Well, folks, we’ve reached the mid-season break for this year’s run through of The Walking Dead. Pieces are starting to fall back together, after being left to their own devices for the first half of the year. With the way the most recent episode ended, it looks like I may actually be getting my wish for episodes moving forward. What is that wish? It’s really not a complicated one, and it’s one that, honestly, is long overdue.
Talk to each other.
I mean, seriously. How many of the events over the past eight episodes could have been avoided if people had actually decided to talk with someone else (or, in a few instances, with people outside of their particular dyad)? Even some of the key moments from the mid-season finale could have been avoided if there had only been a little more conversation, and a little less “I’m going to do what I want without bothering to check in with anyone else”. Look, I understand that the apocalypse leads to a bit of a need to act based off of impulse, because those impulses have lead our characters to surviving to the point that they have. But you’re trying to recreate a sense of community and civilization. You can’t do that without actively communicating with those around you. Sure, you’ve got Hearts Still Beating, but that doesn’t do a bit of good without actually bringing your concerns to someone else. That lack of a connection between people, based on discourse, is precisely what sets up our list for this week.
Just so we’re clear, you’ve been spending the last couple of days making it clear that you don’t want Maggie or Sasha to stay at the Hilltop. After all, you’re fairly certain that your deal with Negan is going to ensure your longevity, and the two of them pose a risk to that deal. Why on earth would you feel the need to engage with Maggie in the slightest, least of all while she’s standing atop the wall and cosplaying her recently-deceased husband? Poking the bear is already a bad idea, but doing it while the bear is pregnant, saved your town a few days back, and is still raw from losing people she cares about? You’re lucky you only lost your fruit.
4. Rick and Aaron
I’ve got a great idea. No, just bear with me. See, when faced with a lake full of walkers, and a boat riddled with bullet holes (guaranteed to take on water) all with the hope that you find a stockpile of supplies that you can use, how about you, oh, ONLY PUT ONE ADULT ON THE BOAT? We’re shown the bullet holes in the side of the boat, and it is only because both Rick and Aaron decide that they’re going to traverse the lake that we run into the “sinking too soon” situation. That extra 200 pounds certainly didn’t help, and while there was no guarantee that one of them alone would make it across, there’s just no sense in lowering the odds by having both of them jump into the faulty boat.
Remember what I said about people not communicating? Sometimes, it’s simply refusing to listen to someone else. And that’s exactly where Sasha is, especially when Enid is telling her about the fact that there are a lot more people than just her that want to see Negan removed from power. Sure, Sasha is putting together a plan to do it all on her own because she wants to protect Maggie, but Enid is speaking truths about those who want to see Negan fall. However, Sasha just doesn’t want to hear it, and is instead looking to do it all on her own. Good thing that the episode comes to a close before she can make things worse. Also, at least she isn’t Carol, who has decided she wants to be a complete isolationist.
Rosita’s got a gun. And, thanks to Eugene, Rosita’s got a bullet. For moments through the episode, it even looks like she might be stepping back on her plans to use her single bullet to try and take out Negan. That is, of course, until Negan removes one of the pieces from the board during the pool game. Welcome back to the land of not communicating, Rosita! Even worse, her single bullet doesn’t do anything further than damage Lucille. That’s right, folks, Negan survives through the improbable (but completely based on the comics) moment of the bullet intended for him striking his bat instead of him. This act leads directly to the death of Olivia, and the capture of Eugene. If only Rosita could have talked to someone, and realized that her plan was bad, even if she HAD managed to take out Negan with her single shot. This is what happens when you throw away your shot. Rosita could learn a lot from Hamilton.
Oh, Spencer. Spencer, Spencer, Spencer. I would say we hardly knew you, but that isn’t true. What we hardly knew was any level of effectiveness. Yes, you had a few moments throughout your time that may have saved people. But you’ve also spent an excessive amount of time being upset that Rick came and things went south. Little secret, Spence? If Rick and his group hadn’t shown up, Alexandria would’ve been overrun by walkers, except it would’ve happened without a group of people who knew what they were doing to defend. Now you’ve made it clear that you see your future by Negan’s side. You even go out of your way to butter him up, all to drop your big proposal that Negan take out Rick and install you as the leader of Alexandria, instead. This gives us, as an audience, a chance to see that Negan does have a certain twisted honor, but those living within the world should know fully well that Negan does not respect those who do not do for themselves. Maybe slicing Spencer in twain was a little excessive, but Negan DID have to find out if the man had any guts, and that was the quickest way to do so.
That does it for the first half of The Walking Dead, season seven. We’re seeing what Negan’s world looks like, and it seems largely to revolve around breakdowns of communication. The second half of the season picks up right before Valentine’s Day, so maybe, with love in the air, we’ll see people actually willing to talk again. The final scene seems to indicate that is the case, but, well, this show has pulled the rug out from under us before.