“Anything happens to her I’ll kill you.”
Another strong episode this week. We get gladiatorial combat! Daryl’s heartbreaking crying face! And more Shiva!
After Rick’s cheeky smile at the end of the last episode, ‘New Best Friends’ spends most of the time on this new blossoming relationship. It won’t be an easy one, with the new group (The Scavengers, or ‘The Heapsters’ to some) being really weird. They speak like extra’s from Beyond Thunderdome which isn’t a surprise given that the production designer worked on that film. The leader of the group is named Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) and she’s a nutcase too, with a crazy haircut to boot. It’s understandable that they are a bit eccentric though, they’ve been surviving for a long time in a labyrinth of rotting trash. On that note, the set is amazing in this episode. It feels so real and gross, and it’s so detailed. Everything in the set looks like it was placed there on purpose, and that these trash piles might collapse if even one thing is moved.
The fight between Rick and the spiky walker was really cool, and a testament to how awesome practical effects can look when done right. The spike going through Rick’s hand (a reference to the iconic hand ‘injury’ from the comics perhaps?) was nasty but it didn’t seem to faze Sheriff Rick Grimes, he’s far too cool for that. The holes in the trash pile in which the rest of the group shouted advice through suggests this was a team exercise. In which case I think they passed with flying colours. After Rick had dealt with the walker he negotiated with Janis the terms of war, and it was a nice reminder again of the badass Rick we’re all so happy has made a return.
I think this new faction is really cool, especially as a comic reader. Even though the show changes a lot from the source material, you more or less know how things are going to go. Adding in this group mixes things up even for fans of the comic. It’ll be interesting to see where things go from here on out. Because at the moment there is a worry that Rick and the gang have swapped one crazy group for another. When the Saviors are dealt with, will this new group take their third of the winnings and just return to the scrapheap? They do seem lazy, preferring for others to grab the loot off the boat and then taking it back, avoiding the hard work. We’ll have to wait and see, and just hope Rick knows what he’s doing. He certainly seemed please with the outcome.
The Walking Dead is a sad show, the apocalypse is inherently depressing and grim. But you could practically hear the sobs of the fans as Daryl and Carol embraced after meeting again for the first time in almost a whole season. Carol leaving the group has been difficult to watch, and frustrating on a few occasions, but it was all worth it for the drama in this episode. It’s difficult to remember that Norman Reedus is actually a pretty great actor, recently he’s only had to look moody and angry and not had many dramatic scenes.
Daryl lying to Carol about everyone being alright is a decision I agree with. From what she was saying, it’d destroy her if she found out. Which didn’t really leave Daryl much choice. She wouldn’t be able to stop herself killing again, and that’s the last thing she wants. It’ll be interesting to see where this lie takes the show. Will they go for the obvious melodrama route of Carol finding out he lied, and being mad at him etc etc. I think it probably won’t go that way actually. No doubt when she finds out she’ll be understanding to poor Daryl. Perhaps Carol even realises she’s being lied to but goes along with it to make things easier on herself. Sadly it seems inevitable that the ‘old Carol’ will be back at some point, no doubt going on one of her murder sprees against the Saviors.
The question is if she will do it alone or will she have Ezekiel on her side. He’s still not convinced war is the best option, still preferring to just give in to the Saviors. But not everyone in his camp agrees. Richard is already gearing up for war (that child’s backpack in his trailer was a sweet callback to his rough backstory) and things are going to explode in The Kingdom soon, no doubt at the next trade with the Saviors. Ezekiel may want his perfect world, but he’ll have to come to realise that it’s not going to happen without bloodshed.
Also, how great is Jerry? He has stolen every scene he has been in, even from the mighty King Ezekiel. Also he seems like such a nice guy, plus you wouldn’t want to be on the other side of that axe.
The scene with Daryl and Shiva was awesome, with Daryl on one side of the bars and her on the other. Plus she seems to have taken a real shine to him. Even after all this time and all these seasons of the show, Daryl is still a wild animal at heart. Being on the other side of the cage shows the duality between him and Shiva, he’s been tamed but there’s still some similarities.
Another impressive episode! The highlight really was Rick’s trial by gladiatorial combat. It’s struck the perfect balance between goofy comic book silliness and gritty apocalypse drama that really only this show can do. Plus the Daryl and Carol stuff was really, really strong.
Next week is a Negan and Eugene heavy episode so obviously I can’t wait. It’s going to be divisive I’m sure.
Reviewed by Jack