“The King, The Widow, and Rick”
After last week’s surprisingly good episode, “The Big Scary U,” which showed us the internal workings of the Saviors’ camp, it seemed all but inevitable that The Walking Dead would downshift for a week before ramping up for this half-season’s final two installments. What’s really impressive is how a show that can show such potential one week can do such an abrupt shift the next, miring itself in its own worst aspects.
“The King, The Widow, And Rick” starts with the pandering voiceover of Rick (Andrew Lincoln), explaining how great the war with the Saviors has been going, followed by Maggie (Lauren Cohen), then Carol (Melissa McBride) overlaid with shots of the primary characters being hand-delivered letters reading one-another’s updates. In short: The Sanctuary is surrounded by walkers, The Hilltop has taken in a slough of prisoners, and The Kingdom has been all but wiped out after being ambushed by The Saviors.
There really isn’t much more that happens over the course of the next hour, outside of revisiting the show’s increasingly well-worn tropes. Maggie and Jesus (Tom Payne) squabble over what to do with the Saviors they’ve taken captive — in front of the prisoners, no less (which seems like a terrible idea in a show that’s defined by its characters terrible ideas). They eventually move them inside into a terribly vulnerable-looking pen and throw Gregory (Xander Berkeley) in with them. Because how could that go wrong?
Carol takes time to comfort Ezekiel (Khary Peyton), who’s so distraught after losing his tiger, Shiva (and a huge chunk of The Kingdom, I suppose), he’s thinking about giving up the whole ‘Community Theater King’ bit. For the record, I would be more than welcoming of this change.
Carl (Chandler Riggs) once again wanders off, and reencounters Siddiq (Avi Nash), the scavenger he’d ran across with his father back in the season eight premiere. He brings him food and water before running through the list of questions Rick had first started throwing around to those he’d considered welcoming into the gates of the prison back in season four. He also learns of Siddiq’s affinity for killing walkers to “set their soul free,” which was something he’d learned from his mother.
Eager to show himself as an ally (instead of the kid who shot in his general direction), Carl goes to take down a couple walkers feasting on the corpse of some wildlife. Then, of course, a couple more show up and they become instantly overwhelmed. Somehow. After all this time. Ugh.
So much for the whole “the dead aren’t the real threat anymore” thing.
The only thing that seems to move the plot forward at all is Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Rosita (Christian Serratos) come out of hiding to get involved in the war, running across two Saviors who plan on driving a truck full of speakers to draw walkers away from the Sanctuary. Rosita blows one up with a rocket launcher, so that’s fun.
The other one almost gets away, before being t-boned by Daryl (Norman Reedus) at the last minute. He, along with Tara (Alanna Masterson) team up with Michonne and Rosita to head out to the Sanctuary and end this. How they plan to do this exactly isn’t clear, but they do have a rocket launcher, so let’s see if that comes into play.
Finally, we come back to Rick, left alone after his fistfight with Daryl to wander back to Alexandria on foot. There’s no mention of the helicopter he spotted last week, but he does make it to the Junkyard to talk to Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh). Who, incidentally, is doing some sort of arts and crafts project while wearing nothing but an apron. Why, exactly, is up for debate.
Anyway, Rick shows up, offers them a deal despite their now-famous betrayal of Alexandria during last season’s finale. She keeps reminding Rick that she shot him, and he keeps replying that she “grazed” him. Because that’s what’s really important in the apocalypse: vernacular. Then, after boasting about how he’s backed the Saviors into a corner — with Polaroids to prove it — and wants their help. If they refuse, they’ll destroy them. (Seriously, great negotiating technique, Rick).
Jadis’ response is to lock Rick away in a shipping container with no clothes. And by the looks of it, not even an arts and crafts project to keep him busy in the meantime.