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The Walking Dead Finally Learns to Juggle Multiple Storylines in its Mid-Season Finale

I imagine you’re all confused by the title, because…what?? One of the main complaints of The Walking Dead this season has been that whole episodes are devoted to time-wasting nonsense while other stories wither on the vine. And yet this episode…had more than one storyline?? With more than one or two main characters?! Honestly, Meg, what show were you watching?

Yes, dear readers, it’s true! EVERYONE was in this episode, including long lost Carol and Morgan! But no King Ezekiel, which was a bummer, but you can’t have everything. Let’s dive in…

Recap

To make this easier, I’m gonna divide the review up into groups: the Kingdom, Hilltop, the Saviors, and Alexandria. The episode interwove all the storylines as it went, but rather than jump back and forth I’ll stick to one each go.

Hilltop
We open at Hilltop with Maggie sitting at Glenn’s grave. She’s crying, ofc, and I for one am glad they haven’t forgotten about Glenn already, and that we get to see Maggie mourn him. We didn’t really get to see her do that with Beth.

She climbs onto the wall to watch for…we find out later what, but at the time it seems like she’s just checkin’ shit out. What’s-his-name, their leader guy, stops to chat. He tells her he’s hearing people say good things about her for saving their bacon the other night when the Saviors attacked. He doesn’t like it, because he’s a small little man with dreams of dictatorship. Maggie basically laughs in his face.

Back in their trailer she’s chowing down on a cucumber when Sasha shows up with an apple pie someone baked for them. Pregnant lady goes nuts on the pie, and Sasha tells her that the pie lady’s little girl said Maggie should run for president of Hilltop.

I’d vote for her. (dailytwdgifs)

When Maggie leaves to get some milk, Enid confronts Sasha about lying to her about Jesus. Sasha said Jesus left that morning, but Enid knows otherwise. Sasha tells her, basically, that she’s planning to fight the Saviors, but Enid says she shouldn’t do it on her own. Sasha thinks she doesn’t have any choice.

That was pretty much it for Hilltop until the end of the ep, so moving on…

Savior-land
Last week, someone slipped a key under the door of Daryl’s cell. I said it couldn’t be Jesus, because he was leaving, but apparently…it was…and he was using the truck to sneak IN, not out.

It, uh. Looks to me like he’s leaving? Because they just passed through the fence? But okay. (cookiesordeath)

Daryl escapes and spends a while running around eating peanut butter, trying on clothes, and wrecking a chess game. He finally gets outside to steal a motorcycle when a Savior guy catches him. The guy basically surrenders and tells him to go on ahead, but Daryl beats him to death anyway.

Ninja Jesus appears like “Daryl! What are you DOING!?” but Daryl is unimpressed. He takes the dead dude’s gun (which apparently is Rick’s gun?) and they leave via motorcycle, but we don’t get to see Jesus riding pillion with Daryl and I say we were ROBBED.

The Kingdom
This part wasn’t really in the Kingdom, per se, but it had Carol and Morgan. Carol is still holed up in her little house, hoping the world will leave her alone. Morgan stops by to drop off some fruit, and Miss “Leave Me Alone!” invites him in.

It’s a lot of mixed signals with Carol. (carol-danvers)

They’re having a little chat when one of the guard dudes from the Kingdom shows up. He wants Carol and Morgan to convince Ezekiel to rise up against the Saviors. He believes (probably rightly) that eventually the Saviors will go against their agreement and attack the Kingdom. The only way, he says, is to strike first.

Carol has decided on non-violence, plus she wants to be the human equivalent of Switzerland, so she tells him no way, it’s not her problem. Morgan declines as well: he feels like they’re at peace now, so there’s no reason to rock the boat.

Of course, neither of them know about Glenn and Abraham, or they might be singing a different tune.

Kingdom guy goes away disappointed, and we see him sneak into an RV he has hidden so he can…throw things and cry. I, um. I mean. I agree with him in principle, but I think this particular scene was pointless with a character we’ve met twice and whose name I don’t even know.

Carol tells Morgan that if he happens to see anyone they know, don’t tell them where she is. She is Off the Grid. Then she tells him to get off her damn lawn.

Alexandria
We get “treated” to a domestic-type scene with Negan shaving and cooking while Carl looks on with the most “are you fucking kidding me rn?” expression you’ve ever seen.

I love my smol surly son. (heartfulloffandoms)

Tara gets lemonade powder for Olivia, and they all sit down for a nice meal. They’re ostensibly waiting on Rick, but Negan gets bored and decides to eat without him. He also leaves Rick’s kitchen a mess, which is just plain rude.

Rick, meanwhile, is still at the bizarre water mousetrap thing with Aaron. There’s a rowboat full of holes, and halfway across the water there’s a canoe. And then the pontoon boat that presumably holds all of the supplies.

They manage to make it to the canoe, but Aaron falls in the water and is dragged under by zombies. I thought he was a goner, being gay and all, but somehow he survived! Yay! He and Rick make it to the pontoon and find a pretty nice haul. There’s also another charming sign:

I especially like the detail of arm hair. So we know it’s a dude. (carol-danvers)

As they load the supplies into the truck, Aaron tells Rick he understands why he’s bowing to Negan’s demands. He says it’s about whether your heart’s still beating: you have to stay alive. That’s what matters. I thought it was gonna be a “where there’s life, there’s hope” type message, and I guess it sorta was, but only sorta.

Back home the Saviors are unloading the supplies Spencer brought, and one of the Savior ladies flirts with him which just. Ew. Spencer. Ew.

He goes home to take a shower and decides he’s going to cozy up to Negan. He tells Rosita he’s doing it to be a sort of double-agent, but then he basically proposes a coup to Negan: help me overthrow Rick, and I’ll be your dude here in Alexandria.

Negan isn’t impressed. He says Spencer doesn’t have any guts, and then he guts him. It was nasty as hell.

Here’s a pic of my dog sleeping with a bunch of his toys instead. You’re welcome.

Rosita chooses this moment to shoot at Negan, and Lucille catches the bullet. Negan flips his shit and demands to know who made the bullet. Rosita claims she did, but he doesn’t believe her. He tells his goon to kill someone, so she kills Olivia. Sigh. Nice.

Rick and Aaron arrive home to find Negan there, and as the Saviors are unloading the supplies they find the sign. They flip out and beat Aaron to a bloody pulp, because there’s nothing we like more than watching fat ladies die and gay men get beaten up for literally no reason!!

Rick and Aaron come limping down the street while Rosita is being held down and Olivia is lying dead on Rick’s porch. Rick demands to know what’s going on, and Negan tells him about Carl, Rosita, and Spencer. He says Rick owes him thanks for being so generous!

Rick isn’t buying it, of course, and Negan is on the verge of killing Rosita when Eugene admits he made the bullet. So of course Negan takes him back to Savior-land.

During all of this, Michonne was driving around with the Savior lady she had at gunpoint. The woman takes her to the compound and Michonne realizes there are a lot more Saviors than they thought. That night she talks to Rick and tells hims she wants to fight, but they have to fight together.

Rick tells her she’s right and they kiss which is always awesome because Richonne.

The episode then cuts back to Maggie sitting at Glenn’s grave. She climbs the wall again, and this time she sees what she’s been looking for: Rick, Michonne, Tara, Carl, and Rosita coming from Alexandria. They all hug, and then Daryl appears and there’s more hugging.

Rick tells her they’re ready to fight, and by golly aren’t we all.

Review

Okay that was a long as hell recap, but this episode was a full hour, and (for once) a LOT happened. We lost Spencer (boo fuckin hoo) and Olivia (dammit) and Aaron got his ass kicked for no reason, but honestly it could’ve been MUCH worse. Rosita is still alive, for one.

I want Carol and Morgan back with the group. I know it’s only been about a week total, but it drives me nuts that Carol and Morgan still don’t know that Glenn and Abraham are dead. Also, doesn’t Rick wonder where they are? When he left Morgan at the end of last season, it seemed like Morgan was going to find Carol and come back to Alexandria. So did Rick just forget? He’s had a lot on his plate, I know, but you’d think it would at least occur to him.

I haven’t really looked at any of the tags on tumblr or any other fandom gathering spots, but apparently Rosita is getting a lot of shit for how she handled her assassination attempt. Look, it was stupidly done, but I don’t blame Rosita for that. She’s smart, and a good shot: the entire thing was illogical, and she chose that moment pretty much just because the plot demanded it. Yeah, sure, he’d just killed Spencer, and she and Spencer had just had their lame tête-à-tête, but honestly. THAT drove her over the edge? Nah.

Oh, I forgot: after Aaron and Rick left with the haul from the boat, there was a menacing shot of some dude’s boot. So I guess the guy who set up the mousetrap is still alive? And Aaron and Rick are losers? But the Saviors have his stuff, so maybe THEY’RE the losers.

We can hope.

I need to take a moment to comment on something that has been bugging me all season. I get it’s the zombie apocalypse and food isn’t SUPER abundant—though the Saviors seem to have more of it than most, since they steal it—but JDM is so. Incredibly. Skinny. When he shaved his beard and took off his leather jacket, he looked almost emaciated. I feel like a strong wind could knock him over. How is such a scarecrow holding the entire crew over in Savior-land together? How have they not just huffed and puffed and blown his ass down? Because it looks like the could without too much trouble. He weighed more when he was dying of heart failure on Grey’s Anatomy!

This isn’t body-shaming, y’all. Don’t think that. It’s more…is he okay?? Because he doesn’t really look it.

Anyway.

Overall, like I said in the intro, I liked this episode. The pacing was well done, and while Spencer’s death was WAY over the top (see one of my many rants about page-to-screen not always working), the ending honestly got me a little…misty-eyed. I like hope. This season has been a terrible drag not just because it’s literally DRAGGED its ass off, but also because there was no hope. Rick was completely cowed. Daryl was practically broken. Glenn was murdered in the nastiest way possible. Anyone who tried to fight was shot down, and all we got was endless monologues from a boring villain.

To see Rick and co. finally realizing they have to fight, and that they have to band together with other groups, is exactly what I was waiting for. Yeah, okay, duh it was gonna happen, but I’m really glad it didn’t happen in some sort of nasty grimdark way. Instead there was this beautiful moment of love and light. Like, literally the sun was brighter than it has been all season (even on sunny days), and there was hopeful music and hugging and crying. It was exactly what this mid-season finale needed, and in many ways it gives me renewed hope for the back half of season 7.

Please don’t fail me, Walking Dead. You’ve got a lot of ground to make up.

When you’re livin’ on your knees you…

Episode Grade: A solid B. Spencer’s gory demise, Olivia’s death and the subsequent fat joke, and Aaron’s pointless beating keep it from an A, but it was a good episode on the whole.

As mentioned, this was the mid-season finale. I’ll be back in February with more from Walking Dead land, but hopefully I’ll be covering American Gods in the meantime. If ya miss me.


Images curtesy of AMC

Meg
Written By

Meg has a lot of ~issues. They keep her very busy. Yes, she has read the book(s).

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