Clearly The Walking Dead felt America hadn't eaten enough this Thanksgiving weekend, as it gifted viewers with a turkey of its own last night, accompanied by a heaping side of who the fuck cares?
On last night's episode, Tara washed up on what appeared to be the island from Lost, met a band of survivors hiding from
the Others the Saviors, jumped from timeline to timeline unnecessarily, and … well, that was about it. The showrunners subjected their long-suffering audience to yet another hour-long plotline that would have been best served as a 5-minute C or D storyline in an episode containing actual substance. If it feels like we're repeating ourselves here, it's because being shallow on substance is pretty much the only overarching theme TWD has managed to establish thus far into the season.
At least the title of the episode felt spot on, as we found ourselves swearing a lot this week.
From displays of dominance to faction elimination, a look at which characters saw their prospects rise this week
Joe Brosnan: Tara
So I might actually be on my own here, but I genuinely liked this episode. Sure, it could be that I was instantly transported back to the Land of Simpler TV: a place known for smoke monsters (nope, not Game of Thrones), the man in black (nope, not Westworld), and some pesky numbers (nope, not Numb3rs).
Watching television today is a group activity. We binge and tweet our way through seasons, nodding in unison when things are good and readying our pitchforks when storylines turn south. When there’s an especially good show, like Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones, we also incessantly theorize and analyze to the point of exhaustion. (The Color Theory, anyone?)
Television is the way it is today because of one show: Lost. I know it wasn’t perfect—though you’d be hard-pressed to find a better first two seasons of television anywhere, especially on a big-three network—but Lost was confusing. It jumped across time, locations, and dimensions. It created more questions than it ever answered. And it completely changed the landscape of primetime television forever.
So when Tara wakes up on the beach and finds a group of people living nearby, I couldn’t help but do my best Hurley impression and think “awesome, dude.” Sure, it might not have been the most traditional episode of The Walking Dead that we’ve seen, but it was fresh, provided insight into a heavily-armed potential new ally, and flushed out a character who gives us a nice break from the sociopathic others that we focus on so regularly.
Adam Wagner: Who?
This episode was filled with so much “Who?” and “Wait, what?” that I couldn’t honestly pick a riser. After enough episodes to forget Tara and Heath existed (who?), another new community (wait, what?), and a wide-eyed, fish-faced Alanna Masterson dominating the screen, this felt like a really shitty B-movie rather than an episode of one of TV’s highest-rated, most-loved shows.
I’m really not quite sure why TWD feels the need to give every side character their own hour (+) this season. Game of Thrones has like 3x the amount of characters, but they seem to understand that the show doesn’t need to spend 75 minutes following Lyanna Mormont around Bear Island to understand she’s a badass—less is more.
But if I had to choose, I suppose I’d give it to Who? for at least managing to stay alive despite the numerous things trying to kill her.
Pritpaul Bains: Do I Have To?
Ugh. Heath, then. For managing to find a way to barely be in this travesty of an episode.
From poor decisions to lost lives, a look at which characters lost ground this week.
Two weeks ago (in TWD time), Tara was nuzzling up with her doctor-girlfriend Denise safely behind the tall walls of Alexandria. Today, she returns on the run from a group of warrior fishmongers, unsure if her supply run-partner, Heath, is alive, only to find that Denise has been killed by the very group of people she thought they had defeated. Tara has yet to meet Negan, but something tells me that once she does, she’ll fill in the group on where exactly they can find a big cache of guns.
AW: Wait, what?
I know we found another community that has been wronged by the Saviors, but I’m not so sure that Tara didn’t just get Lost and end up in a coma-like fantasy where she happened to creep into an all-female community. I mean, you can’t actually die in a dream, and all those ladies seemed to shoot worse than storm troopers—how do you miss from close range with a shotgun?
All kidding aside: if this really is a new community as we were led to believe, their hidden lifestyle is about to get screwed. Guns? Check. Betrayed by the Saviors? Check. Methinks these ladies of the sea will soon be drawn back to the fighting.
PB: Child Actors Everywhere
Seriously, who the hell was that girl at the beginning of the episode? “Look! Another one!” “I want to!” Christ Almighty. If the intention here was to give me traumatic Lex/Tim and Edward Furlong flashbacks, then … well done, I guess. It took years for TWD to finally get Carl to an age where his acting evolved to “somewhat palatable.” Incorporating more child actors is a direction this show definitely does not need to go (take heed, Gleggie's unborn babe).
The best child actor ever on The Walking Dead remains the little zombie girl who got iced by Rick in the very first episode of the show because she got about 60 seconds of screen time, didn't say a goddamned word, then died.
A tribute to the late, great Hershel Greene, this section searches for the best displays of humanity amidst chaos this week.
Sticking with our fist-bumping main gal, everything you need to know about Tara was shown when she surprised Beatrice and got ahold of her shotgun. Tara could easily have killed Beatrice, but she knocked her out instead. In a world where murder has become a more common way to greet strangers than shaking hands, seeing Tara’s display of humanism solidifies, for me, that the hour we spent with her last night was worth every minute.
AW: Come again?
Little-Miss-Rebel-Teen is like the Morgan incarnate of the Lost community—carries a stick, is annoying about not killing to a fault, and believes in the good in people a little too much in a world filled with such savagery. However, after hearing/seeing the brainwashed little Children of the Corn constantly justify her murderous ambitions with “We’re eh-sposed to,” her silly speech about evil people felt genuine at least.
PB: Anyone Who Managed to Finish This Episode.
You're the real hero here.
- Little-Miss-Teen-Rebel should know that to really make a promise official, you have to lock pinky fingers and kiss your thumbs. (AW)
- “8 rusty cans of okra and a bottle of aspirin.” Sounds like a party to me, Heath. (PB)
- With all of these communities so closely located to Alexandria, it’s officially time to question Aaron’s people-finding skills. (JB)
- Similarly, how the heck did the Saviors never find Alexandria? (JB)
- “This is cool too. Let's just keep doing this.” Hot-diggety-dog, it looks like the dialogue writers are taking this season off. (PB)
- I know why they want to stay hidden. It’s to conceal the little sweatshop they’re running… (AW)
- Halfway through this episode, I decided to start reviewing commercials that are more interesting than this show. Looking at you, Apple's caroling Frankenstein. Nice work. (PB)
- Tara's middle finger to Rachel made me smile. Probably the only part of the episode that made me feel something. (PB)
- Look out Enid, there may be another teenage girl for Carl to eyeball. (AW)
- Insert cheap joke here about Tara plunging into that river harder than TWD's ratings this season. (PB)
- All this timeline jumping. Is TWD trying to posit itself as an exponentially shittier version of Westworld? (PB)
- Another week, another psychotic kid who doesn’t blink twice when confronted with the notion of death. I’m sensing a theme here. (JB)
- Next week: Negan reminds us who the Saviors are, because he understands that folks have probably lost the plot after all the filler bullshit they've dealt with in the last few weeks. Oh, and Ninja Jesus returns. (PB)
- Tara tried her best Carol impression at dinner—worked out about as well. (AW)
- The woodsy, cabin-based setting of this episode seems to be a bit of an homage to a particular chapter of Telltale's excellent Walking Dead video game series. (PB)
Zombie Kill of the Week
Spearfishing. Because even the walker kills were boring as fuck last night.