After spinning its wheels for literally weeks, The Walking Dead finally offers some payoff with ‘All Out War’ by having the Saviors — at long last — arrive at the Hilltop for a face-off. While Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) instructed Simon (Steven Ogg) and company to shoot to wound, their weapons laced with zombie blood so even a flesh would will turn them into the undead.
Though Negan’s still in the clutches of Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) after his ridiculous confrontation with Rick (Andrew Lincoln) last week, Simon has decided to continue to go rogue, starting with when he wiped out all of Jadis’ tribe at the junkyard. He aims to continue his hot streak by telling the Saviors to shoot to kill as they slowly descend onto the Hilltop.
What results is another clusterfuck battle, dimly lit and poorly photographed to the point where you can’t quite tell what’s going on. Once the dust settles, and the sun comes up, its clear that under the leadership of Maggie (Lauren Cohan), the Saviors were sent into retreat, but not without some serious fallout.
With the Saviors’ poisoned weapons, all those injured start to turn in the infirmary, before making their way into the main chamber where all the survivors are sleeping. And really, it’s just fucking amazing how bad all these people are at avoiding getting eaten. Seriously, assuming this apocalypse has been going on for at least a couple of years now (based roughly on Lori’s pregnancy and the current age of Judith), you’d think dealing with a handful of loud, stumbling members of the undead would be second nature.
But no, they’re still (somehow) a legitimate threat, which ends up thinning out the Hilltop’s ranks even more. Although Jesus (Tom Payne) does manage to show up to help high-kick a few of the undead to make it easier for the rest of the A-listers to put them down.
The show’s big moment, though, was when Dwight (Austin Amelio) continues to try and play double-agent. After he’s instructed by Simon to take down Tara (Alanna Masterson), he shoots her in the arm, albeit with a non-infected weapon. This will, in all likelihood, work to his advantage as he’s been trying to win her trust after he put an arrow through Denise’s (Merrit Weaver) head way back in season six.
Also, it appears that Henry (Macsen Lintz) will be taking the mantle of ‘stupid kid who ruins everything’ now that Carl (Chandler Riggs) is dead. Desperate to figure out who killed his brother, he straight-up enters the pen where Maggie’s kept 38 Saviors as prisoner. Of course, he does so right as the zombie chaos erupts inside, so several of them manage to escape, while a few of them opt to stick around since Simon deemed them “damaged goods” just prior to leading the attack.
What’s really impressive, however, is how the show can still manage to botch what should’ve been an invigorating payoff episode after so, so, SO much buildup. Perhaps it’s the result of all-engrossing Negan fatigue, given that the show is continuing to see viewers drop off while it’s spent far more time on this particular story arc (which dates back two full seasons) than any other prior. Nonetheless, it’s still the highest rated show on cable right now, so maybe fatigue is The Walking Dead’s new normal.