“You’re strong and you’re smart, and you’re both really good people! And if you don’t wake up and face your …”
Ah, what terrible coincidence for Denise this episode. After finally facing her fear of “roamers” and killing one up close and personal, and then telling off Daryl and Rosita for trying to chastise her for making her own choices, Denise gets a crossbow arrow through her right eye – dying of the same injury that she healed for Carl only a few weeks ago. Our Alexandria body count continues to grow – well, only for people who are actually from Alexandria, not Rick’s group, of course – but the loss of Denise will cut deep.
She was the doctor for the community, level-headed, trusted, and loved by Tara. Her loss will certainly shake things up on a broad level, but also demonstrates two things: the continued threat of the Saviors, whom Rick and Co. have certainly underestimated time and time again, and probably the continued hardening of Tara, who had admitted to Jesus and Father Gabriel that she enjoys the action and the violence their group is capable of. With her lover murdered at the hands of the Saviors, Tara will probably go Full Revenge – and an inevitable, larger-scale showdown between Alexandria and the Saviors is one step closer.
What else happened in last night’s 14th episode of this season, “Twice as Far”? Let’s deep dive.
+ “I’d have to kill for you, and I can’t. I won’t. I can’t anymore. I can’t love anyone because I can’t kill for anyone. So I’m going, like I always should have. Don’t come after me, please.” All of Carol’s fraught self-reflection comes to a head this episode, as she decides to leave Alexandria and leaves behind a note for boyfriend Tobin, and everyone else, trying to explain her reasoning and asking them not to come after her. We’ve seen this building for weeks now, and we see it in the flashbacks that opened this episode – everyone else has routines in the community, like Morgan’s staff practice and Father Gabriel’s walks and Eugene reporting for guard duty with Sasha, but Carol just sits on her porch swing, chain-smoking cigarettes and clutching that rosary. Even her connection with Daryl seems diminished, like when she answers Daryl’s question about her time held captive by the Saviors (“What’d they do to you?”) with incredulity (“To us? They didn’t do anything”).
But it’s clear from the clips for next week’s episode that Daryl goes rogue, leaving Alexandria as they prepare for the Saviors and sets off to find Carol by himself. Their friendship has always been one of the best parts of “The Walking Dead,” and him breaking protocol to find her and bring her back makes sense. But will Carol want to come back? And what could happen to them out there? Questions, questions, as the second half of this season progresses.
+ “I should have killed you.” It’s a constant trope of “The Walking Dead” that Rick and Co. encounter characters that they’ve met before in bad circumstances in EVEN WORSE circumstances the second time around, and so we have the altercation this week between Daryl and Dwight, the guy from the burnt forest that swiped Daryl’s crossbow and motorcycle all that time ago. We saw Daryl reunited with his bike after the assault on the Saviors, who had it, but it was clear then – as it is now – that there are many more Saviors than Rick and Co. anticipated, and they’re organized, and they’re spread out, and they are not going to stop coming for Alexandria.
So again we have an instance of Daryl regretting not killing more, as Denise dies in front of him, and the show seeming to argue that any violence committed by Rick and Co. is ultimately justified because PEOPLE ARE SO TERRIBLE, GUYS. Daryl gets the crossbow back, and now they have confirmation now that the Saviors are still out there, and so preparation for another major fight begins.
What do we think the Saviors will be working with in this showdown? Will we finally meet Negan? Daryl totally has to kill Dwight, right? And I’m pretty sure the threat that the Saviors will take “whatever and whoever” they want is a terrifying one – and given its rape-y overtones, means that Rosita, Sasha, Maggie, Tara, and probably any other women in Alexandria are in particular danger.
+ “I’ve changed, adapted. I’ve become a survivor.” Working in parallel to Denise’s relationship with Rosita and Daryl this episode is Eugene’s relationship with Abraham, which we’ve seen grow somewhat strained over time. First there was the revelation that Eugene was lying about his special status, which caused Abraham to almost kill him, and Abraham’s continued undermining of Eugene isn’t helping the pair.
But it’s clear by the end of this episode that there is more respect between the two of them, not only because of Eugene’s, um, particularly ingenious way to flip the script on Dwight (“You know how to bite a dick, Eugene. I mean that with the utmost respect”) but also because Abraham realizes that Eugene’s idea to manufacture their own bullets is a good one. Alexandria’s low ammo status, especially with the fight with the Saviors coming up soon, is an undeniable danger, and if Eugene can start this process, that would be a major boon for the group. Perhaps the mullet is a source of power after all.
And some odds and ends:
+ Abraham and Sasha end up getting together at the end of this episode. I don’t really care that much about this relationship, but I will admit that Abraham’s “Could be 30 years for us here. That’s still too short” was a goddamn great line.
+ As always, Rick and Morgan seem to be speaking different languages, but their exchange about Morgan rebuilding the prison was a succinct, descriptive one: “It will give us some choices next time” is a valid reason.
+ Rosita is growing on me, guys. Sure, her personality remains “sassy Latina,” but at least SHE HAS A PERSONALITY. Props for getting with Spencer, the prettiest guy in Alexandria, and I especially loved her line delivery this episode: her dismissive “It’s just one” when they heard the walker bumping into stuff in the apothecary; her bitchy admission of her name to Dwight; and her slight nod to Abraham when she saved him during the shootout.
+ Time for some comparison with the comics: In the original text, Denise was with Heath, and she sacrifices herself to keep him alive, and the arrow-through-the-eye death actually happens to Abraham. The show changes things up by having her and Tara fall in love and killing her off in this different way, and although it’s a bummer because Denise was a good, stable character, the eye death makes poetic sense.
+ “Why did you? I called dibs!” That metal-encased walker was impressively creative.
+ “Aw, man. I threw up on my glasses.”
+ “Who brought this on who?” Fair point, Dwight.