Airing in the UK on FOX, Mondays at 9pm
Writers: David Leslie Johnson, Angela Kang and Scott M Gimple
Director: Michael E Satrazemis
Essential Plot Points:
- Negan (Geoffrey Dean Morgan) and Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) are trapped in a trailer in the Saviors compound. Gabriel thinks his whole purpose for being here might be to take Negan’s confession.
- Without Negan, all the other Negans argue about how they’re going to get out of this situation.
- When the workers nearly revolt, and one of them has a gun, the group thinks there’s definitely a traitor in their midst. Squeaky bum time for Eugene.
It was inevitable following four weeks of all-out war that things would quieten down, but this episode pairs things back a little too much. No show can indefinitely maintain the action-epic excitement season eight kicked off with, but the more considered, bottle episodes that follow usually have the benefit of being dialogue heavy and packed with character.
That’s certainly what the teleplay writers David Leslie Johnson and Angela Kang are going for, based on an idea from Scott M Gimple, but the episode jumps away too frequently from Negan and Gabriel to build tension. Seating Negan’s generals around a table and having them bicker about what to do and who’s to blame isn’t great drama, even as they realise one of their number is probably helping the rebels.
What The Walking Dead’s TV fans are desperate for is some background on Negan, and if Father Gabriel can convince him to confess his sins it should be there in spades. We actually learn more about Negan from his scream during a board meeting, before the rebel attack, when he shouts: “People are a resource!” While it would make sense to wipe out everyone at the Hilltop, setting an example to others who would stand against him, this shows there is method behind his madness.
Elsewhere, we’re not sure which distraction we like worse: Rick and Darryl coming to blows over different ways to beat the Saviors; or the terrible scripting that allows Eugene to catch the mole ‘red-handed’, so to speak.
There was always a chance Rick and Darryl would square up to each other eventually, as Darryl becomes increasingly hard-line in his quest to wipe out the Saviors. But their fight seems like a poorly written way of taking some much-needed resources off the table, and nothing more.
Ditto, Eugene’s discovery. It would have been great to see “smart guy” Eugene figure out who the rat is in some incisive way, especially as everyone assumes it’s him and he’d be saving his own skin. But the way this happens is almost embarrassingly convenient – staggeringly so, when you stop and think that we’re in the midst of an apocalypse here, for such hobbies to be interspersed with acts of rebellion.
- Eugene makes a pickle pun. Very much intended.
- What’s that up in the sky?
- Negan’s confession is basically Morgan’s story. Knowing this character, we doubt it’s true, and was just a way of placating Father Gabriel.
- Rick and Darryl do the manly thing following their fight and basically pretend it didn’t happen. God forbid this episode would finally have some good dialogue in it.
Negan, reminding people who he is, with a little post-apocalyptic poetry:
“I wear a leather jacket, I have Lucille; and my nut sack is made of steel.”
Review by Matt Chapman