought another deal with Jadis, and the Sanctuary was penetrated.
Episode six opened with the leaders at Alexandria, the Hilltop, the Kingdom, and Rick all opening letters sent to each other with updates on how their respective parts of the plan were going. I thought that as well as immediately delivering a diverse range of emotions through the tones of the different letters, this was a great way to show the various communities still working together and keeping in touch as a team, making the story feel tied together and less like the various units are isolated even when off on their own missions.
Maggie had a pressing problem to deal with; the Saviour prisoners that Jesus had brought back to the Hilltop doorstep. There was some tension as it was unclear for a period whether or not she’d just execute them all, but in the end a makeshift prison was constructed instead, and Gregory put in that pen too for good measure. As with the other instances of Gregory getting a good dose of comeuppance, this was extremely satisfying, though personally I think Maggie would do well to make an example of the most rebellious Saviour that’s already causing problems by executing him. He’s only going to cause trouble later.
Meanwhile, at the Kingdom, Carol attempted to persuade Ezekiel to step back into the role of King, with little success. Sat on the floor against his throne, holding the chain that previously attached him to Shiva, this image of Ezekiel in the empty theatre was a very different one than when we were first presented with him. This man seems desperate, lost, and either incapable or unwilling to lead any more, or both. Carol had an honest conversation with him about the necessity of acting as if everything is okay, and Ezekiel confessed that he’d visited her regularly back before the conflict because she made him feel real. Fans of these two as a pairing, myself included, would surely have been very happy with this emotionally intimate scene, and both Melissa McBride and Khary Payton should be proud of their performances in it.
This episode also saw the return of a new minor character seen first a couple of episodes ago: the scavenging man Rick scared off with warning shots, but Carl later left out some food for. We now know that this man’s name is Sadiq, that he makes a habit of killing walkers to honor his mother who believed it freed their souls, and that he generally seems a nice guy so far. I look forward to seeing how long he lasts and what sort of character he might develop into, and what conflict (if any) Carl’s inviting him into their group will cause between Rick and his son. Carl has been largely absent this season, remaining behind in Alexandria while the others go out and end the Saviours, so it was good to see him doing something nice and challenging his father’s actions with his own.
One of the most memorable moments in this episode, this season, and possibly even the whole show, occurred when Rosita and Michonne, happened upon a secret Saviour weapons cache, where a couple of Saviours were also hiding a truck full of speakers intended to draw walkers away from the Sanctuary. The two Saviours were thwarted by our ferocious females, one being killed when Rosita SHOT HIM WITH THE RPG, blowing him to pieces moments after he asserted that she wouldn’t. Amazing.
The other Saviour almost got away with the truck of speakers, except that said truck got barreled into by the one driven by Daryl and Tara, whose character arcs are both clearly continuing in a “revenge and destruction” direction as they head off to destroy the Saviours, Dwight included.
Daryl and Tara share anger motivated by grief: Daryl mourning Glenn and Tara, her girlfriend Denise. Grief was a strong theme throughout this episode, seen also obviously in Aaron talking about losing Eric, and of course Ezekiel in dealing with loss of the people he led. However, there were also subtler moments, like a shot of Maggie holding Glenn’s watch, and Carol telling a child from the Kingdom that kids who go wandering around in the woods alone are never seen again, or if they are, they’re monsters. This was obviously a direct reference to Carol’s late daughter Sophia, who of course got lost in the woods and was later found to have turned into one of the dead. This line from Carol carried a lot of weight and was almost a surprise to hear, as Carol never talks about Sophia, but it’s clear she will always be somewhat haunted by her death.
The final main bit of plot progression in episode six was Rick returning to the Junkyard to once again offer monosyllabic leader Jadis the chance to be allies in the fight against Negan. It was finally revealed that the photographs Rick’s been taking of their handiwork so far were to function as proof for Jadis and her people that switching sides again would be worthwhile. Alas, in a decision that made as little sense as these people’s inability to speak in full sentences, Rick was turned down once more, and confined to a shipping container, leaving the episode ending on quite the cliffhanger. Thankfully, the next episode picked right up where we left off, with Rick bound and mostly naked in this crate. Jadis had stolen his shoes, and opened the doors to his makeshift prison just long enough to take some pictures of her own, for reference when they sculpted him “after.” Of course, we didn’t find out what “after” meant until later.
A lot of the focus this episode was placed on the goings-on inside the Sanctuary while it was under siege. Eugene in particular faced the dilemmas of whether or not to tell on Dwight, whether to help Father Gabriel (now seriously sick with infection as a result of the old Guts trick) get the Doctor to Maggie, and how to solve the whole building being surrounded by walkers situation.
Having worked out who the traitor was, Eugene confronted Dwight in his quarters, promising not to tell on him provided that from now on he did nothing that would put anyone at the Sanctuary in danger. Dwight responded with total bluntness that the Saviours were finished, and all Eugene needed to do to be on the winning side was wait it out. You’d think that given Eugene’s desire to keep winning and keep staying alive that he’d see the sense in this and do just that, however he still seems to think that the Saviours are a better choice. Faced with the choice of sitting back and watching the Saviours fall, or staying loyal to Negan and trying to protect the Sanctuary, after some internal conflict Eugene landed on the latter.
The man’s character arc has been a unique one, as he’s actively chosen not to do the right thing but instead stick to his selfish guns, because that’s just who he is. In his angry outburst to Father Gabriel confessing this, he came across as rather harsh and cold, and though this isn’t the most endearing of traits, I actually really enjoyed seeing Eugene make a decision with confidence and have a spine for once. It seems he’s fully embraced his dark side, so it’s a shame that the moment it looked like he might come through for the bad guys and be able to draw the walkers away, Daryl, Tara and Morgan threw a spanner in the works by busting through the Sanctuary wall and letting the army of the dead in.
Yes, Daryl and co. actually went through with his reckless plan to end the war by driving a truck into the side of Sanctuary, creating an opening for walkers to pour in. Once again we felt the good old fashioned panic of seeing too many walkers enter an area where the people aren’t well enough equipped to confidently keep them at bay. People and walkers alike were going down, Saviours were fleeing up the stairs while their soldiers and leaders attempted to hold them off and Eugene looked on in panic. Now that the Sanctuary is compromised, we don’t know who will make it out of there alive (though Negan’s probably a safe bet to live for now).
Over at the junkyard, Rick was brought out from his container to find out that “after” was now. “After” meaning after he’s executed by the walker with the head of spiky metal that he’d faced there once before. Of course he was unfazed by that, and swiftly turned the tables by overpowering his captors. This time, Jadis accepted his offer of allyship, and all looked like it was about to work out just fine, until Rick laid his eyes on the Sanctuary and it seemed deserted, not a walker or Saviour in sight. Just a truck through the wall. Andrew Lincoln once again came through with some fantastic acting just in his stunned expression at the sight, and of course now the question is whether or not Daryl’s plan worked. How long was Rick in that container for? What happened at the Sanctuary?!
Season seven of The Walking Dead may have been a drag, but so far season eight is doing a fantastic job of keeping me itching to know what happens next.
Guessed the spoiler? Are modern audiences too savvy for TV show twists?
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