Shawn: I'm not your King. I'm not your Majesty. I ain't nothing. I'm just some guy." - Ezekiel
I'm always fascinated by the episodes that focus mostly on the arc of a single character. It's a challenge on a show that has at any given point about 15-25 main characters. I think that it's been a mixed bag in the past. There's a challenge to give us an in-depth look at character and not bring the whole show to a grinding halt. It worked with T-Dog but it was pretty annoying when it was Morgan because it felt like an episode of a different show or like the rest of the cast needed a week off of work. Another week and another set of thoughts.
I won't save it until the end to say it was my favorite episode of the season so far. The arc of Ezekiel has been as well paced as anything - on a show where 75% of my criticisms have to do with pacing. We have been dealt just enough Ezekiel over the end of last season and the start of this one. His speeches have all been bombastic and leading up to a large battle. I have accused him of being William Wallace but in many ways he was channeling his inner William Shakespeare. True to life, like any good Shakespeare play, he leads his team into battle and they are decimated. That opening shot is worthy of the start of Act IV of the best tragedy.
That Savior who decides not to kill Ezekiel in favor of lots of exposition meets one of the best "Here's Johnny" moments of the recent past. The dude getting cleaved in half and seeing Jerry standing there was brilliant. It gave us the "whew" moment of knowing that the only other character we cared about wasn't killed.
Oh crap, the episode just ended after 48 minutes. Well, we have a scene with Rick and Daryl we were going to use next week but we can throw it in at the end here. No one will feel like it's just a throw-in scene. Make sure we get proper clearance from Raiders of the Lost Ark for stealing their deal and then we're good to go. It'll fit right in with the tenor of the rest of the episode. Rick and Daryl and a good old-fashioned car chase to button up this episode.
Part of what really worked in this episode is that when we weren't following Ezekiel, we were watching Carol kick ass again. She's a one-woman wrecking crew and entertained me in every scene. It's hard to even come up with anything else to say. She's just that good.
I don't have the words to talk about the death of Shiva. The Walking Dead universe is full of people who are about to become zombie snacks. The deaths that have stuck with me are animals and children. Maybe it was that horse early on in Season One that got me going. Shiva gave her life for Ezekiel and I feel like it has changed him for good. I cared about Shiva much more than I did any of the Saviors or seeing Morales back again. The death fit what was needed for the tragedy of Ezekiel and lead us into Act V.
Ezekiel built his Kingdom of paper and it came down around him this episode. He was surprised to find that people like Jerry knew and didn't care (kinda like voting for Trump?). His words inspired in a way that his actions didn't. So much so that his tiger made the ultimate sacrifice for her leader. In the end, maybe "some guy" is like Wilbur who was "some pig."
Kim: I am going to struggle just trying to figure out what it is I want to say. I guess if I have to put down my thoughts in some sort of logical manner, I will say that unlike you, I hated this episode. We established last year that I do not do well with the individual episodes. I enjoyed the first couple of weeks because we saw a couple of groups in each episodes, so knew what a whole bunch of our people were doing.
This week, it seems that we still have no idea what has happened with Father TurdBucket and Negan. They’ve been out in that trailer for a few weeks now, so for all intents and purposes, they should be dead. But you know that’s not happening. They’re trying to invoke the same feelings that we had when Glen got stuck under the dumpster. However, there’s no sense of “oh shit” or nervous feelings when I go to watch the show this time, because I simply don’t care.
Apparently, Michonne, Carl, Rosita. Judith, and whoever else I’m forgetting (because I haven’t seen them this season), no longer matter. They don’t even get a single line of dialogue. They don’t get anything. In fact, we’re not even going to mention them. Perhaps they all died of dysentery, just like in Oregon Trail. Again, I simply don’t care.
I don’t care what Maggie is doing, what they’ve decided to do with their captured Saviors. I don’t care if Jesus has turned into a heavy drinker. I don’t care about how Aaron is doing, not interested in where Eugene (who?) is these days. Where’d Morgan go? Who cares. He’s gone. End of story.
Daryl and Rick are doing something, that is easy to follow (stopping the big guns from getting to wherever they were going), but what are they going to do now, only having Daryl’s bike to get themselves and, presumably, the guns back to Hilltop. Or Hillside. Hillshire? Oh who the hell cares, really?
You know what I do care about?
1.) Where is the damn baby Rick found?
2.) Jerry is alive. Dude.
3.) Carol dropped out of the sky and kicked some ass, then continued to do so, right up to saving Jerry.
4.) Ezekiel might stop talking like he’s from 1623 now.
5.) Shiva died and it was the most heartbreaking death since Abraham.
You mentioned T-Dog. I’d like to remind you that T-Dog gave his life so Carol could live and Shiva gave hers so Ezekiel could live. The two deaths, several seasons apart, both tore me up. I like the willing sacrifice. I’d like to see some more of that in different scenarios.
We are halfway through the first half of the season. Best I can tell, in the timeline of the show, we’ve gone through maybe 18 hours in four episodes? At this rate, they’ll never have to show us Maggie with a baby bump, because it’ll take four seasons to get through a week.
Our people have no idea how to follow through and finish anything. Then again, neither does Negan’s crew. Now, before you gripe at me about the fact that they are following the comic and blah blah blah, understand that I don’t care. I’m watching a show for one hour each week, 16 weeks out of the year. I expect that show to move quickly. When you see a movie that started as a novel, you don’t see the novel exactly as it was portrayed. It takes you much longer to read the novel than it does to see the movie, right? Therefore, we should be so far past the scope of the comics this far in, but we’re not. Instead, it’s like the show is slowing to allow the comic to be written so that the show will never catch up. Ever. But there’s a problem with that. People who are not a fan of the comics don’t care about the comic timeline. They don’t care who died when or how in the books, or who is in which media representation of The Walking Dead. They just want to enjoy the show, as is, and we’re really not getting a chance to. There’s always something off. There’s always something missing. There’s always something that doesn’t make sense or something that feels forced.
Obviously, I’ve grown tired of all of these people (except Jerry & Carol). Alexandria and everything around it is old and boring. I liked our people constantly moving, looking for a good place to settle for a little bit before being forced to move on.
All of these groups - The Kingdom, The Hilltoppers, and The Saviors (also apparently the Trash People and the Oceanside Ladies) lived together, relatively uneventfully until Rick showed up. Do you wonder if anyone, aside from Negan, ever thinks about that and views Rick as a shit-stirrer who needs to be dealt with? I think about that all of the time. And it's a much more entertaining scenario than what's going on on Sunday evenings these days.