Editor’s note: this review of AMC’s The Walking Dead will contain some spoilers. I will try to keep them to a minimum, but they’re be there nonetheless. You’ve been warned.
Well The Walking Dead is certainly rocketing toward the season finale at quite a clip, isn’t it? We’ve only been in Alexandria for a few episodes, and Rick has already pulled a gun on the town’s leader while he’s covered in blood and going on and on about fighting for survival.
This is not how we make friends, Rick.
Joking aside, this definitely feels like the penultimate episode of the season. The writers are working hard to set the table, so to speak, for the big finale. There are a handful of big plot threads going on here, but let’s save Rick for last. We’ll start with Sasha.
Sasha’s been a tough character to nail down for me. As I’ve said before, she doesn’t really seem to have a whole lot of agency of personality of her own. The vast majority of her character’s screen time is dedicated to reacting to other events, often a tragic loss. When she leaves the safety of Alexandria to take the fight to the zombies, we’re supposed to feel something, but it just falls flat for me.
This really bugs me because I want to like Sasha. I want to root for her, and I definitely want someone to go on the offensive and just start killing zombies like it’s their job. So I should be happy with this turn of events, but the whole things seems far too staged.
Take, for instance, the big fight between Sasha, Michonne, Rosita, and a couple of dozen zombies. There’s no doubt that it was a cool, well staged fight. But at the same time, it seemed largely pointless. What is Sasha proving, exactly? And what really bugged me is how capable they make her for the vast majority of the story, but then she has no plan for when she needs to change magazines, and ends up having to be saved by Michonne.
That was the weak spot of the episode right there. It was heavy-handed and poorly written.
Luckily, that was only one small moment in an otherwise solid episode. We also got to spend some time with Daryl and Aaron as they’re out scouting. They spot a campfire in the distance, but when they arrive they find only the severed remains of a body, and a woman who was tied to a tree and disemboweled by zombies. Naturally, we start seeing a lot of “W”s carved in zombies heads (they show up elsewhere in the episode as well, including in Sasha’s scenes).
I found these scenes to be extremely effective. Not only are we hanging out with characters who are better developed and more consistent, but I love the way this new threat is being introduced in the periphery of the primary conflict of the season.
Next we’ve got Glenn and Nicholas, who naturally have very different stories to tell upon arriving back in Alexandria. Glenn only talks to Rick, which seems borderline idiotic. Nicholas is filling Deanna’s head with his version of events, painting our group like a bunch of marauders, but Glenn doesn’t offer a counterpoint? It seems like Deanna isn’t exactly buying what Nicholas is selling, but coming on the heals of Gabriel’s big betrayal last week, she’s certainly got to have a lot of doubts at this point.
The subsequent confrontation between Glenn and Nicholas seemed like a bit of waste of screen time, although I’m betting this is going to play into the finale.
Oh yeah, and Carl goes on a date.
And, finally, we circle back around to Rick. He brings he concerns about Pete to Deanna, but doesn’t get immediate permission to murder him outright, and decides to change tactics. He then goes to talk to Jessie and, although he’s initially rebuffed, eventually convinces her to trust him.
And, wouldn’t you know it, that’s just when Pete happens to come in the room. Once again, he’s hammered drunk. Thing devolve quite quickly, and the fight spills out of the house and into the street, where it quickly gathers an audience. Both Jessie and Carl try to intervene, and both get violently rebuffed.
Rick finally gets the upper hand in the fight, and seems content to simply kill Pete on the spot, but it stopped by Deanna. He immediately draws his hidden revolver on the crowd, and launches into a diatribe about the nature of survival before being mercifully knocked unconscious by Michonne.
So is Rick really turning into a bad guy here? I’m not sure, but I’m certainly looking forward to the finale.