[SPOILERS for episode 6×12 “Not Tomorrow Yet” of The Walking Dead; also speculation about character deaths, spoilers for TWD comics, and discussions of violence]
Wheew, you guys, there’s so much to talk about this ep! It felt like a “middle chapter” type episode, like The Two Towers or Catching Fire, but because of that it leaves so many doors open for what happens next?? Let’s get started!
The episode opens with our long-lost Carol (absent from the last two eps) working on a batch of cookies. It’s overlaid by a peppy, upbeat song (“Weeds and Flowers,” fittingly enough, by Parsonsfield), and when Carol runs into a walker in the woods she seems more weary and annoyed than anything. She gives the cookies out to residents of Alexandria, including leaving one on Sam’s grave, and meets Morgan along the way. She hasn’t told anyone about his Wolf-guy experiment, and she assures him she won’t.
Her cookie errand is interrupted as the rest of the group returns from Hilltop and Rick calls a meeting in the church.
He lays out the whole deal with Negan and the Saviors. Morgan is the only one who has any objections, suggesting that they try to talk things out with the other group rather than just run in guns blazing. Rick is clearly annoyed, but he says he’ll take Morgan’s suggestion to the people who aren’t at the meeting. Aaron stands up and says no, forget it, they fight. They aren’t letting a repeat of the Wolves incident happen again. That seems to settle it, and Rick tells them to saddle up: they leave tomorrow.
A lot of fans are frustrated with Morgan’s new Zen Buddhist life philosophy. They believe it has no place in the zombie apocalypse, and it’s a world of kill or be killed. But, as Morgan himself proves, that isn’t always the best approach: Morgan didn’t kill Rick when they first met. The guy who helped Morgan didn’t kill him. What if Rick’s group had decided to raid Hilltop rather than treat with them? A lot of innocent people would have died.
It’s easier for us, with our meta knowledge of what the Saviors are like, to condemn Morgan’s stance here. We know that trying to talk to the Saviors would get everyone killed, but Rick and co. don’t. While I’m glad they didn’t listen to Morgan (this time) because of the disaster it would’ve been, I wish Rick wouldn’t treat him like he’s an idiot for suggesting it. Or basically come right out and say “fall in line or get out.” There’s room for more than one pov, Rick. I thought the Ricktatorship was over.
There’re several scenes after this that are important, but I can’t remember the exact order, so here goes.
Abraham is packing his things, and Rosita wonders why he’s taking everything he owns to fight the Saviors. He tells her he’s leaving. Like leaving leaving. She’s understandably upset, and when she demands he tell her why he says, “When we first met, I thought you were the last woman on earth. But you aren’t.”
Ugh. Just UGH! What a horrible, dickish, asshole thing to say. Gross, Abraham. Take your flattop and your Abraham-isms and get out. Rosita obviously loves him, but she needs to remember that he isn’t the only man on earth, either, and she can do a million times better.
Next we visit Tara and Dr. Denise. Alanna Masterson was very pregnant in this episode, and a strategically placed plate blocks her tummy from our view. She tells Denise she loves her (awww!!) and Denise says she’ll say it when Tara gets back (uh oh). Tara reminds her that she and Heath are going on a two-week trip immediately following the raid on the Saviors, and she offers to come back between to see Denise. She even asks Denise to go with them, but Denise reminds her she’s the groups only doctor now (double uh oh) and assures Tara she’ll see her after and say it then (triple major UH OH).
I’ll revisit this scene and break down all my “uh ohs” later. For now, let’s move on to Carol.
She’s lying in bed unable to sleep, and she finally gets up to jot down some numbers in a journal. It’s clear she’s adding up the number of people she’s killed (18), and it’s giving her issues. Morgan has gotten to her. She prowls the streets, smoking, and Random Alexandrian Dude (I know he has a name; I just don’t care) asks to bum a smoke. She sits down with him and they chat. He tells her she’s like a mom to the group, not just because of the cookies, but because she’s a MOM and that’s what gives her strength.
Oh goodie, y’all. A Team Mom. I don’t have any problems with Carol baking cookies and questioning her Terminator Carol ways, because that shows a certain amount of character growth. Character Growth is good.
What I don’t like is her being saddled with the Almighty Mom trope (they go together, really). It always gives me flashbacks to Moffat-era Doctor Who.
For those of you who aren’t familiar, Steven Moffat was the Doctor Who showrunner for several seasons, and a staff writer before that. He’s the one behind the fan-favorite “are you my mummy?” episode in series 1, and the all-powerful mom is a trope he constantly falls back on. There’s even an entire Christmas special about it. I talk about it a little as relates to Sherlock here, and then a bit more about Doctor Who here, in case you’re interested.
Moms are great. We love moms. The problem is the idea that motherhood = ultimate feminine strength, and a woman isn’t a truly powerful woman until she’s had a baby. Having a baby somehow transforms her into a uterus-driven killing machine in protection of her babies. Setting aside all the transsexist issues there (that a woman is defined by her uterus), it’s just. Bad. Painting Carol’s protectiveness (whatever form it takes) as being “because you’re a mom” is simplistic and insulting.
Oh, and then Carol and Random Alexandrian Dude kiss because reasons.
We couldn’t squeeze in one scene between Daryl and Carol, but there was time for Carol to kiss this random dude? Come ON, show!
Moving on before I melt down…
Carol apparently wants to pass her mom-crown to Maggie, because she’s very upset that Maggie is going with them on this raid. She insists on staying behind to guard the perimeter with her, and when things go wrong inside and a Savior pulls the fire alarm, Carol stops Maggie from running in, guns-blazing. Not because it would be a stupid thing to do, but because she’s going to be a MOM and she has to think about her UTERUS now!
Meanwhile, inside things were going okay. Glenn killed his first human, which was very sad and poignant and honestly Steven Yeun just gets better and better. After, he and Heath are looking at some truly graphic photos posted above a dead Savior’s bed. They depict multiple people with their heads bashed open and brains scattered everywhere. Foreshadowing for Glenn’s fate? Red herring? Anything’s possible at this point.
Either way, Glenn shouldn’t feel too awful about his first human kills, because clearly these guys are total savages.
The group gets the compound secure and Tara and Heath leave for their two-week odyssey. Suddenly a Savior bursts out of the building riding Daryl’s bike! They shoot him off the bike, and Daryl’s demanding to know where he got it when the guy’s radio goes off. The woman on the other end tells them to put down their guns, and that they’re holding a Carol and a Maggie hostage.
Like I said, middle chapter. What’s interesting about this episode is all the possibilities it raises. We know someone is going to die at Negan’s hands, but who?
Maggie and Carol are captured, so it might make sense for it to be Glenn in a sort of trade to get Maggie back. But this episode seemed…it explored a lot of what Carol is going through, and obviously she’s experiencing some crises of conscience and is changing her worldview a bit (thanks to Morgan), so it’s highly possible the sacrifice could be Carol. The show does love killing off female characters!
That brings me back to my “uh ohs” from before. We all know it’s TV shorthand for “I’m gonna die” when someone says “we’ll talk about this when you get back.” Tara and Denise left something big hanging in the air, and now Tara will be gone for two weeks. No one will look for her. Obviously Negan’s men were outside the compound, watching, so it would’ve been fairly easy for them to ambush Tara and Heath.
Considering the fracas happening in The 100 fandom due to a lesbian character’s death immediately following her first love scene, Tara’s death would be extra heinous right now. She just tells her girlfriend she loves her…and then she dies. Incredibly insulting, but, unfortunately, incredibly typical, even of het couples on TV.
Also if she’s sent back to Alexandria as a walker (taking a cue from the source material), she could potentially take out the group’s only doctor. Convenient of Denise to remind us of her status this ep, huh?
As I mentioned before, Alanna Masterson was very pregnant, and Corey Hawkins is making a movie, so maybe the actors will just be off screen for a while. And come back. Alive. Fingers crossed, right? But a lesbian and black man set off on a journey into dangerous territory sounds like a perfect TV excuse to kill off some characters, especially since we had a chance to get to know Heath just a little this week.
All of this is purely speculation, of course, and we won’t know anything until the plot unfolds in the weeks ahead. Glenn’s death has been foreshadowed out the wazoo, but since most of the viewing audience knows he died in the comics, that foreshadowing might just be a red herring.
Who knows! We’ll see! Please don’t kill Tara!
Overall Grade: I don’t know. B, maybe? B-? Abraham made me so mad I might say F just for F ABRAHAM!
Images curtesy of AMC