In which Shawn and Kim are left with just a weird feeling and more questions.
Shawn: Not sure why they put a "the" in front of the title of this episode. I'd be happy with just a drawn out "wellllllll." After last week, I didn't really have a vision for how this week would go and I don't know if I've sufficiently processed this one. I have a few thoughts.
It's an odd trip from Negan / Lucille to King Ezekiel / CGI Tiger, Shiva. A baseball bat in the hands of an enigmatic leader of a band of thieves killed two of our beloved characters. A tiger in the company of an equally enigmatic leader but this time of a band of agrarian peasants doesn't kill a damn person. It was one of the few things about the episode that actually works for me. The new reality is that there are probably thousands of these little groups around the country. I've always been interested in the different ways that group dynamics work to create different types of leaders and groups. There does seem to be only two extremes - the "we eat people, steal from people, make the people fight each other" groups and the "let's build walls and grow crops and make cookies" groups. King Ezekiel is an interesting addition to the cast if not a very interesting character. I'm not sure why we had to make sure we knew his whole story before the episode ended. That usually signifies that he's not long for our world. The Kingdom and King Ezekiel come ripe with Biblical inferences that I'm not reading too much into at this point.
If Negan is going to out-Governor the Governor, then we need to see him a little less. He's more powerful a figure now if we only catch glimpses of him. We know he's out there pulling the strings. Our Saviors showed up for a small scene and were assholes like we'd expect. That's perfect. We can go a few episodes at a time without him.
Carol is still the most badass character on the show. This Carol acting job feels repetitious. It's like when people on Fear of the Walking Dead keep covering themselves with blood to avoid the walkers. This is an inherent problem of the show. There can't be a musical episode or flashback and it's unlikely we can have a funny one where Carl tries to take two girls on a date at the same time. Carol has used this technique in a variety of scenarios recently. I know she's always got a plan in the long run. I am just waiting for her to finish up here and go kick Rick's ass.
The less Morgan talks the more I like him. This was his best episode since his return. And was that a long sexual look at the gun in his hand?
"Don't Think Twice" is a wonderful Bob Dylan song but I don't want this show to fall into the bad habit of relying on slowed-down choral versions of songs to make up for actual storytelling. Save that for hospital dramas and police procedurals.
If this is building towards an Ezekiel-vs-Negan battle at the end of the season and not a Carol-vs.-Negan battle, then I feel like I'll be quite disappointed.
So "Wellllllll" because I don't really understand the bigger picture of where we are going, what is Ezekiel's deal? What is Carol's plan? Does any of this really matter when all we are thinking about is Negan. I always forgive this show the rare downtime for us to gather our wits. But I'm hoping that it wasn't a total waste.
Kim: I’m going to keep this short, because I feel like this whole side story should have been that way.
1.) King Ezekiel vs. Carol. You know, we just had the most brutal episode known to all The Walking Dead fans, and now you’re going to try a little light comedy? The opening tone of this episode seemed all wrong. My son and I watched this episode and spent the first 15 minutes glancing at each other and giggling. It didn’t feel right. In fact, after I was finished thinking "wtf is happening here," I got angry. I get that in the world of these people the horrible things we witnessed have not been discovered yet. But it almost felt like a slap in the face to take us from grieving to chuckling. The most enlightening part of the episode, and possibly the only thing worth taking from it, is Ezekiel and Carol's discussion. But the ending? Is he showing up with his tiger for some sexy time? I just don’t see where this is going.
2.) Morgan, Ben, and the rest of the town. Honestly, who the fuck cares? This blows because I really was so excited when Morgan came back and now I groan whenever he’s on screen. It’s not that I don’t like him, but he’s just not what I wanted. And what’s with the mailbox flag? I’m confused because what it seems to symbolize and what a mailbox flag being down means are kind opposites. The flag up means something is in there to be picked up, and when down, it means what you put in there is gone. Maybe the flag up was that there was a walker inside, and now there's not? Or am I reading way too much into something that they were sure to highlight in this episode? I don't know and I'm not sure I care.
3.) This should have been half of an episode. I got nothing out of this, other than the understanding that the Saviors are harassing this group as well. I already have the solution to the Negan issue. You combine the forces of Alexandria, the Kingdom, and Hilltop. You find some other groups that might be out there. You get together and you take out Negan. Problem solved. Why is this so hard?
To sum up, Rick and some of the gang are in Alexandria. Maggie and Sasha are on their way to Hilltop. Morgan and Carol are in The Kingdom. Daryl? Ugh! Who the hell knows where Daryl is. I mean, he’s with Negan and that douche swiller, Dwight, but I don’t think we’ll get much of him at all in the near future. This is the same problem I had with last season - our people are split up. And now, they’re split up four ways. This is going to drag and the real story that we want to get at is going to be reduced to less than half the season. I hope we get some resolutions or this is going to be painful, and not in the “I miss Abraham & Glenn” sense.
This is really all I have to say, as I yawned through most of the show. To quote Jerry, the only character whose presence enhanced my viewing pleasure (and therefore he will surely die in a few episodes), “Deuces!”