In which Kim and Shawn give this week's a grade of B-.
Kim: This week marks two episodes in a row that held my interest. No, it’s not without its faults (which you just know I’m going to be listing here.) They nearly ruined my enjoyment of the episode, but overall, I’m giving it a C+. Maybe a B- because Daryl showed up on a bike, shooting stuff.
Where do I begin? I’m unsure of the order of the events, so I’ll just start with the things that stand out in my mind.
1.) Morgan. Yeah, we get it. He’s going over to Fear the Walking Dead because he’s slipping back into one of his other personalities. It could be the psycho killer, the pacifist, the normal surviving guy, or the completely whacked-out lunatic. Either way, he’s got a long journey ahead of him if he’s making it to the people on Fear. I’ll miss him on this show, but there’s a chance it improves that one, right? He’s always been one of my favorites on TWD, and it’ll be sad when he leaves. But at least he’s not leaving because he’s dead!
2.) Let’s talk about how many Saviors didn’t get shot. I’m sorry, but when they’re walking up in the dark in that big group, all huddled together, and the lights come on and our gang opens fire…that was like shooting fish in a barrel and I’m unsure how more of them didn’t just drop like flies. Pretty unrealistic, if you ask me. I suppose they’re saving Simon for Negan, or maybe Jadis. But either way I hope there’s some movement on that front relatively quickly.
3.) Henry. Good God, why do the children on this show always mess everything up? If you didn’t see that whole thing coming, then you’re really not paying attention. This was telegraphed way back when, when they first penned up the prisoners. There were hints every week that he was just going to do what kids to best, and screw up big time. Way to go, Henry. [slow clap] So now, they can’t find him. This reminds me of when they couldn’t find Sophia. Carol’s involved with a kid, so you know this doesn’t end well. Maybe they should check the barn.
4.) So, as I’m watching all of those people sleeping in the main house, I have two thoughts. The first is, are these the people from the burned out Alexandria? Or are they the Hilltop people? I’m really just curious about that. Second, who doesn’t jolt out of a deep sleep when a dead person tumbles down a flight of stairs, making all of the gurgling sounds? I guess there were no parents sleeping on that floor? Because as a mom, especially in the apocalypse, I guarantee I’m going to know the moment there’s a walker in my house. I mean, for the past 14 years, if my kid so much as clears his throat in his sleep, I’m hearing it, waking up, and making sure he’s not choking on his own vomit. This is just what happens when you’re a parent. And I know there were parents there, so I don’t get it.
5.) Where in the hell is Judith during all of this? She’s not with Rick. Or Maggie. Or Carol. Or Michonne. Or Daryl. Apparently not with Enid. This just makes zero sense to me. And speaking of Rick, did you notice that while he’s trying desperately to remove those boards from the window, he’s struggling a bit to get it done with the hatchet. Yet here comes Michonne, who just easily rips them off bare-handed, proving once again that Rick is a giant pussy who can’t really get the job done.
6.) So, Dwight led the Saviors away from Tara and the group in the swamp, and this alone changes her whole opinion of the man who brutally killed her love, with an arrow through the eye? Daryl’s not buying it, but then again, he feels responsibility for Denise’s death, so really he’s just angry at himself.
7.) I will admit that I forgot about the tainted knives until people started turning and my honey said, “Oh right, they dipped them in zombie guts”. I can only guess that Dwight did not partake in the soiling of the knives, and this is why Tara lives? It’s anyone’s guess really. But I have to comment on something here. Carol’s revelation that “he wasn’t bit” and they all seemed surprised that he turned after dying and instantly deduce that they must have used infected knives. Ummm, hello?! Doesn’t anyone remember that Dr. Jenner from the CDC told them that everyone is already infected and if you die, you turn. Doesn’t matter what kills you. So for them to instantly leap to “the Saviors must have soaked their weapons in walker guts” instead of, “I wonder if he had some internal bleeding going on from that stab wound” is just, well, ridiculous.
I’m going to stop here, because I could go on. There’s the prisoner-supposedly-turned-good-guy. There’s Maggie’s struggle with the “You’re a great leader” vs. “But I’m doing this for me." We saw a glimpse of Jesus, but don’t know when he got back or what he found. We’re still waiting on Aaron’s fate. And Negan’s. And while the last two episodes have intrigued me more than the last two seasons, I’m more resentful of the shit they’re asking me to swallow.
We’ve got just a few more episodes this season. I am hopeful, once again, that they’ll give me something to miss over the summer, other than my kid. Deuces!
Shawn: 1.) THE WIDOW. This evolution of Maggie as leader is an interesting journey. I think it was important to show that Maggie is having a learning curve with this leadership thing. She's had some great moves including her ambush here to stop the slaughter of her people. But she's also made some mistakes along the way. If there was any doubt last week that we're setting up Maggie to be the leader it's officially erased now. Rick is a co-leader at best. Twice we've ended episodes with reflective Maggie pondering what it means to be a leader. This is a rare reflective turn that the show doesn't do often. We get one-off episodes with Morgan or Carol having philosophical debates but rarely is it explored as consistently as this has been this season.
2.) ZOMBIE GUTS. Way back in Season One and even in the past few months, we have been told that the rules are that you can cover yourself in zombie guts and you will become undetectable to the walkers. You can douse yourself. Bathe in their blood. When you kill them, their brains can spatter all over your body. You can wear their skin. So now you can get a scratch from a knife with walker blood and you will turn into a zombie? Maybe I am ignorant about biology here but if you can ingest their blood, get it up your nose and ears, and not get infected, then how is this plan working? I feel like everyone in this world walks around with cuts and wounds - no one ever got zombie blood in their papercut? I thought that Eugene was giving Negan a plan that he knew wouldn't work just to buy himself some time. This logical leap took me out of most of this episode.
3.) HENRY THE ACCIDENTAL KILLER. Now playing the role of "Oops Carl" is Henry. Remember when Carl used to do dumb stuff and get people like Dale killed? Henry roaming around with his oversized gun told me they were about to deliver on the telegraphed promise of his stupidity from a couple episodes ago. You knew he wouldn't kill anyone worthy and that the most handsome of the prisoners would be his accidental target. It was all just a little familiar. I don't know what it says about the way writers view children but they all seem to be crazy killers or rock dumb.
4.) ALLAH, DO NOT SEND US ASTRAY. Interesting after a God-based episode earlier in the season that this episode takes its title and theme from Islam. The quote is part of the literary vernacular as meaning to not seek revenge because it will consume you. Siddiq told this to Rick after Carl's death and it's good advice. The themes of revenge have been there since early on in the series. In fact, it was interesting that there was actual talk of the past in this episode since they don't usually talk about past events. Tara talking about the Governor and talk of Merle is what I'd like to see more of. Think about people you know and how much talk of past events dominates conversations. Rick and Maggie are driven by revenge but as the last scene shows us, they are seeing the the cost might not be worth the solution.
5.) THE ART OF WAR. Yes there are an unlimited supply of bullets this season. Yes there is less accuracy this season. Yes the show is getting better at filming and showing battle scenes. That battle for the Hilltop in the dark could have been filmed very confusingly. In the end, I felt like I pretty much understood what had happened and was entertained. You know, other than the whole "don't waste all the bullets" thing.
6.) NEGAN, JR. Simon is a dufus. He's trying to be a good Negan wannabe. But his ability to follow a plan is suspect. To be fair, the plan is greatly flawed. If I understand Negan's idea it was to dip some weapons in zombie blood and infect just a few people but keep a majority of them alive. So it's a scare tactic along the lines of killing Abraham, etc. Well, Negan, let's pause a second. You are going to cut someone and then send them back into the group and let them turn into a zombie. Any thoughts that they might actually eat everyone and create a whole city of zombies? Simon is just following the plan but he's certainly the first victim-to-be of our bad guys.
It wasn't as good as we have had the last couple weeks but the continuation of Maggie's journey made this easily a B- episode.