Oh dear… It started so strong, stumbled in the middle and, well, imploded towards the end. With its mid-season finale The Walking Dead left a clear message: all hope is lost. The show unfortunately seems more focused on drawing seasons out, padding them for a longer run and preventing any closure to storylines therefore restricting development and growth. What’s worse is all this meandering leaves the show feeling like a stale stew of left-over meat.
The episode opens with Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) and The Scavengers ditching Rick (Andrew Lincoln) once the Saviors inside The Sanctuary start shooting. Why he felt that getting them onside was important is beyond us. If his plan had played through like he intended, they wouldn’t need The Scavengers and considering they seem to side with the victors regardless, they could have been confronted once the war was won.
Elsewhere, Enid (Katelyn Nacon) and Aaron (Ross Marquand), on a mission to make contact with Oceanside again, manage to kill the community’s leader and then get themselves captured. This scene stands as an example of the kind of time-wasting the show has become accustomed to. The scene plays out slow but has no impact on the overall plot other than to serve as a brief cliffhanger that is sure to please absolutely no one.
Which leads us to the main plot of the week: Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is free and pissed! There are few issues here, amongst many, we would like to highlight. Firstly, why did Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Tara (Alana Masterson), not to mention the snipers lead by Morgan (Lennie James), just abandon The Sanctuary after creating a massive hole for the Saviors to escape trough? It is a decision, made by the show, that goes beyond logic and the nature of the characters of the show. It’s sheer stupidity to think that driving a truck into the side of the building would be enough to kill everyone inside. Why the show believes that the inevitable escape by the Saviors would come as a shock is baffling.
Secondly, why neither Daryl nor Tara believe that the proceedings of the episode is not there fault is incredibly naive and arrogant. Even if it was Eugene (Josh McDermitt) who devised a way of luring the walkers away – which is frustratingly told not shown, again demonstrating that the show has no idea what to show and what not to show – Daryl and Tara gave him the means, and it is sheer stupidity that they do not at least suspect that may have been an outcome.
Thirdly, for us to believe that Daryl, AKA Rick’s right-hand man and bestie, would go against Rick’s will we have to first believe that Daryl is certain his plan will work. For him to betray everything he is and his relationship to Rick it has be clear that Daryl is certain his plan will work and Rick’s won’t, and for all its flaws the show at least makes us believe that. The problem is for Daryl to be absolutely certain his plan would work he would have to be the kind of clueless idiot that the show has spent 8 seasons making us believe he is not. Truly dumb stuff here from one the most successful TV shows in history, which, presumably, hires experienced writers, producers and directors. How does this happen!
Here’s a list of other implausible choices by the show this week: Eugene decides to create a way for Dr. Carson (R. Keith Harris) and Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) to escape meaning everything that happened in the previous episode meant nothing and we had to sit through a filler-episode for no reason. A new character is suddenly introduced in The Hilltop foreshadowing his eventually death by the end of the episode as this is something the show ALWAYS does (as we have said previously, the show has no more tricks up its sleeves). Despite easily taking down three people with his hands tied and a walker on his arse in the last episode, Rick fails to overcome Negan one v one despite getting the upper-hand. Rick doesn’t immediately scorn Daryl for undoing everything they had done to disable The Saviors. And finally, Carl (Chandler Riggs) has been bitten… for a while. The problem is thus: firstly, no one cares for the character of Carl so the impact probably isn’t quite what was intended, although the character’s longevity does make his eventual demise somewhat sobering, however, the fact that it happened episode’s ago (when he met Siddiq (Avi Nash) apparently) softens the impact further and goes against the logic of the show, in which people turn rather quickly. Carl’s sacrifice, offering to stay behind and create a distraction so the others could escape Alexandria, would have provided the ultimate opportunity to have him be bitten as he would go out as a hero thus going some way towards making up for the flack the character has, probably deservedly, received from fans. Alas, his redemption was taken from him.
The character of Carl can perhaps nicely some up the show’s problems. He had so much potential for development, with many believing since the early seasons that he would take a dark turn creating a very interesting conflict between himself and Rick. However, the show never seemed to know what to do with him, abandoning any plan to make him interesting. Instead, Carl has become a bit of a nothing character, jumping from dark natured (his time with Negan) to kind soul (bringing in Siddiq). In short Carl is not a person but a tug of war between the shows producers and writers as they “um” and “ah” over what decisions to make. The whole show seems to operate like this, with no clear idea of an end point or where they want the show to go, it seems as though each season is written one episode at a time. Truly disappointing stuff.
Anyway, for those still interested we end the first half of season 8 with the Alexandrians hiding in a sewer, The Hilltop taking shelter at home and ready to kill prisoners if need be and The Kingdom leaderless and on the run. In other words, we’re back at square one with Negan very much in a strong position, meaning none of what has happened this season really matters.