The Walking Dead Power Rankings 8.11: “Dead or Alive Or”

Things we learned from “Dead or Alive Or”: Gabriel is a Christian. Dwight is sorry. Tara doesn't care. Eugene is weird.

So basically … nothing.

Walking Tall

From displays of dominance to faction elimination, a look at which characters saw their prospects rise this week.

Pritpaul Bains: Maggie

Somehow, through all of this, and almost entirely in the background, Maggie has become the leader the apocalypse needs. She is what Carl hoped Rick and Negan could become. She's tough when she has to be. Her emotions still occasionally get the better of her, but she's still fundamentally guided by her sense of humanity.

Sure, in this episode, it took the news of Carl's death to remind her that it was still in there, somewhere, but she was able to take stock, re-assess, and have the confidence to change her mind upon reflection regarding her treatment of the prisoners. If that's not strong leadership, I don't know what is. The moment she shares with Enid at the end of the episode is incredibly sweet and only reinforces her strengths.

Joe Brosnan: Carl

In The Walking Dead, you either die the hero or you live long enough to see yourself star in a sloppily written melodrama that occasionally features zombies. Luckily for Carl, he got out of Dodge just in the nick of time. Rather than be butchered by lazy writers, Carl will forever be remembered fondly—all big hats and bravado. If you need proof of how poorly things could have turned out, just monitor the development of this random blonde boy we've been dedicating too much time to these past few weeks. I can smell the clichés from here.

Adam Wagner: Jesus

No, not the character. Savior Jesus. Well, not that kind of Savior. Actual Jesus! The Holy Trinity got more screen time this week than most the major players in the show. Gabriel talked about God and his faith with such childlike wonder it seemed as though he were actually a child who was convinced his dad was for real going to pick him up from school on his birthday and take him camping this year like he promised. Unfortunately, something came up…

Eaten Alive

From poor decisions to lost lives, a look at which characters lost ground this week.

PB: Gabriel's Faith

Doctor: "Follow my finger." Gabriel: "I only follow God."

While it was nice to see Gabriel again (a phrase I would never imagine writing 2 seasons ago), his entire world is turned upside down when he realizes that his lifelong faith has perhaps been misplaced (where was this doubt in the rest of the whole goddamned apocalypse?). While TWD approaches this particular angle with all the subtlety of a brick to the face (how many hamfisted references to “a higher plan” or “someone else leading the way” does it take before you throw something at your TV?), it should at least be interesting to see how coming to terms with this will impact Gabriel as a character going forward.

HM: Tara

Tara's (unfortunately) in no danger of dying anytime soon, but she's still a faller in my books for being such an idiot this week. There's a time and place to settle up with Dwight, girl, but this ain't it. Get over yourself.

HM #2: Henry

I'm fine with seeing where a pseudo-parent-son relationship involving Carol and Morgan goes. But Henry should never speak. Ever.

JB:  Doctor Dan

All I can think to say is that this is one truly stupid doctor. Don't pull a weapon on the heavily armed henchmen. That's Zombie Apocalypse Survival 101. I think Maggie lucked out not having to have this dumbass deliver her baby.

AW: Subtlety


Hershel’s Heroes

A tribute to the late, great Hershel Greene, this section searches for the best displays of humanity amidst chaos this week.

PB: Morgan

There are still some pretty major reasons to doubt Morgan's ability as a parent, but it was nice to see him defer to Carol re: telling Henry the truth about who killed his brother. It's the first sign we've seen in awhile that there may be hope for Morgan yet, and it's telling that Carol is the one who's able to tease it out of him. I could get on board with an angle that looks at Carol and Morgan in a badass/psychotic mom/pop dynamic.

JB: Dwight

If Dwight had chosen to turn on Tara and lead the Saviors towards them, could anyone have blamed him? He's risked just as much as anyone else, and to be chased at gunpoint is more than a little ridiculous. But Dwight kept his sights on his endgame and doubled down on exacting revenge on Negan. In my opinion, Dwight is easily the most interesting character in the show these days. Maybe we can team him up with Sidiq?

AW: The Writers

For taking the time to make sure everyone in the audience knew, in no uncertain terms, that Gabriel was a Christian. Apparently, a white collar and several seasons worth of him playing the role of a priest wasn’t explicit enough for most people still watching this show, so they graciously took most of an episode to really make sure they got their point across.

Rapid Fire

  • Hey, Eugene, can you lend me one of those bullets? I have a thing this upcoming Sunday at 9 p.m. that I'd like to get out of. (JB)
  • Gabriel’s faith ex machina almost won out … if it weren’t for those meddling kids God’s mysterious ways. (AW)
  • The fact that the writers continuously harped on Gabriel following God’s path and didn’t make the joke that “Jesus should take the wheel” when they were arguing about who was going to drive was a real let down. (AW)
  • Uh … should Gabriel really be the one leading the way through those woods if he's half-blind? (PB)
  • Must every scene involving Negan be drawn out and threatening? It's really getting old. (PB)
  • Anyone remember why the Hilltop's rations are low? Aren't they the producers? (PB)
  • Dwight continues to do what he's gotta do.  Would serve certain Alexandrians well if they tried to see the bigger picture. (PB)
  • Jeez, man. Give Eugene a little power and he goes full-on douchebag. (PB)
  • Uhhh … haven't we already established that slathering yourself in zombie guts and blood is actually an effective thing to do in this world to blend in? Are they planning to physically restrain the Hilltop folk and force them to chug zombie blood? Or mist it in some way? I guess dipping bullets in zombie blood might be effective as a poisoned shot of sorts, but I'm pretty sure there have been several instances of survivors with open wounds killing zombies or getting sprayed in the face with zombie innards, and not getting infected. Just another example of the show making up rules as it goes. I'd be more annoyed by this if I actually still cared. (PB)

Zombie Kill of the Week

Fungi walkers.

See also: The Walking Dead Power Rankings 8.09: “Honor”


Joe BrosnanAdam Wagner, and Pritpaul Bains all write for Criminal Element and love Spaghetti Tuesdays. Follow them on Twitter @joebrosnan_@shagner904, and @pritpaulbains, respectively.

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