Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Walking Dead Review: ‘Go Getters’

(Photo Credit: AMC)
The Walking Dead
Season 7, Episode 5

It’s been over a month since the season seven premiere, and the aftershocks of Glenn and Abraham’s deaths are still being felt throughout The Walking Dead. For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been getting a slow forming picture of how everybody’s been coping; and so far, the returns aren’t great. Daryl is alone and beaten, imprisoned by the Saviors and weighed down by the guilt of the indirect role he played in Glenn’s death. Rick and the others aren’t faring much better, as Alexandria learns what it means to live under Negan’s rule. There are glimmers of hope; though, no matter how faint they might be. Rosita is on a one-woman mission for vengeance, and it’s likely that more will follow once they see her resolve. Outside of Alexandria, at the Hilltop Colony, hope shines through, as well, even in what should be the bleakest corner of The Walking Dead universe.

At the Hilltop, we learn that Maggie does in fact survive the complication with her pregnancy, and despite everything that’s happened, is in relatively okay sprits- a testament to the strength she’s been honing since her days of running over Camaros in the Greene family tractor. In my head, I was expecting to see Maggie broken and grieving. Even with all the courage she’s displayed throughout the series, if there was one time the crushing reality of loss would get the best of her, I assumed it would be with Glenn. Oh, how wrong I was. In the face of a situation that’s sent even Rick into a tailspin, Maggie has persevered- finding strength in the impossible, and honoring Glenn’s memory, not with trinkets, but through her own actions. For a character who’s lost more loved ones than anyone else, Maggie has always managed to make her own closure, rather than letting closure find her. And, I’m glad this strength will finally be showcased, as she transitions into a leadership role with the Hilltop.
(Photo Credit: AMC)
Maggie won’t be alone, however. During her stay at the Hilltop, she’s be joined by Sasha, who’s coming to terms with a loss of her own. I’m not totally sure what lies in store for Sasha. Her biggest storyline from last season was her budding relationship with Abraham, and now that that’s over, it seems like she could be settling back into her role as group loner and resident gun enthusiast. And while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, I was hoping that Abraham’s death would serve as a catalyst that sparks some character development in Sasha. Sure, not every character gets to pivot and become leader of the Hilltop, but it is unfortunate that, at least for the time being, it appears we’ll be getting more of the same from Sasha, rather than something resembling a new path.

Jesus makes his fourth appearance of the series, and seems primed to settle nicely into a larger role for season seven. The Walking Dead has never, and will never, have the mystique of say, a Lost or a Westworld, and the mysteries it does tease tend to come off fairly heavy handed. Jesus, on the other hand, has an innate secretive nature that extends past his rather mysterious introduction back in season six. I've talked about how The Walking Dead tends to shy away from interspersing its episodes with flashbacks, choosing to instead dedicate an entire episode to exploring a character’s backstory. Jesus would be a compelling character to learn more about from a solo flashback episode, although with all the storylines we’re currently dealing with, I kind of doubt it happens this season- unless it’s part of a wider Hilltop Colony episode. At some point; though, fans will start demanding answers about this bearded, blue-eyed stranger- like, why doesn't Jesus see himself as a leader (despite his obvious leader-like qualities)? Did he have any family from before the apocalypse? And, most importantly, how the hell did he get so good at fighting?
(Photo Credit: AMC)
And maybe what’s worth exploring even more is Jesus’s uneasy relationship with the Hilltop’s leader, Gregory. Gregory showed up briefly in season six, when he brokered a deal with Maggie over the elimination of Negan. Once again, his narcissistic blustering and cowardly selfishness is well on display in this episode. And while he’s hardly a likeable character, his outwardly braggadocious and predictable temperament is a welcome change of pace from the typical Walking Dead community leader, with their calm, collected facades masking ulterior motives and dangerous tendencies. No, what you see with Gregory is pretty much what you get. And, it’s interesting to see how each community’s leader deals with the Saviors in their own way. The Kingdom’s King Ezekiel was fairly diplomatic during his short encounter with the Saviors in episode two, while last week, Rick reluctantly submitted to Negan’s will, and even hesitated momentarily when presented with an opportunity to strike at him with Lucille. Gregory, on the other hand, believes that he and the Saviors operate on relatively equal ground- that his position of power allows him to reason and “make progress” with them. Only time will tell which method pays off the most; although, something tells me the odds aren’t in Gregory’s favor.

For most of his time on this show (and possibly this earth), Carl has impressively straddled the line between awkward, annoying, and useless, making him the sole proprietor of the middle space of The Walking Dead’s awkward-annoying-useless Venn Diagram (see below). But for the first time ever, things seem to be lining up pretty well narratively for Coral, as he finds himself smack dab in the middle of a good old fashioned shenanigan. Comic book fans have been waiting for this particular Carl storyline for quite a while, and for good reason. While Carl has certainly had his fair share of memorable moments throughout the past several years, this upcoming arc is kind of his coming out party in terms of just what kind of survivor he’s become. The Walking Dead has long teased the question- “How will kids who were raised during the apocalypse turn out?” And finally, it’s looking like we might finally get some answers.

In addition to getting some actual plot thrown his way, Carl shares a few surprisingly tender scenes with Enid, as the two continue to see their relationship blossom. In general, I think The Walking Dead does a pretty good job of pairing off characters into satisfying romantic duos. Sometimes they seem a bit out of left field (Sasha and Abraham), but couples like Glenn and Maggie, and Rick and Michonne, really feel genuine, and serve as important backbones for the show. Now, I’m not necessarily saying that Carl and Enid are the next Rick-chonne, but there’s real chemistry between the two- chemistry I didn’t think would be there when their puppy love was first introduced.

Maggie was the second to last box on my “on a scale of 1-10, how sad are you about Glenn?” checklist. And even though her first follow-up appearance was four episodes after the premiere, it was a satisfying conclusion to the previous chapter of her life, and a promising beginning for the next one. Now, the only thing left is for the group to reunite with Carole, and give her the cliff notes on what she’s missed. She and Glenn were two of the five OG Atlanta survivors (Rick, Carl, and Daryl are the others), and I’m hoping her reaction, reflects this history. Unfortunately, based on the previews for next week, we’ll have to postpone Carole’s reaction a bit longer. It looks like we’re in store for that long-awaited Tara-centric storyline that recaps her two-week supply run with Heath.

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