A more relaxed episode this week, but it wasn’t without some key character moments. It brought back fond memories of the early seasons, when lots of episodes would revolve around characters just taking. And considering we haven’t really had a breather since the war, it was well-earned.
Daryl has a dog now! Called “Dog” which is very Daryl. We should start a drinking game where you have to take a sip every time Norman Reedus grunts “Dog”, and down it when it almost incomprehensibly yells “GO DOG”. An interesting sidenote, did anyone else think that Dog got stuck in that trap a little suspiciously? Daryl himself said he’s never done it before. My guess is Carol did it, the sneaky so-and-so lurking in the bushes, to bring Daryl and Henry closer together. In her defence, Daryl is looking a bit crazy in the woods alone, it’s time he stopped eating snakes and came back to civilisation. Daryl has been out in the wilderness looking for Rick, or his body, or just proof he’s actually dead. Which is rather touching, especially considering they didn’t end on the best of terms. Their bromance has been at the heart of the show and it’ll be interesting to see how Daryl moves on and whether or not he blames himself. He’s already kinda responsible for Glenn’s death, he doesn’t need another.
If anyone should be blaming themselves for Rick’s “death”, it’s Maggie. If she hadn’t tried to go after Negan, Rick might still be alive – but I’m admittedly pretty bias towards Team Negan. Speaking of Maggie, she’s vanished! It sounds like she’s gone off with Georgie, presumably to The Commonwealth. This departure doesn’t work quite as well as Rick Grime’s being flown away to the sound of Wang Chung, but it didn’t need to. Maggie is an important character, sure. But nowhere near Rick-level. Plus, her main character arc came to a pretty satisfying ending two weeks ago when she confronted Negan. And if they wanted to, she could very easily be brought back. Perhaps leading The Commonwealth? There’s potential anyway.
Maggie being gone gives us an unexpected upside – more Jesus. Throughout the war with The Saviors, Jesus didn’t get very much to do. Which is a shame because he’s so cool! Between his excellent leather coat and badass kung-fu, he’s one of the most comicbook-y characters on the show. It seems over the years he’s been getting pretty close with Aaron, meeting up outside of camp and showing him how to fight. But he’s struggling being in charge at Hilltop, it doesn’t really suit him. With him, Aaron, and Daryl going out to find Eugene at the end of the episode, I reckon leading Hilltop is going to be the least of his worries.
Walking Dead veteran Michael Culditz (who played Abraham until he met his untimely end at the hands of Negan and Lucille) directed this episode, which is as we’re going to get to a cameo. That ship sailed when Sasha got the big cameo moment. But he directs it very well indeed, with some great jumpy cuts and POV shots in the first few minutes. The show should mix up directors a bit, get some really wacky stuff in there. There are some awesome aerial drone shots too, which really show how much the world has moved on in those six years – Hilltop especially.
We really need to find out what the deal is with the giant ‘X’ scars. Michonne had one last week and we discovered that Daryl has one too! On top of this, there’s the tension between the communities and Michonne’s reluctance to run into Maggie. These things have all got to be linked – but what could it be? It’s clear that Michonne has no intention of attending the (ill-fated) fair, but what could have turned her against her former friends and family? But that leads to more questions, like what exactly happened with the Saviors in the timeskip, and why exactly we haven’t seen Oceanside yet. These mysteries are like massive blank spaces on a huge jigsaw. Each week adds more and more pieces, but at the same time it takes some away, or adds pieces from a seemingly different puzzle. But in Kang we trust, and I have to hope it’ll all come to a satisfying denouement.
Like I said, this is certainly a slower episode, but it’s one we all needed. It gives us a chance to catch our breaths and slowly work out more of this strange new world our characters are in. And things are about to get stranger – with The Whisperers being just around the corner. It’s one of my absolute favourite arcs in the comics, and I’m left wondering who will get what role in the action, now that the characters are so different between the show and source material. As long as we get more Negan, and he’s reunited with Lucille and that sweet leather jacket, I’ll be more than happy. But I might have to wait a few months for that.
Next week, the mid-season finale.
Reviewed by Jack