The Walking Dead S07E10 “New Best Friends” REVIEW
- We open on Morgan, Ezekiel and the Knights waiting for the Saviours. Oh good! We get the random degradation and mockery out of the way early this week!
- They show up. Things are tense. The Saviours initially try and barter but Ezekiel shoots them down. Then the guy who picked a fight with Richard last time tries to get him to be forbidden from having a gun. Ever again. Richard points out the other guy threw the first punch. Everyone draws on everyone else. Ezekiel orders Richard to hand over his gun. He does. A punch gets thrown. Morgan and Benjamin both disarm people with Morgan losing his staff. Morgan asks for his staff back. He doesn’t get it. The Saviours leave.
- Back at the Kingdom, Ezekiel counsels Benjamin not to pick fights. Daryl asks where they went and he and Morgan talk it over. This mostly involves Daryl asking Morgan what the Hell his damage is. Daryl points out that Carol would lead them to the Saviours to kill them all if she knew about Abe and Glen. Morgan retorts that indeed she would, and that’s why she left, and Daryl leaves.
- Nearby, Richard is practicing archery. He admits that the Saviours are smart enough to not let him have a gun around them anymore. He hands Daryl a crossbow. He says he needs Daryl’s help and they want the same things.
- Dixon’s BACK, baby.
- He takes Daryl to the caravan and shows him the weapons he’s concealed there. The pair arm up and hike out to a road the Saviours use. Richard sets up an ambush. He also admits that he set up a trail to a cabin in the middle of nowhere, and he’s set up the loner that lives there.
- When Daryl hears that it’s a woman, he focuses on one thing. Getting her name out of Richard.
- Richard admits that he hoped that Daryl didn’t know her. Daryl takes every weapon, tells Richard to stay the Hell away from Carol and then… the Saviours appear in the distance. Richard’s all in favour of carrying out his plan anyway.
- Daryl has other ideas.
- He beats the living Hell out of Richard as the Saviours roll past unawares. It turns into a standoff and Richard tells Daryl what he already knows: they need the Kingdom. They need to move soon.
- Daryl explains that if anything, ANYTHING, happens to Carol, Richard’s dead. He leaves.
- We cut to a junkyard filled with odd sculptures and artwork. There’s a banging noise and suddenly a pair of doors open. A legion of black clad people file silently into shot.
- Rick and co are in the middle of them.
- They circle around and gradually form concentric circles around Rick and the others, still without speaking. A leader appears and asks Rick if they want to buy their lives back. Rick, in full softly spoken good ol’boy mode, negotiates with them for the release of Gabriel.
- Gabriel is not looking bad. Not great. At all. But not bad.
- It turns out the boat goods they stole were the property of the Junkyard. They stole it back. And Gabriel. And everything else. If they want Gabriel back they will have to give the junkyard dwellers something in return.
- Rick points out they have nothing; everything they own is owned by the Saviours. So if the junkyard dwellers take Team Rick’s lives they’ll be taking from the Saviours who won’t be happy? There will be war.
- Rick pitches them the idea of simply cutting out the middle man and fighting back.
- Their leader replies, “No.” The Junkyard dwellers attack Team Rick them and they only stops when Gabriel pulls a knife on one of them. He points out the Saviours have supplies and the Junkyard stands down. Gabriel drops the knife, but only on Rick’s orders.
- The Junkyard leader wants something now before they steal from the Saviours. Gabriel, touchingly and perhaps a little insanely, tells them Rick can do anything. The leader tells two of her cohorts to show Rick “Up Up Up,” and he’s led away.
- At this point, if the fight music from “Amok Time” isn’t playing in your heads, you aren’t paying attention.
- The others are led away and Gabriel tries to tend to their wounds. Rosita is having none of it. Nearby, Rick is shown the full scope of the Junkyard. It’s MASSIVE. The leader explains that the community has been there since the Change and that their supplies are running low. She explains that maybe it’s time they changed.
- And then they shove Rick down a hill of rubbish.
- More specifically, into an enclosed garbage arena, inhabited mostly by rotted Walkers and one just MAGNIFICENTLY LUDICROUS metal-skull-capped Walker covered in spikes. Seriously, Rick basically fights an Iron Maiden album cover. IT’S AMAZING!
- He gets banged up, very badly, very fast. The trooper just keeps on coming and Rick tries to climb for a weapon. Michonne yells at him to use the walls and Rick drags a garbage avalanche down on Eddie. He then stabs the trapped Walker a lot.
- Now let’s pause while we all take a 15 hour shower shall we?
- Victorious, Rick demands the Junkyard leader tell them what they want and he and his people will get it. She throws a rope down and Rick, bloody, spiked hand and all drags himself up AND OH GOD THE SMELL ALONE HAS GOT TO BE JUST SO SO BAD.
- The Junkyard wants guns. A LOT of them.
- Rick, bloody and desperate and standing in front of some pretty bad CGI, smiles again. He’s got his army. He and the Junkyard leader barter for their supplies and she agrees to shake. She also admits they waited for someone to steal the supplies from the boat before they stole them themselves. Rick asks whether they had the Iron maiden walker in place as a test and she replies, “No. His name was Winslow.”
- Giving Rick her name, Jadis, she leaves. The others follow, dropping Team Alexandria’s weapons as they go.
- Rick, bloody and smiling (and he’s actually scarier smiling) limps into view and says, “We have a deal!” and they leave.
- Back at Carol’s house, Ezekiel and Jerry pay a visit. Which is a roundabout way of Ezekiel courting with her. Carol tries to be snarly. Jerry gives her some cobbler. It is adorable.
- They leave. Carol settles back down with her book. There’s a knock at the door and we
- see her open it, her breath catch and she breaks down.
- It’s Daryl.
- They hug.
- EVEN MORE ADORABLE.
- Back at the Junkyard, Gabriel explains that he heard someone when he was on Watch. They jumped him in the pantry and forced him to help them steal everything else.
- Gabriel explains that he was losing faith but when he saw Rick nod to him he knew that he still believed in him. He also says that things will get worse before they get better, and he’ll hold on.
- He asks Rick why he smiled. Rick says, “Someone showed me enemies can become friends.” It is, again, surprisingly adorable.
- Rosita wants to stay out and look for the guns. Tara points out that Rick and Aaron are wounded and people need supplies. Rosita wants to go out by herself and Tara calls her on her bullshit. Rosita explains that whatever has to be done WILL be done.
- They load the cars up, and Rick grabs a present for Michonne and they roll out.
- Back at Carol’s cabin she admits she could still kill, easily. But she can’t bear to lose any of the others and if she did kill, she’d never be the same person again. Daryl catches her up on what happened and Carol asks if anyone got hurt. She clearly hates asking because she knows what it will cost them both. She breaks down as she tries to ask if everyone’s okay and Daryl can’t speak. Finally, brilliantly, awfully, Daryl lies. He tells her they made a deal and everyone’s fine. Weeping with relief, Carol sits down to dinner with one of her oldest, dearest friends.
- After dinner, Daryl goes back to the Kingdom and sits with Shiva. She’s in her cage but it’s clear… she likes him. Morgan arrives and they chat about Carol. Morgan explains that Carol told him to say she’d gone away. Daryl accepts that and reiterates that they need the Kingdom to make this work. Morgan shuts him down, saying, “It can’t be me.” Morgan calls him on the fact that he didn’t tell Carol and Daryl leaves saying he’ll be going back to Hilltop in the morning. Shiva rubs against his hand and purrs as he leaves.
- The next morning Daryl walks straight out of the gates. Richard and Morgan both watch him go.
In the immortal words of early ’90s R&B singer Montell Jordan, “This Is How We Do It”.
You know how last week we were worried about the slow build up? We’re not worried anymore.
This is an episode full of things and all of them are GREAT. Even the increasingly tedious, “Hi! We’re the Saviours and we’re going to flush your head down the loo and steal your lunch money!” scene is used to drive character and plot here. Things are coming to a head, the war is on the way and this week Ezekiel is shown even more evidence of that. When things go south, and they will, we suspect, inside a fortnight, he’s not going to have a choice other than to be onside.
Morgan’s loss of his stick here is interesting, mirroring Daryl’s lost bike, crossbow and jacket. Morgan with the stick is an empowered pacifist. Without it he’s a man with literally nothing to lean on and is starting to realise that. It’s interesting that the episode starts there and finishes with his talk with Daryl. By the end of it, he’s where Daryl was a few episodes ago and Daryl is newly recharged and ready for war. We suspect Morgan isn’t far behind. Also we still suspect Benjamin is very dead very soon.
Over at the main plot Rick and co find Gabriel and WE HAVE TO TALK ABOUT THE IRON MAIDEN WALKER.
The Junkyard are an interesting bunch. We suspect we’re going to get a lot of origin there very soon but the really interesting element of their community is their longevity. The implication that they’ve been active since the end of the world (which is at least two years ago at this point) suggests a strong community and their ritualistic dress and manner of speaking emphasises that. Most interesting though is their attitude. The laissez faire, “Wait for someone else to steal it, then steal it from them,” idea is a really interesting one and they seem like the first community to have really adapted to the new world. They’ve done so in the worst way but it works for them.
ALSO, IRON MAIDEN WALKER.
We’re now two-for-two on glorious new action beats and I do hope the season keeps this up. We loved the double car moment last week but love this even more. Firstly because the fight is untidy and desperate; secondly because it must smell TERRIBLE; and thirdly because what other show would have a former castmember of This Life fighting a walking Iron Maiden cover?
Then, of course. there’s Daryl. Mr Dixon has been benched a good chunk of this season and his fans finally get their due this week. The show is getting very good at moments of quiet, personal heroism and Daryl not telling Carol about Negan’s victims absolutely counts as one of them. Daryl, as Norman Reedus has talked about, is consumed with guilt at the loss of Glen in particular and now, at last, he’s spoiling for a fight. The fact that he’s also clever enough to not frame an innocent, let alone Carol, for it speaks to just how different he and Richard really are. Also how broken Richard is and how much danger the Kingdom is in as a result. A lesser show would have made him a straight up villain. Here he’s tragic, relatable and still monstrous.
Three plots, three massive steps forward and we still have Rosita going off message and Tara having to come clean about Oceanside to come. One of the best episodes of the season so far, “New Best Friend” sets the show up on a road to war and by the looks of things, it’s coming very soon.
- The fight between Daryl and Richard, as the Saviours roll by on the other side of the truck, was beautifully shot.
- Tara’s nervous little laugh after Rick’s compliment, and the realisation that Oceanside is about to be re-introduced.
- The writing. Basically all of it. This was a fantastic episode.
- Richard’s motives and plan. A horrible idea for good reasons.
-The way Daryl reacts when Richard points out how alike they are. Mr Dixon has come a very long way.
-Daryl’s voice cracking when he says ’Why’d you go?’ is one of the reasons Norman Reedus is so popular. The dude can communicate so much with almost nothing.
-Daryl lying. Because he was never going to be able to do anything else. And later, Morgan knowing, calling him on it and understanding.
-Daryl leaving, turning and coming back to hug Carol just breaks your heart. And looks a lot like saying goodbye.
-DARYL. ALL OF DARYL. THIS IS A GREAT DARYL EPISODE.
-Genuinely terrifying things make Rick Grimes smile. We hope to see more of them soon.
- “I’d die for the Kingdom.”
“Why don’t you?” Boom. Daryl calls Richard on his zeal and finds exactly where it stops. Game, set and match, Dixon.
- “We’re not looking for a fight, Rosita. We’re getting ready for one!” Tara has a good week this week, kicking ass in the fight, being sensible and clearly on her way front and centre. And this is the most sense anyone speaks this week.
- “Don’t call her lady.”
“Ma’am… Miss… Mrs…?’
“You can shut up now.”
“Copy.” This and the “WHO DARES… Oh hey, Jesus,” moment last week are just comedy gold. We love that the Knights of the Kingdom have distinct personalities like this.
- “Yeah I do. Because you didn’t tell Carol what happened. You didn’t, because she’d be here otherwise. And I’m glad for that. We’re all holding onto something.” YES. We will take Daryl as this season’s designated “YOU HAVE FEELINGS AND MORGAN IS GOING TO HELP YOU UNDERSTAND THEM” character.
- Jadis and the Junkyard’s Beyond Thunderdome-style speech pattern could get pretty grating pretty fast.
- That shot of the massive Junkyard was distinctly ropey, both times.
- Do we… believe… Gabriel? We didn’t see everything last week but it didn’t seem like he was in company when he stole that car. That being said, there’s no reason for him not to lie and that last moment with Rick was really sweet.
- OH GOD THE TETANUS. Rick in the garbage chamber just made every living health and safety officer cringe.
- OH SWEET WALKER JESUS THE SMELL in the arena pit must have been epic too.
And The Random:
- Director Jeffrey January has been with The Walking Dead since 2011. He’s also worked on Teen Wolf, Revolution, Preacher, Friday Night Lights and movies like Bratz and Tremors 4.
- Pollyanna Mackintosh, who debuts as Jadis this week, was most recently seen as the nightmarish Angel in Hap And Leonard. She’s also appeared in Filth, splendidly horrible horror movie Let Us Prey and was the Crime Minister on MI High.
Review by Alasdair Stuart