In which Kim and Shawn try to make sense of the show's disjointed timeline.
Kim: Is it 2018 already? For the first time since The Walking Dead came out, I didn't sit with nervous anxiety during the mid-season break. Looking back, I think the only question I was really waiting for an answer to was "what happened to Jerry?" The kicker is, I still don't know. So yes, I start out disappointed, but I assure you that I didn't stay that way throughout the 1 hour and 23 minutes between the first and last scenes. I have a bunch of questions after watching and for the first time in a while, I'm looking forward to next week.
We were "treated" to scenes in three, possibly four, distinct time periods - past, present, distant future, and perhaps a not-so-distant future. You all know how I feel about jumping around in a timeline. Basically, if the show isn't This Is Us, you'd better just pick one time period. TWD isn't great with the transitions between the jumps. I have problems with the jumps to the past, so I'll start with those.
We waited almost three months to find out what the outcome of everything was for our people. I feel like we were cheated out of a lot. OK, so they go back and show you when Carl got bit, but you know, I already figured that out because I remembered when it happened. They show you what happened to Morgan and why he wasn't in his outpost when Rick rolled in with the garbage folk. (Bet you forgot that even happened, right?) I'm fine with both of those. They really didn't take up my of my time. Plus, getting to see Morgan eviscerate that dude with his bare hands was pretty awesome, if you ask me.
My biggest problem is that they went back to show you how the Saviors got out, and I think it was complete horseshit. Not only was it horseshit, but I found it confusing for a great number of reasons. I thought the brilliant Eugene came up with an idea on how to get them out of there. So that was his great idea? Really? Correct me if I'm wrong, (and I might be) but weren't the Saviors just about out of ammo? I mean, did Eugene make all of those rounds in an hour and a half? Also, I feel like when it was discovered that they were free back in the mid-season finale, I don't recall seeing piles of Walkers everywhere. I feel like they were cleaned out some other way. I also don't remember who went to which place, so it was hard for me to follow where everyone was and what was going on. But you know when you try to do three timelines three months after you set it up, this is what happens. And no, I didn't have time to go back and watch the replay of the mid-season finale. My argument is that I shouldn't have to.
I've also forgotten who else I'm waiting to find out about. I'm pretty sure there's still some other things that are up in the air (where's Jerry?). I'm not angry about the distant future scenes we've been seeing, because by the end of the episode, they actually make sense. Even Negan gardening makes sense. Judith's hair doesn't make sense because it goes from curly now to pin-straight in the future and I'm unsure how that's possible.
And then, there's the closing scene. Rick is under a tree with stained glass windows hanging from it. His hand is incredibly bloody and he looks like he might have had some bad sushi. What future is this? Nothing in this episode points to that occurring. Nothing in the past did. Nothing in the happy, utopian distant future. So, it's a fourth time period and oh my God, stop it now.
Not all was bad, however.
1) Daryl held Judith. Nearly every time he's on the screen, he's holding that little girl. *SWOON*
2) Carl did the right thing by going out the same way Andrea did. Poor Michonne - that's two people she cared about who both shot themselves in the head.
3) Morgan as a killing machine is the best thing I've seen in a long time. I'm sure that changes now, though, with the big reveal of the murderous kid. Who was supposed to be watching him? Reminds me of the first season, when Carl wouldn't stay in the damn house.
4) Ez-E is free!
5) That curly-haired dude is no more. I'm glad, because I hate the way he talked.
Bring me some more stuff next week, and let's not get mired down in too much here, there, everywhere.
Shawn: The best thing I did to prepare for this episode was watch the previous one. The truth of this show is that it has reached a point that I remember some very generic plot points but I don't recall many other details. Most of that comes from the disjointed storytelling. You address some of the problems with the different time periods but what still gets me is how they want to be tricky about them. There's no "Six Months Ago" or "On the other side of Alexandria" or "Twelve years in the future" or "When beards turned grey" clues to let us know what is going on. Why? Are they afraid we'd understand the story if they dropped in some clues? It's not clever, it's annoying to see dead characters in the "future". Here were my observations filtered through a day of thinking about the episode.
1) MUSIC MONTAGE OF DEATH. The series has developed one consistent theme that I love - giving characters a cool song montage before they get to die. Carl got Bright Eyes "At the Bottom of Everything" as the sun shone in his face and all his plans came together. Few of the characters have had the opportunity to really put the closure on their lives like Carl did here. He was able to write some letters, enjoy a fake Kit Kat with a friend, take some selfies with his sister, get a tan, play some video games, and get his college degree online. I'm super glad for him and it did extend the episode a little to give Carl time to do all his Carl things before saying goodbye but montage!
2) THE CRY HEARD AROUND THE WORLD. We're having an emotional moment here. Michonne is losing it and Rick is having trouble even forming words. Carl is having his final words with Judith and literally passing the torch/hat to her. Carl's giving the super lifelong guilt trip of "Mom said I'd be the best but now it's up to you to be the best ever and here's a part of Dad to wear on your head." Judith looks around and this being her first real scene in the show to show off her acting chops, she freezes. So the show throws in the worst fake cry of the current century. From a show that does special effects like no other show, why is the cry the worst I've heard. They quickly hand Judith off to Daryl saying "Cover her mouth and get her out of here." Obviously, no parent was in charge of this scene because I know a cry face when I see a cry face. If nothing else, Judith may have needed a potty break but that wasn't a cry. It really took me out of one of the main emotional moments of the show.
3) BEAT THIS WORLD. In theory, I've always viewed this show as Carl's story seen through Rick's eyes. I loved Glenn and Abraham and Sasha and even Beth - their deaths served important plot purposes. I'm not convinced that this will be the case for Carl. We saw our little boy grow quite a bit and if you are telling a story that even keeps up a glimmer of hope that we can "beat this world," it's not a baton you can pass down. Judith having the hat doesn't mean that whoever has the hat will be our hope for the future. They handled the death well, he got just enough time as befits a major character but thematically I'd almost rather lose Michonne or Daryl than see Carl out of the picture. That said - the dye was set in the previous episode. Any "saving" of Carl would have probably marked the last time I watched the show.
4) FREAKY FRIDAY. I'm waiting for the episode that we realize that in the past Carol woke up as Morgan and Morgan woke up in Carol's body. I enjoyed their adventures in saving Ezekiel because I love Carol and I like Ezekiel but seriously, can't they ever meet in the middle? The two of them appear to have completely switched philosophies from a couple seasons ago. It's making me dizzy.
5) MISSING IN ACTION. This episode was clearly missing more Daryl and more Negan. Both would have had more to add to this Carl story. Daryl couldn't even get some good lighting for the scene he was in - he just gets thrown a baby and let's us know "I've got this." Does he mean by that "I have a baby seat for my motorcycle."? Because if not, I'm a little more concerned. His lack of a proper goodbye to Carl didn't feel right considering what the two have been through together. Negan and Carl have an interesting history and we definitely need a scene where Negan figures out Carl is dead in the future.
6) HENRY THE SERIAL KILLER. Have we just created the new crazy teen killer on the show? Henry proves again that Carol is a bad ass at everything but parenting. She has no patience for young boys. I'm amused that Henry has so quickly progressed to be the worst-case scenario of Carol and Morgan combined but I don't see the point. No matter if he's hero or villain in the near future, it feels like we've been down this road before. He is good with the stick thing though.
I didn't hate this episode. I'm just fearful of where we are going. And only just a little disappointed that they didn't call the episode "Coral".