‘The Walking Dead’: Familiar ground

The Walking Dead
“The King, the Widow, and Rick”
November 26, 2017

This episode, strangely enough, begins with a bunch of our characters receiving and sending letters to one another, updating each other on the situation as it stands: Carol’s letter to …? explains that errrrrrrybody in the Kingdom is dead; Maggie’s letter to …? details the Hilltop’s new prisoner situation; and Rick’s letter to … ? assures the reader that the plan is working and he’ll meet everyone at the Sanctuary in two days to finish it. And now that everyone is conveniently caught up on everything despite the fact that aside from Aaron delivering Rick’s letter to Maggie, I have no idea how the other letters arrived to their recipients, onto actually doing things.

Let’s start with Hilltop:

Jesus’ Savior friends are chained up outside of Hilltop’s walls, awaiting Maggie’s decision about what to do with them. While they wait, Jesus passes out turnips …

homer mmmm
Mmmmm …. raw turnips …

… to which Maggie is all, “THE HELL?” Mayor McCowardly, playing the devil on Maggie’s shoulder to Jesus’ angel, is like, “WE SHOULD JUST HANG THEM ALL.” Maggie sends Mayor McCowardly back inside and bitches at Jesus for putting this imposition on Hilltop, but Jesus argues that they have to be better than Negan and the Saviors, because “Jesus.”

Inside Hilltop, Mayor McCowardly continues his “KILL ‘EM ALL” campaign, arguing that now that she’s the leader, the shepherd of Hilltop, Maggie can’t allow wolves among the sheep.

That night, Jesus peeks inside the Hilltop walls and sees that there is some sort of construction project underway. Some Savior whose name apparently is “Dillon” tries to be all, “Hey man, I just joined the Saviors for the free stuff and booze, I’m really not a bad guy,” but Jesus don’t care.

new girl i don't care but yay

The next morning, Jesus is ordered to bring the Saviors inside to move into their brand new holding cells with their new roommate, Mayor McCowardly, because that guy is a straight-up asshole. Oh, and that one shitty Savior, the one who stole Morgan’s Jedi stick and killed Morgan’s teenage buddy, he tries to make a break for it, but Maggie pistol-whips him for his trouble.

Later, Shitty Savior tries to cut his hands free with a sharp rock, but Dillon knocks the rock out of his grasp. Shitty is like, “LOL, so what, we’re going to take over this place soon enough,” while Mayor McCowardly eavesdrops in on their conversation.

Inside, Jesus thanks Maggie for sparing the Saviors, but she’s like, “Don’t get too attached to them, I’m basically just using them as potential bargaining chips. Once they outlive their usefulness, they will literally outlive their usefulness, if you catch my drift. (I’m going to murder them all.)”

And then Aaron has a sad about losing Boyfriend, and Maggie “comforts” him by being like, “Yeah, it doesn’t get any easier.” Of course, Glenn has only been dead for a hot second, so MAYBE GIVE YOURSELVES SOME TIME TO GRIEVE, Y’ALL.

Anyway, later, Aaron heads out … somewhere and Enid invites herself along. Road trip!

thelma and louise end holding hands suicide pact.gif

Over at the Kingdom, King Ezekiel is having a pout and not taking any visitors. Carol pleads with him through the theater doors, that they have to gather everyone still able to fight, but … nothing. That little kid is all, “I WANNA FIGHT!” but Carol tells him to buzz off.

Instead, he goes out into the woods and tries to get his fool self eaten by zombies. Carol saves him and then hands him a gun because that’s a good idea.

what could go wrong

When Carol and Kid return to the Kingdom, she’s prepared to blast her way inside the theater to see King Zeke, but Jerry’s like, “Dude, he’s unlocked the doors.” So Carol heads inside where she finds King Ezekiel feeling very sorry for himself, and whining that he can’t lead anyone anymore, wah and boo hoo.

Carol does not pull a Cher in Moonlighting and smack the shit out of him, but instead takes a gentler tack, asking him why he kept coming to visit her when she first joined them. He explains that she made him feel “real,” and Carol replies that he is real to her and to the people of the Kingdom and basically he just has to fake it until he makes it. But King Z is like, “Nope. No can do.”

As for Carl, he’s out wandering around in the woods, because Carl, where he finds a zombie impaled on a stake, swatting at a plastic bag caught in a tree above. That’s when his friend from the gas station appears and stabs the zombie in the back of the head. Carl offers Friend, whose name is actually Siddiq, some food and water, and explains that his dad really wasn’t shooting at him, they were just warning shots, sorry!

Carl then explains that he and his father live in a community and that he has three four questions for Siddiq:

  1. Q. How many walkers has he killed?
    A. 237, give or take.
  2. Q. How many people has he killed?
    A. 1.
  3. Q. Why?
    A. The zombies tried to kill him but didn’t quite finish the job.
  4. Q. The traps, is that how he has killed so many zombies?
    A. Yes, and he does it for his mother who believed killing them releases their souls.

That’s good enough for Carl, who invites Siddiq to Alexandria even though he knows his dad is going to be SUPER PISSED about it.

And on the way back, they stupidly get themselves in a stupid situation with some zombies for no good reason and Siddiq saves Carl, the end.

Back in Alexandria, Daryl and Tara bond over wanting to kill Dwight, and are like, “LET’S DO THIS THING!”

Meanwhile, Michonne decides that she needs to see the Sanctuary for herself, and Rosita comes along for the ride. On the drive over, they somehow manage to hear over their car engine some music playing in the woods and they pull over to investigate. The music is coming from a warehouse which they sneak into. There they overhear a pair of Saviors discussing their plan to use giant-ass speakers strapped to the back of a truck to lure the zombie herd away from the Sanctuary.

But then Michonne accidentally kicks a tennis ball in the Saviors’ direction, leading to an interminable chase sequence through the warehouse that ends with Rosita shooting an RPG at one Savior, vaporizing him, while the other Savior escapes from the warehouse with the speakertruck. Oh noes!

But then a Deus Ex Garbagetruck t-bones the speakertruck, from which Daryl and Tara emerge. Daryl shoots the driver, saving the day. Great, improbable timing, guys! And then Team Undermine Rick decide to go to the Sanctuary to assess the situation/fuck up Rick’s best-laid plans.

agreed shake on it.gif

As for Rick, he walks right into the Garbageplace, where he’s all, “Hey, guys! Guess what: we attacked the Saviors and it’s just a matter of time before Negan is dead, so I’m giving you another chance to join Team Rick.” But Haircut is like, “LOL NO,” and instead has Rick stripped to his panties and thrown into a boxcar for laffs.

Look, I don’t have much to say about this episode one way or the other — it was what could charitably be called a utilitarian episode, moving multiple storylines along, placing characters in position for the next stage of the story. It had a purpose that it served, and it was fine. It was fine! Not great —  with maybe the exception of Rosita’s badass RPG moment — but it was fine.

But one small complaint: was it intentionally, and at times painfully, repetitive? Haven’t we seen Carol struggle with children like ONE THOUSAND TIMES before? And hasn’t Carl found himself in trouble in the woods in pretty much every single episode? And has there been a season yet where a community’s leader (usually Rick) hasn’t experienced a crisis of confidence? And didn’t we visit the whole, “should we imprison them or kill them” question with Morgan and the Wolf?

We’ve certainly seen Rick trapped in boxcars before. And this is what leaves me slightly puzzled and hesitant to write these repetitions off as merely lazy writing. Haircut McGee marks Rick’s boxcar with a giant letter “A,” which was most definitely a reference to Team Rick’s time at Terminus. But to what end? Was it an easter egg? And if so, are the other elements above also easter eggs? The season opened with the 100th episode of the series, which they filled it with easter eggs from seasons past. Which, cool! OK! Great! But this is episode … 105? So I guess my question is, are we still doing easter the egg thing or are we just running out of plot ideas?



The Walking Dead airs on AMC on Sundays at 8/9 p.m.

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