Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: 'Rock In The Road'

"Overall, I think this episode was much better than the first half of the season as a whole." - Kim
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In which Rick is Rick again and zombies are dying by the handful.

Kim: The Walking Dead has returned and here we are, all revved up and ready to tell you what we thought of the second-half premiere.  I have two thoughts to start with and we’ll just go from there.

1) This was everything I wanted it to be.
2) This was everything I didn’t want it to be.

Now, I know you’re wondering how the heck I could possibly have such bipolar feelings regarding a show.  I mean, you either love it or you hate it, right?  Wrong.  I both loved and hated it.

So, first of all - you all know I hate when they do episodes that don’t include everyone, and I got to see almost everyone.  Sure, no Negan and no Eugene, but everyone else I give a crap about made an appearance.

So I wanted walkers - I got way more than I imagined.  And that tandem-clothesline scene made me miss the days of playing Red Rover and trying to take off the head of the snarky bitch who thought she was better than everyone.

I wanted suspense - Certainly the opening and the ending provided these things.  I mean where is pussy Father Gabriel heading with all of their shit?  And who are those people who surrounded our gang?  And why is Rick smiling?

I wanted reunions - Morgan and the gang all back under the same roof was nice.

I wanted the tiger and Jerry - Saw them both!

I wanted to see Rick being Rick - and we got a healthy dose of that.

However...

I didn’t want anyone else to split up again - sorry, Daryl.  But I understand this one.

I wanted to see reactions of Morgan and Carol when they learn about Abraham and Glenn dying.  We get to see Morgan’s, and I have to say, for a guy who proclaims to care about people and lives, his reaction to this news fell super flat.  It was the equivalent of a conversation about breakfast where someone tells you they just ate a waffle and you’re all, “that’s nice.”  I hope when they do finally meet back up with Carol that we actually see some sort of emotion.  After all, if you choose waffles over French toast, something might be wrong. 

I didn’t want things to be incongruent.  And I saw one glaring, inconsistent issue in this show that really bothered me: Rosita and Sasha.  Through the first half of the season, they seemed to develop this unspoken respect for each other.  There wasn’t a lot of animosity and I actually believed they might be girl pals and sit around talking about the silliness of Abraham and his dolphin-smooth comments.  But then out of nowhere, Rosita turns on the bitch and levels Sasha with the "just because we both had sex with him doesn’t make us friends."  I mean, I thought we were past that when they watched him die.  They seemed to be ok.  What happened?  I don’t know, maybe Rosita has her period.  Who knows at this point?

Overall, I think this episode was much better than the first half of the season as a whole.  I see them setting up for something incredible, and I’m excited to watch it play out.  Above all, I’m doing something I didn’t do for the entire first half - I’m looking forward to next week’s episode.

Shawn: Are we revved up?  Or is there a rock in the road blocking our way?

We started the Seventh Season as low as we could get and then we kept digging for eight episodes.  In case you didn't watch, I have a full and detailed summary of the last eight episodes - The Saviors suck.  They really, really, really suck.   That's all you need to know.  There wasn't much that happened that you would have called "light" or "funny". So if this episode sets up anything, it's that this half of the season will  be the journey back, even if it isn't the final fight that we are hoping to see.  I'm not sure that this show can deliver a believable battle the way that they are hinting at right now.  In the reality of the Walking Dead Universe, you don't dismantle Negan with one big battle; you take his power away with a thousand little cuts.  That doesn't make great TV and it doesn't pay off with a grand finale to the season.

-  When did the dead become explosive?  In most of the situations, they barely fall down and usually it's more of a slump and keep moving type of thing.  Don't get me wrong - I love slicing the hell out of the dead with a metal wire driven between two cars.  Makes me wonder why no one has thought to just get out those huge snow plows and sweep the zombies away.  These dead weren't just sliced in half, it felt like they exploded blood as they got mowed down.

-  While I liked the episode, I think it got off to a painfully bad start.  The Gregory character has never made sense to me. That scene in the library, studio, office only had one function - to get some of the Hilltop to leave with our group.  The in-between part was completely out of character with where we had left off with some of our team killed, Negan kidnapping our friends, etc.  I like the little comedic interludes but that was a really terrible start.

-  I think you hit one nail right on the head, Kim.  All of a sudden our Rick was back.  I haven't seen this Rick in a couple seasons if I think about it.  This isn't even the Rick that entered Alexandria.  I wonder if it's the right time to just change back to "old Rick" or if it's a ratings move.  It has the feel of "uh oh, ratings are dropping so we have to go back to the formula that got us here" type of thing.  I'm not upset with this though.  The determined plan to get the explosives, the way he wants to know about Carol, and even his smile at the end all feel like he's our leader again.

-  The Rick Plan isn't exactly falling into place but the hints are all there that it's going to work.  Gregory might be a Grade A jackass but Maggie runs Hilltop and they'll all fall in line behind her.  Ezekiel might have pooped on Rick's ideas like a tiger in the woods but Carol is going to be back around to take control of the situation in the Kingdom.  Now for our lady friends.  Did you see Rick's smile when he saw all those guns.  That's the key to bringing this whole plan to fruition.

-  Simon and the Saviors showed up in a lost scene from the first half of this season.  The marquee reads - For One Night Only - Simon & The Saviors with all of their greatest hits.  Including the threat of killing folks, burning stuff, and stealing all your food and guns.  It felt out of place here other than to remind you of one thing.  The Saviors suck.  They really, really, really suck.  We don't accomplish anything and also weren't they supposed to burn it down looking for Daryl?  It just ruined my vibe after that great zombie massacre.

-  I'll end my comments where the episode starts and kinda where it ends.  Father Gabriel knows best.  Anyone reading my reviews over the years knows he's not my favorite character.  I don't mind the group splitting up when it makes sense.  Like leaving Daryl behind because we need to convince King Ezekiel about the plan.  Father Gabriel taking the food and leaving his little not behind?  That is a clunky way just to get us to go meet some new folks.  Telling a long story is harder than the multiple short ones that the show used to specialize in showing.  A long story needs motivation for a longer journey.  And when you break down the 16-hour story into one hour or one hour and 14-minute blocks, there aren't always beats that make sense.  This episode was good - it moved us towards a conclusion - zombies exploded.  It just reminded us that there's more out there than can be summed up in an hour.   Oh yeah, the Saviors still suck.

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