Airing Mondays at 9pm in the UK on FOX
Director: Michael E Satrazemis
Writers: Eddie Guzelian
Essential Plot Points:
- Some of the captured Saviors escaped during the attack on Hilltop. Morgan heads out to track them, so Carole goes with him. They split up when she thinks Henry might still be alive.
- Jadis has Negan strapped to a trolley so she can pull him around. She plans to burn Lucille, until Negan swipes a flare and threatens to burn her precious photos.
- Rick and Morgan join forces to take out the Saviors but are captured. They escape by attracting a herd and lying about there being a place at Hilltop for those who want it.
There’s a lot for long-time fans of this series to get their teeth into in Still Gotta Mean Something. First up, the nonsense of a cliffhanger from episode 12 of season eight of The Walking Dead finally gets some resolution, as Negan wakes up on a trolley. Why Jadis hasn’t simply executed the man she must believe is behind the slaughter of her people is beyond us. Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s brutal dictator isn’t someone we’d gift the opportunity to escape, as he’s just too dangerous.
At least this prolonging of his ordeal provides fans with some interesting things to chew on (before, obvs, that inevitable escape). We’ve long suspected there was a real Lucille and that mystery is finally revealed. It’s perhaps not as big a deal as the showrunners expect it to be, feeling a little underwhelming an admission, but this standoff has more than that one nugget to offer.
In what appears to be a leaning towards Lost-style secrets, it seems the junkyard trash people might not be as backward as their speech suggested. Jadis may hang out at the dump but she actually lives in a clean, wood-panelled little room with a nice bed. More importantly, the helicopter is real. Simon alluded to there being more to the dump than met the eye before he kicked off the massacre, and clearly there are more secrets here yet to be uncovered. Such as, who is she keeping that diary for?
Elsewhere, it’s humanity that’s on the line for everyone else. Both Morgan and Rick are close to losing theirs, as they slip further from being the good men they have always strived to be. They’ve not always maintained that hero status, but their current actions to wipe out the Saviors at any cost – even those who may not want to be part of Negan’s band – is at odds with their previous preferences to save people.
The title of the episode is actually one of those character turning points the series likes to throw up occasionally. And not in a good way. Rick uses a line he had successfully employed to ask a Savior to surrender (“There’s not a lot that’s got to mean much these days but a man’s word”), only for Darryl to shoot the man in that previous encounter. Sensing the same tactic will work again, this time it’s him pulling the trigger and gunning down people who believed they might have a place at the Hilltop. It’s a further shift to the dark side, and not a welcome one.
Of course, Rick’s actions are all currently coloured by the death of his son Carl. That theme plays very strongly this episode, as the missing Henry is a major callback to a storyline about Carole’s daughter. In season two’s hugely dramatic (and tear-duct tinkling) mid-season finale, it was revealed Carol’s missing daughter was already dead and had been hidden in the barn with the other zombies. Understandably, that makes her believe Henry is dead, and is the reason she doesn’t want to go looking for him. Finding him in exactly the kind of situation that Rick left her daughter in is a closing of a loop for her.
Not so for our two murderous alpha males. Morgan doesn’t seem to realise the risk he’s taking with Carol in tow, as his mental faculties continue to diminish. Doesn’t he know Carol has already put someone down who was a menace to everyone thanks to their mental state? Whatever you do, don’t look at the flowers, Morgan.
Morgan’s belief that he’s both unkillable and cursed to watch people die is getting a little odd the more it continues. Only one of those is ever true on this show. Yet his admission to Rick that he saved him back in episode one because Morgan’s son was there brings the current underlying theme to the very surface. In such an awful world, are we better people because of our kids? And with Carl gone, can Rick find his way to be the better man on his own?
- The underlying theme of people being good as an example to the children of the apocalypse makes Carole’s discovery and rescue of Henry all the sweeter.
- The idea that Negan would survive if he was captured by any party seems unlikely. Similarly, the idea that Rick wouldn’t be a head on a stick to be presented to Negan as a gift if he gets captured, as he does in this episode, is equally ridiculous. Way to keep your main characters alive, scriptwriters, but don’t expect us to simply wave away the believability of those actions.
Negan on being tied to a low trolley on his back:
“What the shit? No really, just tell me, what the shit?!”
Morgan, taking the first step towards healing by admitting he has a problem:
“I’m not right.”
Review by Matt Chapman