Be warned! This review will cover aspects of the episode. Spoilers will lurk like groaning walkers..
If you were hoping that the show would jump right back into Rick and the Alexandrian massive encountering the new community… Psyche! New Best Friends kicks off with Ezekiel and some of the Kingdom on a supply meet-up with the Saviours. It goes about as well as you’d expect, and if you’re bored by the Saviours’ bullying ways, then don’t expect much in the way of relief here. Still, at least there are real signs of resistance, with Richard trying to push back, and nearly being killed for it. And when Morgan intercedes, he gets a bloody ear for his trouble. It’s very much on the level of what we’ve seen so many times before with the Saviours, but at least there’s no Negan this week. Perhaps we’ll appreciate him more when he does return.
Back at The Kingdom, Daryl and Richard have a bonding session over bows and arrows – in what seems for just a moment like the start of a rom-com – but it’s really so that Richard can recruit Mr. Dixon in a plan to target some of the Saviours. Of course, when Daryl figures out that Richard’s plan would put Carol (who we’re yet again reminded lives on the outskirts of Ezekiel’s turf), the result is a fight between the two men, and the Saviours sailing on by in their cars. This episode could more properly be called Fight Club.
The lion’s share – with apologies to Ezekiel’s tiger Shiva, who shows up later for a sweet moment with Daryl – of the episode is Rick and the gang being brought to the junkyard base of the new community, who have still yet to be given a name, at least in the show. They’ve unofficially been named the Garbage Pail Kids, and they are WEIRD. Clearly someone among them was reading Lord Of The Flies or watching Mad Max before the start of the apocalypse, because in just a short time they’ve become the archetypal dystopian community. We’d be fascinated to see who made the decision to act like a dark-clothed cult that uses new words for certain things. Were they like this before? Are they a local theatre troupe putting on an elaborate show? Had they been planning an open-air version of Cats? Either way, they think they own Rick and Co. and you just know Grimes and the gang have had enough of people threatening them. After the beginnings of a scuffle, it’s Gabe who manages to halt the hostilities. Turns out he didn’t simply leave – he learned about the new group and somehow got kidnapped and… Wait, what? None of this is particularly clear, but it ends up with Rick being chummy with him, so it’s all… good? Before that, though, Rick has to bargain with Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh), leader of the Garbage Pailers. She shoves Rick into a pit that also contains an armoured walker we wanted to call Spike but is actually named Winslow, and he proves himself with a little tactical advice from Michonne. After some deal-making that sounds like people shopping at a car boot sale, Rick and co. head home with the share of the supplies from the boat that Jadis’ crew had stolen from them.
Finally, we have Ezekiel finding another excuse to stop by Carol’s isolated cabin (she must regret living near enough to his place). But once he and his men depart (after leaving her with some cobbler), there’s the emotional reunion of Carol and Daryl! There’s firelight! There’s food! Will there be romance? Nope, just Daryl lying about the clash with the Saviours to keep Carol from going on a fresh killing spree. You know, the ones she keeps saying she can’t go on again. Melissa McBride continues to play such scenes with real feeling, but how many times do we really have to listen to Carol explain why she’s gone into isolation? This show has a handful of themes and it hits them hard whenever it can. Daryl doesn’t hang around after eating, leaving Carol to her solitude, but he’s clearly decided not to linger in The Kingdom either: he’s headed for Hilltop and the next stage of the fight. Watch out for the camera Daryl… Daryl… Oh, never mind.
It’s fun to meet new people in this world, even if we still want it explained quite how they got to be so strange. Ezekiel’s theatrics is one thing – at least he’s built a fully working society that is normal outside of the fact that it’s led by a fake king who has a pet tiger. Jadis and the junkers are flat out odd. Still, there’s real fun to be had with the new, positive Rick (even after a Rancor-like clash with Winslow the walker) and it actually feels like the wheels are moving again, instead of being bogged down in Saviour mud. We won’t be free of the Saviours for a good while yet, but if we keep going to new places or just avoid the grinding, punishing misery of the previous batch of episodes, The Walking Dead might just pull itself out of veteran show purgatory. And thank goodness Rick didn’t give a three-hour-long speech this week, or the junkers might have killed him just for that.
Why did Daryl lie about the deaths to Carol?
To both spare her feelings and so she wouldn’t get involved again. He may feel wrong not telling the truth, but he’s trying to protect her and not crush her.
Could the new group be the Whisperers community from the comics?
While they could still be an entirely creation of the show, there’s a chance they’re based on the Whisperers, who have been turning up in recent issues of the comics. But they don’t exactly have the same quirks (such as using walker skin to hide among the dead), so who knows at this point? For now, they’re called The Scavengers. And they really need a better blue screen setup for their lair… that was some dodgy CG matte painting at times.
Was the trailer that Daryl and Richard used for cover on the road the one from Smokey And The Bandit?
Read this season’s previous reviews below…
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9pm on AMC in the States and Mondays at 9pm on Fox.