The Walking Dead
“New Best Friends”
February 19, 2017
Last we left our heroes, they were in a junkyard near the houseboat where they were unexpectedly surrounded by a large group of unfriendly faces. Not that Rick seemed to mind.
Rick introduces himself as his group’s leader to a strange alien creature with questionable bangs:
Oh, honey, who did that to you?
Anyway, Bangs here explains to Team Rick that her group now “owns” Team Rick’s lives, but they can buy them back. Rick demands to see Father Gabe first, and as they bring him out, Rick is like, “So, let’s use some logic here: if y’all took Father Gabe and our pantry supplies, then you know that we don’t have any supplies left to give you in exchange for our lives. And in fact, the reason we took those supplies from the houseboat in the first place was because our lives have already been bought by this other group of assholes called the Saviors. If we don’t show up and turn over said supplies, they’re going to come looking for them, and then they’re going to find you and you’re not going to like them. So instead, how about we team up together, Team Rick and Team Junkie, and take the fight to the Saviors?”
But Bangs is like, “LOL, NOPE.”
Team Junkie begin closing in on Team Rick. Struggle struggle fight struggle, and Father Gabe of all people, manages to grab a dude’s knife and take a hostage. Father Gabriel pleads with Bangs and the Junkies: the Saviors have tons of stuff and thangs — food, weapons, vehicles — and if they join forces, Team Junkie can have some of the Saviors’ stuff and thangs!
Bangs is all, “Nah, we want stuff and thangs now.” So Father Gabe is like, “OK, that’s cool! Rick can get you stuff and thangs right now! Right, Rick?”
So Bangs orders her people to take Rick to something called the “Up, Up Up” — otherwise known as “the top of the junkpile.” There, Bangs explains that they don’t bother people they just take thangs and stuff. But who knows, maybe it’s time to adapt. But before they commit to helping Team Rick, she needs to know that Rick is worthy. And with that, she shoves Rick into a Sarlacc pit where Rick meets his new best friend, Winslow.
Fight fight impale hand on Winslow’s helmet fight until Michonne yells to Rick to use the walls of the Sarlacc pit. Rick yoinks on the bags of stuff and thangs which collapse onto Winslow, pinning him down, and with that, Rick dispatches the most imaginative walker we’ve had on this show in a while, maybe ever.
Impressed, Team Junkie lowers a rope down to Rick, and Bangs informs him what she wants: guns, and lots of them. Team Junkie isn’t joining this fight until they get half of “lots” of guns. Rick counters that they’ll give them a third of “lots” of guns, and they eventually agree to a third “lots” of guns and that Team Rick keeps half of the supplies they took from the houseboat, although what a third or a half of “lots” is remains unanswered.
Bangs reveals that they waited by the houseboat for a long time before Rick and Aaron came along and got the supplies off of it for them; which hardly seems fair — why should they get any of the houseboat supplies if they were too pussy to go get them themselves? But Rick just kind of shrugs this information off, he’s too pleased with himself for playing Let’s Make a Deal with Bangs. And with that — but not with a handshake, because Bangs thinks she’s too good to shake Rick’s bloodied hand even though BITCH, YOU LIVE IN A TRASH DUMP — Team Junkie returns their weapons and hands back over half of the supplies.
As they pack their car, Father Gabriel reveals what happened to him: one of Team Junkie jumped him in the pantry and forced him to take everything, having missed their opportunity to take it off of Rick and Aaron when they took it off the houseboat originally. Father Gabriel thanks Rick for having faith in him, and Rick’s like, “Hey, man, everything happens for a reason.”
And then there’s some mild bickering between Tara and Rosita about whether they should immediately go looking for guns or head directly back to Alexandria, blah, who cares. The point is, Tara can save them all some time by telling them where to not bother looking for guns, right? RIGHT, TARA? BECAUSE YOU DEFINITELY KNOW WHERE THERE ARE NO GUNS, RIGHT?
Rick then grabs some junkyard cat art for Michonne to “replace the one [she] lost,” which is a reference to this nonsense:
Meanwhile, over at the Kingdom, King Ezekiel, Morgan and some knights, including Richard, Jerry and that Benjamin kid who is going to get his fool self killed, meet the Saviors for a supplies pickup. That one asshole Savior who picked a fight with Richard last time they met up demands Richard’s gun. This ends in a good old fashion stand-off until That One Asshole Savior lunges at Richard, and Morgan whacks him with his Jedi stick. That One Asshole Savior swipes the Jedi stick, and hits Morgan and Richard with it, prompting Benjamin to hit That One Asshole Savior with his own padawan stick. Just a lot of stick hitting happening.
The Savior-in-Charge calls an end to it, but demands that King Ezekiel stop bringing Richard to the pick-ups. As the Saviors take their leave, Morgan asks for his Jedi stick back, but That One Asshole Savior is all, “I mean, you’re kidding, right?”
When the group returns to the Kingdom, Daryl asks Morgan about their little expedition and Morgan is like, “I mean, it yes, it was the Saviors, and yes, they smacked me around a little, but you really don’t need to worry about it.” Daryl is not having it, and notes that if Carol were here she’d make ALL OF THE SAVIORS LOOK AT THE FLOWERS. Morgan is all, “Yep, and that’s why she left.”
Daryl then visits with Richard who is practicing his archery skills, and who offers Daryl a new crossbow, which is a very nice thing to do!
Then Richard leads Daryl to his milk bottle trailer where they pick up a few bottles which are full of explosives, not milk. From there, Richard and Daryl head out to the highway where Richard reveals his plan:
Step 1: They wait for some Saviors to drive by, attack them with the molotov cocktails and guns, leave them for other Saviors to find.
Step 2: The Other Saviors search the area and find a weapon cache at this one crazy hermit lady’s house, they kill her.
Step 3: King Ezekiel, who is fond of this crazy hermit lady, finds dead crazy hermit lady, announces he wants to go to war with the Saviors.
Daryl is all, “… … … … … … … … … wait, what’s this crazy hermit lady’s name again?” Eventually, Richard admits that it’s Carol and Daryl is NOT. INTERESTED.
As some cars approach, Richard is ready to implement Plan Kill Carol, but Daryl is NOT. INTERESTED. Fight fight fight fight fight fight fight fight which eventually ends in yet another stand-off. Daryl finally informs Richard that if Carol so much as catches a fever, he’s a dead man.
AND YOU BEST HEAR HIM, RICHARD, BECAUSE DARYL DOES NOT PLAY.
Meanwhile, King Ezekiel and his bros try to deliver a cobbler to Carol who is all, “GAH, LEAVE ME ALONE.” And she has just settled down to enjoy a good book when there is another knock at the door, except this time it’s Daryl on her doorstep and Carol is completely verklempt. Then they hug and then he asks why she left and then she says that she had to AND OH MY GOD NOW I’M COMPLETELY VERKLEMPT, WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME.
That evening in her cottage, Carol cooks Daryl a little soup and explains that she couldn’t bear to lose anyone else, but she also couldn’t kill anymore — if she did, there would be nothing left of her. Carol then asks if the Saviors hurt anyone, and Daryl ~OH MY GOD, MY HEARRRRRRT~ Daryl, he lies to her and tells her everyone back home is safe.
Later, Daryl vists with Shiva, which is where Morgan finds him. Daryl notes that any guy with a pet tiger can’t be all that bad which, no, at least that’s not how it works here in Texas where any idiot with a death wish and a thousand bucks can have a pet tiger (Texas has the world’s second-largest tiger population after India — TRUE FUCKING INSANE FACT).
But I digress. The point is, Daryl tells Morgan that he found Carol, before asking Morgan to help him convince King Ezekiel to help with Team Rick’s war on the Saviors. But Morgan declines, prompting Daryl to lash out at Morgan: whatever he’s hanging onto, it’s already gone. In response, Morgan notes that he and Daryl are more alike than he thinks: in fact, he knows Daryl didn’t tell Carol what happened because she’d be here ready to fight if he had. “YEAH, WELL, YOU GOT ME THERE,” Daryl doesn’t say.
And the next morning, Daryl heads out for Hilltop: it’s time to start getting ready for what comes next.
A Carol and Daryl reunion, Shiva the tiger, a gladiator walker, some crazy-ass newcomers with bad hair, Jerry! THAT’S how you do an episode of The Walking Dead! Look, the mid-season premiere, it wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great, either. This episode, however, was fun, it moved the story along and no one but a very cool walker had to die to make it happen. Don’t get me wrong, death is coming — and coming probably for that Benjamin kid, Sasha, either Eric or Aaron, maybe that Richard dude — and it will be kinda sad (but not really). But in the meantime, we, and the characters, finally get to have a little fun.
Obviously the emotional high point of the episode was the Carol and Daryl reunion — Daryl choosing to lie to his friend to protect her was a genuine gut punch that truly felt earned –something that you can’t necessarily say about every development on this show. And if I could just talk about their relationship for a moment: there are plenty of “Caryl” shippers, folks who want Carol and Daryl to have a romantic relationship. But personally, I find it much more interesting that the show has resisted this obvious development, choosing instead to focus on their platonic relationship — a relationship that is far deeper and more profound than most romantic relationships on television shows. It’s easy to manufacture sexual energy between a heterosexual couple; it’s much more difficult to create a believable friendship between members of the opposite sex, one that is deep and respectful and equal, but by golly, The Walking Dead has done that here.
The other thing I wanted to point out in this episode is Rick’s Minotaur moment. As I am sure you know, the Minotaur in Ancient Greek mythology was a half-man, half-bull beast who was kept in the center of the Labyrinth of Crete. Every year, Minos, the King of Crete, would demand a tribute from Athens of seven Athenian boys and seven Athenian girls all of whom would be thrown into the Labyrinth to become Minotaur feed. However, one year one of the tributes was Theseus, the son of the King of Athens. Minos’ daughter fell in love with Theseus, and gave him a ball of twine before he entered the Labyrinth so that he could find his way back out again. Theseus decapitated the Minotaur with his father’s sword (or he strangled it, depending on which version you read) and managed to lead the other tributes back out of the Labyrinth, hooray.
The Minotaur and the Labyrinth have long represented our dualistic nature, our subconscious and the terror of exploring what lies within ourselves. Here, Rick faces his own Minotaur, a creature that is human, but not, and manages to defeat it saving his fellow potential sacrificial victims (decaptitating it in the process). He even emerges from the pit via rope, a la Theseus. And what is interesting about all of this is that in this moment, Rick not only proves his worth to the Junkies, he proves his worth to himself. It’s a turning point for Rick, a moment when the man who he had previously been before battles his inner demons and wins, literally and figuratively pulling himself out of a pit of despair and hopelessness.
But there is another interpretation of the Minotaur in the Labyrinth — a political one. In the myth, Theseus returns to Athens where he becomes King, ushering a new age for the city-state. Theseus becomes a unifying king; it’s a foundation-hero story. Thus, the myth is thus interpreted by some historians to represent the period in history when Athens, a fledgling city-state, rose up against the predominant political power in the Aegean Sea at the time, Crete, who would demand tributes of some fashion from their weaker neighbors. Similarly, you’ll notice that Rick is trying to bring together disparate city-states to break away from an oppressor to whom they owe unreasonable tributes. And like any good hero, he just completed his first challenge on that road to do so.
The Walking Dead airs at 8/9 p.m. on Sundays on AMC and never turns down cobbler.