A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 7, Episode 10: “New Best Friends”

Now to find out just why the hell Rick had that goofy grin on his face as he and the others encounter a new community.  But before that, let’s check up on the Kingdom.  This is “New Best Friends.”

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The episode begins Ezekiel and some Kingdom members in a clearing as they await the arrival of the Saviors.  One member, Diane played by Kerry Cahill, manages to down a walker that’s wearing a dress similar to her sister.  Don’t think too much about that.

Anyway, the Saviors soon arrive and receive their offering of fruit and supplies.  The leader of this small group, Gavin, played by Jayson Warner Smith, finds the load a bit light, but everything is accounted there nonetheless.

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Jared, though, wants Richard’s gun, even though he’s the one who hit Richard first. When we end up with a standoff, Ezekiel tells Richard to give Jared his gun.  Jared collects and tries to get in a strike, but Morgan blocks it with his staff, so he loses it in the process. Jared strikes both Richard and Morgan with the staff, but Benjamin intervenes and knocks Jared off of his feet.

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Both Gavin and Ezekiel realize that this can’t stand, but Ezekiel relents and says that Richard won’t attend any future exchanges.  Despite that, Richard could still be first on a potential lineup.  Gavin acknowledges that yes, this wasn’t Richard’s fault, but things may need to become more visceral.  And despite the connection Morgan has with his stick, , he won’t be getting it back.

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Back at the Kingdom, Ezekiel is impressed with Benjamin’s abilities, but admonishes him for seeking a fight just because he knows how to fight.  At least Jerry is impressed with Benjamin’s skill.  As for Richard, he’ll receive a talking-to from Ezekiel later.

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Daryl, meanwhile, figures that Morgan went with Ezekiel to meet the Saviors, and he’s less than pleased with that.  After all, Morgan knows what the Saviors are and Daryl says that if Carol saw what happened to Morgan, as well as if she learned what happened to the others, she’d be leading them right to the Saviors.  She would, yes, but that’s just why she left.

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Following this, Daryl meets with Richard, who is in the middle of target practice with a bow and arrow.  The Saviors are smart enough to know that Richard shouldn’t have a gun.  He gives Daryl a crossbow because he knows that they want the same thing.  As such, Richard will need Daryl’s help because the Kingdom needs something to move Ezekiel if the communities want to eliminate the Saviors.

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After bringing Daryl to his hideout and revealing his cache of weapons and explosives, he the two end up on a road that the Saviors frequent.  They’ll hit them with guns, followed by Molotov cocktails- the fire is so the fight looks bad, as the Saviors will no doubt be pissed about some of their soldiers being killed.

In addition, Richard left a trail from their current location to the weapons cache to the cabin of that someone Ezekiel cares about and occasionally brings food, even though they don’t live in the Kingdom.  Richard figures that when the Saviors find their friends dead, they’ll follow the trail and attack the woman living in the cabin.  Even if she’s not killed, this should be the push Ezekiel needs to join the upcoming war.

Daryl picks up on the fact that it’s a woman Richard is talking about and demands to know her name.  Richard does spill that it is, in fact, Carol, and he hoped that Daryl didn’t know her, but he also didn’t think that Daryl would care because he knows what needs to happen.  It doesn’t help that Carol is just living out there and waiting to die.

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Immediately, Daryl wants no part of this and just as the Saviors’ vehicles approach, he grabs Richard and a fight breaks out.  Richard fights back and the two end up in another standoff that results in no Savior losses.  They’re running out of time and Richard reminds Daryl that if he and his people want to move against the Saviors, they’ll need the Kingdom. And what they have to do may require sacrifice.

They’ve already lost so much and Richard can tell that Carol living on her own isn’t a good thing.  Daryl promises that if anything bad happens to Carol, he will kill Richard, who is ready to die for the Kingdom anyway.

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So let’s go back to the junkyard, where the inhabitants that time forgot soon circle the survivors.  One woman, who I’ll identify later, asks if Rick’s group is a collective or if there’s a leader.  After Rick gets in his introduction, the leader tells Rick that her group owns his life, as well as the others.  They can’t buy them back since the group is holding Gabriel.  Before anything else happens, Rick wants to see Gabriel alive.

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Sure enough, Gabriel is brought out.  The leader of this group tells Rick that the boat things Rick and Aaron found were taken, so the group took Gabriel.  In that case, Rick acknowledges that his group has nothing to trade for their lives.  Plus, their lives already belong to the Saviors, and if Rick’s group is killed, these people will be taking from the Saviors, who will no doubt come looking for this group.

So there are two options: they kill you or own you.  But there’s a way out: join Rick in fighting them.

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The leader refuses and Gabriel is taken away.  A skirmish breaks out between the two groups but it comes to a halt when Gabriel holds a knife to one of the group’s members: Tamiel, played by Sabrina Gennarino.  He demands that he and the others be let go and tells the group that the Saviors have communities and items that these people would want.

The group lowers their weapons and Gabriel is given a chance to speak: if these people join Rick’s group in fighting the Saviors, they’ll be rewarded.  Sounds nice, but these folks want something now.  Gabriel tells the leader that Rick can do anything.  If there’s anything the group needs, say it and Rick’s group will get it.  Instead, the leader tells Tamiel and Brion, played by Thomas Francis Murphy, to take Rick Up Up Up.

Who says Up Up Up?  I couldn’t help but think of the Upside Down from Stranger Things. But I digress.

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Rick is taken up on high and looks at the world’s worst green screen-I mean, looks at the vast, expansive junkyard while the leader tells him that her group has been here since the outbreak.  They take, but don’t bother.  Things grow harder and are changing again, so maybe it’s time the group changed as well.  She needs to know if Rick is worth it, so she pushes him into a sectioned-off area of the junkyard that none of the others can reach.

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And what makes this area so special?  Well, it’s home to a spiked walker that Rick must fight.  He takes advantage of whatever he can, such as a keyboard, but almost every move he makes results in him getting cut in the process.  After Michonne suggests that Rick use the walls of trash to his advantage, he buries the walker in mounds of trash.  He then finishes the walker with a glass shard.

This might be the closest we ever get to a Walking Dead/Mortal Kombat crossover yet. You could substitute the walker for Goro, Reptile, or any other secret or challenging character you must face when asked to test your might.

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Okay, anyway, Rick emerges victorious and the group lowers a rope for him to climb.  The leader says that if Rick can get his hand on a lot of guns, the group will help him.  Rick is confident that they will win and he promises a third to the group once this is all over.  The leader, however, wants half. They go back and forth and the leader soon agrees to a third as well as keeping what her group stole.

I mean, Rick’s not really in a position to negotiate, so he agrees to the leader’s terms. Turns out her group waited by that boat for a long time for someone to get the supplies for them.  Again, they take, but they don’t bother.  Sort of a dick move, but sure.  The walker, by the way, was named Winslow.  The leader, who finally identifies herself as Jadis, played by Pollyanna McIntosh, tells Rick to leave since the deal expires.

As Jadis’ group falls back, a bloody Rick stumbles out and tells the others that they have a deal.

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Carol gets a visit from Ezekiel and some followers who were out clearing the dead. Ezekiel respects Carol’s privacy, yes, but the dead, not so much.  He’d hoped they would be quiet enough to avoid getting Carol’s attention.  She then receives some cobbler from Jerry before heading back in and returning to her book.

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However, there’s another knock at the door.  This time, it’s Daryl, and she’s more than happy to see him.  He tells her that, despite Morgan saying she left, he was out there and happened to see her.  When asked why she left, Carol tells Daryl that she had to go.

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Back at the junkyard, Gabriel tells Rick that while on post, he heard a noise and one of the members jumped him in the pantry.  Jadis was upset about not getting the boat supplies, so they took him hostage and made him pack up everything.  Rick is just glad that Gabriel got them here.  Gabriel tells Rick that he was beginning to lose faith, but then he saw Rick nodding at him and knowing that Gabriel didn’t just walk away.

Gabriel knows things will be right again, but there will be tough times ahead before that. He then asks why Rick smiled and what made him so confident.  Rick responds that someone showed him how enemies can become friends.  If you’re talking about Gabriel, Rick, keep in mind that you’re the one who saw him as an enemy.  Not the other way.

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Alright, enough of this gooey shit.  Rosita wants to stay out so they can find guns for this deal, to get back to Alexandria, but Tara implores that they stay together and find supplies. Rosita, though, would rather go it alone because there’s always another fight brewing. She won’t let anyone get in their way.  If they have to take from other people, she doesn’t care.

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Jadis demands that Rick bring her guns soon or else.  Despite having no idea where to look, Rick is confident that they’ll find some firearms.  Since Tara has been out further than the others, Rick asks her if she at least knows where they shouldn’t look. She does at least know that much.  Before leaving, Rick grabs a cat statue to replace the damn gorgeous one that Michonne lost.

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Back at Carol’s place, she tells Daryl that she couldn’t lose any of the others, including him.  She could have killed if any of her people were hurt, but then there’d be nothing left of her after that.  Daryl confirms that the Saviors came.  When asked if they hurt anyone, Daryl, after thinking over his response, tells her that the Saviors are no more and that everyone at home is fine.  The two then eat.

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Later, Daryl leaves, but warns Carol to watch out for herself.  He then sits outside of Shiva’s cage and tells Morgan- who is impressed with how Shiva warms to Daryl- that he found Carol and understands why Morgan lied to protect her.  However, they still need the Kingdom on their side, but Morgan doesn’t believe he can persuade Ezekiel.

Daryl tells Morgan that whatever he’s holding onto is gone, but Morgan believes that the two of them are the same.  After all, if Daryl had told Carol what really happened between their group and the Saviors, she’d be with him right now.  For that, Morgan is glad.  They’re all holding onto something.  Daryl ends this by telling Morgan that he’s headed back to the Hilltop tomorrow morning.

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Indeed, the next day, Daryl departs as the episode comes to a close.

So if negotiations broke down last week between Rick and the Kingdom, this week focused on terms slowly deteriorating between the Kingdom and the Saviors, but also allowing Rick to somehow find a new alley in the junkyard that time forgot.

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But let’s start with the Kingdom.  We saw on the first encounter that Ezekiel is being very patient when the Saviors humiliate or abuse his followers, but he’s refusing to let them fight back.  Doesn’t matter that the Saviors instigate an incident, he disciplines his followers.  I get that keeping this deal a secret from the Kingdom as a whole is for their own good, but he has to know that his followers have a breaking point.

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We know how much Richard is itching to fight, Benjamin is getting better and got in a strike during this week’s encounter, and now Morgan has lost his stick.  The Kingdom members aren’t trying to start a scuffle- they’re just defending themselves.  If Ezekiel is going to continue having problems with that, then it’s only a matter of time before the simmering tensions explode.

Hell, we now know just how far Richard is willing to go to bring down the Saviors, even if it means sacrifice.  His plan is foolish.  I can’t even call it a desperation tactic because if that were the case, he’d be willing to sacrifice himself, not someone else.  But why try and lure the Saviors to Carol and assume that her death would convince Ezekiel in going to war?

As far as Ezekiel knows, Carol keeps to herself, so he’d have to be suspicious why the Saviors would target Carol in the first place.  At least Daryl realized Richard’s plans and put a stop to it.  For the time being.

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The reunion between Carol and Daryl was warm, heartfelt, and earned, given the strength of their bond.  When Daryl asked Carol why she left, that was an emotional moment for them both, made stronger by the great chemistry between McBride and Reedus.

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But then the moment goes further when Daryl refuses to tell Carol about who the Saviors killed.  He’s doing it because he sees Carol’s state of mind and doesn’t want to bring her any more suffering.  More than that, Carol mentions that if she killed again, there’d be nothing left of her.  Why add an extra level of heartache to someone who is already in pain?

At the same time, Daryl not revealing the truth makes me think that Carol is going to find out eventually.  Most of the time in television, if a character is keeping a secret, then the big revelation is going to hurt even worse because someone was kept in the dark about the news.  And I’m curious what could become of Carl and Daryl’s friendship should she find out that Daryl lied, even if to protect her.

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But let’s move onto the Garbage Pail Kids, and I know I’m not the first one to refer to them as that.  Their English seems old-fashioned, they don’t talk often despite having so many people, so recruitment must be a test of patience, and they don’t look like they can put up much of a fight in hand-to-hand combat, anyway.

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However, there’s still strength in numbers and Rick knows that these people could be of some use, even though he doesn’t know them, has little to offer, and isn’t in a position to negotiate.  There’s something humorous about Rick being so confident and optimistic that he can arrange a guaranteed deal with this community when they could be more a hindrance than help.  But crazier things have happened.

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Like that spiked walker.  That was a thing of inspiration from this show’s production team. It felt like a mini-boss you take on before reaching the final challenge of any video game. And I liked the way in which Rick had to defeat it.  He didn’t have a weapon, and despite looking pretty scared when he first saw the walker, he fought and survived a challenge that apparently some people have lost.

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That being said, can we talk about the shitty green screen effects?  I’m not an expert on green screen, CGI, or really anything in general, but when Rick stood atop that trash heap, it looked very distracting, especially when what looked like a plane flew by Rick in the background.

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But onto the character stuff, I’m glad at how far Rick and Gabriel have come.  Here’s a preacher that Rick didn’t trust from the start, but now, after all they’ve endured together, Rick never believed that Gabriel would abandon him and the others.  It really does show how Rick, despite hating Gabriel for a period of time, can come around and soon call the man his friend.

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Speaking of friends and enemies, Rosita is saying and doing anything it takes to make enemies among the group.  Between Sasha, Morgan, thinking Gabriel stole from them, and now quarrel with Tara, Rosita is going to piss off the wrong person and I would bet that the next confrontation she has could get physical.  I expect that if Rosita gets under another person’s skin, that person is going to throw a punch.

“New Best Friends” gave Rick some new allies from the reject Mad Max cosplayers and gave Daryl and Carol the reunion that they deserved.  With Daryl now headed to the Hilltop and Rick’s group now looking for weapons, the lead-up to war with the Saviors continues.

A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 7, Episode 8: “Hearts Still Beating”

From bottle episodes to multiple plots, it’s time for The Walking Dead to end the first half of its seventh season, and if anything, it solidifies in Rick’s mind by episode’s end that things need to change and fast.  This is “Hearts Still Beating.”

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The episode begins at the Hilltop with Maggie sitting at Abraham and Glenn’s graves.  She later climbs the walls when Gregory tells her that people are saying nice things about her, Sasha, and how they saved the community.

Gregory doesn’t want it going to her head, but Maggie wonders if this bothers Gregory, who is about to eat an apple.  Then another Hilltop member, Eduardo, mentions that Maggie is pregnant, so goodbye Gregory’s apple and hello Maggie’s apple.

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We then cut to Alexandria, where Negan puts the finishing touches on a clean shave while Carl and Judith watch.  He then gets to work cooking up a storm.

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Outside, Tara gives Olivia some lemonade that’s intended for Negan.  Tara offers to take over, but Olivia refuses since she promised Rick that she would watch Judith.  She tells Tara to leave.

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Over at the Sanctuary, Daryl makes his escape from his cell.

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Meanwhile, Aaron and Rick find a boat riddled with bullet holes.  Rick wants Aaron to stay back, but Aaron refuses, saying that he’s seeing this through. Instead, he gets some wood to use as paddles and the two then set out on the water.

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As Carl sets the dinner table, Negan tells him to get another setting, but he soon gets tired of waiting for Rick.  Lucille, though, is hungry, so Negan orders Carl to pass the rolls.  At least he said please.  Lucille doesn’t have a pussy, but she apparently has a mouth.

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As Eugene enters the Safe Zone, the Saviors make good of Spencer’s supplies and are glad that he got messy for them.  One of the Saviors, Laura, played by Lindsley Register, tells Spencer that if he plays his cards right, they may show him where she lives.  Laura then tells an eavesdropping Eugene to fuck off and mind his own business.

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Back by the Kingdom, Carol reads from a book when she spots a package from Morgan on her doorstep.  Carol calls out to Morgan and tells him that the package of fresh food is unnecessary because Ezekiel is keeping her well-stocked.  Morgan promises to leave Carol alone, but she did call him over in the first place to ask how he’s doing.

Morgan is good, so now he can go.  He tells Carol that she may be going soft.  Morgan won’t be going anywhere, as he and Carol receive an unexpected visit from Richard, who wants to talk to the two about something important.

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On the water, Rick and Aaron continue their trek and take out as many walkers that are drawing close to their boat, which is taking on water.  They manage to reach another boat, but a walker has already made it her territory.  And then another walker grabs Aaron and drags him into the water.  After a bit of time passes, he resurfaces unharmed.  Sorry, Bob.

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However, Aaron and Rick come up short, as they find food and tons of guns, but no ammunition. Just a less-than-pleasant note from the owner.

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Back at the Sanctuary, Daryl sneaks into another room where he feasts on peanut butter and changes into a new set of clothes.

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As the two pack, Rick tells Aaron that he didn’t mean to imply that Aaron couldn’t help out.  It’s just that people don’t agree with Rick scavenging for the Saviors, so Rick wouldn’t blame Aaron if he backed out.  Aaron reminds Rick that he was with him on the road.  What they’re doing is going to keep people alive.  It doesn’t matter what happens to them, even if Michonne doesn’t see this as living.

After Alexandria lived free, it’s hard to give up what you have, but either your heart’s beating or it isn’t.  Same for your loved ones.  You take what’s given to you so you can live.

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Michonne is still on the road with Isabelle, who is continuing her drive presumably towards the Sanctuary.  Michonne asks how long she’s been with Negan and why she was out there alone, but gets no response.  Whether Isabelle believes that talking won’t change how this ends for her remains to be seen, but for now, Michonne won’t kill Negan today. She just wants to find a way to win and change how this ends for her.

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Back at the Hilltop, Sasha and Maggie get an apple pie as a gift for their work in saving the Hilltop.  Enid asks if Maggie is President yet, but she isn’t.  Also, Jesus hasn’t returned yet.  Enid knows that Sasha is lying to Maggie about Jesus, given that he left yesterday, not today, as Sasha said.  Sasha says this is for Maggie’s own good.  Enid knows that Sasha wants to kill Negan.

If Sasha had help, she wouldn’t have to keep this from Maggie.  But Sasha doesn’t want Enid helping or talking, even though this effort to take down Negan goes well beyond Sasha.

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Richard speaks with Carol and Morgan about communities that once banded together, but are now gone.  He lost hope in people until he found the Kingdom and met Ezekiel.  But now the Kingdom is under threat by the Saviors.  A few months back, some Saviors met Ezekiel and, recognizing his capabilities, cut a deal.  In exchange for food and supplies, , the Saviors wouldn’t hurt anyone or enter the Kingdom.

And since Ezekiel both trusts Morgan and likes Carol, Richard needs them to help convince Ezekiel to fight the Saviors.  There’s peace with the Saviors now, but Richard fears that something will go wrong or the Saviors will just stop honoring the deal.  Once that happens, the Kingdom will fall.  Richard lost his family to this world and he’s afraid that if nothing happens now, more will die.

He knows what the Saviors can do and does not trust them.  In essence, Richard wants Morgan and Carol to convince Ezekiel to launch a preemptive strike against the Saviors.

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Over at Alexandria’s church, Rosita admires her handcrafted bullet when Gabriel asks if it’s for her or Negan.  She’s not worried about dying so long as Negan is killed in the process.  Gabriel agrees, but he doesn’t see why does Rosita has to die.  And there’s no need to lie if this is their last conversation.

Rosita believes that Abraham was still alive, they could fight.  If Glenn lived, Maggie’s child would have a father.  Michonne and Carl have Rick, Aaron has Eric, Eugene knows things, and Daryl is strong.  Gabriel mentions Sasha as well and tells Rosita that it shouldn’t have been her or anyone else.

He is convinced that they will win, but they need to wait for or create the right moment together.  Rosita is a part of that, so she shouldn’t do this because everyone needs her.

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Richard knows that the Saviors outnumber the Kingdom, so they need to attack first while they have the advantage and, hopefully, the element of surprise.  Though a capable fighter, Carol wants no part of this and would still prefer to be left alone.

Morgan knows people will die, and he only killed to save Carol.  In Richard’s mind, there’s no difference between that and killing other Saviors to protect everyone else.  Richard tells While Morgan would rather build on the peace that exists now, Richard tells him that he’ll have to choose to kill one day because things aren’t going to get easier. He should choose now before losing someone close to him.

But Richard knows that there’s no reasoning with the Saviors.  He believes that the Saviors will turn on the Kingdom, and when blood is shed, it will be on Morgan and Carol’s hands.  With that, he leaves.  Carol tells Morgan that she doesn’t want anyone else knowing where she is, but he never meant for anyone to see her.

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Spencer enters his home and finds it turned upside down, but it’s soon cleaned up as he gets himself nice and ready for a confrontation.

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Back in the woods, Richard enters a hidden home and collapses to the floor as he eyes his supplies.

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Rosita then asks Spencer if he’s on for a date, but he just wants to get close to Negan, as he figures that he’s got good momentum with the Saviors.  Spencer asks why Rosita ended or even started what the two of them had, given that he felt they had something good.

Truth is that Rosita was trying not to think about shit. finds Spencer sweet, sure, but she admits that she just used him.  At the very least, she does agree to dinner with Spencer, no strings attached.

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Daryl again manages to find a motorcycle when he’s confronted by Fat Joseph, who surrenders and offers to let Daryl leave right now.  He tells Daryl that he’s just trying to get by, but Daryl just beats him to death just as Jesus finds him.  Daryl retorts that it’s not about getting by, but getting it all.  Before the two leave, Jesus pockets one of the walkie-talkies.

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After being refused entry by Arat, Spencer is eventually allowed to pass and officially introduces himself to Negan.

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Michonne and Isabelle companion are still on the road when they come to a stop. Isabelle tells Michonne that Negan is up ahead.   You know, because they’re all Negan. She says that whatever Michonne is planning won’t work, but she still has some choices. As her final move, Isabelle informs Michonne that there’s a silencer in the glove compartment…

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Meanwhile, Rick and Aaron return to Alexandria, when they learn that Negan is waiting for Rick.  The Saviors then check the truck for supplies, among them the note that Rick and Aaron found on the boat.  Why the hell do they still have that?  Anyway, the Saviors think that the disparaging note is meant for them, so they start beating the shit out of Aaron and stop Rick from interfering.

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Negan is overjoyed about Spencer’s housewarming gift, but the only thing missing is a pool table.  Luckily, the house across the street has one, but Negan has a better idea.

With the pool table set, Spencer tells Negan that he understands what Negan is trying to build with this network.  It makes sense, but Rick has a history of not working well with others.  More than that, Rick wasn’t the original leader and wasn’t as good as Deanna.  Negan finds that a sad story, but lucky for him, Rick isn’t in charge.  Even still, Spencer knows that Rick’s out-of-control ego will lead to him trying to screw things up.

With the Alexandria residents now gathered at the pool table, Negan asks what Spencer is proposing, and Spencer offers to be the leader that Negan needs.

But Negan has been thinking about how Rick, despite hating him, is out gathering things to make sure no one else is hurt.  He’s swallowing his hate to get shit done, and that takes guts.  Then there’s Spencer, who waited for Rick to leave so he could get Negan to do his dirty work.  After all, if Spencer really wants to be in charge, why doesn’t he just kill Rick himself?

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Negan says it’s because Spencer has no guts.  And with that, he plunges a knife straight into Spencer’s stomach and guts spill out everywhere.  Negan is beyond embarrassed, as Spencer did have guts after all- they were inside him all along.  The residents are left shocked, but Negan orders someone to get this mess cleaned.  He asks if anyone wants to finish the pool game, but no takers.  Rosita pulls out her gun and fires.

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The other Saviors finally let up on beating Aaron and Rick is allowed to help him.  They hear a gunshot ring out and it turns out that Lucille ended up taking a hit from Rosita’s bullet.  Negan demands to know about the bullet that he correctly guesses is homemade.

Since Lucille’s beautiful surface won’t look the same, Negan figures that Rosita’s shouldn’t either…unless she tells him who made the bullet.  Arat then places a blade to Rosita’s face.

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Rosita says that she made it, but Negan figures that she’s lying.  Negan orders Arat to kill someone, so with fucking perfect aim, she turns around and kills Olivia.  And this is where Rick and Aaron arrive just in time for Negan to ask for a thank you.  Even though this relationship started off tense, he just showed how reasonable how he was.  After all, Carl gunned down two Saviors, but Negan brought him home and fed him.

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Not to mention Spencer plotting behind Rick’s back, but now he’s dead.  Again, thanks to Negan.  And Rosita shot Lucille, so now there’s one less mouth to feed in Olivia’s death.  Negan wouldn’t have killed her- that’s all Arat’s doing.  Rick tells Negan that his shit is waiting for him at the gate, so he can leave.  However, Negan still wants to know who made the bullet.

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Eugene admits that he was the one who made the bullet, and Negan believes him.  Negan orders Lucille to give him strength and Negan will now relieve Rick of Eugene.  Whatever Rick scavenged is no good because after today, he’s in deep shit. Also, Negan loves Rick’s kitchen.  With that, the Saviors depart.  Spencer soon reanimates just as Rick puts him down.

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He later sits in the cell that Morgan built as he looks over a note when Michonne joins him.  The two embrace because, let’s face it, they’ve had one hell of a day.  Michonne confirms that she found what she was looking for, as she had to go her way instead of joining Rick and Aaron.  But when she found it, she realized that she didn’t want it to be her way, but theirs.

There are more Saviors than anticipated, but that doesn’t change how Michonne how feels or how things are.  There’s so much that they’ve lived through when they should have died and they will keep standing, so now they’re left wondering how they make that mean something.  After all, Rick once said that they’re the ones who live.  That’s why they have to fight: not for themselves, but for everyone.  They can find a way to beat the Saviors.

And Rick now knows that.

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Back at the Hilltop, Maggie again climbs the walls when she calls out to Sasha and Enid.  Turns out that Rick, Michonne, Tara, Carl, and Rosita have arrived at the Hilltop.  Rick tells Maggie that she was right from the beginning, as they need to get ready to fight.  Rick couldn’t have listened back then, but now he can.

Oh, also, Daryl and Jesus are at the Hilltop and he returns Rick’s colt.  Now reunited, the group heads towards the mansion as the first half of The Walking Dead’s seventh season comes to a close.

But wait, there’s more!  In a stinger at the end, Gabriel takes his post atop the Alexandria walls while the same individual who spied on Rick and Aaron watches him from a distance.

Well, that’s it for the first half of Season Seven and the wheels are in motion with the communities heading towards taking on Negan and the Saviors.  “Hearts Still Beating” is a very good episode and finisher for the first half that balances different storylines and communities very well.  It was all well-paced.  We’re at Alexandria, the Hilltop, the Sanctuary, or the Kingdom long enough to get the gist of what’s going happening.

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While I haven’t had a big issue with the episodes dealing with one community, it makes sense, given the situation, that things are ramping up, so of course we’d head back to multiple plots and catch up not just on how the communities are doing, but how they’re planning on dealing with Negan.

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And a big part of that has to do with being unified, as Michonne concludes when on the road and as she tells Rick in a very good speech about working together.  Making the most of this situation with the Saviors doesn’t work if everyone isn’t banded together.  Hell, even Gabriel tells Rosita that creating the right moment comes from working as one as opposed to going at it alone.  Hopefully Sasha and Jesus have let Maggie in on their plan.

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But a team won’t function as well without its leader, and it looks as if Rick has finally come around to fighting back as opposed to biding his time.  And that’s through a combination of the people who have either suffered or been killed up through this point, watching Aaron be beaten, Michonne’s speech to him, and how his own son went right to Negan’s stronghold, killed a few Saviors, and could’ve gotten himself killed.  Again.

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Rick had been brought down, but he’s not out.  And while Maggie instantly wanted to fight, it took him more time to come around.  Now that he’s ready for war and has reunited with the others at the Hilltop, now it’s just a matter of formulating a successful attack that won’t lead to more deaths, impossible as that sounds.  Instead of just taking the fight to Negan ahead of time, he needs a better strategy.

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He also needs to be more trusting of his new allies, as it was unnecessary for him to suggest that Aaron sit out the boat mission, even though he didn’t mean it.  Despite the tense, first encounter, Aaron has proven himself loyal and willing to help when necessary.  He was there when Glenn and Abraham died, so he knows the cost, but damn the consequences, he’s proving to Rick why he’s a vital member of this coalition.

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Over at the Kingdom, Richard is falling into the same trap that Rick did with his plan of a preemptive strike against the Saviors.  He knows that the Saviors can’t be trusted and he wants to take the fight to them ahead of time, but if he was aware of what happened with Rick, chances are he would be more cautious about wanting to get a potential early advantage against the Saviors.

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By the way, what’s going on with Carol?  Seems like she’s still in her funk about not wanting to kill or be involved with this conflict at all.  That’s fine, but for her to say that she doesn’t want anyone to know where she is and that she’d rather be left alone isn’t helpful at this point.  I doubt this is long term.  Maybe once she learns what happened to the others, she’ll go back to killer Mama Bear Carol.

At the very least, the seed has been planted in Morgan and Carol’s minds about the Kingdom playing a part in an offensive against Negan.  And as Richard said, Morgan will have to kill again eventually to protect the people in his life.  Once Rick arrives at the Kingdom, I wager he’ll do a better job of persuading the community to fight than either Carol or Morgan.

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Now let’s get to Spencer’s death, another comic moment come to life in a beautiful, bloody way.  The moment played out, note-for-note, like you remember it from the comics and it really showed what Negan sees in Rick.  For all his hatred for Negan, Rick, as far as Negan knows, isn’t a schemer.  He’s swallowing his pride and working for Negan in order to protect Alexandria.

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By contrast, Spencer would take the coward’s way out and, like Gregory, suck up to the opposition in order to get in their good graces.  Problem is that Negan gets off on and likes when people fight against him.  What Spencer’s doing requires very little thought because there’s no guarantee that Negan would accept him with open arms.  As broken as Rick has been this season, Negan at least knows that he has a spine.

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Oh, but Spencer’s not the only one making stupid decisions.  Rosita took a prime opportunity to kill Negan and had a perfect shot, and not only did she almost get herself killed- and she seemed ready to die- but she got Olivia killed in the process.  Why now?

Daryl punched Negan in the face, which led to Glenn getting killed. Rosita took a shot and missed, but despite that, her actions got someone killed.  Clearly Rosita never watched The Wire or she would have remembered Omar’s words: you come at the king, you best not miss.

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Perhaps it was impulsive thinking, but what made her believe she could pull off what amounts to a suicide mission?  She didn’t even land her target, and now not only is Olivia dead, but Eugene has been taken captive.

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That’s another thing: why does Negan decide to take Eugene?  Aside from the knowledge of how to make bullets, what could Negan get from him?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to take Rosita?  He took Daryl hostage and said that he had guts.  Take the woman who almost killed you instead of the guy whose skill is making bullets.  Or, hell, just take them both.  Rick wasn’t about to stop Negan.

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Credit where it’s due, that was a fantastic shot on Arat’s part.  The woman didn’t even give it much of a thought- she just spun around and killed Olivia on the first try.  It’s more impressive given how far away Olivia was when Arat could have just killed anyone in the crowd around her.  By the way, I love Arat.  Or rather, the intensity of Elizabeth Ludlow’s performance.  Like Daryl, she’s not a comic character, but is enjoyable all the same.

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The reunion at the end felt very earned, especially seeing Rick and Daryl reunite after Negan refused to let the two so much as talk or look at each other.  I would assume that Daryl and Maggie are on good terms as well.  Our group is down, but they’re not out.

And with most of our survivors back together, the time has come for the communities to combine their resources and slowly build a strong coalition capable of taking on their common enemy in Negan and the Saviors.  Will everyone answer the call? Will there be any holdouts?  And who the hell is spying on Alexandria?

“Hearts Still Beating” was a very strong outing for the first half of the season.  It balanced multiple communities very well and was both fun- mostly through Negan’s actions- and suspenseful to watch at the same time.  As we head towards war, I am very excited to see how things go in the second half of Season Seven.  See you then.

A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 7, Episode 2: “The Well”

I imagine it’s hard for many to progress with and process The Walking Dead after watching Negan bash Glenn and Abraham to death.  But it’s time to put Rick and friends on hold so we can find out what happened with Carol and Morgan after “Last Day on Earth.”  And it involves a man and his tiger.

It makes sense in context.  This is “The Well.”

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The episode begins with Carol and Morgan being led by their two new companions.  As Morgan makes marks on the trees, Carol continues to rest on the carriage.  Soon, Morgan and the two armored men fend off walkers.  Carol, though, becomes frightened at the sight of walkers and heads for the woods.

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As she passes a house, other folks arrive on horseback and eliminate the walkers with ease.  Carol, though, sees not walkers being killed, but humans.  Morgan continues to make markings on the way to guide a path for those who may follow behind.

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Carol later awakens, now bandaged, and learns from Morgan that she’s been asleep for about two days.  Morgan takes her around this new community and tells her that they’ll be sticking around until they’re ready to leave, which could be at least a week.  As for this community?  Folks call it The Kingdom.  Carol worries if Morgan told the members about where they’re from, but Morgan wasn’t specific.

Anyway, Morgan is taking Carol to meet the group’s leader, who calls himself King Ezekiel.  As Morgan wheels Carol into an auditorium, we meet him.

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Sitting on a throne with his tiger, named Shiva, at his side, is King Ezekiel, played by Khary Payton.  Ezekiel feels his tiger’s concern since neither of them have met Carol, but if she’s a friend of Morgan, then both are a friend of the realm.  Ezekiel formally introduces Carol to The Kingdom.

Carol remains silent.  Ezekiel senses her skepticism, so he asks what she thinks of the Kingdom.  Carol finds it all amazing, as she has no idea what the hell is going on in the most wonderful way.  Ezekiel encourages those who come to the community to enjoy it for as long as they like, as long as they contribute.

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Drink from the well and replenish it in return.  Ezekiel’s right hand man, Jerry, played by Cooper Andrews, offers Carol some fruit, but she refuses.  Not even a pomegranate.

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But all Carol would like is some rest and a hairbrush.  With that, Morgan wheels Carol out.  Naturally, Carol is skeptical.  She calls the place make-believe and refuses to stay.  She’ll wait, and when Morgan isn’t there, she’ll leave.  And the decision isn’t up to him.  Morgan knows what he’s started, but he won’t let Carol die.  But to Carol, it doesn’t matter what Morgan does.

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Ezekiel brings Morgan along to accompany him and some Kingdom followers out for work. The group herds some pigs into a room with a tied-up walker, which Morgan finds problematic.  This is to fill the pigs up with rot.  The group takes care of some approaching walkers, with Ezekiel delivering the final blow since Benjamin, played by Logan Miller, can’t bring himself to do it.

They tell Morgan that the folks back home don’t need to know any of this, whether it’s pigs eating the dead or anything else.  As Morgan spots another caravan heading off, he’s only told that they’re going somewhere else.

Now there’s a reason that the pigs are feasting on a walker, but we’ll get to that later.

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Ezekiel compliments Morgan’s skill with his staff and asks where he learned.  The two talk, with Ezekiel talking of pessimists and optimists.  The realist, though, looks look forward.  He thinks that Benjamin’s path needs adjustment since he’s not good with munitions or blades, so hopefully Morgan can train him.

Morgan tells Ezekiel that the man he shot to save Carol wasn’t killed by the staff.  True enough, but it has saved Morgan.  Ezekiel is confident that Benjamin will become a vital member of his court, but he needs to be trained and survive.  Morgan soon agrees.  The Kingdom is favored by Morgan’s presence, apparently.

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As life in The Kingdom continues, Carol remains skeptical.  While Morgan trains Benjamin, Carol wheels herself around and grabs a blade.  Later, she talks with one of the community members about different kinds of cobblers.  Did you know that there’s lunch cobbler?  Carol still finds it all hilarious.  Lunch cobbler is hilarious.

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Benjamin asks Morgan about his philosophy book and asks if he can borrow it since he’s read every book in the community.  Ezekiel approaches and tells the two men to follow him for an important matter.

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Ezekiel later tells Morgan that the secrets he keeps from the community are also burdens. And we learn just why the pigs feed on walkers, as the Kingdom folks are joined by a group of Saviors who are ready to pick up their eight, well fed hogs that totally didn’t just feast on a walker.  Ezekiel, you sly son of a bitch.

One of the Saviors picks a fight with one of the Kingdom members, Richard, played by Karl Makinen.  A fight breaks out, but Ezekiel orders his troops to lower their weapons. This is not how they act.  So the Savior gets in a few free shots at Richard.

But the leader of this small Savior group orders his man to stop, saying that the Kingdom has been good to the Saviors.  Ezekiel tells Richard that they will discuss this later.  The Saviors will be back in seven days for produce week.

If they don’t deliver, Richard will come first.  Morgan tells Ezekiel that the man he killed was also a Savior.  He then asks if he’s been brought to the Kingdom because he can kill Saviors again, but Ezekiel says that isn’t why he’s here.  In fact, it’s the opposite.

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Later, Benjamin reminds a kid, Dutch, to clean his plate before he goes off for Movie Night. When Dutch leaves, Benjamin admits to Morgan that he doesn’t what he’s doing raising him.

Ezekiel was close with Benjamin’s father, who was one of the Kingdom’s best fighters.  One year ago, Ezekiel sent some members to clear out a building, but there wasn’t enough backup.  Eight men didn’t make it out, and Benjamin’s father was one of them.

But Ezekiel is much more careful now.  He told Benjamin that he’s keeping his deal with the Saviors quiet because he thinks that people will want to fight.  That’s a fight the Kingdom would lose and Ezekiel doesn’t want to lose any more people.  Morgan wonders if the community shouldn’t fight.  Benjamin asks about a hand-written inscription in the book- not written by him, though.

It’s not about what Morgan thinks, though.  People can set you in the right direction, but they can’t show you the way.  You have to figure that out for yourself.  Morgan thought that he had it, but he didn’t.  Sometimes, we change our minds, and right now, Morgan is fumbling.  Anyway, Morgan heads off to talk with Carol.

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But when Morgan goes to check on Carol, he finds the room empty.

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That night, Carol picks some fruit when Ezekiel spots her.  He had the area re-purposed into a garden and it’s his favorite place in the Kingdom.  He’s glad that she’s seen the area before she chooses to leave.  Carol apologizes, but she feels that she’s no good here.  Ezekiel excuses Jerry, who overstays his welcome, and reminds Carol to not bullshit a bullshitter.

He sees right through Carol’s sweet and innocent act- it even worked on him for a bit.  She blends in and get people to trust her, and then she leaves, as if she wasn’t there.  It turns out that Carol’s guns in her pack belong to The Saviors.  Though she won her fight with them, she remains skeptical of the Kingdom, as she calls it and Ezekiel one big joke.  Outside is real.

Carol thought she could just be, but in her mind, Ezekiel is selling people a fairy tale.  Ezekiel takes a seat next to her and tells her that people want someone to follow.  It’s human nature that people want someone to make them feel safe.  If they see a man with a tiger, people star to tell stories about how he wrestled it into submission and turned it into his pet.

So yeah, Ezekiel became something larger than life.  Who was he to burst people’s bubble?  Next thing he knew, people treated him like royalty.  So Ezekiel gave the people someone to follow and faked it until he made it.  He was just a damn zookeeper.

One day, Shiva fell into a concrete moat and her leg was ripped open.  She would have bled out.  Ezekiel knew the risk, but he had to try, so he wrapped his shirt around her leg and saved her life.  After that, she never showed as much as a toot in his direction.  Keeping a tiger isn’t practical, though, yes.  Ezekiel has lost a lot, just like everyone else.

When the world went to shit, Shiva was one of the remaining animals at the zoo- trapped and alone, just like him.  She was the last thing in this world that Ezekiel loved and she protected him.  She ended up making him larger than life.  Ezekiel also used to act in community theater.  At the very least, Ezekiel is his real name.  But he does want Carol to keep all this to herself for the sake of the community…and a little bit for himself.

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And yet, Carol doesn’t care.  Ezekiel can do what he wants, but she wants to leave.  As Carol leaves, Ezekiel apologizes for whatever shit she’s been through.  There’s far too much of it out there.  It can feel even worse when you’re alone.  The thing is, though, it’s not all bad.  It isn’t.  Life isn’t, and where there’s life, there’s hope, heroism, grace, and love.

Carol may be walking around lost, but Ezekiel found a way to deal with all the bad shit.  He embraced the contradiction and, yes, went overboard.   Carol could do the same- she could leave and not leave.  Crazy as Ezekiel sounds, he’s willing to help if Carol lets him.  Why does Ezekiel even care?  It makes him feel good.  He then offers Carol to help her if she is indeed leaving.

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The next day, Morgan escorts Carol to a house just outside the walls of the Kingdom- the same house we saw earlier in the episode.  Morgan admits that the decision should have always been up to him and calls Carol his favorite person that he’s ever knocked out.  Well, that’s high praise.  The two bid each other a sort-of farewell.  As Morgan leaves, Carol enters the home and kills the walker.  She later buries it in the yard.

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Later, she tends to a fire when there’s a knock at the door.  It’s Ezekiel and Shiva, with Ezekiel insisting that Carol try one of the pomegranate.

Remember how, right after the very serious “No Way Out,” we got the fun and comedic adventures of “The Next World” where Rick and Daryl engaged in a comedy of errors while chasing down Jesus?  And how that episode ended with Jesus confronting Rick and Michonne, who were ready to fight him completely naked?

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“The Well” is that kind of light-hearted fun in the aftermath of Negan showing Rick and the others that he means business.  It opens up the world of The Walking Dead and introduces viewers to another community, but reminded us of the seriousness of dealing with the Saviors.  It was fun when it needed to be, but also serious when the situations called for it.

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We aren’t given a clear indication of when this episode takes place compared to the previous one, but given the timeline of “Last Day on Earth,” I’m thinking that Carol and Morgan must arrive and spend their first day at the Kingdom around the same time that Rick and company are captured by Negan.  That’s my best guess, anyway.

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In addition, the presence of Saviors could either be other members that came from the Sanctuary, or these could be part of the group that captured the survivors.  They could have just gone to the Kingdom after leaving Rick’s group.  Even if not spelled out, it’s an interesting juxtaposition to have Morgan and Carol living in this supposedly carefree community while their friends have been brought to a low point by Negan.

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And even though he himself is not here, Negan’s presence is still felt by Saviors arriving to collect their tribute.  On the Saviors for a second, they seem to have established some kind of rapport with the Kingdom to the point that the leader of the group tries to avoid a fight.  Little do they know that they’re being fed poisoned pigs, which, I’ll admit, is a pretty damn clever plan, even if it doesn’t work in the short or long term.

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I’ll get to the inhabitants of the Kingdom in a second, but as for Carol, I’m mixed on her at the moment.  I like that she keeps up the innocent act so she can, as Ezekiel pointed out, blend in, and it shows how wary she remains of something that looks too good to be true. Given what the group has seen and endured from other communities so far, I can’t say that I blame her.

But while Alexandria felt like a safe haven, the Kingdom is too good to be real.  A thriving, seemingly carefree community ruled by a man with a tiger?  Lunch cobbler?  A choir? Yeah, it does smell like bullshit.  Unlike Rick, though, Carol doesn’t just come off as antagonistic or go up and punch a stranger in the face.  She is, in fact, the alert Mama Bear, and despite her condition, she doesn’t drop her defenses.

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By episode’s end, she seems to have warmed to Ezekiel after he gets straight with her, but this is where I don’t know what to expect from Carol.  At the start, she still appears out of it.  I can’t tell whether she’s snapped out of her desire to die or if she’s still against killing.  At least, killing the living, since she took care of the walker in the home.  But is she back to normal or still hiding something?  Time will tell.

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Morgan has come a long way since Eastman’s teachings due to spending time with Carol. He doesn’t want to kill, but realizes more than ever that when put in a dangerous situation, he may not have a choice.  As the world continues to change, so does he, and hopefully this means he’s becoming someone more willing to kill instead of neutralize when he’s threatened.  His outlook on life is changing for the better when it comes to survival.

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While Eastman showed Morgan a better direction, he’s been finding the way himself, and I believe that he’s learned from his mistakes.  Him letting the Wolves escape is what led to them almost killing Rick.  And allowing the Wolf leader led to him taking Denise hostage. But when put in a situation where Carol almost died, Morgan made the ultimate choice. His staff has saved his life many times, but it was the gun that saved Carol’s.

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I think Morgan connects more with the people of the Kingdom than the folks in Alexandria. Under Rick’s rule, the people of Alexandria must be ready to fight. But the people of the Kingdom, while they may have a desire to fight, don’t necessarily want to, more so if the odds are high that they would lose.  I look forward to seeing how Morgan will mentor Benjamin.

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The Kingdom itself is what the Alexandria Safe Zone wishes it could be.  Even if unprepared, the inhabitants are ready to fight.  More than that, they’re well aware of the dangers from both walkers and other people like the Saviors.  And while Deanna was interested in community building, Ezekiel, though putting on an act, gives off the vibe of a capable leader willing to lead his people into battle.

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And chalk this up to The Walking Dead once again nailing a casting.  Khary Payton makes a great first impression as Ezekiel.  He walks and speaks with an air of confidence, but not arrogance.  He participates in hunts and dealings with other communities, can handle himself when dealing with walkers, and has given the people of the Kingdom someone they can trust.

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He’s active in training his followers and is very welcoming to Carol and Morgan, but despite how kind he appears, Ezekiel is no fool.  And I like how he sees right through Carol’s bullshit.  This isn’t a role that Ezekiel wanted.  But when an urban legend gets out of hand, in a world where hope seems lost, what choice is there but to embrace the fantasy and restore optimism to survivors?

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Hearing Ezekiel’s backstory helps humanize and makes him very relatable because, just like Carol, he’s wearing a mask.  Behind that bravado and tiger is a man who was just a zookeeper and community theater actor.  He didn’t tame Shiva- just loved her.  And while this humanizes Ezekiel, it also allows him to gain some of Carol’s trust, as she was ready to walk away from the Kingdom.

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I don’t know yet where the show will take these two.  Is the show setting them up for a relationship of sorts?  It’s too soon to tell, but since Michonne is currently with Rick, it doesn’t look like she’ll follow her comic counterpart and enter a relationship with Ezekiel. At least, not yet.  Again, there’s not much to go off of yet, but there seems to be something there

“The Well” is solid, light-hearted episode that opens up the world of The Walking Dead even more through the introduction of Ezekiel and the Kingdom, progressed Morgan and Carol’s character development, and showed that despite the likes of the Saviors terrorizing and antagonizing other communities, the Kingdom is a sign that there’s still hope in the world.  Ezekiel had a strong debut and I can’t wait to see more of him.

A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 7 Premiere: “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be”

We have been waiting for this moment.  The sixth season finale of The Walking Dead, “Last Day on Earth,” introduced Negan to Rick’s group as a menacing threat and the episode itself ended with Negan picking and beating an unseen member to death with his barbed wired bat, Lucille.  After a lot of buildup and momentum in the longer than normal episode, “Last Day on Earth” had a lot of people excited going into it.

To say that a chunk of the fanbase was dissatisfied, disappointed, or downright angry because of the cliffhanger ending would be an understatement.

Whether it was Greg Nicotero trying to justify the cliffhanger, the cast saying they themselves had no idea who had been picked, and Robert Kirkman himself even sort-of apologizing for the cliffhanger in a Letter Hacks section of The Walking Dead comic, it’s clear that someone heard the backlash.  Even without the cliffhanger, the show remained on people’s minds.

Fast forward to Season 7 and here we are with “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be.” There were a lot of promises going into this premiere, expectations from viewers, and hopes that the cliffhanger was worth it.

I myself was more disappointed than anything with the decision, but wouldn’t just leave the show because of a creative decision.    That’d be petty.  Would the premiere satisfy? Would we even learn about Negan’s pick?  And would it be worth the wait?  Oh, let me stop wasting your time.  Let’s jump right back into the world of The Walking Dead.

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The season begins sometime after we left off on “Last Day on Earth,” with a frightened Rick, now with blood on his face, declaring that he will kill Negan.  Not today or tomorrow, but someday.  Negan, though, wants to hear that again, as he isn’t impressed.

He asks Simon, Steven Ogg’s character, what weapon Rick had- it’s a hatchet.  Plus an axe.  Negan’s far from impressed.  Simon, turns out, is Negan’s right hand man, and one of those is important.

Without one, you’re left without work.  Negan wonders who Rick’s right hand man is, or whether that’s the one who met a now bloodied Lucille.  Negan claims Rick’s axe, stares Rick down, and pockets the weapon.  He then drags Rick with him into the RV for a little trip.  We then pan down to a bloodied mess on the ground.

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Negan forces Rick into the camper, but it doesn’t start.  Negan mocks Rick’s declaration to kill him, especially given what just happened.  Rick’s best chance is to use the axe to kill Negan right now.  Maybe he’ll get lucky.  Negan isn’t impressed with Rick’s bravado.  Once Rick grabs the axe, Negan is ready with a machine gun.  He socks Rick right in the gut for extra measure and then sees that dawn is breaking.  It’s a brand new day.

Still, Negan wants Rick to consider what can happen if he keeps acting this way.  The RV finally starts and the drive begins as Negan plows down walkers, all while Rick is reminded of his friends through convenient, black and white flashbacks.  The camper comes to a stop as Negan sits next to Rick, saying that he is his, as are the others.  Hell, even the axe belongs to Negan.  He wants damn near everything, didn’t you know?

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He opens the door and tosses the axe onto the roof of the RV, but still wants Rick to get it.  Rick refuses, but he eventually gives in, Negan forcing him out to retrieve the weapon.  In the thick fog, Rick fends off walkers while still having flashbacks-I mean, memories.

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He’s soon forced to climb the camper and spots the axe.  And then he looks out at the land ahead, filled with walkers and realizes he’s back at the spot where the man was hanged.  As Rick falls to his knees, he hears Negan taunting him for his optimism.  The world doesn’t work like that.  It’s time to think about what matters.

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We flash back to earlier that night as Negan is left unable to decide.  He goes one by one to pick his victim as Rick watches.  He finally lands on his choice: Abraham.   Negan goes to town and bashes Abraham’s head over and over.  Though Abraham was defiant in his final moment, telling Negan to suck his nuts, Negan continues the beating long after Abraham is dead.  His head is nothing but a bloody mess.

An overjoyed Negan wants everyone to look at his dirty girl as Lucille is bloody beyond belief.  He guesses that Rosita was with Abraham, but there was a reason that Abraham was picked.  He took a beating for the team, so Negan orders Rosita to look.  This is what leads Daryl to lash out and punch Negan.  The Saviors restrain him, but Negan doesn’t want them to harm him.  That lashing out is a no-no.  That shit doesn’t fly.

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Dwight is ready to kill with the crossbow at the ready, but Negan tells him to stand down, saying he doesn’t kill Daryl until he tries.  That’s now how this works.  The first one was free, and Negan will shut any other shit down.  Negan doesn’t know much about Rick’s group, but he’s a man of his word.  First impressions are important.  As such, he needs Rick and company to know him.

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So back to it, as Negan turns Lucille on Glenn.  With his face fucked beyond belief, Glenn attempts to call out for Maggie, but it doesn’t come out clearly.  Negan is sorry that the group is taking this so hard, but no exceptions.  So he gets back to work and beats the fucking shit out of Glenn, even long after he’s no longer has a head and his body is nothing a twitching mess.  Lucille is thirsty, as she is a vampire bat.  Timing, Negan.

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In the present, Rick and his axe remain on the camper, which is still surrounded by roamers.  And Negan still wants the damn axe.  He gives Rick one more try to get the axe, but then gunfire rains out across the roof of the camper.  Rick runs and grabs onto the hanged walker- risky move, but cool nonetheless, which begins to give way.  Before the walkers can claim Rick, Negan opens fire from the camper and kills the walkers.

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Rick crawls away from the walkers and retrieves the axe, all while having flashes of Lucille meeting the rest of the group.  He returns to the camper to find the door locked. Negan kills some of the walkers, which gives Rick an opening to enter the camper and return the now bloodied axe.  The journey continues until Negan arrives at the destination.  He knows that this is hard for Rick, losing two of his own and in front of his son.

He picks up Rick’s axe, saying that Rick must have been addicted to being in charge.  However, Rick can still lead a productive life of giving to Negan.  He then returns the axe to Rick, saying that he may need it.

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Negan dumps Rick out of the camper and brings him back to the spot where the murders took place.  He tells Rick that this was all because of the way that Rick looked at him.  Negan wanted Rick to understand, but he doesn’t like how Rick is still looking at him.  So Negan wonders whether he should give Rick another chance, and Rick does want one.  What happens next will determine if this is everyone’s last day.

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The Saviors put guns to everyone else’s heads.  Negan summons Carl to his side, and it takes some prodding to get Carl to comply.  He asks if Carl is left-handed, and he isn’t, so Negan ties his belt to Carl’s left arm.  He increases the pressure, but it doesn’t hurt.  He tosses Carl’s hat and orders him on the ground next to his father.  Negan then asks Simon for a pen.  When given one, Negan draws a line across Carl’s arm.

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Rick begs Negan not to do anything, but Negan isn’t doing shit.  Instead, he wants Rick to cut off Carl’s left arm.  Or else everyone else around him dies, as well as everyone in Alexandria, and eventually, Rick himself.  He’ll get to live long enough to understand what he’s done.  Michonne tells Negan that the group understands, but Negan wants Rick to understand.  And this job needs to happen or Negan will just kill Carl instead.

Then Rick offers himself to Negan, but this is the only way.  And not making a decision is still a decision.  When Rick refuses, Negan begins to count.  Rick cries that this can be him instead of his son.  Carl pleads with Rick to just do it.  Rick picks up the axe, but Negan stops him.  Rick answers to, provides for, and belongs to Negan.  Negan finally gets the look that he wants from Rick.  With that he, takes back the axe.

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Negan congratulates everyone for a productive day.  He hopes that, for everyone’s sake, they now understand how things work.  Things have changed.  Whatever the survivors had before is now over.  Negan then orders Dwight to bring Daryl along, so Dwight forces him into the van.  At least, in Negan’s eyes, Daryl has guts.  And he belongs to Negan.  If Rick gives Negan anymore shit, he will cut Daryl into pieces or have Negan do it.

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Welcome to a brand new beginning, Negan tells the survivors.  He leaves the group a truck that they’ll use to bring him supplies.  They’ll be back in a week for their first offering.  Until then, ta-ta.  With that, Negan and the Saviors leave.  As they depart, the survivors are left at an absolute low point with Glenn and Abraham now dead.

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They sit in absolute silence until Maggie stumbles over and tells Rick to get ready to fight the Saviors.  Well, of course.  Rick counters that the Saviors have Daryl and an army, so it would be a suicide mission.  Still, Maggie wants to go to the Hilltop on her own while Rick and others go back to Alexandria.  Rick tells Maggie that there’s still hope.  And yet Maggie still wants everyone to leave.

Michonne refuses to let Maggie leave, but Maggie insists.  However, Sasha jumps in, saying that she’ll escort Maggie to the Hilltop.  The group coalesces around Maggie, Rick even begs Maggie to let them help her.  Maggie hugs Carl as the others begin moving the bodies.

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As Negan’s words go through Rick’s mind, we get a dream vision of the group having an outdoor dinner in Alexandria, Glenn is even holding his future child.  Back in the present, Rick grabs the axe and heads into the camper.  He starts it up and drives off as a walker feasts on a pile of blood left by one of the bodies.

I’ll give the showrunners of The Walking Dead this: they know how to, for the most part, maintain tension and suspense.  My reservations and issues with the cliffhanger aside, because you can’t undo that, I found myself as tense as I was while watching “Last Day on Earth” back in April.  Most of the time.  These people know we want to have our expectations met and, if possible, surpassed.  Was that the case here?

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Well, yes and no, but I’ll get into that later.  Because the cliffhanger brought the momentum of “Last Day on Earth” to a screeching halt, this episode had to recapture all that momentum, build on it, and make the wait worthwhile.  I was hesitant going into this that the episode would just tease the death until the very last second.  If the show really wanted to troll us, the ending could have cut to Morgan and Carol arriving at the Kingdom.

Hey, it’s not like The Walking Dead is above dick moves.  But no, it didn’t do that.  It just stalled the same way I’m stalling in discussing how I felt about the episode as well as jumping all over the place.  So before getting into mixed territory, I do want to talk about what I enjoyed about this episode.

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To start, the acting.  Whether it’s the group crumbling as two of their own are killed or the hopelessness on Andrew Lincoln’s face as Rick finds himself defenseless against Negan, pleads to take his son’s place, or even trying to maintain some bravado in the face of death, the acting was stellar all around.

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And Lauren Cohan’s performance as Maggie in those final moments further sets her up to develop into the leader that we know she will become later.  And you gotta feel bad for Maggie.  She’s lost most of her family, and now her husband is gone as well.

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Next up, the brutality.  My word, the brutality.  You’ve got those hyperbolic folks who called the deaths disgusting or too much to bear, so I’m guessing people have forgotten what show they’ve been watching.  Or that, if they’ve ever watched something like Game of Thrones, this kind of violence and brutality should be nothing by comparison.

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Watching Negan brutally beat Abraham and Glenn to death in all its gory detail, with guts and all spilling out, it was vicious, and call me a sadist all you want, I was grinning as well as shaking.  Negan’s introduction isn’t meant to be toned down.  He’s got a bat wrapped in barbed wire.

On top of the cliffhanger, if The Walking Dead didn’t give us the brutal deaths, it would feel like a cheat.  It’d be like cutting to black before someone is shot in the head.  You feel robbed of the moment, more so after the episode had to regain its momentum.

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So yes, I am a proponent of the violent deaths.  Some call it torture, but this is a show where the dead eat the living, a young, psychotic girl like Lizzie can kill her sister without remorse and later be justifiably executed while her back is turned, and people like the Hunters prepare, cook, and eat other human beings.  So seeing someone’s head bashed in should be easy to handle.

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Maybe I’m just desensitized to the violence of this series- though the comic still knows how to shock me at times- but this solidified how much of a threat Negan is and the violent lengths he’ll go to in order to make his point.  So I doubt those turned off by this moment will quit the show or turn them off altogether.  Like those who were enraged about the cliffhanger, I’m certain that they’ll return, at least out of curiosity.

The Walking Dead #100- Glenn's still alive after being hit with Lucille

And in a refreshing change of pace, Glenn actually got his comic book death.  That’s a rarity for this show.  Lori, Abraham, Dale, Shane, and even the Governor, just to name a few, have been killed in ways different from their comic book counterparts.

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But here, from the close-up of Glenn’s bloodied face to the way Negan looms over him, it was literally Issue #100 brought to life.  Details like that, coupled with Negan’s dialogue throughout, leave the comic fan in me very satisfied, on top of the death itself being very gruesome.

As with the previous episode, much of this has to do with the group’s bravado.  They were certain that they could stop Negan and the Saviors in their tracks by attacking a base and killing them in their sleep.  These two deaths are, to me, a welcome change of pace and from a character perspective, I think it’s necessary to see them suffer a loss.  And comparably speaking, they’ve only lost two people to the number of Saviors killed.

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But seeing the group and Rick especially look so defeated is crucial.  Their overconfidence led to them underestimating Negan.  And this gives Rick proper motivation to spur the group into action and launch a counterattack.  Before, it was just Rick trying to stop Negan before he could do something.  Now, he and the rest have motivation to get revenge against their fallen friends.

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And I enjoyed Rick’s interaction with Negan, if just to see Negan establish how threatening he is while trying to be cordial with Rick.  All while still breaking him down and after he’s just killed two of his friends.  It was tense, funny at times, and again, it’s interesting to see Rick at such a demoralized state after he’s been confident for so long.  A far cry from the Rick Grimes that towered over Gareth and the Hunters before butchering them.

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That said, like “Last Day on Earth,” my issues with this episode have to do with the execution of the…well, executions.  Let’s start with picking Abraham.  I know that some people say they saw this coming based on Negan saying last season that the victim took it like a champ.  The theory turned out to be right, so good on them for figuring it out, and I will say that he wasn’t my pick.

In fact, based on conversations between him and Abraham, part of me thought that Eugene would have taken the hit. But then, the Saviors already roughed him up when they captured the camper, so maybe that took him out of the running.

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Had Abraham been the only victim, Negan still would have gotten his point across, and we aren’t given much time to process Abraham’s death.  Not just because there’s more to the scene, but because of Daryl’s interference, which led to the second death.

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And this is my problem: Glenn’s death, while comic-accurate, only seems to have happened because Daryl interfered.  In addition, Negan picking Glenn felt like an afterthought.  Not to mention it’s as if the show wanted to top the comic.  Negan only picked Glenn there, so how does the show surpass that?  Pick two for double the impact. But would Negan have done that had Daryl not tried to be the hero?  I don’t know.

But it rubbed me the wrong way that now it appears that Glenn’s death is not because Negan picked him at random, but because Daryl, unlike Rick, wanted to make a vain attempt to stop Negan.  That’s not necessary and it speaks to Negan’s restraint that he doesn’t have Dwight kill Daryl when he has the chance.

However, if we’re meant to grasp how much of a threat Negan is and how he has no mercy for the survivors, then he proved his point.  Glenn’s death felt like the emotional punch to the gut, but he’s the second to die.  We get more of the group’s reaction to him dying and there’s even a score in the background that plays against his demise.  Whereas with Abraham, it’s stark with no music.  We get the death as is and nothing more.

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So then why have both of these deaths place at the same time if the show is only focusing on one of them?  Sure, Glenn has been with us since the beginning and we know more about him than Abraham, but then why not have his death come first and then have Negan drive the point home by kicking the group when they’re doing and selecting a second person to die?  If the show was, without a doubt, going to have two deaths.

Last Day on Earth- Negan picks his victim, the cameraman

Or better yet, “Last Day on Earth” could have ended either with Abraham’s death or viewers seeing Negan pick him, rather than having the season end with a point of view shot.  Then, in-between Season 6 and 7, as we process who will die, assuming it will just be Abraham, the show throws a curveball by killing Glenn as well on the premiere, long after the multiple fakeouts where he ended up surviving.

The Walking Dead #100- Negan picks Glenn to die

See, here’s the the thing.  In the comic, Negan picking Glenn was a surprise because it did come out of nowhere.  Glenn hadn’t gone down the dark path that Rick walks and, as far as I know, no one predicted that he would get the bat.  After losing Abraham just a few issues before this, for an unassuming guy like Glenn to die was a major loss.

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But on the show, Glenn’s death comes due to Daryl’s actions, not because of Negan picking him at random.  And I don’t like that because, in a way, it kind of makes Daryl responsible for Glenn’s death.  Whether Daryl blames himself for what happened to Glenn remains to be seen, but I imagine it’s going to stick with him since he did prompt Negan to, as he said, shut that shit down, no exceptions.

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It didn’t help that the deaths kept cutting back and forth between Negan taking Rick with him to retrieve that damn axe.  We get that Rick is broken, but between going from the past to the present, not to mention those shots of Negan hitting everyone with the bat, broke up the flow a bit.

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Just have the two deaths play out in one long sequence.  Don’t make Rick have flashbacks or visions of everyone just to pad out the episode.  “Last Day on Earth” already didn’t need to be 90 minutes. This episode could have flowed better by having all of Rick and Negan’s moment take place at once after the deaths.

I don’t have a problem with nonlinear storytelling, but when this episode has to rebuild the momentum from Season 6, cutting from Rick and Negan to the murders was distracting at times.

And the dream sequence of everyone together at Alexandria was too heavy handed.  We know everything that’s going through the survivors’ minds just by Andrew Lincoln and Lauren Cohan’s performances alone.  We don’t need a vision of what life for them could have been had things gone in a different direction for them.

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Oh, and it seems there are those who still felt that Rick would lose his right hand to Negan since the show’s version of the Governor didn’t follow through on the same actions as his comic counterpart.  But what works in the comics doesn’t translate to reality, and if Rick hasn’t lost his hand yet, I don’t see it happening anytime soon.

With all that said, “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be” is a good episode and return to The Walking Dead.  The pacing issues and decision of killing two victims keeps me from enjoying the episode as much as I would like, but the acting, brutality, and leaving the survivors in an absolute low state made for an enjoyable watch.  Who knows?  I may grow to love it on repeat viewings.

And now that Negan has made his demands, I am very anxious to see how the group progresses from here and how this tragedy pushes them to strike back.  What becomes of Daryl and will he blame himself for Glenn’s death?  Does Rick have a plan yet to fight back against Negan?  If it wasn’t for a few issues, this would be a fantastic start for the season.  But these issues are enough to make it more good instead of great.

A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 6 Finale: “Last Day on Earth”

So the sixth season of The Walking Dead comes to a conclusion as Rick and company head to the Hilltop to get help for Maggie, but also contend with the Saviors.  However, while they’ve never had a confrontation, Negan’s official introduction puts a halt to their plans.  It also puts a major halt on any momentum you might have had as the season finale builds to a high point before ending on a disappointing conclusion.

Last Day on Earth- Morgan finds a horse

The episode begins with Morgan traversing the woods in his search for Carol.  He finds a sign that reads ‘You Are Alive’ and, near that sign, a horse that’s practically waiting for him.  Morgan tells the horse that it’s alive.  At the same time, we spot the Savior from last time, still walking with Carol’s rosary.  He continues following footprints that lead into the grassy fields.

Last Day on Earth- Carl and Enid talk

Meanwhile, Carl loads up, telling Enid to stay back and protect the Safe Zone.  Enid wants to go to the Hilltop, but Carl tells her that the Saviors are dangerous, based on what they’ve done to the others.  He won’t let that happen to Enid.  She asks if Carl wants to run into the Saviors.  Carl eventually tells Enid to grab some pistols from the closet.  And that’s when he locks her in the closet.

Enid asks Carl what happens if he doesn’t come back.  Carl tells her to just survive somehow.

Last Day on Earth- Rick and gang about to leave Alexandria

Rick, Abraham, Sasha, and Eugene load up the RV to head out and take on the Saviors.  Rick tries to talk Eugene out of it, but he’s not staying.  Rick doesn’t want Aaron to join, but Aaron is adamant.  He’s even willing to take multiple punches in the face.  Gabriel informs Rick that there are 24 hour watches to protect the Safe Zone while others are away.  If there’s an emergency, Gabriel’s first priority will be Judith.

Then Gabriel asks if Rick is comfortable leaving him in charge.  To that, Rick answers yes.  Spencer tells Rick that if the Saviors show up, if it’s not too late, try and make a deal.  Rick tells them to wait because he may have a deal of his own.

Last Day on Earth- Steven Ogg and a group of Saviors find a survivor

Back in the woods, a group of Saviors catch up to the running man. They explain that they made an example of the man’s friends and it could have stopped there, but the people didn’t stop.  They wanted to fight, so this is how it has to be.  The men beat the hell out of the downed man.

Last Day on Earth- Morgan finds Carol

Morgan and his new travel companion stop at a building, where they find Carol resting.  She didn’t want him to come, but since this is Morgan, he was never going to listen.  He inspects her wound- she’s bleeding badly.

Last Day on Earth- Steven Ogg and Saviors wait on the road

The Saviors, meanwhile, drag the runaway man to the road.  The presumed leader of the group, played by Steven Ogg, is ready to make an example of this man.

Last Day on Earth- Rick speaks to Maggie while on the RV

Elsewhere on the road, Rick and company travel in the RV.  Rick checks on Maggie and tells her that they’ll get to the Hilltop to make things better for her.  Maggie asks how he knows, but Rick tells her that everything they’ve done was by acting as a group.  They’re still here.  Things have happened because it’s worked out when it’s all of them.  When they work together, they can do anything.  Oh Rick, you have no idea.

Last Day on Earth- Morgan patches up Carol

Morgan patches up Carol, but she still needs stitches and antibiotics to make sure she doesn’t get an infection.  It will get dark in a few hours, so Morgan plans to survey the land and make sure it’s safe.  At dawn, they’ll head out to get help.

Last Day on Earth- RV group runs into a small pack of Saviors

The RV then stops when it runs into the blockade of Saviors on the road.  They walk out as Rick explains that the groups can make a deal.  Steven Ogg agrees, in exchange for everything, but one of the survivors has to die.  Rick tells them that the deal won’t work.  In fact, he was going to ask for their stuff, but he won’t have to kill any more Saviors.

One of the Saviors walks forward and sprays the downed man.  The Saviors reiterate that they don’t negotiate.  Rick and his folks fall back, but he asks the Saviors if they want to make today their last day on earth.  That’s a good thing to bring up.  Think about it: what if it’s the last day on Earth for Rick or someone he loves?  Rick should be nice to his people because anything could happen.  Be kind to each other.

Rick advises the Saviors to do the same.  The RV backs up for the moment.

Last Day on Earth- Eugene comes up with an alternate route

After a brief glimpse at obscure light, we return to the RV group.  Carl watches a walker approaching in the distance and asks Aaron why he didn’t stay in Alexandria.  Aaron owes Maggie.  Carl says that he’s out here because he owes them.  Eugene goes over the map for a visible route.  Shelton would work, even though it’s a longer trip.

Last Day on Earth- Carol wants Morgan to leave her

Morgan tells Carol that Rick also came looking for her- damn near everyone did.  He assures her that they’ll be back by the time they are.  Carol doesn’t see herself returning just like that.  She knows people care about her, and she cares, but that’s why she can’t be there.  Morgan counters that she has to, but Carol says that, after everything that’s happened, there are people that she’ll kill for.

But if you can’t or won’t kill, then you have to get away from them.  You can’t have both, and Morgan of all people should know that.  Morgan still believes that everything in life is worth a damn and won’t just let Carol die, but she tells him that it’s not his decision.  She then points a gun and pleads for him to leave.  If he cares about anyone, there is a price to pay.  Carol can’t do that anymore.

Last Day on Earth- RV group runs into another group of Saviors

Back on the road, Abraham asks Sasha if they can do something as big as what Glenn and Maggie did, because to him, that’s living.  Abraham believes that now he can.  Just so Sasha knows.  With a call of bitch-nuts, the RV runs into yet another group of Saviors.  Carl wants to end this right now, but Rick disagrees.  He can tell that the Saviors have been waiting.  The Saviors fire into the air as the RV heads in the opposite direction.

Last Day on Earth- Morgan cuts down a hanged walker

So Morgan heads out and finds a walker strung up in a nearby tower.  Though the walker is of no immediate threat, Morgan climbs the tower, stabs the walker, and then cuts it down.  He then enters another building and calls out for Carol, but gets no response.  He saddles up and rides off in pursuit.

Last Day on Earth- RV group finds chained walkers blocking their path

The RV team is down to half a tank of gas.  Sasha notes that the Saviors they just saw weren’t the same, but still Saviors.  Rick is still confident that they’ll get Maggie to the Hilltop, but the RV comes to a stop when they come upon chained walkers blocking their path.  The chains even go through their bodies.  Now that takes work.  They find that various walkers are wearing clothes belonging to Michonne and Daryl.

Last Day on Earth- RV finds an even larger group of Saviors

Bullets rain from all directions, but the group clears the walker blockade and continues their journey.  As Rick inspects the hair from one of the walkers, he tells the others that the Saviors want them in this direction.  Eugene is certain they can get back on track, but Aaron informs Rick that Maggie’s temperature is rising.  If that wasn’t bad enough, there’s an even larger group of Saviors blocking the road.  Rick advises Abraham to back up.

Morgan continues searching for Carol when he stops to inspect a walker.  Next to it, he finds the rosary.

Last Day on Earth- Savior finds Carol

Carol, meanwhile, is surprised by a walker, but she ends up pulling off its skin long enough to stab it in the head.  But then the Savior from the road surprises her from behind.  Rather than kill her, because that would make sense, he tells her that she’s going to lay there and he’s going to watch her die, just like his friends on the road.  He then shoots Carol in her shoulder for a good start.

Last Day on Earth- Rick checks on Maggie

Rick checks on Maggie, promising that they’ll arrive at the Hilltop safely.  More than that, she and her baby will be just fine.  Maggie believes in Rick.

Last Day on Earth- Morgan finds the Savior about to kill Carol

Back to the Savior and Carol, who smiles and is ready to die.  There’s nothing wrong with her anymore.  Why the Saviors hasn’t just shot Carol in the head is still beyond me, but he settles for shooting her in the leg.  He tells her that she hasn’t suffered, and Carol agrees.  With that, the Savior walks away while Carol rants that people decide when to die.  You don’t get to walk away.

Then Morgan arrives and orders the Savior to lower his gun.  He tells the Savior that he can survive this.  Before the Savior can fire, Morgan unloads on the man, killing him.  Carol still pleads for Morgan to leave her, but Morgan insists that she’ll come back from this.  Then two men in armor, one on a horse, approach.  Morgan reports that he found their horse.  Time to get some help.

Last Day on Earth- Rick and gang find another barricade

The RV group, now on foot, finds a barricade, indicating, as Abraham puts it, that they’re in shit creek with their mouths wide open.  Then the injured man from before is tossed over the overpass while hanging from a chain.  Rick advises Aaron not to fire since they’ll need the bullets for later.  So they leave the man to struggle and die.

Fire breaks out on the barricade.  Steven Ogg’s voice rings out, telling the group to leave because it’s going to get hot soon.  The team retreats to the RV and once again falls back.  With Maggie still in need of a doctor, there are two more potential routes.  Eugene doesn’t think the Saviors are waiting on them, but the RV itself.

Last Day on Earth- Eugene gives Rick the how to on making bullets

As night falls, Rick instructs Eugene to take the now gassed-up RV.  In return, Eugene gives Rick a recipe for How to Build Bullets 101.  Fair exchange.  Rick tells Eugene that they’re glad to have him here.  Eugene then asks Abraham why he never let him drive the truck.  Abraham never thought he could do it, but he was wrong.  Eugene is and always was a survivor, but no one knew it.

Last Day on Earth- Group goes on foot while carrying Maggie

So Rick, Carl, Sasha, Abraham, and Aaron, with Maggie resting in a cot, head on foot while Eugene fires up the RV and goes in another direction.  Maggie pleads for Aaron to let her walk, but he won’t.  Carl agrees with what Rick said before- they can do anything, just as they have before, and they will again.  What happened to Denise, Carl won’t let that happen again.

Last Day on Earth- Saviors surround the survivors

But then they hear a familiar whistle.  With no way to tell where it’s coming from, the group starts running through the woods at full speed until lights hit them dead on.  They end up in an open area, surrounded by Saviors all around them.  If that wasn’t bad enough, the Saviors managed to capture Eugene and the RV as well.

Steven Ogg is glad the survivors made it to where they’re going.  He demands they group hand over their weapons.  He then orders Maggie be lowered and everyone get on their knees.  It takes a moment, but Rick and the others soon drop to the ground.  Rick looks absolutely petrified.

Dwight enters the scene and opens a van, where we see Daryl, Michonne, Rosita, and Glenn, who are also placed on their knees.  With an audience ready, Steven Ogg then knocks on the RV so we can meet the head honcho of the Saviors.

Last Day on Earth- Negan, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, makes his first appearance

Out steps Negan, played by The Comedian himself, Jeffrey Dean Morgan.  He asks if anyone is pissing their pants yet, because they’re getting close.  Gonna be pee-pee pants city real soon.  He introduces himself to Rick, and doesn’t find it cool that Rick killed so many of his men.

Rick has no idea how not cool that shit is, but Negan brings him up to speed while also swearing that Rick will regret crossing him in a few minutes.  Whatever Rick does, you don’t mess with the new world order.  Even if Rick is stupid, he can understand that you hand over your shit or Negan will kill him.

Today was career day.  A lot was invested so the survivors would know Negan.  Rick has shit and he’ll give it to Negan.  That’s his job.  That’s a nasty pill to swallow, but swallow it he will.  Negan notes that Rick built something.  He thought he was safe, but word is out that he is, in fact, not safe.  In fact, Rick is pegged if he doesn’t do what Negan does.  If half of his stuff is too much, he can steal until it evens out.

This is the new way of life.  The more Rick fights back, the harder it will be.  So when the Saviors knocks on your door, they will walk right in because they own the place.  He asks Rick if he understands, but gets no response.  This wasn’t all going to happen without a punishment.  Negan doesn’t want to kill anyone.  In fact, he wants people to work for him, but that can’t happen if they’re dead.

However, a lot of Saviors died, and for that, someone has to pay.  How?  Negan will beat the holy hell out of them with his awesome, barbed-wire wrapped bat: Lucille.  But now to find out who gets the honor.

Last Day on Earth- Negan speaks to Carl

Negan walks down the line, but stops at Carl, recognizing that he has a lot of their guns.  He offers to put a disheveled Maggie out of her misery.  Glenn tries to intervene, but Dwight stops him.  Negan doesn’t want that kind of outburst again.  Negan sees that Rick doesn’t know what’s going to happen, which could explain his fear.  He also sees that Carl is Rick’s son.  When Rick lashes out, Negan threatens to kill the future serial killer.

Last Day on Earth- Negan picks his victim, the cameraman

But Negan simply cannot decide, so he’s got an idea.  Eenie-meenie-minie-mo.  He goes down the line and finally lands on a victim.  We don’t see who it is, but Negan lines up Lucille and bashes the victim over and over again as the sixth season of The Walking Dead comes to a close.

Well, that was most definitely an ending.

Last Day on Earth- Abraham and Rick spot a large group of Saviors

Okay, I could rant about my issues with this finale, but I’ll start with the positive aspects.  First off, I think the tension and atmosphere with the RV group was well done and kept building as the episode progressed.  Yes, it was repetitive to see the RV back up over and over again, but heading into a scenario where the survivors were bound to be captured, it was interesting to see them in a situation where they couldn’t predict the outcome.

Last Day on Earth- Rick has words with the Saviors

Much of this circles back to the group’s overconfidence, and it’s easy to see why.  Rick and company have come up against and kept the Saviors at bay in every single encounter.  Denise was an unfortunate casualty, but otherwise, they’ve wiped out the opposition with no problem.  As Rick said to Jesus, the group has never had a problem with confrontation.

So to them, this would be like the Governor or Terminus: a challenging obstacle, but nothing they couldn’t overcome.  It helped that the world has trained them for this and the Saviors, up until now, have been disorganized and incompetent, so it’s easy to see why, for once, Rick’s group wanted to take the safe option of avoiding confrontation.

Last Day on Earth- Maggie rests

And it was nice to see Rick make Maggie the priority.  He could have put his group in multiple firefights that they might have won, but that would just prolong Maggie’s suffering and drag out an already long episode.

Last Day on Earth- Morgan receives help

On that note, to go slightly off-topic, this episode did not need to be 90 minutes.  Carol and Morgan’s subplot, which felt drawn out to ridiculous lengths, felt like filler until the very end because Carol was resolute in her decision to leave.  Morgan had a bit of development with his decision to kill a human, but he was forced to do so if he was going to protect Carol.

Last Day on Earth- Carol shot in the shoulder

But even that felt drawn out because the Savior didn’t just do the practical thing and shoot Carol in the head.  No, he has to draw out her suffering by shooting her in the arm and leg.  But why do this?  Carol killed a handful of Saviors, so this guy watching her suffer doesn’t do anything for him except give him enough time to gloat so Morgan can find him.

Last Day on Earth- Savior won't kill Carol for some reason

That’s one of those bad tropes where the villain has the protagonist cornered and could kill them at any second, but instead, they have a conversation.  Am I suddenly watching a James Bond film or The Walking Dead?  And now both Carol and Morgan are in the company of newcomers from the Kingdom.

Last Day on Earth- Planning an alternate route

You could have condensed this subplot to a few scenes to devote more time to the group on the road.  More conversations with Rick and Maggie, more about Carl and Aaron talking about why they came on the journey, more of Eugene frantically trying to come up with a new plan each time the Saviors blocked the path.  Make this feel like a do or die scenario.

Because until the end, what we got was the RV team making detour after detour and being antagonized by the Saviors.  They were frustrated, but kept finding alternate solutions.  When they were forced to split into two groups and head on foot with Maggie still weak, the group had reached a point of desperation.  Not enough to break them because, like past situations, they were confident that nothing could stop them.

Last Day on Earth- On your knees

But then they ran right into a trap.  I’ll say this about the final few moments of this episode: while I have my reservations about the finale, I think the tension when the group wound up caught was perfect.  I was as tense as they were the entire time and, for once, we saw fear on all of their faces.

Last Day on Earth- Ready to meet Negan

The fear that they couldn’t talk or shoot their way out of this situation.  The fear that Maggie wouldn’t get the help she needed in time.  The fear that maybe, for all the Saviors’ threats and demands, this time someone would pay for the amount of people Rick and his group have killed.  And the fear that Rick, for all his thinking, underestimated this boogeyman named Negan.

Last Day on Earth- Rick filled with fear

While the acting on The Walking Dead is normally very strong, Andrew Lincoln in particular sold his performance as Rick not by what he says, but his facial expressions.  Aside from Carl getting shot in “No Way Out,” I can’t remember a time recently where Rick looked so helpless.  He was confident that he could handle the Saviors, but now he’s on his knees, unarmed, and without a prayer.  I saw not a confident leader, but a man trembling in fear.

Last Day on Earth- Negan can't decide who to kill

But then Negan shows up with something to…prove.  Not to fear since we don’t see the result, more on that later, but to prove that he and his Saviors will make due on their promises.  First off, credit where it’s due: Jeffrey Dean Morgan is great in his introduction as Negan.  He’s smug, carries a huge presence, and is both humorous, yet threatening at the same time.

Last Day on Earth- Negan demands to know who is the group leader

When Negan finally appears, Jeffrey Dean Morgan commands the scene.  It left me on the edge of my seat how the show would handle adapting this character to the screen and, for the most part, the show succeeded.  Negan’s dialogue is, at times, point for point, ripped out of issue #100 as he makes both threats and jokes.  Up until now, Negan has existed as a ghost, but I was just tense at the thought of how he would retaliate.

Last Day on Earth- Negan has no answer for Rick

Rick sees Negan as an obstacle, but Negan views Rick as a business partner.  You don’t just up and kill your partners.  You barter, you negotiate, and you establish the new world order in society.  Negan doesn’t want to kill anyone because, in his mind, they work for him.  And judging from him sizing up Rick, Negan takes pleasure in people resisting his reign.  All the more satisfying to pummel them into compliance.

Last Day on Earth- Rick meets Lucille

So going into this moment where one of the characters will be beaten to death is a big deal.  Not only are these most of our main survivors, these are a lot of our power players and heavy hitters.  Well, less so with Aaron, but he did get the survivors to Alexandria, so there’s that.  For Negan to pick one of them at random and kill them in front of the others should hold a lot of weight and be a moment that leaves us as shellshocked as Rick.

Last Day on Earth- Negan thinks that Maggie looks shitty

Should.  Heavy emphasis on that because, at the end of the day, we’re left with a massive tease that left me more disappointed than anything else.  I’m not angry or confused because it’s not the first time that The Walking Dead has baited viewers.  Manufactured is the word.  Coupled with the many commercial breaks, the finale led us along to this confrontation with Negan, but then we’re left dangling as Negan beat the cameraman to death.

But why take such a copout?  There’s no need to build such suspense for Negan’s first appearance, put the survivors in actual peril, draw things out in a 90 minute finale, give us Maggie’s weakening state, and then not show Negan’s victim.  That brings the episode’s drive to a screeching halt and it dilutes the finale of its tension.

Last Day on Earth- Negan smiles

For a character like Negan and for a comic moment as iconic as this, and for all the talk the cast and people involved with this show talked about the emotional turmoil of this episode, to end like this isn’t suspenseful.

Last Day on Earth- Glenn and Lucille

It’s taking the easy way out instead of leaving audiences as distressed as the characters would be.  Let us live out this horror with them by showing us who Negan dies.  Don’t do it from a first person perspective and try to justify this as setting up the next season.  It knocks the wind out of you and ruins an otherwise well-directed and tense final moment.

Last Day on Earth- Negan has to pick someone

The unfortunate thing is that this is going to be what people talk about between now and Season 7.  Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s performance as Negan was great, though I’m surprised we still didn’t get as much as a single F-bomb, especially after The People vs. OJ Simpson has used it, at the time of writing this, four times on FX.  No.  For better or worse, people are going to remember the cliffhanger ending.

Because it’s the last moment of the season and just ends without a clear resolution, that’s what viewers, writers, and everyone that watches the show will remember.  Me personally, I do not like having a cliffhanger end the season on this note, but my opinion amounts to nothing.  For such a strong season and buildup to Negan’s first appearance, this left a bad taste in my mouth by the time the credits rolled.

Last Day on Earth- Negan meets Rick's group

Would I have liked the season to end with us seeing Negan’s victim and watching the group crumble at one of their lowest moments?  Absolutely, as morbid as that sounds.  I think it would have worked for both comic fans and solidified to TV only viewers that Negan is a real threat, proving that by having one of the main characters killed.  Plus, we’d know the group’s incentive to launch a counterattack after losing one of their own.

I’m not going to spend time speculating on who it might have been, who to rule out, and what impact this could have on Season 7 because I’m still going to tune in, but the final moment of this finale has left me hollow.  Not knowing the identity of the person picked is a cheap way to string viewers along, never mind the backlash I’m sure this move will generate.  But as of now, this finale dropped the ball.

Is “Last Day on Earth” a bad episode?  Of course not.  The tension was high, Jeffrey Dean Morgan made a good first impression as Negan, and we saw Rick Grimes at a low moment in his task of eliminating the Saviors.  I’d argue that the last 15 or so minutes were some of the tensest moments on the show thus far as it fills you with dread about the survivors’ fates.  And despite my irritation, I plan to be around for Season 7.

However, the unnecessary 90 minute runtime, some slow moments, and the cliffhanger diluted what could have been a strong outing for Season 6.  In a season of high points, fake-out deaths, and surprise moments, this was a letdown.  Instead of getting Something to Fear, we got Something to Frustrate.  It’s a weak ending to an otherwise good season.

A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 6, Episode 15: “East”

I know that I should be focused on the episode as a whole, but I can’t get the ending out of my head.  This is “East.”

East- Carol and Tobin talk

The episode begins with Carol packing to leave when Tobin enters.  He’s got a bruise from a slip when trying to build a new guard tower, but Carol is tuning him out as he talks about the infirmary being quiet since Denise’s death.  She just stares and nods, as most people do during conversations.  She’s more worried about how Tara will feel when she learns about Denise.

East- Michonne and Rick share an apple

That evening, while Tobin sleeps, Carol slips out.  The next morning, as everyone goes about their routines, we get Rick and Michonne in bed as the two share an apple, noting that Jesus came through with his promise on food.  Rick wants to fool around since Judith isn’t up yet, but Michonne has plans.  Maggie asked her to put up more bins and watch points- for a potential attack- and she has a detailed schedule.

As Rick and Michonne note, you don’t want to piss off a pregnant woman.  Rick promises to end the Saviors when they come because the people of Alexandria are prepared for an attack.  The world is theirs and they know how to take it.  Everything they need is right inside the walls of Alexandria and Rick won’t lose any of it again.

East- Daryl prepares to leave the Safe Zone

So Maggie, Glenn, and Michonne go over hiding spots for guns when they spot Daryl leaving the safe zone.  He doesn’t give specifics on where he’s headed and leaves before anyone can stop him.  Because Rosita has an idea of where he’s headed, she joins Glenn, Maggie, and Michonne to follow him.  Abraham is left to cover her shift.

East- Rick, Tobin, and Morgan wonder when Carol left

Tobin then gives Rick the note that Carol left, but he’s unsure when she left or if she’s on foot.  No one saw anything, and if that wasn’t enough, one of the two new cars outside the Safe Zone is now missing.  Morgan and Rick also leave to join the search, with Rick telling the others to stay back and prepare for a fight.

East- A group of Saviors confront Carol

So Carol did indeed swipe one of the missing vehicles Tobin spoke of and spots a car heading in her direction.  The men in the passing car fire at her tires, forcing her to stop.  She exits and offers the car, but the men want information about where Carol is from and where she’s headed.  Carol says that she’s Nancy from Montclair, but she’s bounced around a lot and keeps moving.

The men know about the Alexandria Safe Zone and the cars with spikes through them, just like the one Carol is driving.  Turns out these men were on the way to the zone.  Carol, pulling another hyperventilating act, tells the men that it doesn’t have to be this way and no one doesn’t to get hurt.  Then bullets cut through the men like Swiss cheese.  Good thing Carol’s right hand doubles as a gun.

However, turns out that Carol missed one of the men, but she ends up skewering him with one of the spikes.  Another of the men still lives and lunges forward with his blade.

East- Enid offers to cover Maggie's shift

Maggie joins Enid in the food pantry, telling her that she’s taking an extra shift since so many people are gone.  Before Maggie can prepare her lunch, Enid offers to take said shift for a few hours so Maggie can rest.

East- Rick and Morgan talk about Carol

On the road, Morgan tells Rick that he didn’t have to come.  It’s a long shot, but Rick still wants to try.  Morgan asks about the attack on the Savior compound, which was West, while Carol went East.  Rick tells Morgan that he doesn’t know Carol, and while that’s true, Morgan has had time to do so.  Rick then asks why Morgan is doing this.

Morgan knows that he isn’t right because there is no right.  It’s the wrong that doesn’t pull you down.  Rick believes it hasn’t pulled him down, though, but Morgan thinks that it will because he knows Rick.

East- Rick and Morgan find some Saviors

The two soon happen upon the injured men in the road.  They spot Carol’s car and Rick stabs one of the injured men that he figures for Saviors.  Judging by the blood on the spike, Morgan assumes that Carol might have been hit.  Rick is proud of Carol for taking down four Saviors, but Morgan points to the fact that Carol still left.

Morgan spots a blood trail that leads into the field.  As the two head into the field, the remaining man emerges from the woods, picks up Carol’s rosary and, for reasons I can’t determine, follows the two into the woods.

East- Rosita, Glenn, and Michonne find Daryl and try to convince him to return

Rosita, Glenn, and Michonne arrive at the train tracks where Denise died and find Daryl’s motorcycle.  Rosita wants them to just let Daryl go after the Saviors so he can let out some steam, but Glenn thinks that Daryl is going to get himself killed.

Soon enough, they find Daryl, who shoots an arrow that almost hits Rosita.  He still blames himself for letting Dwight get the best of him.  Glenn tells Daryl to stop doing this for himself since Denise is dead.  They need to figure this out at home or things will go wrong out in the woods.  Despite Glenn’s talent for speeches, Daryl refuses to return.  Hell, Rosita ends up joining him.  The two groups go their separate ways.

East- Michonne and Glenn surrounded by Saviors

Glenn tells Michonne that the Saviors could be in Alexandria right now.  Despite this, with everything the group has endured together, it’s possible they could overcome this situation, too.  To Glenn, though, between the Hilltop and the Saviors, the world is bigger than everyone realized.  At the sound of a whistle, they spot Saviors, Dwight among them, surrounding them from every direction.

East- Morgan and Rick find a patch of blood

Morgan and Rick continue their search for Carol when they find a patch of blood in the grass.  Rick is out here because Carol is family, but Morgan has learned what happened at the prison and how Rick sent Carol away due to her killing Karen and David.

If that had happened today, though, Rick would have thanked Carol or killed Karen and David himself due to the disease.  However, Rick didn’t kill Carol.  And it’s due to Rick sending Carol away that she ended up saving him at Terminus.  In Morgan’s mind, people can come back.

East- Rick reminds Morgan that he doesn't take chances anymore

The two come upon a barn and find a man who is looking for his horse.  He tells them that they’re coming and runs off as several walkers approach.  Morgan and Rick make quick work of them.  Turns out that the spear Rick finds was from the Hilltop.  Rick thinks maybe the man was looking for Carol, or, as Morgan argues, he was looking for his horse.  Rick reiterates that he doesn’t take chances anymore.

Morgan then brings up the Wolf that attacked him on the road.  He reveals that he let him live and could have killed him, but all life is precious.  He put the Wolf in the cell in hopes that he could change.  And when the walls fell and the walkers entered, that Wolf saved Denise’s life, and Denise, in turn, ended up saving Carl.  It’s all a circle, but the fact is Morgan did what he did.  Morgan tells Rick to take the car home.

So Morgan chooses to find Carol on his own, but Rick tells him that he’ll come back.  If he doesn’t, though, Morgan doesn’t want Rick looking for him.  Rick offers his gun to Morgan and then, at last, tells him that Michonne did steal that protein bar.  Well, I guess that’s closure.

East- Abraham is ready to tear the world a new asshole

Rick returns to the Safe Zone and informs Abraham that Morgan is still out there.  Even still, Michonne hasn’t returned yet, too.  Both acknowledge that they’re afraid of going back to letting someone get close, but Abraham is much more ready to tear the world a brand new asshole.

East- Maggie's new haircut

Maggie summons Enid to give her a haircut because she has to keep going and doesn’t want anything getting in her way.  I don’t think Maggie’s hair ever got in her way, but whatever.  Anyway, this transformation is interrupted when Maggie feels a sharp pain in her stomach.

East- Dwight about to shoot Daryl

We return to the Saviors, who now have a bound and gagged Glenn and Michonne.  Daryl and Rosita stalk them from afar, but the Saviors, anticipating this, surprise Daryl and Rosita from behind.  Before Daryl can respond, Dwight fires and blood spatters on the screen like something out of a first-person shooter.

Well, that was an interesting ending.  “East” is an odd episode.  We’ve spent a good amount of time with the survivors taking a preemptive strike to Negan and the Saviors in order to prevent a war, though we know that the big man himself is set to make his counterattack soon.  The stakes have been raised and you’re just waiting for the survivors to receive their comeuppance.

East- Saviors capture Rosita and Daryl

I liked this episode, but it left me flat in a few places and I’ll start with that ending.  First off, credit where it’s due, as incompetent as the Saviors have been these past few episodes, it looks like they’ve learned to anticipate an attack.  Granted, Carol still killed a few on her own, but at least the Saviors were careful enough to leave Glenn and Michonne as bait in anticipation for Daryl and Rosita.

East- Dwight shoots Daryl

But what the hell was up with that ending?  Glenn has had enough close calls for me to not buy the fake-out of Dwight killing Daryl.  Truth be told, he probably didn’t kill him so much as just wound him, but why the blood-spattering on the screen like we jumped into a horror movie?  That just took me out of the episode, even though we were already at the end.  Why not just show the impact or Daryl hitting the ground and then cut to black?

East- Glenn tries to convince Daryl to stay

And I get Daryl going on the warpath, but going in gung-ho wound up getting him captured.  In his mind, he might have been thinking straight, but he didn’t have any actual plan outside of getting revenge on Dwight.  The odds and numbers were against him.

East- Morgan admits to Rick that he kept a Wolf alive

Elsewhere, we’ve got Morgan admitting to Rick what he did involving the one Wolf.  It’s nice for him to get that off of his chest, but Morgan hasn’t changed Rick’s mind yet and this speech didn’t do much for him, either.  And while the Wolf did save Denise, she wouldn’t have been in danger in the first place if the Wolf had been taken care of in the first place.

East- Rick learns that Morgan let one of the Wolves live

Also, I call bullshit on Rick saying that he now would have thanked Carol for killing Karen and David.  People can change their minds and the Rick back then isn’t the same Rick of now, but if that’s the case, why outright banish Carol?  He could have just delivered a stern warning since he was so confident that Karen and David might have lived, which goes against him saying he would have killed them himself.

East- Morgan tells Rick that people can change

Yes, the world has hardened Rick, and maybe it’s just me not being a fan of flip-flopping, but he spoke in Karen and David’s defense to the point that he chose to banish Carol from the group.  I would buy him saying that he’d have done things differently rather than saying he would have killed them himself.

And Rick still doesn’t take chances, but that’s my problem with Morgan admitting what he did with the Wolf- it didn’t do anything but just fill in Rick.  Given how Rick knows that Morgan let those other Wolves live, I doubt he would have done anything drastic here when he didn’t before.

East- Rick tells Morgan that Michonne took his protein bar

At the very least, I appreciate the moment of levity at the end where Rick tells Morgan that Michonne ate his protein bar.  It didn’t feel forced and was a nice way to break the tension.

East- Carol about to kill a batch of Saviors

Carol doesn’t seem too far gone just yet, but just like her interaction with Alicia, she doesn’t want to be put in a situation where she’s forced to kill.  There’s anguish and pain in her voice and all over her face when she tells the Saviors that no one has to get hurt.  She’s no pushover.  When it comes down to her or someone else, she’ll defend herself, but she hates having to kill.

Moving forward, though, a lot of the power players are now outside the Safe Zone and it makes me wonder who is going to end up meeting Negan.  Maggie seems safe since she’s got pregnancy problems right now- if that’s indeed what’s causing her pain- but Rick and Abraham look like they’re about to head out, you’ve got Morgan looking for Carol, then Daryl, Rosita, Michonne, and Glenn.

“East” wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great.  It might be my least favorite episode of this second half of the season right now.  That might change on a second viewing, but Carol killing a handful of Saviors didn’t make up for everyone being scattered and putting themselves in the Saviors’ crosshairs right when they’re all needed to defend Alexandria.

A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 6, Episode 14: “Twice As Far”

Well, that was a surprise.  Not that it happened, mind you, but the timing and the target threw me for a loop.  You want that in a show like The Walking Dead, though it should be noted again that if we’re spending a good amount of time with a character who normally doesn’t get that much attention, keep an eye out.

Okay, I’m finished.

Twice As Far- Rick asks Morgan why he's building a prison

The episode begins in what could be a tribute to Groundhog Day in Alexandria as the citizens go about their daily routines.  Morgan is putting the finishing touches on his jail cell when Rick arrives and asks Morgan why.  Morgan responds that it will give the citizens some choices for next time.  As Meredith takes inventory, we go about another daily routine.  Carol still has the crucifix from the previous episode, even.  Rosita heads out, leaving Spencer in bed.

Twice As Far- Carol and Daryl talk

Daryl eyes the figurines he swiped from Dwight when Carol joins him, glad that he got his bike back.  She asks him about the people he saved in the burned forest.  Carol isn’t upset him saving them because that’s who he is, but Daryl wishes that he had killed them.  He then asks Carol about the people who took her and Maggie hostage and what they did.  But she responds that they didn’t do anything.

While Eugene and Abraham head out for a run, Rosita tries to cut short Spencer’s small talk and dinner invitation.  In fact, she wants to know what the hell they’re doing.  Rosita soon relents and agrees to dinner.

Twice As Far- Denise tells Daryl and Rosita about a store that may have drugs

Soon after, Denise informs Rosita and Daryl about Edison’s Apothecary and Boutique: a gift shop in a strip mall that may also have drugs.  There’s no guarantee of any drugs still being there, but Denise just wants to be sure.  As in she wants to also go outside the walls.

It helps that Daryl and Rosita don’t have anything to do right now. Now Denise has spent next to no time out there, and while she may be able to identify the meds, Rosita is against her joining.

Denise may know how to use a machete and have seen roamers up close, but she’s inexperienced.  When she offers to go alone, Daryl and Rosita have little option but to play babysitter.  I imagine this isn’t how they envisioned spending their day.

Twice As Far- Denise, Rosita, and Daryl on the road

On the road, Denise gives Daryl front seat tips about driving stick when the three eventually reach a fallen tree in the road.  Daryl and Rosita head out and begin removing the debris while Denise watches from the safety of the truck.  The three go on foot, with Daryl and Denise going through the woods while Rosita follows the train tracks.  Given the group’s history with train tracks, I’m not against Daryl’s decision to follow the road.

Twice As Far- Abraham asks Eugene about his new appearance

Back to Abraham and Eugene, who make small talk on their run.  Abraham is curious about Eugene’s recent change in appearance.  For Eugene, like any RPG or electronic, the key to survival is allowing oneself to be shaped by the assigned environment.

In doing so, you acquire a broad range of skills, allowing you to flip the script and use said skills to shape the environment for maximum longevity.  Right now, Eugene is in Stage Two as a survivor

Twice As Far- Rosita, Daryl, and Denise find the store

Daryl and Denise catch up to Rosita and the three find a rundown strip mall.  They head for the Edison store, with Daryl telling Denise to stay back while he and Rosita head in.

Twice As Far- Abraham saves Eugene from a walker

At the same time, Abraham and Eugene also enter a building with a lot of machinery.  Abraham is lost on why the two are here, but Eugene tells him that they’re going to manufacture bullets here.  This has been on his mind for some time.  Abraham is skeptical, but with a thorough scrubbing and some lead, Eugene is certain he can do this here.  That is some damn fine thinking outside of the box.

Eugene wants to inform Rick and Olivia, but before this, he runs into some trouble with a walker that’s got some melted steel encased on its head.  Abraham ends up taking it out, even though Eugene claims he had full control of the situation.  Abraham tells Eugene that he needs to learn fast if he’s serious about surviving in this world.

In addition, Abraham believes that Eugene’s skillset lies with ghosting hostilities and making bullets. However, Eugene believes that Abraham has outlived his usefulness to him.  With that, Abraham heads off since his services are no longer required.  So Eugene can find his own way home.

Twice As Far- Denise makes too much noise in the shop

Rosita, Daryl, and Denise enter the abandoned store and examine every nook and cranny of the shop.  Daryl soon finds the pharmacy.  While he and Rosita go for everything in sight, they hear a noise that they believe is coming from just one walker.  They go back to packing, but Denise arms herself and heads inside.  Inside, she finds an abandoned playroom and a walker that’s not worth the trouble.  “Hush” is scrawled on the walls.

She rushes out, making a shit ton of noise in the process, so she ends up waiting outside. Daryl and Rosita soon join her, and while Daryl says that she did a good job finding this place, Rosita reiterates that Denise wasn’t ready for this.

On the walk back, Denise tells Daryl that her brother, Dennis, was older than her by a few minutes.  Nothing scared him.  He was brave, but also angry.  A dangerous combination.  Sounds a lot like Merle.  Daryl elects to walk the train tracks since, as Denise said, it’s faster.

Twice As Far- Denise eventually takes down a walker

Denise checks a nearby car that is holding both a walker and cooler.  She wants it, though there’s no guarantee of anything inside, but Daryl and Rosita say it’s not worth it.  True as this is, Denise opens the car door and gets the cooler, but the walker falls on top of her.  Before Rosita and Daryl can save her, Denise stabs the walker in the head.  And then she vomits on her glasses.  And what’s in the cooler?  Pop, including a can of Orange Crush.

Twice As Far- Denise defends her stupid actions

Daryl is beyond pissed because Denise could have died, but Denise’s rationale is that you take chances to survive.  This was a big moment for her because she’s got training in this shit.  She asked Daryl to come because he’s brave, and Rosita because she’s afraid.  More than that, they give her hope that she can as strong as them.

She could’ve told Tara that she loved her, but she was afraid.  That was stupid- not facing her shit.  But Daryl and Rosita aren’t even trying.

Twice As Far- Denise takes an arrow to the eye

Denise’s rant is interrupted when, out of nowhere, a bolt goes straight through her right eye.  She falls to the ground just as a group of Saviors emerge from the woods.  Among them, a slightly scarred Dwight, who has Eugene as a captive.  Dwight is, of course, glad to see his old pal.  The Saviors disarm Dwight and Rosita, with Daryl regretting that he didn’t kill Dwight.  So who brought this on who?

Twice As Far- Dwight has Eugene as a captive

Dwight laments that Denise wasn’t the one he was aiming for, but he’s still getting used to the crossbow.  He tells Rosita and Daryl that they’ll be letting him and the other Saviors into Alexandria so they can take whatever and whomever they want or they’ll kill Eugene.  Dwight doesn’t want it to come to that.  Eugene gives up Abraham’s location, saying that he deserves to die more than them.

Twice As Far- Eugene takes Dwight's dick in his mouth

Eugene makes his move by biting Dwight in the crotch.  Abraham springs into action as he, Daryl, and Rosita open fire on the Saviors and approaching walkers.  The remaining Saviors fall back, but Daryl does manage to retrieve his crossbow.  The three take Eugene back with them while Denise’s lifeless body rests on the train tracks.

Twice As Far- Abraham apologizes for questioning Eugene's skill

Back in Alexandria, Eugene will live to see another day due to a bullet just grazing him.  He tells Abraham that he was just looking for a moment.  Abraham apologizes for questioning Eugene’s skills.  It helps that Eugene knows how to bite a dick, and Abraham means that with the utmost respect.

Twice As Far- Abraham speaks with Sasha

Abraham meets with Sasha to tell her that they both have choices.  It could be 30 years for them both in Alexandria, but that’s still too short.  Sasha invites him inside.

Twice As Far- Daryl and Carol bury Denise

Daryl and Carol, meanwhile, bury Denise’s body.  Well, Daryl digs, with Carol admitting that he was right about what he said earlier.

We then overhear Carol’s narration in a letter to Tobin as she ends her relationship with him.  There’s everything they need to live within the walls, but what they want, other people want, too.  If they survive this threat, there will be another.  She loves everyone, but she won’t kill for them.  Rick sent her away, but she wound up staying.

Now, she can’t love anymore because she can’t kill for anyone, so she’s going, like she always should have.  Also, don’t come after her.  Morgan watches the now empty porch swing drift in the wind as the episode comes to a close.

Well, that happened.  “Twice As Far” was a good episode.  It advanced the plot for several characters, gave us development for Abraham, Eugene, and Denise, put the survivors in another conflict with the Saviors, and pushes up closer to Negan’s first appearance.

Twice As Far- Saviors confront Daryl and Rosita

With two episodes left and Negan yet to appear, it was a given that a character would be meeting their end.  Not just because of Negan’s reputation, but to tip the scales and make things a bit more balanced.  As is, once again, our survivors found themselves in a confrontation with the Saviors and, for the most part, came out on top.  Yes, they lost Denise, but they still ended up forcing the Saviors to retreat.

Twice As Far- Denise rants to Daryl and Rosita

But not without a major loss.  Like Bob before her, the second we started learning more about Denise and her becoming more outspoken, it was a red flag.  Unlike Aaron or Heath, Denise hasn’t spent a lot of time outside the walls, so this was a big change for her to prove her worth to herself and Daryl and Rosita.  It allowed her to vent.  We dug a bit into her past as well, with her upbringing having similarities with Daryl’s.

Twice As Far- Denise stabs a walker

Like other Alexandria residents, Denise looked up to the new survivors because they have next to no fear of walkers or living outside of a safe zone.  That’s what they’ve known for so long, but Denise had the advantage of being sheltered in Alexandria.  For Daryl and Rosita, taking a chance on a supply run is nothing to them at all.  Denise, though, lacked experience to survive for long, but given the chance, she proved she could eventually hold her own.

Twice As Far- Denise still talking with an arrow in her eye

And then she dies.  In addition to Eugene biting Dwight’s crotch- more on that in a minute- I didn’t expect the show to adapt the death by crossbow to the eye.  Or, at least, I didn’t expect it to be Denise.  I still thought it would have been Abraham, given the time we spent with him and Eugene, but then boom, Denise takes a bolt to the eye.  Like the comic, it was a gruesome sight to watch her try and keep talking despite the mortal wound.

The 100- Lexa

Brief-aside on Denise’s death.  People apparently are taking issue with this because Denise is a lesbian and, based off what happened on The 100, is another case of television shows killing off a gay character.  First off, no.  Second, no.  Denise was the doctor.  Her sexuality was not her defining character trait.

And really, anyone can die on this show.  Not sure why I’m making this point because it’s not like I’ve got any sort of audience.

No Way Out- Carl gets shot through the eye

Then there’s the argument that Carl managed to survive his eye injury, but Denise did not.  Here’s the difference: once Carl had been shot, Rick and Michonne immediately abandoned their escape plan and rushed to the infirmary so Denise could save his life.  Here, Denise is the doctor, so who else has the medical expertise to save her life?  In addition, the group wasn’t in the Safe Zone, so there was no immediate way to save her.

Twice As Far- Rosita is apparently alone

Another side-note, why does Denise think that Rosita is alone?  The two don’t seem like the closest of friends, and Rosita has been out with the others to ambush the Saviors. The breakup with Abraham hasn’t been that long, so how would Denise infer this? Though I guess an argument could be made that Spencer is just a rebound.

Twice As Far- Eugene has a plan to stockpile bullets

Anyway, then you’ve got Eugene, who the show is setting up in a great way when it comes to his plan of manufacturing bullets.  This could end up having a big payoff, but I’ll leave it at that for now without getting into comic territory.  Eugene’s arc has also been about proving himself, which he’s had to do even more after admitting that he lied.  He aided the others during “No Way Out,” so he has what it takes to survive.

Twice As Far- Eugene about to take in Dwight's dick

So it’s refreshing to see him change his appearance and demeanor for the sake of adaptation.  The world is changing and bullets are valuable, so he’s showing how he can be of use to stockpile ammunition.  And he’s a quick thinker for biting Dwight in the crotch.  He allowed Abraham, Rosita, and Daryl a moment to take care of the Saviors and proved to Abraham that he has valuable skills.  Even if they involve his mouth and a man’s dick.

Twice As Far- Carol watches Daryl dig

As for Carol, it feels like we’re missing something.  It’s not unlike her to just vanish without a trace.  And I get the feeling that her talks with Daryl confirmed what she experienced in “The Same Boat,” but maybe a short conversation with Rick or someone else would have been nice instead of just having her explanation spelled out through a letter and closing narration.

“Twice As Far” put our survivors in another winning battle against the Saviors, but that came with a price in Denise’s death before Tara could admit her feelings for her.  It gave Abraham and Eugene a bit of growth as both made bold steps to adapt in the ever-changing world.  Not everything worked, as Carol’s decision to leave felt a bit odd, but with two episodes left, here’s hoping we get an explanation of where she’s headed next.