Rick Grimes has a dream, one that was born in the mind of his son Carl Grimes before he lost his life, but it’s a dream that is struggling to come to fruition as the zombie apocalypse world and the damaged humans within it do all that they can in some cases to see it crumble. As many likely expected, the last episode final moments where the jackass savior Justin, seen fighting with Darryl and who ultimately led to Aaron losing his arm, was grabbed and killed by someone he knew came back to cause issues. Saviors have gone missing and someone is offing them, pushing an already tense situation to the ultimate breaking point.
Before getting into all that though, this episode gave some of the most positive and happy yet ultimately sad moments it has in quite some time. Seeing Rick and Michonne and Judith getting to have a happy family fun day together was heartwarming and brought some great happiness to the episode. As mentioned it’s also tinged with great sadness because as AMC has advertised non-stop, these are the last few episodes of Rick Grimes/Andrew Lincoln’s time in the series. That happy family isn’t something that is going to last and that is truly heartbreaking because we have so rarely been able to see any characters have any semblance of longer-term happiness. It all usually ends up being ripped away rather quickly. Michonne has plans for a future too, one with a new charter and a way to bring the communities closer together. There seems to be a lot of set up currently towards making her a leader of things and with Rick departing, she is honestly one of the best choices. Level headed, tied to the idea of this future and not stuck in the past compared to Darryl and Maggie right now.
What the episode did right was splitting the focus for 3/4 of the episode, breaking it into smaller groups especially smaller duos of recognizable characters. Rick and Carol’s conversation and agreement in the end, even after being jumped by a few angry Saviors, was the highlight as the two who had been pushed to the limit the most at times and were some of the most badass and bloodthirsty have come to the realization that they can’t be that way anymore. The world has fully ended and the dead rule it but they have to keep the people they have at this point to make a future. Darryl and Maggie together though in the end didn’t work as well for me because both are now seemingly being placed within the sort of antagonist/villain role, though sympathetic still.
It turns out that Cyndie and a bunch of the women from Oceanside are the ones behind the murdering of the Saviors, getting retribution for the attack on their community in the past that led to the previously revealed death of all the men and children at the Savior’s hands. While they were willing to go along with Rick’s way for all this time, out of the thought that they had to do it and there was no other way, they revealed that Maggie’s hanging of Gregory showed them that there were more ways. They could do what they wanted. I truly get their reasons and understand the hate for Arat and the others for what they did, but as Rick mentions in the episode the circle of killing has to end at some point otherwise the dead will fully win. The moment that Maggie and Darryl walked away and let the women kill the Savior Arat, was the moment that I began to feel that the fresh start of the season hit a sour note. Their mistrust of the Saviors after what they lost is sympathetic and understandable, but the two becoming judge, jury, and executioners in a sense and not giving a crap about the future because of the past took them right out of the like column for me right now.
No doubt Rick’s likely death in two episodes is going to lead to them to have a change of heart and try and embrace the future instead, though who knows perhaps it won’t be that cliche, but for right now they are sliding quickly into the bad role. A bridge that is the future of the communities is at stake without a workforce all because they want to get to and kill Negan and go back to treating the Saviors like garbage. As Arat says, they’ve all done some shit in the past that stains their hands. Whether right or wrong, in the long run, no one had an easy path to get from the apocalypse start over three years before to the present day for them. Lives were lost, lives were taken, blood was spilled, lines were crossed, all that stuff. Maggie made it clear to Cyndie that killing Arat might be the last Savior on their hit list but it would not be the final time something bad would happen. Perhaps she should heed her own words. If she doesn’t end up coming from this before Lauren Cohan departs the show (said to be temporary as they try to work her back in for season ten), maybe she should stay gone for a bit.
Oh, and what the heck is up with Jadis/Anne? I had such high hopes for her but turns out that she’s still got secrets and plans and has Father Gabriel as a hostage. All that good feeling and positivity at the start of the season is starting to fade really quickly. Hopefully, there is more on the way outside of the dread and sadness to come with Rick.
As a character piece, outside of the first bits and the confrontations, this episode had a lot going for it with the Grimes family fun day and some of the one on one conversations that went on. As a whole, though it really soured my outlook on some characters and strengthed that outlook when it comes to others. This was all to drum up the drama before the end of Rick in two episodes and the mid-season finale in three episodes. That being said, it sort of feels like eye rolling style drama much like what kind of plagued the last few seasons. I really hope they don’t’ fall back down that well and some good is coming. The show is better for it when good things are happening around the bad.
Score: 8 out of 10