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Thursday, April 26, 2018

[RECAP] Season 8, Episode 16 of The Walking Dead, "Wrath"

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By Carolina Gallardo (@carolgallardo)

Well, we finally arrived at the Season 8 finale of The Walking Dead.  In reality, it was a clear cut episode that avoided being too winded by keeping the episode at an hour and 15 minutes (which, without commercials probably comes out to a solid hour of content).  That being said, the writers couldn't avoid to waste too much time so we got to the task at hand fairly quickly.

We join Rick as he finally has the courage to speak to Siddiq, as he tries to better understand Carl's mindset in those final moments.  Siddiq explains to Rick what we already know: That Carl was trying to honor Siddiq's mother in his attacking of those walkers.  This thought apparently stays with him and ultimately comes up to the surface at the very end.

Everyone is apparently preparing for the battle on both sides and we see Eugene assuring Negan all the ammunition has been prepared as requested.  Negan goes so far to use the gun offered by Eugene as a test (shooting a scare crow labeled "Rick") and it passes with flying colors.  Negan questions whether Eugene really wants to come with them and witness this slaughter himself but he assures him that he NEEDS to be there.  At that point, we see Negan direct a group of, quite frankly, EMO looking Saviors (color me surprised that even exists) to a certain checkpoint while at the same time directing other Saviors to bring Dwight along for the ride.  Since we last saw Dwight, he has been branded with the scarlet "A" (literally) and is basically getting the same prisoner treatment Daryl received when he was held in the cell.

Once everyone is clear on their orders, Negan tells Eugene and Gabriel to ride along with him on their way to this final battle and of course, they oblige.  During that car ride, Negan uses it as another opportunity to have a "confessional" and he informs Eugene and Gabriel that the plan shared with Rick was a fake plan.  He tells them that he's taken things a step further by planting his EMO saviors where he thinks Rick will find them and likely murder them but not before he finds another set of false plans on them.  Rick will assume that these are the correct plans and follow those which will lead them right to where the Saviors will be waiting for them.  Father Gabriel is so disgusted with this plan that he, blind and all, decides that he would rather tuck and roll and jump out of a moving car (which he does).  Once he lands, he tries to navigate himself through the forest with his near blind tunnel vision.  Inevitably of course, he is caught by, of all people, Eugene.  He is livid with Father Gabriel and asks him at gunpoint "Where does your faith go when you truly need it??".  Father Gabriel is completely unaware that Eugene had far bigger plans and that he should've had some faith in his fellow man.  Regardless, Negan eventually finds them and gets them back in the car.

Back with Team Grimes, our group is confidently following their map, assuming its the right course of action.  We see them encounter the EMO saviors we saw earlier and, as Negan anticipated, they made quick work of them.  Morgan murdered one Savior in a particularly savage manner that caused him to have another hallucination in the form of Jared, the Savior that he held down in the bar while he was devoured.  Morgan is clearly on edge, as was evidenced at the start of episode, almost taking out little Henry in another moment of hallucination.  Regardless, they keep moving forward and eventually come to a large, fairly open field (PS: We'll come back to their comment on the large "herd" at the end of the recap).  All of a sudden, we hear the infamous Savior whistle coming from all sorts of directions.  We hear Negan use a bullhorn to tell Rick about how he had a master plan, how Dwight got intercepted, how Eugene helped make this happen and how Gabriel was going to have to be killed off now.

All the Saviors appear on the horizon as a massive force to be reckoned with and the countdown begins to the planned slaughter...except that the slaughter doesn't happen.  At Negan's call, the Saviors open fire, only to have their ammunition backfire and injure and/or kill the shooter, all courtesy of Eugene.  This provides Rick and crew with the opening they need to go with a full attack and start defeating the surviving Saviors.  Even Father Gabriel gets in on the action by punching Negan, followed by a beat down by Dwight (hey, you can't blame the guy for getting his licks in).  Negan does manage to run off though, his hand injured by the faulty ammunition, with Rick in hot pursuit.

What follows is the "Final Stand" between the two men, by the same tree with the same hanging stained glass elements we've seen in all the "Bleary Eyed Rick" flashes.  Before Rick can do any significant damage to Negan, he is "Lucille-ed" in the side, explaining the bloody injury we noticed in those flashes.  It's at this point that Rick implores Negan to give him 10 seconds to plead his case, on why it doesn't have to end this way.  Negan starts counting down as Rick tearfully requests for peace, even citing about how this is what Carl would've wanted.  It's at this point that time almost stands still and we get a moment where we see not just Rick in tears but Negan as well.  Then, in a moment so fast that you almost miss it, Rick slices Negan's throat, with a shard of stained glass.  Negan drops to his knees, clutching his bleeding neck, uttering the haunting sentences of "Look what you did.  Carl didn't know a damn thing".

These sentences uttered by Negan before losing consciousness haunts Rick as well, as he turns around and noticed that The Saviors have all surrounded and they, as well as his own people, have been frozen watching the exchange.  Rick breaks free of his trance and then calls to Siddiq to come save Negan.  It's at this point that Maggie almost makes a leap for Rick and/or Negan, only to be held down by Michonne.  She breaks down in tears and screams with anguish on how Negan murdered Glenn and how it's not over until Negan is dead.  This was definitely pretty painful to watch, especially hearing Glenn's name mentioned again after so long (let's not forget, Glenn was killed almost 2 seasons ago).  Rick stands by his decision though that this is all part of a NEW way of moving forward, a way that involves living together and cooperating together for the greater human good, especially in a post apocalyptic environment.  And that involves essentially rehabilitation rather than simply annihilation.

After this point, we see the immediate aftermath and wake of Rick's decision: Eugene and Rosita reconciling; Alden telling Maggie that he wants to help build Georgie's plans for the future, to which Maggie agrees to; Daryl dumping Dwight in the woods with a car and keys, telling him to go find Sherry (we see that he DOES go back to their home and she WAS there, evidenced by a note saying "Honeymoon Forever"); Morgan opting to leave his violent way of life behind and isolating himself at the junkyard, urging Jadis (aka, Anne, WTF double agent) to go and join Rick's new society; Father Gabriel visiting his old church and now able to see again (???); Tara and Rosita visiting the Sanctuary to aid them in rebuilding; Rick and Michonne telling a hospitalized Negan that he will be locked up for the rest of his days for what he has done.

The most jarring moment though, comes when we see Maggie back at the Hilltop in her office speaking to Jesus.  She tells him that the Saviors that they captured are truly an aid to the rebuilding efforts but that Rick and Michonne's decision to keep Negan alive is wrong.  Then she ominously adds that after rebuilding and restrengthening, they would "show them" how wrong they were.  To which Jesus nods in agreement and Daryl comes out of the shadows in vocal agreement.

This is essentially the end of the episode, and now with six months until season 9 begins, here are some points/questions that we will likely keep in mind:

  • Can we expect to see Negan locked up in Morgan's cell?  All signs seem to point to YES.
  • Will Morgan ever cross paths again with the Grimes Group?  Or did we see Morgan's official exit forever?
  • Can we expect to see a Civil War with Maggie/Daryl/Jesus vs. Rick/Michonne?  All signs seem to point to YES.
  • Does the fact that Father Gabriel regained his vision mean that there is a potential "cure" to curb the effects of the zombie infection?
  • Why does Jadis now want to be referred to as "Anne"?  Is that her birth name?  And if so, why was she going by "Jadis"?
  • Will we see Georgie and her group again come Season 9, after an assumed jump in time to a rebuilt Alexandria and neighboring communities?
  • Will we see the black helicopter again that Jadis/Anne was so desperate to flag down?
  • What will become of Dwight?  And where is Sherry?
  • COMIC SPOILER: Will the new season bring the official arrival of "The Whisperers", based on the subtle hint/acknowledgement of the immense presumed Walker herd on the horizon? 
  • And finally, where in the WORLD is Heath??

In any case, we'll have a full 6 months to speculate.  All in all though, season 8 was a vast improvement over season 7 and after two full seasons of conflict with The Saviors, it was a resolution long overdue.  Now it's time to look to the future...whatever that looks like.


Sunday, April 15, 2018

[RECAP] Season 8, Episode 15 of The Walking Dead, "Worth"

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By Carolina Gallardo (@carolgallardo)

With only one episode left to the season finale, The Walking Dead's episode 15 "Worth" solidified Negan's control over his flaying community of Saviors, in dramatic fashion.  We see a Negan that is cunning, manipulative, decisive and yes, strong.  It was a solid episode that focused on his return to The Sanctuary and the final pieces of the puzzle that are put into play heading into the season finale.

We start the episode with Rick finally opting to read Carl's letter, his last wishes.  As Rick reads his letter (a voice over by Chandler Riggs who played Carl), we get to hear all of Carl's wishes including the ability to make Rick feel safe.  He describes wishing that he could make his father feel safe again, the way he always made him feel, particularly when taking long walks by various areas, including an old farm.  Carl implores his father to find a way to make things right with Negan because there are in fact, innocent people who live at The Sanctuary, purely out of circumstance.  He doesn't want anymore innocent bloodshed and he hopes that this note will guide his father on the right path.

Huh.  A little too late considering Rick just murdered some Savior escapees but ah well.

We are left wondering, however, if the note made any difference because the next thing we know, we join a few different story lines, all happening simultaneously.  One of these include Aaron's camping out by the Oceanside community, in a futile attempt to try and convince them to join the cause (*yawn*).  He is deeply dehydrated but is still able to defend himself against a group of walkers (suspending disbelief here, but okay) and proceeds to give a short monologue to the ladies of Oceanside, making the case that the only way for things to change is for them to join them in the fight.

Personally, I would expect to see the ladies of Oceanside to be the Calvary that arrives during the season finale during just the right moment, to save the day...or at least assist in saving the day.  

We move on then to the next bigger piece of the story which centers around Eugene.  We see that Eugene is now fully in control of his own outpost, which is the armory that has the capabilities to produce ammunition.  Father Gabriel is on the assembly line assisting in the manufacturing of bullets but it comes to light that he has been damaging the shell cases and apparently, this would cause a significant injury to the shooter (I'm not an ammunition expert, so please bear with me).  Eugene pulls Father Gabriel from the assembly line and he's left to contemplate if he's really evolved from the priest that shut out his own congregation to protect himself, since he's making bullets out of more self-preservation.  Before we can delve too deeply into that however, Eugene goes outside with a couple of Saviors to test some of the loads created.  This all comes to an abrupt halt when Rosita and Daryl take out the two Saviors and proceed to take Eugene hostage.

During Eugene's walk with them, he tries to make a compelling case for the fact that he took the blame for Rosita's attempt to take a shot at Negan, and THAT was what brought him to The Sanctuary, not that he came out of his own volition (not to mention that it saved her life).  Once he arrived at The Sanctuary, he fully expected to be tortured and inevitably killed but his skills and knowledge ended up putting him in a valuable light, in Negan's eyes at least.  From there, he's been able to make use of the meager skills that he possesses and they're valued.  Rosita ignores all this from Eugene...until he brings up that they wouldn't be in the place that they're in if Rick hadn't made them kill all those Saviors in their sleep at the satellite station.  

Well, you can't say Eugene's wrong with anything he said right there.  This is a huge arguing point among fans of the show and for me, at least, I fully agree with Eugene's point (hence #TeamNegan).  Rosita though, does NOT agree and proceeds to almost shoot him in the head, all the while talking down to him and telling him that they wont kill him but that they'll keep him in a cellar and only let him see the light of day when they need his services.  That apparently, will be a better use of his "pathetic life".  This appears to be the breaking point with Eugene who then proceeds to gag himself and make himself throw up all the sardine mac 'n cheese he had just eaten (I know, gross), all over Rosita.  This provides him the distraction he needs in order to escape and hide, until Rosita and Daryl disappear.  He then heads back to The Sanctuary with a renewed vigor to supply Negan with the quota demanded, even going as far to tell his team to sit down and get to work so that they can start doing something with "their pathetic lives".

So will Eugene ACTUALLY support the Savior cause by supplying them with all the bullets they need to end this conflict with Rick?  Or will his sentiments win out and will he be persuaded to hand over to Negan defective bullets?  The end of this scene show Eugene apparently scraping shells against some sort of metal but as I already mentioned, I am not an ammunition expert so we'll need to wait to see the actual outcome during the finale.

Finally, we get to the heart of the episode which takes place among the Saviors at the Sanctuary (primarily Dwight, Simon and of course Negan).  We see that Gregory is at the Sanctuary and is talking to Simon, trying to convince him of his worth and how he should be allowed to speak to Negan to express as such.  Simon then proceeds to tell him that he is Negan and "not in the collective way".  

On a side note, there were a lot of great lines this episode but we'll get to them as they come.

Gregory then switches gears and proceeds to of course, butter up Simon, and tell him how he wasn't surprised that he was now in charge since Negan had a lot of personality but always "pulled his punches".  Simon agrees and explains that that is all the more reason that he cannot be seen with him.  In other words "Ergo, you go" (HA, awesome line).  This causes Gregory to become indignant and start exclaiming how valuable he really is ("I AM THE JUICE"), forcing Simon to land him on his behind.  Simon then threatens to kill Gregory unless...can he make coffee?  And just like that, Gregory is saved by becoming his errand boy.

And then of course, we get to see Negan confront Dwight in the courtyard.  He asks if he's surprised to see him and says that it was a punch in the stomach being left behind to basically fend for himself or die (not in those exact words, but you get the idea).  Dwight tries to make excuses as to why things happened as they did but Negan talks to him more so on the bigger picture.  We're not necessarily clear what it all means until later.

Later on, we see Negan call all his top men/women into his conference room (?) for a meeting of the minds.  Simon owns up to his raid on the Hilltop, taking it way too far, although never admitting to his slaughter of the Garbage People.  Negan cleans his bat and approaches Simon, talking the whole time about how he took a chance on him that a lot of people wouldn't have because of his indiscriminate slaughter of all those men and boys of Oceanside.  We finally get the confirmation that many of us suspected in that, SIMON was the one responsible for these meaningless slaughters. Negan still stands by his stance that people are a resource and that behavior wouldn't have followed his typical way of thinking.

He finally reaches Simon and asks him to get on his knees, which Simon does, ready to accept his punishment...but all is apparently forgiven.  Negan then proceeds to share his plan for surrounding the Hilltop and eliminating Rick's people in a last ditch "scorched earth" approach to the problem. Simon praises his plan but no sooner than they are dismissed, Simon approaches Dwight in his room about staging a coup against Negan as soon as possible.  Dwight is initially hesitant but then eventually succumbs to Simon's pressure and agrees.  Seemingly.

Once out in the courtyard, Simon tries to rally the insurgents on what they need to do which is essentially killing Negan quickly and respectfully, since "the man has gotten us this far".  It's at this point that we hear a Savior whistle and Negan comes out from behind a dumpster, thanking Dwight. He counts down from three and all of a sudden assassins kill off all the insurgents, leaving only Simon alive, and restrained by two Saviors.  Simon demands from Dwight why would he go to Negan after all he's done to him but Dwight merely responds that he would ultimately win, so it was a no-brainer.  Negan then approaches Simon and says that if Simon feels he deserves to be in charge, then he will give him a fair opportunity to prove himself.  After all, "to be the man, you have to beat the man".  

Let me tell you, that Ric Flair quote was not wasted on me.

To be the man, you have to beat the man...wooo!
Next thing we know, both Negan and Simon are in a sort of "Fight Club" scenario, surrounded by Saviors and essentially whoever's left standing is the leader.  Simon starts by addressing the crowd with some grandiose speech which appeared to be purely a distraction because he took the opportunity to sucker punch Negan while he was in the middle of talking.  No matter, Negan holds his own in the ring with Simon, getting him to the point where he has him pinned and he proceeds to choke him to death with his bare hands.  No Lucille, no guns, no knives.  This was purely a Mano-to-Mano fight to illustrate to the rest of The Sanctuary who was the Alpha dog, aka The Boss.  And Negan of course, won.

In the midst of all this, Dwight took the opportunity to give a map of Negan's plan to Gregory, ordering him to get those over to Rick immediately so that they can start getting ready.  We think that Dwight has gotten away with this maneuver until we get to the end and Negan walks Dwight to his room...only to be greeted by the savior Laura (aka Neck Tattoo).  This is the savior who witnessed Dwight turn on his own people and she apparently told just as much to Negan.  He then informs Dwight that based on this Intel from Laura, he knew he couldn't be trusted so he concocted this dummy "plan" to share with Dwight, knowing he would share this with Rick.  Rick and crew will actually be walking unbeknownst to them, right into an attack (rather than away from it).

So what will now come of Dwight is anyone's guess but Negan apparently has some "big plans" for him (*YIKES*).

At the very end of the episode, we see Negan on the balcony overlooking the courtyard and a Walker Simon on the wall (best walker EVER).  He is contemplating the crushing of his insurgents when he gets a message from Michonne on the walkie-talkie.  She merely wants to deliver Carl's final words to Negan, as he requested.  As suspected, it is more of the same, imploring Negan to stop and work with Rick.  While you can tell Negan is affected by Carl's words, it's all a little too late.  He has Rick after him, he had Dwight selling his secrets to the enemy and he even had Simon trying to stage a coup.  For all intensive purposes, he is DONE and makes that very clear to Michonne before destroying the walkie-talkie and ending the conversation.

So what happens now?  Will Negan not show any mercy?  Will anyone show any mercy at this point? Will we see that helicopter again and will it bring Morgan over to Fear the Walking Dead?  And will we get a tease of Alpha and the Whisperers in the post credits?  We'll have to see during the season finale.


Sunday, April 8, 2018

[RECAP] Season 8, Episode 14 of The Walking Dead, "Still Gotta Mean Something"

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By Carolina Gallardo (@carolgallardo)

With only two episodes left until we (hopefully) arrive at the conclusion of the "All Out War" story arc, "The Walking Dead" delivered one of its most brutal episodes in recent memory with episode 14 "Still Gotta Mean Something".  If the writing team was ever trying to plant the seed of the "Who's the Real Villain" argument, this was definitely the episode. This episode put on display the contrasting philosophies of both Rick and Negan and put on a stage the question of who is better equipped to lead for the future.  That answer has become murkier and murkier as the season has progressed (personally, #TeamNegan at this point but that's an entirely different conversation). The idea of our past and how much that influences who we are in the present, specifically in regard to the loved ones we have lost along the way, is also a theme front and center.  There are numerous references to Andrea, Michonne's child Andre, Carol's daughter Sophia, Morgan's son Duane, Negan's wife Lucille and of course Carl.  It's made abundantly clear how the death of these children, primarily, set in motion the future of these characters and their development in this new world.

Speaking of children, as we know from the previous episode, Little Henry has gone missing and members of the Hilltop are organizing to go out and find him.  Ezekiel tries to see if Carol will join them but she is incredibly reluctant and declines.  Ezekiel can't believe that she refuses and downright calls her coward (ouch).  Carol ignores Ezekiel's commentary but when she sees that Morgan is gearing up to head out and find...someone (I'm assuming the missing Saviors more than Henry), Carol offers to join him, more in an effort to keep an eye on him.  This is because Carol is well aware that Morgan is not in his best frame of mind (IE. he's insane).  They go off and Carol tearfully points out that a walker that is approaching them has a stick through his body, Henry's stick.  They eliminate the walker and Morgan is convinced that Henry is dead and he needs to go eliminate the Saviors.  Carol on the other hand, feels that she can track Henry's whereabouts based on what they have seen thus far.  This is where they separate, with Carol on the prowl.

RANDOM TRIVIA: This filmed in the same spot where Sophia hidden.
She continues to track the whereabouts of Henry on her own (she did learn over the years from the best tracker there is, Daryl Dixon) and eventually comes across his knee pad, followed by the sounds of screams for help.  Carol darts and follows the sounds to a stream where Henry is apparently hiding within a marsh from three walkers trying to get to him.  Carol immediately jumps in and makes quick work of the three and pulls Henry into a tearful embrace.  Henry apologizes and Carol apologizes for ever doubting his strength.  So many of the children that have been under Carol's watch have been weak and eventually succumbed to the environment they're in and we saw how dismissive Carol was toward Henry, as well, as just another child to bring her pain.  This moment where Carol finds Henry is a moment where she realizes that Henry isn't just like all the other children and she cannot shut out this child, just because of all the pain and loss she has endured.  It's also a redemptive moment for her character where perhaps she wasn't able to save her daughter Sophia, but she WAS able to save Henry, a loss that obviously still haunts her to this day.  She says as much to Ezekiel when she returns to the Hilltop victorious with Henry in tow.  This rescue has revitalized her as she says that she has lost herself in the past and has found herself and doesn't doubt that she'll be able to survive whatever comes her way.

Morgan, on the other hand, continued his journey through the woods and inevitably came across Rick.  Yes, that's right.  Rick Grimes, back in his Murder Jacket (seriously, if he's wearing that jacket, be very very afraid of what's about to happen.  It's his "black hat" if you will), in search for the missing Saviors as well.  Rick, still not ready to read Carl's note to him, opted to leave the Hilltop to search and kill the Saviors that escaped.  Before leaving, Alden (the nice Savior) timidly requests to Rick to have mercy on these men because they made a bad decision but they are not beyond redemption.  Clearly Rick paid absolutely no mind to him OR his son's dying wishes for that matter but we'll get to that.

Once Morgan and Rick team up, they are apparently knocked out and kidnapped by the escaped Saviors.  They eventually come to and find themselves in an abandoned dive bar, tied up, surrounded by the escaped Saviors headed by Jarrid.  Two of the men had limbs that were amputated due to presumably walker bites and if it were up to Jarrid, the men would be executed because under the circumstances, they are unfortunately dead weight.  The rest of the men disagree and before they come to blows internally, Rick pipes up and makes a plea for them to release them and as the cherry on top, they can come back with him to the Hilltop, no questions asked.  He urges them to make up their minds quickly due to the incoming herd, something that Jarrid views as a bluff.  He insists that Rick cannot be trusted but Rick says that they have his word and that in this world that's "still gotta mean something", right?

Well, no sooner is Jarrid pushed aside and Rick is released that the true horror begins.  The minute these Saviors turn their back, Rick and Morgan exchange a look and began to horrifically and mercilessly murder each and every one of the Saviors at this bar.  I am not exaggerating here when I use the term murder because that is exactly what Rick and Morgan did in this bar. There were no circumstances of self defense, this was simply cold blooded murder in the most despicable way.  The absolute worse moment however is when Jarrid tries to escape the overwhelming herd entering the bar but Morgan closes the gate on him and then proceeds to hold Jarrid against the gate from the other side, while walkers literally pull him apart and eat him alive.  

Man, and I thought Noah's death was grisly...UGH
Once the carnage comes to an end (that is after a Savior mutters with his last breath that Rick promised to help him to which Rick coldly responds that he lied), Rick surveys the damage and has to literally look at himself in the bar mirror and process what just happened.  He has a moment when he asks Morgan why he chose to have mercy on him, way back when, to which Morgan informs him that he only saved him because his son was present.  With the loss of his son, so went Morgan's humanity (sounds familiar huh?).

Rick inevitably returns to The Hilltop (under scathing stares from members of the community, I might add) and decides at the very end to finally read Carl's letter.  Better late than never right?  

Finally we move on to the junkyard, where we finally meet again with Jadis and Negan, post capture.  At the very start of the episode, we get a flashback of when all the Garbage People (or Scavengers) were gunned down by Simon and his people.  By playing dead, Jadis avoided being murdered like everyone else and once the carnage is over, we see her strip down of her clothes and, arguably, her facade.

We then see that her quarters within the junkyard (we assume) are immaculate: Her container is decked out in a minimal Scandinavian style with a closet, a low bed with crisp white sheets, and blonde honey wood throughout.  We see her pack a suitcase with various items, write some notes in a book, and periodically look at her watch.  She gathers her things and Negan's bat and steps out.  We then see that Negan has been tied up on a mechanic's dolly and she has wheeled him to an open area.  She appears to be waiting and as she is, Negan makes his pleas: He insists that he had NOTHING to do with the slaughter that happened here, that he understands that people are a resource, that this was the product of someone who "didn't get with the program".  Jadis isn't convinced and eventually pushes out another tricked out walker to presumably torture and kill Negan?  This part was frankly not entirely clear.  Especially since we then see Negan with Jadis' gun and photos that she had in her suitcase.  So he wheeled himself over while being tied up and was able to get his arms out, open up her luggage and grab these things?  It's a bit (okay, a lot of a stretch) but oh well.

Negan implores her that killing him or burning Lucille (what it appears she wants to do) will do nothing to bring her people back.  Negan even has a moment with Jadis where he confides in her that Lucille was his wife and that he wasn't a great husband but she was always there for him and that this is the last piece of her that he has in this world.  It's an honest and emotional confession from a man that was so larger than life at the start, now relegated to this position.  Jadis decides not to burn Lucille but struggles with Negan over the flare that he got in his hand (again, not entirely sure why the struggle but okay).  The flare lands in a puddle next to him and burns out just as Jadis' alarm goes off and that damn black helicopter returns looming overhead.  Jadis runs to grab another flare and starts jumping around to get their attention screaming "I'M HERE!  I'M HERE!".  It's all for naught because the helicopter fails to spot her in time and it flies off, as she crumbles and sobs on the floor. Negan stares incredulously at the departing helicopter and is utterly shocked at what he just witnessed.

Eventually we see that Jadis let Negan go, with his trusty Lucille at his side. Say what you will about Negan, he sure is incredibly charming that he manages to get out of all these sticky situations.  He tries to ask Jadis what was all that back there but she remains silent. For now, the answers as to what the junkyard was before and who is flying that black helicopter remain a mystery.  Negan does say that the offer always stands for her to join him and forge a new path together.  And with that he leaves...but not without one last surprise.

It's nightfall and Negan is driving back to the Sanctuary when he encounters someone on the side of the road.  He tells them how they are looking quite worse for the wear (to keep this recap on a PG level) and to hop on in.  We never get a chance to see WHO the individual is but we do get to see that Negan made it back to the Sanctuary and has informed the guard on duty that he has all sorts of surprises to share.  Daddy's home indeed.

So who's the real villain here?  Negan?  A man who believes that people are resources, AKA, where there's life there's always hope?  A man that retaliated after his entire outpost was murdered in their sleep?  A man who gave his word to a captor and it resulted in his peaceful release?  Or Rick?  A man who was a sheriff but has killed in a preemptive strike and lied to HIS captors in order to obtain his release, only to murder them regardless.  Huh.  Something to think about...One thing's for sure: With two episodes left this season, it's going to be a tall order for Rick to achieve redemption.


Sunday, April 1, 2018

[RECAP] Season 8, Episode 13 of The Walking Dead, "Do Not Lead Us Astray"

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By Carolina Gallardo (@carolgallardo)

This past week's Episode 13 "Do Not Lead Us Astray" reflected on the cost of war and on how the consequences of Maggie's decisions specifically are weighing on her psyche.  We also got back to some old school Walking Dead where we had an internal walker outbreak, similar to the days of the Prison, when the flu outbreak was killing its residents (who subsequently turned).  We also were forced to finally say goodbye to a somewhat regular (and running joke) character, in the character of Tobin.  So let's explore.

As anticipated from the trailer, the episode picks up where we left off, with the understanding that the Saviors are en route to the Hilltop and that an attack is imminent.  But we also see a reoccurring image of Gavin, the Savior, who was killed by Henry in the mid-season premiere.  We see him taunting Morgan's thoughts, repeatedly saying "You know what it is" and "You were supposed to".  

Now what that means is anyone's guess but I'm guessing it has nothing to do with Black and Yellow, Black and Yellow (sorry couldn't help it).

We see everyone preparing, including young Henry, who pleads with Carol and Ezekiel to please allow him to fight.  They both strongly deny the boy's request and tell him that he must stay in the house and protect those who will not be on the front lines to fight.  Eventually the signal is given that The Saviors are approaching (did anyone else's heart race when the signal started going around?) and Maggie readies herself for what's about to happen.

Well, there goes that strategy.
Immediately we see that The Saviors grossly underestimated the amount of preparation that the Hilltop implemented.  It seems that Simon anticipated simply riding through the gates of the Hilltop and is surprised when all their tires flatten, the result of running over boards with nails.  Via Walkie Talkies, Simon and Maggie have an exchange where Maggie tries to get Simon to back down by threatening the lives of the 38 Savior hostages currently in her possession.  In case we weren't abundantly clear by now on the extent of Simon's ruthlessness, he informs Maggie that those men are now damaged goods and he could care less what she does with them.  

I have to give it to Maggie though, since she didn't even flinch at their response.  Also, as an aside, how cool is it that she goes by "The Widow"?  Gives me flashbacks to the movie "Kill Bill" with its main character "The Bride".

Moving on, Dwight tries to make a last ditch effort with Simon and asks him if he really wants to go through with this attack bearing in mind that somewhere out there, Negan could very possibly still be alive and could come down with a vengeance on Simon for disobeying his orders.  To which Simon responds with the very prolific line that "It's better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission".

But before the Saviors can blink, Daryl shows up on his bike shooting his gun at the Saviors, a ploy, as we later realize, to draw them in.  That is exactly what the Saviors do and a bus is immediately rolled out in front of them to "T-Bone" their vehicle.  Maggie then gives the signal and the Hilltop immediately opens fire on the Saviors, much to their surprise.  Eventually, the Saviors get their bearings and start firing back with their contaminated weapons in hand.  We see several Hilltop members injured during battle, including Tara.  Simon was about to sneak up on Tara and kill her with his hatchet but Dwight interjected and shot her with an arrow.

Based on what we have seen (and what we know from the comic, *SPOILER*), it is highly unlikely that Tara is infected.  The most likely scenario is that Dwight shot her with his clean arrows, in order to prevent Simon from attempting to take her out himself but try explaining that to Daryl who is convinced that Dwight had malicious intentions.

After some back and forth, Morgan and Rick bring up the rear and eventually drive the Saviors into retreating from battle.  Maggie and Rick race after them in futility, particularly since Rick informs Maggie that Negan wasn't even with this crew.  Maggie is beyond frustrated since we realize that she wants to be the one to take out Negan, at any cost.

Once the battle is complete, the tally is taken and everyone takes a moment to reflect on the losses and lick their wounds.  Maggie offers to Al (the sweet Savior who keeps trying to appeal to her better senses) an opportunity to bury his "people" but he makes it very clear that these are not his people.  The fact that Simon would turn his back on them, being the ultimate deciding factor.  In the aftermath of the battle, everyone comes to Maggie, praising her on her leadership but she is not so convinced she is such a great leader.  This is mostly because she knows she is putting people's lives on the line in order to avenge her dead husband, more than anything else.  

Nightfall comes and all those who are injured are being cared for, including Tobin.  Tobin, who suffered a midsection stab wound, is recovering by having a heart to heart with Carol, of all people.  Carol who left him in the middle of night with just a note left behind.  He tries to find out from her if it was all just an act and she is truthful with him about her confusion and how much she wanted it to be real, but in this world, that's a tall order.  Ultimately, her conversation with him gives him some gentle closure on their relationship.  How fortunate for his soul.

This is because we see the lapse of time and realize that Tobin passed away from his wound and is now a walker.  He goes on a tear (no pun intended) causing chaos within the house, along with several other Hilltop members that are now walkers as well.

Now, how NO ONE stirred when one of these walkers rolled down a flight of stairs into a group of sleeping Hilltop members is beyond me.  Maybe everyone is deaf from all the years of gunfire?  

In the meantime, young Henry who was supposed to be inside the house offering protection, instead manged to sneak out of the house and to the Savior prisoner pen, still looking to find out who killed his brother.  In youthful impulsion fashion, Henry proceeds to UNLOCK the pen to enter (yes, he's armed but all the more reason to shoot through the fence rather than ENTER the pen).  As the prisoners become aware of the mayhem at the house, Henry is quickly overwhelmed by Jarrid (the Savior who DID in fact kill his brother) and has his weapon stolen from him.  Jarrid and several Saviors run with him although it must be said that Al and several other Saviors opt to STAY and even defend the gates to keep more walkers from entering the Hilltop.  This is a point that Al makes very clear to Maggie.

In any case, eventually our heroes manage to restore order by putting down all the Hilltop members that had turned including of course Tobin.  Carol ends up being the one left with the task of putting him down and we can see that she has a moment of deep thought, as she tries pushing Tobin away.  She of course eventually goes through with it but if I'm to be totally honest, there was a moment where I was afraid we were going to get a version of Carol's demise in the comics (*SPOILER ALERT*).  Thankfully that did not happen.

Eventually Rick and team realize the Negan's weapons were in fact, contaminated and that is why so many of their people succumbed to their injuries.  The show tries to leave us to wonder if Tara is also infected (though again, not likely, particularly since she hasn't displayed any signs as of yet) and/or if RICK potentially could've been infected (there is reoccurring mention of an injury on his hand).

At the end of the episode we see that Maggie is at the grave site taking stock of how many more members of their side passed away.  As we see that the number has grown, we realize that Maggie is no longer sure if the cost outweighs the ultimate goal.