Josh Jackson and Jim Vorel review each week’s episode of The Walking Dead in a series of letters
This week on The Walking Dead was pretty much as I expected last week, which is to say, a set-up that stalls for time while the events leading into season 8’s midseason finale gather momentum. This show’s half-season format has been a blessing and a curse at times, and it tends to completely shape the episodes leading up to a finale or a midseason finale, leaving some of those lead-up episodes feeling superfluous. In that sense, it can feel a bit like we’re in season 16, rather than 8.
Absolutely the most confounding thing this week, and thus where I must start off, was Rick’s return to the lair of the Trash People. I mean really. Jesus Christ, Josh. Was there a single viewer out there who wanted to see more of Jadis and her band of laconic, grungy losers? And how are we supposed to respect Rick’s intelligence when he’s the kind of guy who just wanders into this den of psychos, relying on “If you do anything to me, my people will mess you up” as his only protection? Is he really expecting the TRASH PEOPLE to behave rationally, even if it’s in their best self interest? If they were capable of that, maybe they wouldn’t live on a giant pile of rusty nails—that’s my rejoinder. This will surely go down as Rick’s dumbest “how I got captured” story in his old age, and that’s saying something.
But hey, at least we got to see a nude Jadis, crafting wire art in a smock. I would expect nothing less from the Head Trash Person in Charge.
Elsewhere, we saw the show’s other lead protagonists getting on the same page via written correspondence and gathering their forces for the next push, which Rick wrote would occur in “two days,” when they’re all apparently planning to make an attack on The Sanctuary. Or they would be, expect for the fact that Daryl is clearly planning on doing it all himself next week, breaching the doors/walls of the facility to let the dead pour in and kill every man, woman and child. I must say, Dark Daryl is proving quite the buzzkill.
Meanwhile, Maggie decides to imprison the captured Saviors a bit more formally, while Gregory continues to be his hilariously pathetic self—god, I love this guy, and I hope he never changes or dies. Carol tries to pull one of her trademark “strike off on my own” missions, before being waylaid by little Henry, who is the younger brother of the slain Morgan padawan, Benjamin. I thought there was actually a nice little moment here, Josh, in one of the things Carol says to Henry: “Do you know what happens when kids walk around in the woods? They never come back, or if they do, they’re monsters.” A nice reference to the fate of Carol’s own daughter Sophia way back in season 2. And oddly enough, on Talking Dead they mentioned that young actor Macsen Lintz is actually the biological brother of actress Madison Lintz, who played Sophia! Nice to get a tiny bit of continuity on The Walking Dead every once in a while, is it not?
Here are some additional questions I’ve got for you after watching “The King, The Widow and Rick.”
— Just how pointless was that Michonne and Rosita side adventure this week? It felt like the product of a screenwriter frustrated with the fact that they hadn’t been around recently, who just wanted to shoehorn the pair into an action scene for the sake of reminding us that they exist.
— With that said, how does that rocket-to-the-face moment rank in terms of the greatest Walking Dead deaths by random extras? I admit: I laughed my ass off.
— What are the Trash People’s plans for Rick the Prick, and just how nude are we about to see Andrew Lincoln be next week?
— One or two seasons from now, will the newly introduced Saddiq actually be a series regular, or are they just introducing this guy to murder him two episodes from now?
What did you think of “The King, The Widow and Rick”?
I wanted to punch my TV when Rick walked into that trash dump alone to try to negotiate some kind of alliance with the group that betrayed him, killed some of his friends and, but for the timely intervention of bloodthirsty tiger, would have caused his death and the death of his son. “You grazed me. I’d have still been mad if you’d shot me.” Rick basically just turned into James Bond, calmly galavanting into the enemy lair, but I don’t think Q equipped him with some kind of laser watch. Maybe he can make one out of trash. I just hope this doesn’t lead to a Jadis monologue. This was just a stupid, unnecessary move and overshadowed everything else in the episode.
But at least we got some Michonne. Remember Michonne, Jim? As soon as she got in that car, all I could think of is how much she’s been missed this season. There are so many moving parts to the current war—Alexandria, the Hilltop, the Kingdom, the Sanctuary, nondescript Savior outpost #1, nondescript Savior outpost #2, nondescript Savior outpost #3, Trash People’s Trash Dump Village—that some core characters have had little to do, particularly Michonne, Rosita and Carl. All got more screen time this episode than they have in a while. And both random villain deaths were pretty spectacular, even if Daryl ramming that speaker truck was as ridiculously timed as that tiger.
Daryl, Tara, Rosita and Michonne are all on a pretty dark path, ignoring Rick’s plan and getting ready to wipe out all the Saviors and their worker prisoners to bring an end to the war. Morgan is back to his “kill ‘em all” philosophy. Maggie is ready to execute a couple dozen Savior soldiers once the war ends. Even Rick was set on scaring Siddiq off rather than helping him assimilate. Only Carl and Jesus are trying to take the higher path right now. And, I guess, Gabriel, but he’s swung to the other extreme. That’s been a constant theme throughout the show: one or two characters to provide the moral compass to the others. But rarely have so many characters succumbed to expedience over mercy. I guess that’s Negan’s legacy unless Jesus and Carl (and maybe Rick) can steer them back to their better angels.
To answer your questions, the bazooka to the face was fantastic, even if it followed the old “man tells woman she’s not really going to kill him before she then kills him” trope. Right now, that one still feels pretty great. It was up there with Rick hacking Gareth to death with a machete.
I don’t think the Trash People actually plan anything. Someone is sure to notice that Rick disappeared, right? You’ve got to figure his people mount a rescue before the big meeting at the Sanctuary. Javis was wearing Rick’s boots, so I think whatever showdown happens will feature Naked Rick.
And I have a feeling that Siddiq is here to stay. I enjoyed seeing Carl step out from his dad’s shadow and allow himself to see the good in a stranger. Especially since dad’s judgment on who to trust has a naked trash-person sized hole. I immediately like Siddiq, though 237 walkers doesn’t seem that impressive a number. That’s basically less than one walker per week since the apocalypse. Which character do you think has killed the most walkers in the show (on-screen and off) and how many brains do you think they put a hole in?
Do you think Eugene will betray Dwight before Daryl launches his surprise attack? There’s no way Eugene survives this next battle, right? I think Dwight, Eugene and Jared are all dead soon. And possibly one of the Furious Four outside the Sanctuary, probably either Tara or Rosita—whoever gets more screen time these next two episodes.
I am immediately fascinated by your question about which character would logically have killed the biggest number of walkers since the beginning of the apocalypse. Here’s my top few guesses, keeping in mind that the events of the show have taken place over a 2-3 year period, as far as I can tell (in which time, Rick has aged tremendously, like a U.S. President). I think it’s safe to say that the number for each of these people could be in the hundreds, if not the thousands.
1. Morgan: For many months after the start of the outbreak, Morgan seemingly was living in his own little fiefdom, of the type we saw in season 3’s “Clear.” He had carved out a whole chunk of town and filled it with traps for both walkers and humans, so it can safely be assumed that he was personally dispatching just about every zombie that came into his field of view. He also journeyed across the country later to find Rick’s group, which meant more solo walker encounters. After getting his trusty bo staff, he had no trouble dispatching large groups of them by simply being methodical.
2. Michonne: She wandered on her own (with her two “pet” zombies) for a long, long while before meeting up with the Grimes Gang at the prison. I’m sure she was killing walkers on a daily basis while roughing it.
3. Jesus: Perhaps not the person you’d immediately think of, but Jesus has apparently been with the Hilltoppers since the beginning or close to it, and they were never a group with many competent fighters. Jesus, on the other hand is ultra competent in that capacity, so it can probably be assumed that he was doing a LOT of zombie defense ever since the Hilltop was established. Someone has to clear away the dead from the walls now and then, after all. That was probably Jesus.
Anyway. As for Eugene, I don’t think he’ll betray Dwight at all. He seems to like the guy, and I just can’t get past the feeling that Eugene will try to redeem himself with some kind of big, grandiose gesture of sabotage. On the other hand, his most driving motivation is usually self-preservation, so if it REALLY comes down to it, and Negan is threatening him as he did last week, perhaps he’ll give up the Dwight secret to save his own skin.
I think you are right; Eugene is definitely facing his mortality in the near future. For some reason, I actually feel like Dwight has a better shot of surviving, although I agree with you 110% that Jared really, really needs to die. In fact, Maggie really should have just gone ahead and shot him while he was trying to escape. It would have been a valuable demonstration to all of the other Saviors they captured that their BS will not be tolerated—almost exactly the reason why Negan killed Glenn, come to think of it.
I feel quite certain that either Tara or Rosita will die this season. They’re two of the show’s most expendable characters at the moment, and they’ve both been around long enough to qualify as a “major” death; certainly on a bigger scale than poor Eric was.
Let me ask something on a different tangent. At this point in The Walking Dead, which characters do you find the most compelling? Who (besides Michonne, who was missed as you say) do you actually want to see more of on a weekly basis? And who is the best developed character on the show?
For me, the most compelling characters are those who’ve been with us the longest: Rick, Michonne, Daryl, Maggie, Carol, Morgan and yes, even Carl. We’ve gotten to see them develop over the years, sometimes swinging to ridiculous extremes (looking at you, Carol and Morgan). But they’re why I’ve kept watching all these years.
Among the relative newcomers, I’m still fascinated by King Ezekiel and Jesus more than any of the others, though I’m happy to get more Simon and Gregory screen time. Maybe Tara and Eugene. But that leaves a lot of characters who’s arcs have been pretty undeveloped or uninteresting. I’m sure Rosita will get interesting right before they kill her off.
The best developed character on the show at this point is probably Maggie. She stepped out from her father’s shadow in Season 2, has dealt with losing her whole family, imprisonment, sexual abuse, pregnancy during an apocalypse and the murder of her husband, and come out the other side as the strongest, best leader we’ve seen.
Please don’t die in a stupid premature assault on the Sanctuary, Daryl Dixon.
Check back for more letters about the latest episode of The Walking Dead from Josh Jackson and Jim Vorel