That certainly was a rollicking, action-packed episode. Oh, wait, I must be thinking about something else. This most recent episode was a filler episode, merely a placeholder for the last two episodes of the season. Not to say that nothing happened, because it certainly did, but overall, the action was constrained to continuing to set up the threat of Negan, while also making sure to put Alexandria in a bind, should they make it through the encounter. It was good to see some of the character development stuff, but the audience is getting antsy. Those who have read the comics know what Negan represents. Those who haven’t are probably just eager to finally found out who this person is, and why we need a half-season of build-up to his reveal.
The episode itself, in all honesty, was a nice little break, truth be told. Stupid, and head-scratching in general, but nice. After Rick’s brutal raid of the Saviors compound, and Maggie and Carol’s harrowing kidnapping experience, the audience needed a moment to breathe. Of course, The Walking Dead didn’t want us breathing too easily, and they delivered a comic moment, albeit with a different person on the receiving end. I’ve already seen some people express their belief that, because of this particular swap (which I’ll touch on in a little bit), and the bait-and-switch with the dumpster earlier, that Glenn is safe from his comic fate. I’m almost certain it’s the exact opposite, if for no reason other than the fact that the show loves giving hope, only to snatch it away. Of course, they could swap out another character, just like they did this week, but what other characters would carry the same emotional impact? Carol? Daryl? Rick? They either feel like foolish choices when it comes to a continuing televised drama, or they are characters that just don’t have the same impact. And, if that scene really is coming, it should be impactful. But I’m looking ahead, when I should be looking back. After all, we’ve only got a few episodes left this season, and this time we went Twice As Far.
Oh, Spencer. True, you’re living in a post-apocalyptic world. And true, the options for getting yourself a little loving are fairly slim. So, naturally, when Rosita goes to you to help herself get over Abraham by getting under you (oh, who are we kidding… Rosita would totally be the top in that relationship), it seems actually pretty logical that you’d get your brain spinning towards sunny days and white picket fences. But dude, maybe don’t push it right away. Not only was she just recently dumped, but she also just got back from a mass killing spree attacking the Saviors. Have some sex, and maybe just shut up about it. Unless you’re really that good of a cook.
These two are being placed at the same point in the list this week, and for pretty close to the same reason. During the scavenging raid encouraged by Denise, they find a set of train tracks. It is quickly pointed out that the tracks cut down the time needed to reach the pharmacy Denise is interested in. Daryl decides that he’d rather take the road, because, well, he’s anti-tracks right now (it could be a decision to not head off and away from a more urban area, where an ambush could be likely, but that is never even brought up. Daryl just seems petulant). Meanwhile, Rosita decides that she will indeed take the tracks, if for no reason other than to prove a point. Clearly, nobody in The Walking Dead ever played a role-playing game before. They all forgot the simple rule of “don’t split the party”.
Eugene got some character development, and the mulleted hero has been working this season to grow a bit more of a spine. Apparently, coming clean to Abraham about not actually knowing if there’s a cure made him realize that he needs to do something to help the rest of the survivors. Also, let’s be honest; Eugene’s idea to make their own bullets is a good one, even if there hasn’t been an indication of where they’ll get the materials to do so. However, Eugene has decided that not only does he need to provide for the community with his mind, but he needs to do it with his muscle, and that’s not his best option. He even gets angry at Abraham for saving him, because he had called “dibs” on the most metal of walkers that we’ve seen yet. He did get a bit of redemption at the end of the episode, when he bit off more than he could chew, but his insistence on placing himself out of his element and into harm’s way shows that maybe he isn’t as smart as he’s been letting on.
2. Dwight’s Group
Congratulations, Dwight! First off, welcome back. You weren’t terribly missed, but you’re clearly here to set the stage for something bigger. And hey, you succeeded in pissing off members of the Alexandria compound something fierce, thanks to your misplaced shot. But the group that you’re leading? Look, D, you know for a fact how competent Daryl is. You’ve got Daryl clearly outnumbered, AND you’ve got a hostage in Eugene. Now, when Eugene decided to clamp down on your fidgety bits, that clearly would have taken your mind off of what was going on, but the rest of your crew? The ones who should have been instructed to take out the (currently) unarmed assailants before massing to try to find the lone armed one? Instead, by trying to quickly find whoever was shooting, who was clearly working with the people you had at gunpoint, you went very quickly from one person with bullets flying your way to three. The only smart thing you did after Eugene got a mouthful was to gather and retreat.
Denise. Denise Denise Denise. You can try and psychology your way through this one, but there is absolutely no reason why the events of the episode pertaining to you should have happened. Sure, Daryl and Rosita could be considered partially to blame, except that Denise made it clear that she was going to follow through, with or without them. So, let’s run things down. The community’s only medical professional, and one that has been pressed into service a few times, decides that she just has to go out on a scavenging raid to a pharmacy. Ignore that this is her admitted first foray into the world as it currently is, and just try to wrap your head around the one doctor for a group intentionally throwing themselves into harm’s way. It’s not like the dumb choices end there, though, as the pharmacy allows Denise to get freaked out (understandably so) at what had happened in the back room, but she should never have been poking around while Daryl and Rosita were busy anyway. Then look at the whole cooler incident, which is another moment that Denise stopped thinking, and simply fell back into the same ideas as Eugene; she doesn’t think that her mind is enough, and that if she toughens up by taking out a few walkers, she’ll be able to see herself on a more level playing field with Tara. While Denise did get her walker kill, her insistence on leaving the friendly confines of Alexandria put her in the wrong place at the wrong time. While Denise’s death is clearly setting plot elements in motion for other characters, it could, and should, have been done in a way that didn’t leave such an odd taste in our mouths. Right, Eugene?
Two episodes left, gang. Two episodes before season six closes its doors, and we are faced with a long summer, waiting for new The Walking Dead episodes. Thank goodness there’s going to be new Fear the Walking Dead starting up right away. Those people give plenty of things to snark about.