Remember the excitement we all felt as we inched through the first half of the season? No matter how long they could make us wait to find out about Glenn, we knew that we were in for a treat with the mid-season finale. After all, this is a show that has regularly delivered pretty high caliber mid-season finales, with shocking moments, plenty of action, and a definite push to the story moving forward. Oh, and then remember when we saw the mid-season finale, and the overwhelming “meh” that was echoed throughout the cosmos? Not a bad episode, surely, but not really an episode that set the table for an awesome back half of the season. Oh, sure, we lost Deanna in that episode, but, come on, that was a death that didn’t really resonate.
Well, the second half of the season kicked off, appropriately, on Valentine’s Day, and we got some of the action that we’d been asking for. Sure, there were still some head-scratching moments, but the episode overall kept a steady pace, gave us plenty to root for (and against), and even allowed some pure badassery to come to the forefront. After all, any episode that includes someone blowing up a group of adversaries with a rocket launcher in the first few minutes is an episode that has set a high bar for awesome moments, and the start to the second half of this season didn’t falter much along the way to its conclusion. Of course, with No Way Out, there was still more than enough dumb moments to keep us going, so let’s see what we learned, what we forgot, and who just plain decided that intelligence was their dump stat.
Before we launch into the list proper, can we just take a moment out to talk about Rick’s group trying to maneuver through town, while covered in zombie guts? So, the zombies aren’t terribly attracted by noise? Their talking was overpowered by the aroma of the non-longer-living living dead? After all, one of the last images we were left with from the mid-season finale was Sam calling for his mother. It was pretty well implied that it wasn’t just him having a vision from his own fractured mind. So did the walkers just not notice him calling for help? Or any of the other times that the group paused and chatted? We’ve seemingly had this world establish that noise can draw the walkers, but apparently talking didn’t do it. Sure, you can argue that the moaning and groaning of the horde would have drowned out the conversation of the living, but the show took pains to let us know how close the walkers were, at all times. At least one should have noticed something and pounced before it was dark enough to make the pouncing more dramatic. Yes, there was plenty in the episode that just didn’t make sense, from a consistency basis, but this was the most glaring to me. Anyway, on to the list.
5. Rick Grimes and His Merry Band of Gut-Wearers
Let’s just ignore that Sam was talking at the end of the last episode (since we’re clearly supposed to). And let’s ignore that talking doesn’t draw the walkers. And let’s also ignore that apparently Alexandria is so huge that it takes until the dark of night to get anywhere inside its walls. Instead, let’s talk about what the group did with regards to Judith and Sam. First off, giving Judith to Gabriel? The guy that betrayed them, and has yet to show any sort of willingness to actually try to do the right thing (admittedly amended later in the episode)? Yes, he’s going to bring her to the church, which he believes to be safe, but maybe moving as a group there would have been better. It also would’ve kept Sam and his family alive, since they could’ve dropped him off as well, instead of letting him be petulant about staying with his mom. Finally, when Sam got attacked, could none of them actually try and move him? He must have stepped into some quick-drying concrete or something, because someone should have hauled him like a sack of potatoes.
Enid is really coming into her own, and is showing a willingness to help out the group. Plus, bonus for Carl, she’s totally single now, although he won’t be able to see her if she stands on his right. But, as part of her attempt to give some aid to Maggie, she runs across the seemingly sturdy walkway, and jumps onto the knowingly rickety (and taking abuse from below) guard tower. Sure, she wanted to help, but she went from a sturdy structure to one that looked like it could fall at any point, and that was under the weight of one person. Two people, moving around as frantically as they did, definitely would have increased the chance of the tower crumbling straight into the pile of walkers below, which would have made Maggie and Enid a very tantalizing meal for some hungry dead.
3. The Lone Wolf
Alright, you’ve decided that you need a doctor for the rest of your encampment (or just for your personal needs; if that was explained better, I admittedly missed it). And yes, the only time that you might be able to escape from Alexandria with your hostage is in the middle of the walker invasion, because everyone’s attention will be off of you and what you’re attempting. But, if you need a doctor so badly, why would you not keep Denise in front of you while trying to make your escape? Don’t even tell me that it’s just because the Wolf was faster than she was. He also made sure that she was unarmed, so that she wouldn’t be able to easily defend herself if she got ambushed. Now, you made it clear that you needed a doctor, but it was also fairly out-of-character to go back to try and save her from the horde when she started getting overrun. That out-of-character moment caused the Wolf to get bitten, which lead to the change in plans, bringing him to the infirmary. One Carol later, and bam. No more Wolf. All because someone who made it clear he was in it for himself, and only himself, decided to help someone else instead of lick his wounds and try to find another doctor some other time.
Clearly, watching your little brother and your mother become lunch mere feet from where you’re standing is going to lead to some bad decision making, but Ron really took the cake when he decided that, instead of making any attempt towards his own continued survival, and let revenge be that cold dish people fond of metaphors love so much, he picked up a dropped firearm and leveled it at Rick. Rick, who had kept him alive to that point, but was also admittedly responsible for the deaths of Ron’s entire family. Oh, yeah, and Rick is Carl’s dad (remember, folks, there’s only one “i” in “Carl Grimes”), which pretty much means that, aside from being the bringing of death, he’s also the one who brought Ron’s biggest nemesis into the world. That clearly means it’s time to bring an end to the rampage of Rick Grimes, and, if it hadn’t been for Michonne, we might not have Rick to kick around any more. If only Ron had remembered that the best revenge he could have gotten over Carl was to make out with Enid in front of him, and the best revenge he could have gotten over Rick was just to keep a romantic interest alive and, well, interested. Also, with Ron’s actions, now it’s going to be even harder to keep Carl in the house. Because he’ll have a tough time figuring out how far away it is.
When your big plan backfires spectacularly, resulting in the death of three members of your party, and your son losing an eye, what do you do? If you said, “Go to Disney World”, you’re a couple of weeks late, and clearly didn’t see Peyton Manning just talk about drinking his weight in terrible beer. No, clearly the answer is to make sure that your son is being looked at by a doctor (veterinarian, but she’s going through one hell of a trial-by-fire), grab an axe, and then decide that it’s time to take out your aggressions on the large horde of walkers swarming through town. Alone. Without a word. Yes, Rick’s rampage brought out the rest of the gang from inside the infirmary, which prompted the residents of Alexandria to grab weapons and join in, but it’s not like Rick was thinking along those lines. If he was thinking it all, it was simply animalistic, wih an urge to destroy as much as he possibly could. He was like the character from Fight Club who wanted to destroy something beautiful, except replace “beautiful” with “rotting and festering”. If Michonne and the rest hadn’t gotten to Rick when they did, there would have been another cast member removed from the opening credits, and Carl would have lost more than just an eye.
So the gang is all back together, and a few of them know about this new threat, bearing the name “Negan”. It’s all building up into a bigger world (what? I’m just as easily swayed by marketing as the next guy), and there should be some changes to how Alexandria operates, now that the town banded together and showed Rick that they aren’t as worthless as he previously thought. We’ve got a week to wait before learning some more, and the time of Negan is rapidly approaching. See you after the dust clears.The Next World awaits.