Be warned! This review will cover aspects of the episode. Spoilers will lurk like groaning walkers…
There’s a particular phenomenon in TV, particularly Stateside shows, where the creative team, likely pressured by executives concerned about audiences not “getting it” find themselves repeating information handed out in pilot episodes across subsequent installments. Given that last week’s A New Beginning felt like a pilot for a new incarnation of The Walking Dead, perhaps it’s only fitting that the slower early stages of this one features characters going over what we already know about the slow progress and rising tensions between the communities. As food becomes ever scarcer, infrastructure continues to break down and supplies run out, there are of course going to be arguments when one group has more than another.
But while it’s not always laid out in the most compelling fashion – we get it, The Walking Dead, there are still challenges even if there isn’t much in the way of a big bad (though the seeds are being planted for that, and the lurking plot moves along by offing a character at the end who will be missed as much as a hole in the chest).
The attempts at dramatising the idea of issues between the camps still come across as hackneyed at old-fashioned – the former Saviors were always going to be trouble, and the scrap between Darryl and Zach McGowan’s stereotypically arrogant and bullish Justin is the worst example of that. Justin even throws sand in Darryl’s eyes, which makes it feel like something out of a 1950s cowboy show.
Things at least come to life, ironically with this week’s infusion of walker blood, as miscommunications and sloppy walkie talkie maintenance lead to a herd of zombies invading a construction site. The resulting battle between the humans and the undead is brief fun, and the consequences are actually felt by someone we (sort of) care about as Aaron is trapped and badly injured.
Back in the lowlight category, we have the “reveal” (long since ruined by trailers) that Rick has been visiting Negan in jail and chatting about the progress they’re all making to rub it in his face. It’s not a bad use of Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s snarky talents to have the imprisoned former Savior leader act as a sort of menacing, cynical Greek chorus to deflate Rick’s ambitions, but after a whole season and change of him striding around making little speeches, did we really need more of him?
The Bridge never quite escapes that feeling of, like the characters in this episode, laying the road towards plots that will happen in the future. There’s even a shot of Mother Goose – sorry, Rick (we liked that gag) – walking past a sign that reads “The Future”. Subtle. It’s not exactly the smoothest road, either, with plenty of obvious bumps and the sort of base level work the show often does when trying to build up to a main storyline. At least it’s still finding time for little human moments, such as Carol and Ezekiel’s relationship, even if Rick quietly watching them from afar made us worry he’ll show up at their house down the line with a series of flashcards.
Highlight: The log tussle.
Lowlight: The Darryl fight.
Kill of the week: Rick’s log-rolling zombie kill-athon.
Quote of the week: “You’re not saving the world Rick, just getting it ready for me.” – Negan, being Negan.
Zombie of the week: No really memorable examples, aside from the head-tilting, “was that a noise I just heard?” walker.
MVP: Rick. See above re: log-rolling.
The big question: Who is offing the Saviors? And there’s that helicopter again. Just what does that signal for our group?
Read this season’s reviews
Read last season’s reviews below… The Walking Dead Season 8, Episode 1: Mercy
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9pm on AMC in the States and Mondays at 9pm on Fox.