The Walking Dead – A-
I’m going way against the grain here as the early reviews are already in as I write this and, man, fans and critics are not exactly loving this episode. And it’s for the reason, to toot my own horn, I predicted at the end of this — about the only thing I got right. Cliffhangers have happened since the end of time, and people take this show waaaay too seriously. It’s a pulp fiction zombie program. A well-written, thoroughly enjoyable one, but nonetheless…
I do have qualms — one at the very start, the other as we faded to black. The caravan to Hilltop did not need so many people, particularly when an attack could rain down on Alexandria at any moment. It’s hard to not see the pregnancy pangs and the overreaction as an unnecessary MacGuffin, merely to get nearly everyone people cared about into the path of Negan’s baseball bat. And some fans have pointed out the solid plot hole that there’s really no way the Saviors could have known a good portion of Alexandria would be on the road today to get mucked up in all their elaborate traps and blockades. Further, while the hue and cry that it’s cheap to not reveal the victim is whiny and absurd, the method of doing so played out like a cheaper version of Nintendo’s Duck Hunt.
However, the ride there was a dizzy spiral of a descent. As it becomes more and more clear they have finally been outflanked by the Saviors — not to mention the realization of just how vast a network the Saviors have — the tension and hopelessness of it all ratchets up. By the time Negan makes his entrance to survey the line to literally decimate this group of ten Alexandrians, it’s at a fever pitch. Jeffrey Dean Morgan imbues the uber-confident showman of a sociopath leader with an oddly bewitching charm, his careful reasoning adding an extra layer of creepiness to the scene most everyone knew was coming.
Meanwhile, Morgan and Carol meet in the woods, with each forced to face their complicated relationship with killing. It’s the beginning of an uneasy bond — Carol just wants to be left to die, and Morgan’s philosophy will not brook that — but it portends an intriguing alliance that keeps hope alive in the darkest hour. Plus, they meet a bunch of knights who MAY have a lot to do with the future of the story.
– Jason Thurston