AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 8, Episode 11: “Dead or Alive Or”
Directed by Michael E. Satrazemis
Written by Eddie Guzelian
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Lost and the Plunderers” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Key” – click here
The Saviors are keeping an eye out for Dr. Harlan Carson (R. Keith Harris) and Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), who’ve gone AWOL. Daryl (Norman Reedus), Tara (Alanna Masterson), Rosita (Christian Serratos), and a whole crew of their people are moving through the forest nearby. Along the way we see a bit of testiness between Tara and the others, as she just about feeds Dwight (Austin Amelio) to a horde of walkers.
On the road, luckily the priest and the doc have a car. Although Gabriel’s not doing well, his infection’s attacking his “optical nerves,” which doesn’t mean anything good whatsoever. The holy man is pushing himself. “Just have some faith,” he advises the doctor. But he’s fucked up. Add to that their car’s broken down after all.
Back at Hilltop, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) is keeping everything running smoothly. Meanwhile, Morgan (Lennie James) and Carol (Melissa McBride) are navigating their respective existences; clearly the former is having trouble, as usual. He can’t deal with all the death that’s surrounded him for so long. Sure, everybody has had to do hard shit, but some people have had to do worse, and more, than others. Morgan’s one of those who’s had to see some of the worst, arguably.
What’s going on with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan)? He isn’t happy about the doc and the priest gone. He calls Eugene (Josh McDermitt) in for an intimidating chat. Y’know how it goes. I only keep wondering how long the wannabe scientist and bullet-maker is going to last with the Saviors. There’s no way he can go back to his old friends. And one of these days, Lucille will get “first dibs” on Eugene when he inevitably slips up, or reveals himself as a perpetual double-crosser.
Things are getting tight at Hilltop. Maggie doesn’t get a whole lot of good news on that front. It’s worse factoring in the prisoners they’re keeping. Just keeps bubbling up in the back of my mind: will Maggie eventually kill the rest of them to save more fuss? She won’t let them go or send them back. They’re only taking up resources. She’s already going to cut their rations. What about poor, cowardly Gregory (Xander Berkeley)? He’s begging to get out of that cage, too.
In the cabin they find, Dr. Carson and Gabriel stumble on a corpse. But there are also a bunch of pill bottles scattered everywhere. As fate would have it, there are antibiotics. Meaning, in a miracle move, wandering out to that cabin was the saving Gabriel needed. Although he may suffer “permanent damage.” Compelling to see faith v. medicine clash in such a non-aggressive fashion in the post-zombie apocalypse wasteland. Gabriel’s “search for meaning” winds up knocking over a piggy bank, to reveal “car keys and a map.” Eerie faith.
In the woods, Rosita, Daryl, and some of the others head through a watery bog. A treacherous place. They’ve got to watch for submerged, water-logged zombies. The only way to get everyone past is to clear them out. Tara remains behind to watch out for the rest of the group. She orders Dwight to give her a hand. While they’re alone, he apologises for killing her girlfriend. That’s when she pulls her gun on him. She takes a shot at him, but he runs. They both come out of the woods and she puts the barrel right to his head. Only they’re interrupted by a group of Saviors passing.
Gabriel goes with Dr. Carson, as the doc heads to look for the car. The priest manages, through his weak vision, to spy a warning of traps set in the yard. He’s not able to stop the doc in time before he walks right into a bear trap. Close are hungry zombies. So, the priest walks into the fray, near blind. The doc pops some walkers with his pistol before he drops it. Gabriel gets the gun and with faith, he kills the last walker about to chomp Carson. ‘Cause you gotta have faith-a-faith-a-faith. Doesn’t mean the doc won’t need time to recuperate from this injury.
From the trees, Dwight barges into the company of the nearby Saviors, getting himself away from Tara. Yet he also pushes the group away from Tara’s people. He does have goodness left in him. I believe when he says he hates Negan. However, Daryl freaks out about it, regardless of what Tara, or Rosita have to say. And sadly, the group of Saviors are pushed right into the path of Dr. Carson and Gabriel. Trying to have faith, the doc grabs one of the Saviors’ guns, winding up shot dead. Oh, fuck. Faith means nothing now, because the struggle was all for nothing. So much for God and any plan he had for the doctor.
Daryl and the group get to Hilltop, where everyone finds out the news about Carl, which devastates young Enid (Katelyn Nacon). Simultaneously, we see that Siddiq (Avi Nash) is understanding how important Carl was to everybody, as well as the fact he’s introducing his “medical experience” to Maggie.
So, faith is good after all, in a way. Or at least knowing that fate will guide SOME things, not all of them, the way they ought to be guided. Carl’s death leads to something bigger, something that helps after so much tragedy and blood. Might not be totally worth all those who’ve died; still worth something.
Eugene is becoming more of a misogynist Savior as the days go by, treating the women around there like dirt. He’s the bullet-maker. He’s got a place in the whole system, and he’s exploiting it to the fullest extent, in the most disgusting fashion.
Outside, Negan starts wondering if they can use the zombie virus to their “advantage.” Unsettling. There’s going to be something nasty go down in the next episode. Bet on that.
“The Key” comes next week. No words. I’m wonderfully disturbed by whatever Negan’s plotting in his twisted mind.