* Major spoilers ahead
Who will save the Saviors?
Just like we already new it was going to be, this weeks episode was balls bursting with action. It’s been quite a while since we’ve seen team Rick have to deal with a human threat en-mass. In fact we haven’t seen this much contempt for the living since the Governor and that guy thought it would be a good idea to bring a fucking tank to a gun fight (it’s actually a really really great idea, I highly recommend it actually). So as we recap on all the shooting and stabbing in this weeks episode, I gotta ask whether this episode hit the mark, or did the point of this episode get lost in all the bloodshed instead?
1. Cookie Monster Carol
If last weeks episode was a secret Abraham episode wrapped in a thinly veiled plot, then this weeks episode was the not so subtle Carol episode, wrapped in a banquet of blood and violence (the only way I want my Carol episodes). Still I was a little surprised with the direction the show took Carol in, at the start of this episode. We are used to seeing the stay at home mum shtick by now, however this time it was very clearly real, Carol had gone full mum mode in Alexandria. It was interesting to see Carol settle down, even forming a relationship with the memorable Alexandria citizen ‘number 2’ (also known in the credits sometimes as Tobin).
I actually liked this little scene between Carol and Tobin. The latter characters opinions of Carol really helps to remind us of her defining character trait; Carol is a den mother and even after her actual daughter died, she never really stopped mothering. When you think about it, it really helps to explain how Carol can switch from “OMG are you ok?” to, “I’ll save the bullet and just use my knife” in a heartbeat, after all she has a flock to look after. This episode definitely made Carol’s internal struggle a lot clearer, you can almost see her switch gears after Rick tells reveals that the group will have to kill.
It seems like the guilt is finally catching up to Carol in a big way, we see her tally up all the people she has killed; ending with a final score of 18. I do wonder how long Carol has kept a tally, because if it’s something shes has always done then that adds even more layers to Carols characters, showing that she isn’t just the murder-bot we all thought she had become.
2. The group decide that mass murder is cool, so long as you do it hungry
Team Rick have been skating this fine line between good guys and survivors. I’m still not entirely sure if I am on board with Ricks thinking process for keeping the food. The show at times makes it feel like there is supposed to be a big internal group struggle about whether the gang should kill for there keep (having this discussion in a church also creates some imagery). But despite having all the pieces there, the scene never really erupted like I hoped it was going to. In fact it was mostly predictable; everyone was cool with the murder plan (even Father Gabriel), with the exception of Morgan ‘Killjoy’ Jones. The plan goes ahead anyway with Rick justifying it with Abraham, Sasha Daryl’s prior, rocket fulled encounter with the Saviors two episodes ago. It makes sense overall, but it just feels like they missed the opportunity for some great character drama.
I should also add that we tie up Abraham’s loose ends from the previous episode. Breaking up with Rosita, he declares that when they first met he thought she was the only girl left in the world… and now she isn’t (ouch). I don’t know about you guys but it feels like the show is singing Abraham and Carol’s death
3. Actually yes, good question Carol, why is Maggie here?
So team Rick formulate a plan, bringing some of the group with them and leaving others to hold the fort. Logic would likely dictate that the preggo Maggie should maybe sit this one out (well your logic ain’t worth shit in the Walking Dead anyway). Maggie tags along, explaining that she has to come, as it was her idea to make the deal wit Gregory in the first place. No one else thinks that this is a bad idea (even Glenn), no one else besides Carol that is; she wisely forces Rick to keep Maggie on watch with her and thus out of the fight.
Just around the corner, the rest of team Rick formulate a plan; since the Saviors want Gregory’s head in exchange for the kidnapped Hilltop member, they decide to fake it with a Walkers head (a fucking fool-proof plan if I do say so myself). Fortunately, Gregory Walker look-a-likes are apparently in hot supply, so much so that the group have there pick of the litter. With everything that is riding on the success of this mission, it seems like there is a huge chance for this plan to completely fall apart. Still it was worth it just to see Rick casually break the nose of the fake Gregory head for authenticity (and likely also for pleasure).
So the plan starts off really well, the Savior guards accept Gregory’s fake-out head (we’ll call him Fregory) and return the kidnapped Hilltop citizen. Once he’s in the clear the gang waste no time silently killing the guards, while under the cover of darkness and entering the facility. Now here is where shit gets interesting.
4. Natural born killers
Instead of a heroic shoot out against the apocalypse’s undesirables, the shoe is almost on the other foot; we are treated to a slow and painful crawl through the facility, as various Saviors are murdered in their sleep. It looks like team Rick have been playing a shit ton of Metal Gear Solid in there spare time, because honestly it’s pretty amazing how they didn’t wake a soul.It’s also pretty jarring to see team Rick in a position like this; I can’t quite decide if this is supposed to be an all time low, an act in desperation so to speak, or an elevation through the ranks of apocalypse badassary.
In an attempt to humanise the situation, Glen and Heath, two characters who had never killed another living character, are partnered up (sounds like an accident waiting to happen). So when it came to their time to kill, I was half expecting the show to preserve Glen’s murder virginity…they didn’t. In fact Glen kills two, sparing Heath from the grim task. It’s a great way to show how much team Rick have changed, it wasn’t many seasons ago that Rick had to fight off some adversaries who justified there actions with hunger too (although they were certainly more extreme in comparison).
Don’t feel bad for Glenn though, at least the show certainly didn’t want you to; right after stabbing some sleepy Saviors, we find a collage of photos that feature mutilated bodies, all with with smashed in faces (ooooo ominous). It honestly feels a little forced, but it gets the job done; team Rick are still the good guys (but maybe now just a little less good).
Pretty soon shit hits the fan as expected, the whole facility is turned into a big shoot out, it’s some tense pretty well played out action. In particular I enjoyed Jesus also joining the fray, in full ninja mode; saving Glenn and Heath after they are forced to kill again. Even Father Gabriel manages to kill a fleeing Savior, all the while still donned in priest attire (so that is like a +5 holy defense buff) and spouting bible versus.Though his victim does warn him that “blood is coming”. Amazingly The Walking Dead has now reached a point (for me at least) where I feel that Gabriel has actually become a super likable character (and all it took was murder…pay attention Morgan).
5. Blood for Blood
So despite a few close calls, team Rick emerge into daylight the victors. But just like Gabriel’s victim prophesied, blood is coming and it might find the gang sooner than expected. Especially after surviving Savior makes a brake for it, but is unsuccessful and captured; before Rick can finish him off however the Saviors walkie-talkie kicks off with a stark warning from an unseen foe “we have Maggie and a Carol”. Looks like next weeks episode will be a Carol and Maggie affair.
Not tomorrow yet provided some much needed living vs living action. The human threat is still out there and this is obviously not the last we’ve seen of the Saviors, hell if anything it is just the beginning. The decision to have a more close quarters action scene really helped to put emphasis on team Ricks actions, I think overall that it was well choreographed. Especially in comparison to some of the previous seasons larger action set pieces. I’m definitely looking forward to what lies ahead in next weeks episode (and beyond) ‘The Same Boat’.