Monday, May 20, 2024

The Walking Dead Review: Episode 6×15 ‘East’

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Oh, Walking Dead! Why couldn’t this B season have been one episode shorter? Then we might have been spared this week’s utter nonsense and descent into bad horror movie levels of stupidity.

Let’s remind ourselves of one thing first: Rick’s group of survivors are the best of the best. They’ve lived through two-ish years of zombie apocalypse hell. They survived Terminus, the Governor, a prison plague, an entire season spent on Hershel’s farm, and various other horrors.

So could someone please explain why suddenly they’re all acting like idiots?

First Carol leaves Alexandria. We know Carol’s been struggling lately, so in one way her departure makes sense. But the timing of it is stupid as hell. She knows the Saviors are out there, but she just packs a bag, grabs a car, and heads east (hence the episode title) all on her own. Within a few miles she encounters a group of Saviors and is forced to kill them. Whoops. Great plan to escape the killing, Carol.

Rick and Morgan go after her. They discover the spot where she encountered the Saviors and find a blood trail through a nearby field. They follow it for an unknown amount of time until they find some fresh zombies and a human. Morgan stops Rick from killing the man, and then says he’s going after Carol alone.

Rick lets him. Rick takes the car back to Alexandria. Remember, they’d been following a trail of blood, meaning, if it’s Carol’s, she’s pretty badly injured. How is Morgan going to get her all the way back to Alexandria without a car? Not to mention, of course, SAVIORS!

Next Daryl takes off. His idiotic mission: to hunt down Dwight, the dude who killed Denise, to fix the mistake he made earlier in the season when he let Dwight live. Daryl, one of the group’s smartest fighters, leaves ALONE to hunt down one guy who you know has a huge group of backup, and he thinks that’s a good idea?

Glenn, Michonne, and Rosita go after him. When they find him they try to convince him to come back, but of course he refuses. So what do they do? They split up! Rosita stays with Daryl while Glenn and Michonne apparently decide it’s a great day for a jaunt through the woods. Aaaaand surprise, surprise, surprise! They get ambushed by a group of Saviors and taken hostage.

Daryl and Rosita track them down, and despite Glenn’s frantic efforts to signal otherwise, they start to move in. Dwight and a bunch of Saviors appear, and the episode ends with a gunshot, a splatter of blood on the camera, and Dwight saying “you’ll be fine.”

Oh, and back in Alexandria it looks like Maggie is going into premature labor/having a miscarriage, so that’s. Awful.

So. Carol’s still missing. Morgan is out wandering alone, looking for her. Daryl is shot, but apparently not dead. He, Rosita, Glenn, and Michonne are in Savior hands. Maggie is in serious medical trouble with no doctor nearby. An oblivious Rick is on his way back to Alexandria.

What the hell was this episode? The Alexandrians have killed dozens of Saviors in the past few weeks. Every time they leave they run into another group of them. They’re everywhere and closing in on Alexandria.

But everyone decides now is a good time to go running off into the wilderness alone? Some of the group’s best fighters decide to take off without discussing it with everyone else, leaving Alexandria woefully under defended?

These decisions were completely illogical and out of character, and it’s clear they were made simply because the plot demanded it. The plot needed the survivors scattered and vulnerable, not concentrated behind their defendable walls with a large weapons cache nearby. Now we have some of the series’ main characters in either direct or indirect peril, and the show can continue playing out its “who will Negan kill?” storyline.

The Daryl-getting-shot thing was bs, too. After Glenn’s death fake-out(s) earlier in the season, I’m tired of it. They killed Denise last week to be shocking and it was just insulting and stupid. Now they’re insulting us further by teasing that Daryl, the show’s beloved white man OC, was killed off camera by an incredibly minor villain?

Gimme a break, show.

Next week is the 90-minute season finale, another exercise in drawing out the pointless filler nonsense before they get to the main event: Negan’s appearance. Rumor has it the episode will end with a cliffhanger and we won’t find out who gets Glenn’s comics death until next season.

I understand that this is the way modern American television works, but The Walking Dead takes it too damn far. There’s such a thing as overplaying your hand, and I think that’s what they’ve done in this B season. An episode or two ago, Negan and the Saviors were a major, looming threat in the audience’s mind. We (or at least I) were afraid of them and what they could do to Our Heroes.

By now, though, I’m just ready for it to be over with. Show us your cards, show! This has gone from suspense to tedium, and unless they’ve got something really good planned, next week is going to be a long ninety minutes.

Before I go, a brief moment of praise: Melissa McBride has been amazing in these last few episodes. Her scene with the Saviors, where she’s crying and pleading, was a masterclass. She wasn’t pleading for her life, but theirs, and the gun-up-the-sleeve trick was fantastic. Those scenes demonstrate what this show and its characters are capable of, and it makes the rest of the episode that much more frustrating.

Carol’s arc is frustrating because it’s happening so fast. She went from killing Wolf guy without a second thought to breaking down every time she’s confronted with a necessary death. I like seeing the effects of the PTSD on the survivors, but I wish it had played out over a longer period of time. We’ve had…three episodes? maybe four? of a sixteen-episode season devoted to Carol’s crisis, and honestly this plot line needed a lot more development for it to be as impactful as the show wants it to be. They clearly chose Carol because the audience is invested in her, so they have a lot of emotional capital to burn, but she and Melissa McBride (and the audience, for that matter) deserve better.

Episode Grade: D. Honestly, I have no patience for this sudden backslide into idiotic decision-making as the plot demands it.

Images courtesy of AMC

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