Airing Mondays at 9pm in the UK on FOX
Writers: Angela Kang, Channing Powell and Corey Reed
Director: David Boyd
Essential Plot Points:
- Aaron and Enid travel to Oceanside to ask them to join the fight against the Saviors. When they refuse, Enid returns to the Hilltop but Aaron elects to stay to continue to try and convince them.
- Negan orders Simon to kill one of Jadis’ people as restitution for the Scavengers siding with Rick, but a furious Simon orders the slaughter of the entire group, sparing only Jadis.
- Rick and Michonne travel to the junkyard to warn Jadis of a possible attack but are too late. Trapped inside the dump with Jadis, they leave her behind when they finally make their way through the zombies. To escape, she lures her dead friends into a meat grinder.
- Rick opens Carl’s letter to Negan and calls him to talk.
Given the tearjerker we endured last week, following the death of Carl Grimes, there were high hopes the same raw tension might carry over as the second half of series eight continues. Despite some major pieces being removed from the chess board this episode, as Negan’s troops continue to punish the rebellion, this feels like a series treading water.
It doesn’t help that a lot of the actions are hugely repetitious of what’s gone before. Long-time viewers will feel that Enid’s interactions with the amazons, as they threaten to kill outsiders and she pleads for them to join the battle, could easily have been cut together from existing footage.
It’s also same old, same old for Negan. His kingdoms may be rebelling but with his feet on the boardroom table he looks about as bothered as an Apple exec who hears the company’s still making record profits despite a fall in sales. Given that he’s now down a few lieutenants, what will it take to rattle this guy?
It’s similarly impossible to know if Negan’s actually drinking his own Kool-Aid – does he really believe he’s “saving” people, or is it just the schtick he needs to tell himself in order not to feel like a monster? When he’s conversing with Rick, you get the impression he either does genuinely believe his own press or else he’s built so much of his persona around it that he’s faked it till he made it, just like king Ezekiel did.
There’s also more repetition from Rick, whose treatment of Jadis is the opposite of what Carl was preaching before he died. It’s Rick’s first opportunity to take up that call but he turns Jadis away, just as he did Siddiq, sending her packing with a gunshot in the air. Too soon? Clearly, but the lesson either needs to be learned or this show is going to run out of soldiers to be a part of this war.
With so many recurring themes, the steps the show does take in new directions are therefore very welcome. The idea that Saviors’ number two Simon and his boss Negan are not actually the best of buds foreshadows some fireworks there, especially when Negan’s orders about resources are under discussion and Simon ignores them with his killing spree.
- The pan back to the sign as Michonne and Rick leave town: “Welcome to Alexandria, Safe Zone.”
- As ways of dealing with the walkers go, Jadis’ trash-destruction meat grinder is pretty ingenious.
- The choice to split the episode into different character chapters, beginning with Michonne, then Negan, Enid, Simon, Jadis and Rick. This feels like it was decided after the episode was written, as the unnecessary addition doesn’t add anything, and none of these segments truly stand alone.
Negan’s needle to Rick:
“He’s dead because of you. Because you weren’t there to stop him doing something stupid… you failed as a leader and most of all Rick you failed as a father.” Ouch.
Review by Matt Chapman