The Walking Dead
“Dead or Alive or”
March 11, 2018
Hi! I’m not going to bore you with why I am so late with these posts (spring break, large family event at my house, multiple guests in out of town for several days, The Real Housewives of New York, my DVR DYING IN THE MIDDLE OF ALL OF THIS WIPING OUT ALL THE EPISODES I HAD SAVED UP), I’m just going to promise to do my best to catch up with all the episodes I’ve missed before this weekend’s finale.
So what have we got here, the 11th episode out of 16, which means that once I’ve posted this, I have only 4 more to do before Sunday?
Mother dick. I mean, I CAN DO THIS.
Let’s begin this episode with the B Storyline: Exodus to Hilltop. Daryl, Rosita, and Tara have been tasked with leading the surviving Alexandrians — including Survivor turncoat Dwight — to Hilltop, which, as it turns out, is easier said than done. With the Saviors out looking for their group and Father Gabriel and Dr. Carson who escaped several episodes ago, they can’t just walk down the road to join Maggie and her people. Instead, they have to stick to the woods and be vewy vewy quiet.
On their stroll through the forest, a walker stumbles towards them, which Tara grabs and flings onto an injured Dwight, with an insincere “whoops.” Dwight manages to fend it off, but NOT COOL, TARA.
Somewhere further down the road, the group takes a break and Tara has a tantrum that Dwight is still alive. And for what feels like the umpteenth time, Daryl and Rosita explain that if there’s even a small chance that he can help them get to Hilltop, they can’t kill him. Yet.
Daryl, Rosita, and Tara consult a map, trying to figure out the safest way to Hilltop, and Dwight is like, “You know, Negan thoroughly scoped out this entire area and determined that the swamp is too dangerous and not worth the risk. So maybe you risk it?”
When she notices that Daryl is actually considering this, Tara is like, “YOU’RE GOING TO TRUST THIS ASSHOLE? ARE YOU SURE?” But Dwight argues that one of his fellow Saviors — one who escaped — saw him kill other Saviors and knows that he has turned Team Rick. If he were to return to the Sanctuary, his head would be on a pike. Daryl and Rosita have seen for themselves what Negan does to traitors. And they are both like, “I mean, he makes a point …”
They make their way to the swamp, Dwight explaining to Daryl that he hopes to find Sherry, you know, the woman who released Daryl?
They finally arrive at the swamp which, predictably, is filled with swamp zombies. Daryl, Rosita, and some other Alexandrians volunteer to clear it before leading the rest through, while Tara volunteers to watch Dwight. “I WON’T KILL HIM, I SWEAR.”
As soon as the more rational adults leave, Tara spots some walkers in the woods and calls for a volunteer to help her while throwing a knife at Dwight. And Dwight does his duty all the while Tara hangs back with her gun, clearly hoping he gets himself bitten. Dwight is like, “Dude, I am really sorry about Denise, and I do not expect you to forgive me. I just need you to know. Also, too, I fucking hate Negan, but for real though.”
Tara explains that he doesn’t get to just change sides …
… and begins chasing him through the woods, shooting at him. Dwight manages to evade her until she finally chases him out onto a road leaving him no place to hide. However, before she can finally be done with him, a Savior patrol arrives, forcing them to hide in the bushes nearby.
As the Saviors get closer, Dwight jumps out of the bushes, and is all, “HEY, GUYS, WHAT’S UP!” The Saviors are surprised to see him, having written him off as dead, and he’s like “Oh no, I escaped, and spent the night hiding in the woods. Saaaaay … have any of you seen Savior Laura who may or may not have seen me last night?” But they’re like, “No, dude, haven’t seen her.” And Dwight’s all, “Oh, cool cool cool,” before taking a gun off of one of them and being like, “Hey, we should look for the Alexandrians over here and definitely not over in the swamp because I am 100% positive there is nothing to see over there and we shouldn’t waste our time looking for the Alexandrians because if there is one place they are not it is the swamp.” And the Saviors are all like, “Sounds good, Boss.”
Meanwhile, Tara is all:
When Tara gets up to join the rest of the group, she finds Rosita behind her who explains that she saw Tara chasing Dwight through the woods, but knew she wasn’t going to be able to stop her.
Back at the Alexandrians’ meeting spot, Daryl is SO ANGRY Dwight escaped, but Tara explains that he led the Saviors away, that he saved them. BUT DARYL DOESN’T WANT TO HEAR IT, GOD DAMMIT.
While all of this is happening, Maggie is dealing with diminishing rations at Hilltop (so what she DEFINITELY needs right now are a bunch of hungry Alexandrians showing up with their hands out).
She goes outside where that weasel Gregory is like, “Hey, Maggie, I’ve totally learned my lesson, can I be released from jail now?” But Maggie is all, “Bitch, please.” That one Nice-ish Savior is like, “I mean, would it kill you to allow us a little time outside of the pen for good behavior? Maybe let us get some exercise or sit in the shade for five minutes?” But Maggie’s like, “I SAID, ‘BITCH, PLEASE,'” before announcing that she’s cutting off the prisoners’ rations. Her people have to come first. Nice-ish suggests that she doesn’t have to do this, but Maggie is like, “WHAT PART OF ‘BITCH, PLEASE,’ DID YOU NOT UNDERSTAND?”
Also in Hilltop are Carol and Morgan who are debating whether or not to tell that kid which Savior killed his brother. Carol doesn’t want to tell him because JESUS CHRIST, HE’S JUST A KID; Morgan is in favor of telling him because fuck it all, burn the whole thing down.
Soon after, the Alexandrians arrive and OH RIGHT, Hilltop didn’t know about Carl until just now, so everyone has a sad. When Kid asks about how Carl died, Carol explains he died being nice, that in the middle of all this mess, he went out of his way to help a stranger.
So Morgan is like, “SIGH. FINE. Listen, Kid, that one Savior, Gavin, the guy you killed? He’s the one who killed your brother. So yay, you got him, buddy, no need to worry about that anymore. NOW IF Y’ALL WILL EXCUSE ME, I’M GOING TO GO SHARPEN MY STICK AND FANTASIZE ABOUT JOINING A GROUP OF SURVIVORS SOMEWHERE IN TEXAS.”
Elsewhere, Maggie meets Siddiq who asks if they have an infirmary, he’d like to get to work helping people with all of his medical experience. So Maggie is like, “SIGH. FINE. The prisoners can have exercise time and medical attention and quarter rations.” Cowardly suggests that they evacuate before the Saviors arrive, and she’s like, “NOT NOW, BITCH.” And then Rick’s arrival is announced.
But that will have to wait for a later episode because the A (and C) storyline of this episode is all about Father Gabriel and Doctor Carson’s road trip. Having fled the Sanctuary, these two manage to get themselves lost, and Father G is a useless navigator, what with his eyes completely red and infected and disgusting. But Gabriel is one of those irritating people of faith who is all, “We are on the right path even if we are on the wrong road.”
After they pull over so that Dr. Carson can get a better look at Gabriel’s disgusting eyeballs — and worry that Father G is in no condition to travel aimlessly into zombie-filled woods — the car won’t start again. After they dispatch a walker with a chain curiously on its ankle, they hear what sounds like a bell coming from the forest and following the sound, they find a cabin in the woods. “Yay!” says Father Gabriel. “I don’t have a good feeling about this,” says Dr. Carson.
But they head in anyway, discovering that it is the abandoned home of a radio operator. Gabriel is hopeful that the homeowner might have helped some people or maybe found a group to join, but then Dr. Carson finds the reanimated corpse of their host in a bedroom, and is like, “Yeah, nah.”
Still, in the bedroom, they also find a gun and some antibiotics, so Father Gabriel is able to start being smug again. His smugness is not helped when his fever begins receding and during a lecture about how God led them to this place, he accidentally knocks over a piggy bank which breaks open, revealing a set of car keys and a map.
Excited that they are only a couple of miles away from Hilltop, they head out to the garage, only to have Dr. Carson walk directly into a field of bear traps and walkers. His leg gets caught in a trap, and a walker falls on top of him, leaving him his only hope a blind man and a gun.
But whaddya know, Father Gabe gets lucky and manages to hit the zombie on top of Dr. Carson and not Dr. Carson himself. Hooray! So they load up into the car, but before they can pull out, the Saviors have found them. Boo!
And even as they are being loaded into the Saviors’ truck, this asshole is still talking about how God is leading the way, and Dr. Carson apparently has seen the light because he is like, “You’re right!” before lunging for one of the Saviors’ guns. This gets Dr. Carson’s dumb ass shot and killed. GREAT PLAN, GOD.
Meanwhile, at the Sanctuary, Negan calls Dr. Mullet in to discuss the missing doctor and priest, and to promise that he will get to the bottom of what happened. In the meantime, he’s giving Dr. Mullet his own outpost: the machine shop, where Dr. Mullet and his team will make bullets for the Saviors.
There, Dr. Mullet gets busy making bullets and treating the member of Negan’s harem who has been assigned to help him like shit. SHE JUST WANTS TO LEARN HOW TO MAKE A BULLET, DR. MULLET. JUST BECAUSE SHE’S A WOMAN DOESN’T MEAN SHE IS INCAPABLE OF DOING THAT, EUGENE.
#METOO, FRANKIE. #METOO.
That’s when Negan bursts in with Father Gabriel and news on how the escape went down: according to Father Gabe, it was all Dr. Carson. And now because Father Gabriel is too blind to do anything else, Negan is putting him to work in Dr. Mullet’s shop sorting bullet casings.
Dr. Mullet informs Negan that thanks to a lack of supplies he doesn’t have too many bullets made at the moment. But until he can craft some, he suggests that Negan wage psychological warfare on his enemies by catapulting body parts over their walls. Negan is inspired.
Negan calls out the Saviors — including Dwight — to the yard where he explains that they are going to cover their weapons in walker goo. Presumably, one cut or scratch will infect their enemy and they won’t need as many bullets to attack Hilltop. Hilltop will learn to toe the line, “dead, alive or some kind of shit in between.”
OK OK OK, I don’t have much time so I’m not going to dwell too much on any one episode, especially one that feels so … I hate to use the word “obvious” but here we are. This was your classic — and rather heavy-handed — debate between faith and reason; everything happens for a reason vs. the universe is chaos; fate vs. you make your own luck; hope versus hopelessness.
Maggie, Morgan, and Tara are all set in their minds in their own negative places, angry and hopeless. However, by the end of the episode, each of them is presented with reasons to change their minds and hang on. Maggie is delivered Siddiq; Morgan the story of Carl’s sacrifice; and Tara bears witness to Dwight’s sincerity and sacrifice. It’s not just that he led the Saviors away from the Alexandrians — it’s that Dwight did so without knowing what the consequences for his own life would be.
And then there is Father Gabriel, who at the end of the episode, appears to be just the opposite of Morgan, Tara, and Maggie. He doesn’t find a reason to hope; instead, he is broken, upset not just that his faith didn’t bear out the way he expected, but that his faith may have led to the community’s one doctor (that he knows of) being killed.
However, there is a very nice theory out there (that is absolutely not mine), that Father Gabriel is serving as a Samson character, and that in the end his faith will ultimately be rewarded.
You know Samson, the guy from the Old Testament with the hair? He was one of the ancient Israelite judges known for his incredible strength (and who also bears a very uncanny resemblance in folklore to Hercules, among other famous strong men). His story is that he pissed off a bunch of Philistines by generally acting like an asshole and treating them like garbage, killing them for their clothes, setting their fields on fire with tortured foxes and, perhaps worst of all, making up terrible, unsolvable riddles that he demanded they answer to make them look like dummies.
Eventually, the Philistines have had enough of his bullshit and they convince Delilah to learn the secret of his strength. Samson being a dumb dummy seduced by a pretty face eventually tells her that it’s his hair: that as a Nazirite, he made an oath to God to never cut his hair. And the minute he falls asleep, she has a servant shave it off. He is then subsequently caught by the Philistines who blind him and take him back to Gaza to work at a mill.
Later, the Philistines are planning a big sacrifice to one of their Gods in thanks for delivering Samson to them, and they bring him into the temple to … well, not watch, but to be present. Some 3,000 Philistines are there to gawk at Samson, and as he’s brought into the temple, he asks to be allowed to rest against one of the pillars. There, he prays for strength, and God is like, “in the name of killing some Philistines? GRANTED!” And Samson tears knocks down the temple, killing everyone inside, including himself. And that’s why he’s a big Old Testament hero: because he’s a mass killer.
ANYWAY. The point here is that at the end of the episode, the blind Father Gabriel is feeling his faith tested. But there’s still a chance that he was right all along and God was leading him exactly where he is supposed to be — in the temple of the Philistines — where he can destroy it from within. I GUESS WE’LL FIND OUT SUNDAY.
Alright! On to the next one!
The Walking Dead airs on AMC on Sundays at 8/9 p.m.