Wait, seriously? We skipped watching Westworld for that?
Last night, we checked back in with Carol and Morgan, the Saviors turn up in the most expected places, and … okay. Wait. Holy shit. Did a goddamn post-apocalyptic Renaissance Faire just show up in my Walking Dead?
Yes. Yes it did.
If there's one thing this show has raised to an art form, it's the ability to destroy its own momentum almost entirely in the space of a single episode, and last night was no exception. Fresh off last week’s homerun derby, we were presented with a minor-league snooze-fest.
Chris Hardwick—the Ryan Seacrest of nerd culture—tried to reason with us on The Talking Dead afterwards, saying that after the season premiere’s carnage, this slower episode was exactly what we needed. I’m not sure about you, but last we checked, the people willingly tuning their televisions to an apocalyptic zombie show understand what they’ve signed up for.
There’s going to be chaos. And blood. And death.
So, Chris Hardwick, I’m sorry, but just no. Don’t keep letting the middling writers get away with it—more episodes like this and they’re going to find out just how quickly the fans will throw up two fingers and say “deuces.”
From displays of dominance to faction elimination, a look at which characters saw their prospects rise this week.
Joe Brosnan: Morgan
While most of us were relating to Carol as we were dragged through The Kingdom’s walking tour, Morgan was standing there with eyes full of wonderment. I will admit, the whole “I don’t kill” shtick (where you at, Jerry) is getting pretty played out by now. I feel like his mantra is incomplete. “I don’t kill innocents” is fine. “I don’t kill anyone before a proper examination of their intentions” works too. “I don’t kill unless my life or an innocent life is in danger” is probably the best option. But to live in that world and blanket it with a ban on killing is simply foolish.
So why make him a riser? Easy. Because somehow, despite his idiotic beliefs, he’s stumbled into what seems like the perfect situation for him. He’s respected. He’s surrounded by like-minded people. And he’s got unlimited access to cobbler. That’s one hell of a rise if you ask me.
Pritpaul Bains: Shiva
Yeah, Ezekiel's the king and all, but we all know who's pulling the strings behind the scenes—Ezekiel admits as much in his refreshingly candid speech to Carol. Were Shiva ever to lose her composure, turn on Ezekiel, and run wild in the Kingdom, she could do as much damage as a zombie horde ever could. But she doesn't, and this mutual respect and understanding between her and Ezekiel is the foundation of their collective strength. Ultimately, yes, Shiva is only a symbol of the power that Ezekiel actually holds, but without her, he'd be powerless.
Now let's get to the first damn tiger kill already. We all know it's going to be spectacular.
Adam Wagner: Glenn
Sure, Glenn’s last few moments on this cursed Earth might have been a brutal ending that was full of pain, terror, and sadness (and one Alastor Moody eye to rule them all), but at least he didn’t have to watch this week’s episode. And with next week more than guaranteed to be this season’s dedicated all-Daryl, all-grunting-and-brooding 1-hour extravaganza, maybe the sweet relief of death’s cool embrace is a desired ending.
I found myself doing my best Headless Glenn impression this week—my finger twitching uncontrollably while trying to find the remote to turn it back to baseball.
From poor decisions to lost lives, a look at which characters lost ground this week.
Hail to the king, baby!
Not only is Carol’s mental stability in question (it was like a weird bizarro-world horror movie where the monsters appear as normal people?), but her little oh-so-innocent act ain’t flying here. Carol’s a one-trick pony in a world with a mothafucking tiger. Sure, she sort of got what she wanted in the end, but King Ezekiel has her number. I’m anxious to see how this all develops.
It has to be Carol, right? Or is it the writers (again)? Because goddammit, we all know there's no way Carol would ever have issues with killing walkers because of something so stupid as flashing back to their human selves while they try to devour her.
Helpless wheelchair-bound Carol continues to be hilarious to watch, but her act isn't as convincing as it used to be—or Ezekiel's considerably more perceptive than the usual idiots she deals with. Ezekiel sees through Carol's facade in no small part due to the fact that he puts on his own, daily.
I really do hope this is the last we see of Carol's faux introspection and misgivings, especially because they don't seem particularly viable or realistic to me. Melissa McBride is most captivating to watch as a capable, vengeful badass. Let's keep it that way, okay?
JB: Negan’s Crew
Somewhere up in zombie heaven, Bob is laughing his head off and screaming TAINTED MEAT!
It was refreshing to see that Negan and his group aren’t as invulnerable as they seemed last week. If I had to guess, I’d say that Negan isn’t going to be all too happy with Jared for punching Richard in the face. Negan wants these groups to pay their rations with the understanding that if they do, they’ll be safe. If his men start roughing up the ones who are behaving, then a revolt would be inevitable. The trailer for next week showed a lot of Negan’s camp, so I’m betting we’ll see what happens when you disobey his orders.
A tribute to the late, great Hershel Greene, this section searches for the best displays of humanity amidst chaos this week.
As bizarre and semi-psychotic as the kingly theatrics are, it seems that Ezekiel is legitimately a good dude. And he’s sharp too—seeing right through Carol’s fake timidity. Ezekiel was given the chance to better the lives of many, and he’s taken on that task most nobly. And, as evidenced by the pork exchange, he’s also capable of attempting to problem solve in a way that doesn’t lead to unnecessary violence. While I certainly don’t want to spend any more full episodes in The Kingdom, I won’t be complaining (too much) when we’re with Ezekiel.
King Ezekiel is the easy choice here—he seems to care about his people and creating a decent life in this crazy world. Shades of Hershel himself showed when he told Carol he cared because it makes him feel good.
However, we don’t know the His Majesty’s end game. Could he be out Carol-ing Carol?
No, this week’s Hershel’s Hero is Richard. After sticking up for himself and his gang, he was ordered to stop fighting. And instead of pummeling Ginger Macaulay Culkin into oblivion, he did as he was told, held his ground, and took his hits. It’s hard to question his loyalty and even harder to resist punching that pig-squealing punk.
The Kingdom's unofficial jester provides some much-needed levity to the apocalypse and all those around him—and let's be real, this show could use every drop of humor it can get right now. Constant grimdark and violence can only take you so far—just ask DC.
Sure, Ezekiel dropping his persona and going all real talk with Carol is a worthy choice here as well, but I'll take the guy who can make you laugh in a tough spot. Ezekiel may be top dog (or top cat—yeah, yeah, shut up. Jerry would approve of that pun) … only because Jerry's the hero the Kingdom deserves, but not the one it needs right now.
- “Well said.” You can stay, Jerry. “It's fruit time.” I'm going to like you, Jerry. (PB)
- Boo to King Ezekiel for missing an opportunity to convince Morgan to train Blake beacuse he needed the boy as part of his “staff.” Where’s Jerry when ya need him!? (AW)
- What happened to Carol? She used to be so cool and badass, but now she’s just depressing. You’re not the only one who’s suffered. Get your shit together. (JB)
- I'll say it. I kind of love The Kingdom. So that means the countdown is now officially on until they're all slaughtered mercilessly. (PB)
- Zombie pig. Zombie pig. Does whatever a zombie pig can. (JB)
- Who would win in a fight between Shiva and Lucille? #NeganPlease (AW)
- Metaphorical. Pomegranates. Fuck yes. (PB)
- Next week: Zombie obstacle course! Daryl gets his face pressed up against a fence! Tune in. It can't be any less riveting. (PB)
Zombie Kill of the Week
Death-by-knight/sliced-face walker. Because obviously.