Between past and present, we see how things went for Michonne and Daryl since Rick disappeared.
People in Alexandria attempt to move forward. Alpha commands her flock with a violent hand.
The communities move on in the wake of Jesus being killed, now all too aware of the Whisperers.
Daryl lives on his own, trying to remember and trying to forget. Jesus grapples with being leader of Hilltop.
Time doesn't stop for tragedy, and people have to move on.
Michonne struggles with her relationship to Negan. Rick and Daryl face hard truths.
Things have changed for Alexandria, Hilltop, and the Sanctuary. But in some ways, they remain the same.
Morgan tries helping Martha, but everything goes horribly wrong.
AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 7, Episode 6: “Swear”
Directed by Michael E. Satrazemis
Written by David Leslie Johnson
* For a review of the previous episode, “Go Getters” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Sing Me a Song” – click here
On the beach two girls find Tara (Alanna Masterson) washed shore, still alive and not infected. One of the girls nearly kills her, but the older one decides they won’t kill her, not if she isn’t sick. They won’t tell their community about it, or at least the older of the two won’t. At least there are still some good people left in the new world. Sad to see the youngest are already becoming desensitised to living in the post-zombie apocalypse. Although, lucky for Tara one of them was willing to do the right.
Some time before, Heath (Corey Hawkins) and Tara survive on their own. They’re losing hope about what’s next. No gas, barely any food. Heath laments what happened at the station, when they killed those Saviors. All over food and rations. Now with Hilltop and the deal with the Saviors things are supposed to be… tolerable. However, that isn’t enough for everybody. All Heath knows is that to be honest to themselves, they’ve got to admit who they are: killers beneath it all.
Tara’s personal saviour, Cyndie (Sydney Park), tries keeping her presence secret. She leaves a passed out Tara some water, a little food, along with a spear to defend herself. When the poor girl finally wakesup she doesn’t know whether Cyndie’s there to help. So she remains sceptical. Out into the woods Tara goes, following Cyndie back to her community. The place is full of people, and firepower. Suddenly everyone rushes at the sound of a whistle, or a horn, or something. Guns are handed out to everyone. The community’s on high alert. Then the bullets start flying, as Tara runs for her life. She gets the jump on one woman, but the young girl who wanted to kill her earlier stops Tara, gun pointed. Once more Cyndie stops it, although the rest of the community – all women notably – hold their weapons on Tara. “Look, I‘m cool,” she tells the group. She tries talking to them, even if the place looks on edge. Who knows what’ll happen next.
Back when Tara was with Heath, they come across a bridge, old cars, tents, tarps, you name it scattered everywhere. Lots of “blind spots,” as Heath points out. They go ahead, slow, steady. They find a load of sand dumped on the bridge, covering a ton of bullet casings. When they try sifting through, one wrong pull sends the sand down on top of them, and a load of walkers crawl out from underneath. In the crowd of zombies Heath leaves Tara to fend for herself; no, you fucking didn’t, Heath!!!!! Oh, man. That is raw.
Tara’s now handcuffed to a radiator in the head honcho Natania’s little house. She learns more about the place. They have lots of security measures. Natania wants to know about Tara. She talks a big load of shit about working on a fishing boat before, she and a friend. Smart move, girl. But the community isn’t pleased with strangers wandering in. Regardless, Tara gets an invite to the dinner table for fish stew. Things go normally, and later Natania extends another invite: for Tara to stay with them. Somewhere she can “put down roots” and be a part of their community. We again find out more about the community, that they were in a fight with another group, which left them decimated, and without any of the men who were a part of the group prior. True survivors, hiding and fending for themselves, alive, healthy, together. They trust Tara because she’s had the opportunity to hurt them and chose not to do so. She then opens up to them about her own community in Alexandria, her girlfriend, their way of living. She tells them about killing the people at the station, hoping their groups can work together. “Sooner or later you‘re gonna need a friend.” Natania proposes sending a guide, to help Tara find Heath, then go to Alexandria and scope out their community for safety.
They head out through the woods. When a zombie needs killing Tara offers to get it done, taking her chance to run from her guides. She fights one of the women when they cross one another. She lands on the other side of a gun, again. The woman says that The Saviors can’t be stopped, there’s no point in going home. They are everywhere, they kill everything and everyone. They’re the ones that killed this community’s men; “every man, every boy over ten, they lined them up, shot them in the head.” Those women ran from Negan and The Saviors and they’re not willing to let Tara ruin any of that. Cyndie manages to help Tara get free, and follows her away. She pleads with Tara not to tell anyone where they are out in the woods, giving her rations for the trip home. On the bridge there are tons of walkers, though. Cyndie helps Tara to get around them, providing gunfire from a car nearby as Tara runs right through the crowd. She makes it to the other side of the zombie wall eventually.
Cut back to when Heath left her on the bridge. Or did he? Nope. He comes back with a gunshot, but Tara’s forced to jump off the bridge to save herself. Now there she stands at the bridge, not sure where Heath might’ve gone. For a second she thinks he’s there on the bridge; only a lady walker with similarly braided, tied up hair. Phew. A little farther off the bridge, Tara finds Heath’s glasses, a swipe card with PPP written on it, and tire tracks.
Out in a field she heads forward, anywhere else. She happens upon a store and some houses, an overturned boat. She keeps moving on back towards home. At the walls of Alexandria, Eugene (Josh McDermitt) sees her coming, happy as can be. But she hasn’t been back in awhile. She doesn’t know about the latest deaths, Denise, all the horror. Rosita (Christian Serratos) asks her about where she was, what happened, and true to her word Tara says she saw nothing.
This was a slower episode, but a good one. I love Tara, and Heath. They got a bit of good screentime, which I hope continues. I’m also itching to get back to Rick and Negan, too.
Next up is “Sing Me a Song” and I’m willing to bet things are going to get nasty.
* For a review of the previous episode, “The Cell” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Go Getters” – click here
Back in Alexandria once more. Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) lay in bed next to one another. She rests uneasy, her breath heavy. She heads downstairs and gets a gun from the chimney, then leaves the house, as Rick watches her go.
In an open field Michonne walks by herself. She stops at a rusty old truck and gets up to look around. She sits there, waiting with the rifle in her hands. At the house Rick holds his little Judith. Eugene (Josh McDermitt) fumbles around with a radio outside while Rosita (Christian Serratos) and others hope to gather more for Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) when he arrives.
But he has already arrived: “Little pig, little pig, let me in.” Rick meets him at the gates. As always, Negan talks shit. He’s brought his Saviors, Dwight (Austin Amelio) and captive Daryl (Norman Reedus) included.
Negan lets himself into their little town. Even makes Rick hold Lucille while he waltzes. And seeing Rick hold that bat, new blood splattered over it, there’s a hate in his eyes we’ve not seen in a long, long time. If ever.
Negan’s pleased with the looks of Alexandria. Plenty of spoils to take. When Rick tries talking to Daryl, the bad man makes clear he is “help” and nothing more. Scariest part of this guy is that he’s also sexually threatening to the women. We’ve already seen, and heard from his own mouth, about what happened to Dwight; not good. He’s got women amongst the Saviors, as well. But just like hardline right-wing women, there is a seething hatred likely underneath their hard exterior. No telling what Negan’s offered them, what type of options they’ve been given to this point to make them follow his orders. On top of everything else, Alexandria gets pillaged of supplies, so on. Leaves them withered to even think about taking on Negan if they’re struggling to keep themselves in goods to appease him.
Out in the field Michonne takes shots at a walker in the distance. She never quite hits the thing in the head. So it’s back to the sword. Moments later she happens across a deer in the woods, dead, bullet hole in its neck.
More and more we see that Negan is happy with what Alexandria provides: “This is the kind of stuff that just tickles my balls!” Moreover, he finds the tapes Deanna left long ago. The tape shows a bearded, wild Rick. Not the man he is today. Such a stark contrast, one heavy reminder. Then Negan begins taunting some about Maggie (Lauren Cohan), talking about widows in a real nasty manner. Oh, and Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) shows up. They tell Negan that Maggie is dead, buried. We know it isn’t true. That isn’t something we’d not see. But this baseball wielding bastard doesn’t need to know.
A gun goes off down the street. Carl (Chandler Riggs) isn’t letting the Saviors take all their things. He’s holding them at gunpoint. This pisses the big guy off when they catch up. Negan does feel slightly impressed with Carl’s balls. Eventually the kid gives up, his father watching with tears welling in his eyes, not wanting another person – especially his son – dead in front of his eyes. Shitty thing is that Negan will be taking firepower with him when he leaves. Again, withering Alexandria worse than before.
Lots of psyching out from Negan. He continually batters people, physically and mentally, no matter with whom he’s dealing. Even his own guys, now and then. With Rick it is brutal. To see such a strong, relentless leader as him be crushed into submission by anyone shitty, let alone this dude, is a bit of Shakespearean tragedy. Yes, it’s needed story wise. And I love it. But still a hard pill to swallow when you love Rick, as well as Andrew Lincoln (gives him a proper role to chew into this season though).
Rosita and Spencer (Austin Nichols) head out and find Daryl’s motorcycle in the woods. “This is where Rick got us,” he tells her. Sad that he sees it that way. A defeatist attitude. Rosita then runs into the woods out of nowhere while he talks.
Negan gets his hands on the RPG the gang used – Daryl specifically – to blow those guys off the road last season. Furthermore, he discovers an accounting error in the books Olivia keeps for the armoury. Missing guns. Uh oh. “Two handguns short.” This might cause trouble. Lucille is thirsty for Olivia.
In the church Rick asks his group who’s holding the guns. Nobody speaks up, though Rick and the core few witnessed what happened to Abraham and Glenn. “I‘m not in charge anymore; Negan is,” he tells the people in front of him.
Rosita tracks a couple zombies in the woods and then takes down a group of them like a bad ass. She snags a gun off one of them. No ammo. She wants to make sure Alexandria has some protection left when Negan rolls out. “This is not our life,” she tells Spencer. I love her, and hope she continues to be a bigger character from here on in.
Whereas Rick panics looking for the guns, Gabriel tries reassuring him that things will change for the better. He has faith in Rick, after all they’ve been through together. Aaron (Ross Marquand) searched Rosita’s room, nothing, and there are less places by the minute to check. When Rick steps on a floorboard there’s a hiding place with canned food, liquor, and… you betcha, a couple handguns. A Savior accosts Enid (Katelyn Nacon) outside like a dirty creep. Nobody can do anything except watch on, which doesn’t make Carl happy, or anybody for that matter.
So Negan’s got his guns, for now Olivia is safe. But the bad man and his bat wants Rick to keep a lid on his people. If not, I imagine more head smashing. Oh, I can’t wait to see someone get the upper hand on Negan! I want his villainy to last, but very much looking forward to the tension once he and Rick (or whoever) go up against one another in a more violent way.
The toughest is when Rick has to go to Michonne for her rifle. He knows that she’s been practising. She refuses to let go of her weapon. Rick is done losing people, regardless the price. I understand that, in a way. Upsets me to see these two divided amongst themselves after so much.
When the Saviors are ready to leave, Rick wants Daryl to stay. Seeing as how they’ve given over so much. No dice. Next time Negan comes through he wants “something interesting” or somebody will get fed to Lucille.
With nothing left Alexandria goes on as it did before, only hungrier, less equipped. At least Rosita has a gun. Not sure what good one will do, but one is better than none. Not everything is swell around town, not even mattresses to sleep on. Rick and Michonne are at odds over this new defeated way of living. For the first time in so long he talks about Shane, and the beginning of the zombie apocalypse, how Lori got together with Shane, the whole story. He admits: “I know Judith isn‘t mine. I know it.” Although he loves her like his own. He hopes to teach her to survive. Mostly, he talks of having to accept so many things out of his reach. It’s either take this life now, or nothing at all. But for how long?
Back in that field Michonne goes. Up on the rusty truck. On the horizon she sees smoke. In the road are their mattresses, burning. All for the Saviors to have fun with, not for sleeping.
More importantly, Rosita remembers something crucial with no bullets in her gun: Eugene knows how to make ammo.
Lots of good stuff setting up here. Great dialogue and tension between Rick and Negan, as well as the fact we get more Rosita, which is unusual yet welcome, and the other characters aren’t being left behind.
Next up is “Go Getters” and I’m hoping the tune changes from this episode. Really good one, just felt that by the end the Negan-speak was getting on my nerves. I dig the dialogue, the whole smug personality irks me after a while.
AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 6, Episode 10: “The Next World”
Directed by Kari Scogland
Written by Angela Kang & Corey Reed
* For a review of the previous episode, “No Way Out” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Knots Untie” – click here
This episode begins with everything settled in Alexandria. Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) are getting ready for the day. Carl (Chandler Riggs) is up on his feet, bandage over the new hole in his right eye. Outside, Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) is preparing for a run, while Dr. Denise Cloyd (Merritt Wever) asks him to pick up a few things.
Off go Daryl and Rick, as they hit the road in a nice car. “Today‘s the day,” says Rick. They’re going to find food, maybe people, too. For his part, Daryl isn’t so sure finding people is a great thing. For now Rick throws on a bit of Ronnie Dee and they travel.
Daryl and Rick go to look at an agricultural depot that Eugene (Josh McDermitt) marked on the map for them. The “law of averages” works out after Daryl and Rick find a truck filled with supplies, which they then head back with towards Alexandria. They stop at a rundown gas station where they find a vending machine tipped on its front. After they turn it over, a man runs out of nowhere and slams into Rick. Guns are drawn. The man says he was “running from the dead“. He introduces himself as Paul Rovia a.k.a Jesus (Tom Payne), asking if they’ve got a camp somewhere. But he doesn’t seem interested in them, taking off behind the station. When Jesus creates a distraction, they realize he’s leaving with the truck. Now, Rick and Daryl are left with no supplies, as well as no wheels to get themselves back home.
Spencer Monroe (Austin Nichols) is out in the woods walking, shovel in hand. Michonne notices him from the lookout and follows. She helps him discard of a walker coming at him. They talk of his mother a little, but Michonne mostly wants to know why he’s out there. So she keeps on going. Meanwhile, Carl and Enid (Katelyn Nacon) are out in the woods, too. It seems Carl is going back to wanting to be a kid, after his injury. Although, Enid scoffs: “We‘re not kids.” She knows the difference.
But kids they are, at least for a moment, eating and reading comics. Enid says she doesn’t want to go out to what looks like their own little spot anymore. Carl agrees and walks off back towards town. On their way, they come across a zombie Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) in the trees. A terribly unfortunate turn of events.
On the road, Daryl and Rick finally catch up to Jesus, who stops to fix a tire. They sneak around flanking him then Jesus breaks some mad karate out on them. After a brief fight, Rick and Daryl both draw their guns. They tie Jesus up and get the keys back. Then they plan on leaving him in the road, heading for Alexandria again; finally.
A ways down the road, they discover Jesus made it onto the roof of the vehicle. They toss him off when Rick stops hard, then Daryl chases him down through a field. One thing leads to another and the truck ends up in a lake, sinking to the bottom. However, interesting to note Jesus saves Daryl from an oncoming walker, before he gets himself knocked out by the truck’s door. Daryl doesn’t want to help him, but Rick suggests they ought, seeing as how Jesus never drew a weapon on either of them the whole time.
Michonne is still busy following Spencer, who wants to have a new life in Alexandria yet has things to do first. In the woods, Michonne ends up spotting Carl being pursued by the undead Deanna. This is what Spencer came out there to do, he needs to put her to rest. A difficult, emotional scene, as Spencer puts a knife into her brain. He only wants to bury his mother, which is obviously why he brought a long a shovel for his walk. Michonne helps carve a D on a nearby tree where Spencer buries her in the soil.
Daryl and Rick go home. With Jesus in their care. Rick says he “finally listened” to what Daryl, Michonne, all of them were saying as they first reached Alexandria, so it’s only natural he now wants to try faith instead of fight at every turn. For those of us who’ve read the comics, you’ll know who Jesus turns out to be, but for those who haven’t? Stay guessing for now.
Michonne scolds Carl for not leaving or killing Deanna. He doesn’t like that, though. He says it had to be someone close to her who killed her once and for all, a person who loved her. For all that’s happened to him, to his mother and his family, Carl still has a lot of humanity. He tells Michonne: “I‘d do it for you.”
In Alexandria, Rick and Daryl bring Jesus in to be cared for, leaving him a little note and a glass of water. Lots of comedic bits here in this episode, which is fun after the intensity of “No Way Out“.
Perhaps most interesting of all is the final scene. Michonne and Rick sit together in the lamplight on the couch, chatting about their day like normal people might; like a family. Their relationship has progressed a ton since first they met, back when Rick almost sent her to The Governor, to a certain death. Now here they are together – and I mean together. They embrace one another, holding hands and kissing passionately. Maybe they’re exactly what the other needs, especially at this point in time.
Jesus has gotten out and broken into Rick’s place. He says he needs to talk.
Excited for the next episode and what will come after. Jesus is going to prove to be an interesting character, hopefully leading us further and further towards our date with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).
AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 6, Episode 9: “No Way Out”
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Seth Hoffman
* For a review of the previous episode, “Start to Finish” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Next World” – click here
Back from the midseason break, we begin as Daryl (Norman Reedus), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) meet a group of bikers who claim all their things “belong to Negan” as of now. The three survivors are disarmed by the bikers, otherwise known as The Saviours. Of course, Abraham doesn’t immediately hand over his weapons, but after a tense moment he relinquishes his handgun. The Saviours don’t actually give up any information about themselves right away. Mostly they’re concerned with who Daryl, Sasha and Abraham are, what they have to give over, and so on. “Ding, dong, Hell‘s bells,” taunts the main biker after Abraham asks “Who‘s Negan?”
This scene passes by slow and steady, until Daryl finds an RPG and blows the whole crew into the sky with one of its rockets. It almost appears an act of God at first before Daryl steps from behind their truck. A good save. But are they safe for long with Negan clearly scouring the Earth, or his proxies that is, looking for people, their guns, their things?
Biker: “If you have to eat shit, best not to nibble: bite, chew, swallow, repeat. Goes quicker.”
Cut to where we last left Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Carl (Chandler Riggs), Jesse (Alexandra Breckenridge), Michonne (Danai Gurira) and most of the others – covered in guts, blood, wandering through the walkers and hoping to make it through. As you remember, Jesse’s son Sam (Major Dodson) wasn’t doing so well mentally in “Start to Finish“, but none of them are particularly doing so hot now. Rick tries to get a new plan in order, as they cross through Alexandria, packed full of zombies, every which way. Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) offers to do his best on his part and takes little Judith: “I want to. I have to.” Everyone else sticks to their guns, even young Sam, and Gabriel promises Rick sternly he will keep the baby safe. However, Rick is terrified, no matter how strong he appears on the outside.
They all forge on in a new direction, but the zombies are too thick. Tara (Alanna Masterson), Rosita (Christian Serratos) and Eugene (Josh McDermitt) are still stuck inside, as well as a banged up Carol (Melissa McBride) and a knocked out Morgan (Lennie James), the latter of which wakes up not long after.
They’re all worried for Dr. Denise Cloyd (Merritt Wever) who was taken at the end of the last episode by the Alpha Wolf (Benedict Samuel), who moves her along through Alexandria, headed who knows where; a sinister air surrounds these two making Denise’s time alive a fickle thing at this point.
Meanwhile, Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Enid (Katelyn Nacon) end up at the church to take a moment and try regrouping their strategy. Enid’s trying to hold herself together and be strong, as Glenn tries keeping her hope up. They end up on the same page soon enough; I love the chemistry between Yeun and Nacon, they make a great and unlikely team.
With Rick, Carl and their small group heading past hordes of walkers in the streets, the group is no closer to safety than they were. Each corner there are more and more lining Alexandria. In the mist of it all, Sam sees a small child walking, zombified. Everyone tries to make him move, only a walker bites into his arm, another munches on his skull. Then the screams begin, as Jesse wails for her dead son still holding his hand. It all devolves. Jesse is taken next, as the zombies swarm. The rest of them try staying silent, but it is a tough thing to do. With Jesse’s dead hand still gripping Carl, axe in hand Rick is forced to chop her arm off to get them going.
Then Ron (Austin Abrams) pulls a gun on Rick. But before he can shoot, Michonne kills him with her sword. Everything’s fine. Or is it? Carl turns mumbling “dad” – his right eye shot out, blood spurting. He falls to the ground and Rick picks him up, as he and Michonne run for safety; somewhere, anywhere.
Everybody is in hiding except for Rick, Carl and Michonne. In a basement, the Alpha Wolf looks longingly out the window at the zombies crowding, pushing towards the gunfire. He seems pretty confident about himself, though, Denise reminds him their group is the reason why his “friends are dead“. Every moment that passes I worry for Denise. There’s no telling what this Wolf will do with her or to her after they escape; if they even do. Except right after that he gets bitten. And Denise tells him: “Come with me… I‘ll save your life.”
With Alexandria falling faster every frame, the group is in tatters. Carol and Morgan are inside debating the situation concerning the Alpha Wolf, how Morgan didn’t do anything to benefit the group, but only thought of himself. In turn, Carol believes she should have killed Morgan. These are two hard characters, each in their own right. They’ve both lost children, lots their loved ones, and now they are confronted with one another, at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Carol ends up saving Denise, shooting the Alpha Wolf in the streets and allowing her to get inside one of the houses where others such as Aaron (Ross Marquand) are hiding. Finally, Rick makes it inside with Carl and Denise begins to start makeshift surgery, doing the best she can to save the boy. At the same time, poor Rick Grimes constantly loses people in his life; he and Jesse were just starting to get close, now she and both her boys are gone. Worse, though, is the way Rick always handles these chaotic moments. He goes out on the street with an axe and starts mowing down walkers, one after one, no concern for anything or anyone, least of all himself. Soon, Michonne, Ross and a few others storm the street to help Rick try clearing out the hordes of undead. More people run out and Rick assures everyone: “We can beat ‘em. We can beat ‘em.”
I waited for an episode like this, in terms of a few things. For one, I wanted Father Gabriel to do something to redeem himself – first, he takes Judith to safety; second, he takes up a machete and tells the others God wants them to save Alexandria themselves, he has given them the strength. I mean, I don’t believe in God, but I love that Gabriel takes this stand! Also, the deaths in this episode were pretty damn wild. Even Morgan gives up his “life is precious” bit to put the zombie Alpha Wolf down.
Enid and Glenn do their best to try and save Maggie (Lauren Cohan) stranded up on the wall. However, Glenn finds himself backed into a corner with walkers bearing down on all sides. He fights and fights, pushing them away, firing off rounds.
Out of nowhere, Abraham and Sasha appear at the top of the wall. They gun down the walkers in front of Glenn. Daryl picks him up then things start to take shape. On the streets, Rick and the crew continue fighting. Tara, Eugene and Rosita are out, too; ole Eugene does his damnedest to redeem himself like Gabriel.
Daryl empties a ton of gas out of the army truck and sets a massive blaze with an RPG. The flames start drawing walkers away from the inner part of Alexandria. Rick and Co., with Carol and Morgan in addition, keep killing and killing. The editing in this sequence is absolutely incredible. We go back and forth between walkers setting on fire in the blaze, to all the survivors hacking, slashing, stabbing, slicing, to more walkers pushing through the streets. One of the greatest sequences ever on this series as a whole. Really impressive.
Once the smoke clears, both figuratively and literally, the group remains standing. Zombies lie smashed, chopped, lifeless (again) in the streets. At one of the houses, everybody waits to see how Carl is doing. Rick sits by his side, his son bandaged and resting asleep. The father talks to his boy about “rebuilding the walls, expanding the walls” and he realizes “everything Deanna was talking about… it‘s all possible.” He realized the potential of the group in that town; they are not weak, they are in fact strong, they can band together. “I wanna show you the New World, Carl,” says Rick. “I wanna make it a reality for you. Please, Carl – let me show you.” And then Carl’s hand curls around Rick’s hand, he wakes up. For now everything is fine.
Let’s see how things go in the next episode, titled “The Next World”.