You Haven’t Been Missing Much on ‘The Walking Dead’ (TV REVIEW)

So, a few episodes of The Walking Dead have aired since the last recap. (SXSW has a way of derailing normal routines for days on end.) With the season finale coming up next week, promising both a 90 minute runtime and the long-awaited introduction of Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan, here’s a quick refresher on the last three installments of The Walking Dead.

“The Same Boat”
[rating=2.00]

The Walking Dead "The Same Boat"

This could’ve been one of the all-time great The Walking Dead episodes. The idea was there, with the Ricktatorship having successfully taken down a compound full of Saviors and taking no collateral damage, suddenly Carol and Maggie were held hostage. With one Savior left alive after the massacre, Rick is desperate to make a trade. It had all the earmarks of an episode that could easily become a compelling, well-written hour of television.

Of course, what we got was an hour-long plot exposition written by way of a James Bond villain but doled out by guest star Alicia Witt, who delivered her rhetoric in the show’s trademark on-again, off-again southern dialect. The real surprise here was Carol, who nearly hyperventilates while gagged and restrained, begging for her rosarie — which, okay, seems like it’d be a cool trick she’d pull before she’d get to some serious neck-stabbings.

Then, she went on this long-winded tailspin into the morality of killing that even continued after everyone was safe at home back in Alexandria. I can only assume the writers of this episode had never seen an episode with Carol in it after the second season. Which is a distinct possibility.

Also, the Ricktatorship, even when fractured, manages to take down yet another camp of Saviors, making their threat seem less credible than before.

“Twice as Far”
[rating=3.00]

The Walking Dead Eugene

A marginally better episode, if for no other reason than they couldn’t possibly screw up a supply run episode more than they did with the introduction of Jesus. While Daryl, Rosita, and Denise go on the hunt for medicine, Eugene reveals to Abraham his surprisingly good plan of making their own munitions.

This almost immediately devolves into a fight between Eugene and Abraham, leaving Eugene captured by the Saviors, a fact that’s revealed only after Denise takes an arrow through the eye — which was a legitimately shocking, tragic moment. With Daryl and Rosita surrounded, Eugene reveals the location of Abraham, hiding in a nearby brush. It’s unclear if this was some kind of tactical maneuver thought of by a guy who postulates his survival chances the way he would a tabletop RPG, or an impulse by a mulletted crybaby who turns around and bites Savior henchman Dwight in the junk.

Once again, they manage to take all the Saviors down, losing only Denise to an ambush. Once again adding making the Saviors seem like an even more manageable threat than the actual zombies.

“East”
[rating=3.00]

rsz_carol

So, this whole episode revolves around Daryl’s frustration with himself over Denise’s death at the hand of Dwight, a man he’d met much earlier this season, and even tried to help. It’s not out of character for Daryl to fly off the handle like this and storm out into the forest, but it’s goddamn lazy writing to have two-thirds of the principle cast follow him in multiple carloads.

But, where there’s lazy writing, there’s a convenient plot point to be had; in this case, Glenn and Michonne ambushed and captured by the Saviors. Boy, none of us saw that coming.

On a side note, Carol seems back to her old, ruthless self, but now with all the gaspy, anxious draws of breath between every word, like some desperate attempt to canonize her grossly out-of-character turn in prior installments.

Of course, we’re subject to a long back-and-forth between Rick and Morgan in which Morgan can expound upon his newfound philosophy of life being precious, citing the Wolf kidnapping Denise, then saving her, as his go-to example of why his philosophy works. We even get closure on that long-running protein bar story, which was a joke that landed as delicately as a sledgehammer.

And finally, what better way to end a clumsy, ham-handed episode after a string of clumsy, ham-handed episodes? End it with a blood-splattered cliffhanger that was so cheap you couldn’t find it in the bargain bin at the dollar store.

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