[rating=5.00] “Time for After”
In the penultimate episode of the fall half of The Walking Dead’s eighth season, we were treated to everything that makes the show compelling, and absurd, all packed into its 40-odd minute runtime. From the inner-workings of The Sanctuary, to the unnecessary buildup to a coup against The Saviors, to an absurdly staged fight scene, “Time For After” truly did have it all. For better and for worse.
The bulk of the episode focuses on Eugene (Josh McDermitt), who’s been tasked by Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) to flush out the rat hiding in their ranks. Eugene knows that it’s Dwight (Austin Amelio), but seems reluctant to do anything about it. Ultimately, Eugene’s a coward, and his only interest is staying alive. By withholding this information, he’s likely only digging his hole even deeper, his ability to manufacture bullets or not.
To make matters worse (and add the obligatory terrible decision by a key character), Dwight knows he’s on to him, yet blows off the chance to kill Eugene on The Sanctuary’s roof — instead shooting down Eugene’s homemade glider designed to lure the hoard of walkers away from their compound. Still, prior to Dwight’s refusal to kill Eugene, the two make their respective cases regarding Negan. Dwight (who lost his wife and half his face to Negan’s rule) sees him as a tyrant, and plans to continue working with Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) army to take him down. Eugene, who again is only interested in surviving, wants to stay where he is and keep the status quo as much as possible.
Daryl (Norman Reedus) meanwhile is planning on moving forward with the plan to crash a truck into The Sanctuary’s wall, letting in the hoard and thinning out the Saviors’ ranks. The only one who’s committed to moving forward with the plan is Tara (Alanna Masterson), while Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Rosita (Christian Serratos) get cold feet.
The latter two want to wait for Rick to return, while Daryl looks at the loss of The Kingdom’s soldiers as a sign they need to move forward without hesitation. Also, his recent fight with Rick over the mercy debacle (once again the background conundrum this season) probably influenced his decision a bit. If they open up a hole in the wall now, there’s less chance for Rick to get cold feet about the whole ‘kill all Saviors’ idea.
After an unnecessary long buildup toward the event (a Walking Dead trademark), Daryl goes though with it, and The Sanctuary is flooded with the dead, forcing the Saviors to the higher floors.
For the absurd moment, we come back to Rick, who’d returned to the junkyard to enlist the members of
Arcade Fire the Scavengers — despite the fact they betrayed him back at Alexandria during last season’s finale. (It’s actual finale, not this mid-season finale nonsense).
Stripped down to his underwear, Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) calls him out to duel with yet another armored walker, led on a pole by two redshirt Scavengers. After Rick employs some of Morgan’s (Lenny James) trademark moves, he makes short work of the redshirts, and only then does Jadis pull out her gun, followed by the rest of her army. Still, Rick uses the now-severed head of the walker to his advantage, and Jadis agrees to join him in their fight. Because that worked so well the first time around.
Finally, we get the hallmark of all Walking Dead episodes, the cliffhanger, this one putting Rick and Jadis’ already uneasy alliance in further jeopardy when he leads them to The Sanctuary (side note: are all these places a 40-minute walk from one-another?) to find that they’re no longer surrounded, and the dead have made their way inside. To make matters worse, Rick’s snipers aren’t responding to his radio calls, putting him in the precarious position of looking like liar.
We’ll see how this all plays out next week for the midseason finale. At least until the inevitable cliffhanger, of course.