Be warned! This review will cover aspects of the episode. Spoilers will lurk like groaning walkers…
Carl’s death cast a shadow over this entire episode, not least because we had plenty of shots of his father mired in grief. Yet while that led to some well played and touching moments (from Michonne in particular), by the end of it, The Walking Dead appeared to refuse the chance for peace and plunge headlong back into conflict. More on that in a moment. As seems to be par for the course these days, The Lost And The Plunderers was a case of the show lacking real definition and struggling within itself. Rick’s a prime example of that (not that he hasn’t been for years anyway) – he seemingly makes decisions on a whim, and often ends up regretting them, which can be frustrating for anyone trying to enjoy the show.
Splitting the plot up into named chunks was an interesting idea, even if the writers couldn’t quite commit to it – the “Negan” section focused more on Simon, for example.
By far the least effective segment this week was “Enid”, with the Oceanside story stretching to set up the community’s further involvement in the coming battles. Very little that happened had much consequence and the tension about whether she and Aaron were to be executed drained away with just a few words about how Rick might be vengeful were they were show up dead.
Oceanside is being set up to play a larger part in the coming events, but while we wait for that to happen, the time spent there was more of the show spinning its wheels waiting for something big to happen, which is never the best mode for The Walking Dead. There becomes the increasing suspicion that the creative team enjoys the big events of premieres and finales, but finds frustration in keeping the storytelling flame alight between such grandstanding drama displays. Yes, there are a lot of characters and storylines to service each week, wrapped together in a tangled weave, but the show at this stage is very much a case of plots and people that move forward with some enthusiasm and others that appear lost in a mire, waiting for their moment to emerge, which only adds to the frustration.
Then we have The Scavengers, wiped out by the Saviors after having contributed only a few useful moments. There was good work from Pollyanna McIntosh as Jadis here, especially in her devastation, and the scene of her feeding her former fellows – now a group of hungry walkers – into the waste disposal unit was effectively tragic. Her break from the theatrical (much like Ezekiel’s, an act) worked well for the storyline, and it now feels like the writers contracting things back as the conflict continues.
Which brings us back to Rick Grimes. After a seemingly brief war in his heart about how closely to follow Carl’s wishes for a peaceful resolution, he (no doubt spurred on by the slaughter of the Scavengers) switched quickly back to rage, essentially calling Negan at home and threatening him. In response, we had an equally outraged head of the Saviors blaming Rick for his son’s death and criticising his “shitty decisions”. He’s not entirely wrong, and could be talking for a large swathe of the audience. Still, it was business as usual on both ends again, leading to the increasing feeling that we won’t end up seeing a friendly Negan helping out with the plants. This war is far from over. But the big question is, will it find a more satisfying gear?
Highlight: A reflective Michonne.
Lowlight: That end-of-episode re-set.
Kill of the week: Into the grinder with the Scavengers.
Quote of the week: “Get me Negan”
Zombie of the week: Dean, the Savior who was delivered back to Negan and co.
MVP: Jadis. Applesauce, bitches!
The big question: What does this mean for the future? Surely Carl’s hope for a peaceful outcome is now dashed? Unless the show whiplashes back, of course…
Read this season’s previous reviews below…
[The Walking Dead Season 8, Episode 2: The Damned
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9pm on AMC in the States and Mondays at 9pm on Fox.