Well, that was an hour wasted. All of the frustrating flaws with this second half of the sixth season of “The Walking Dead” come into focus with penultimate episode “East.” The Saviors suddenly being tricksy, Carol suddenly being riddled with guilt, and Rick and Co. suddenly deciding that all of them should leave somewhere safe on a wild goose chase – well, actually, scratch that last one. Poor decision making from Rick et al. is not something new to this most recent cluster of episodes. That is a constant of this show that we’ve just learned to accept.
But really, where do we all stand after “East”? Carol is still gone. Morgan is out there searching for her. Daryl, Michonne, Rosita, and Glenn are all captured by that Savior Dwight, like a bunch of dumbasses. Maggie is in horrible pain; something is wrong with her and Glenn’s baby. And Abraham is a real smug son of a bitch now that he and Sasha are together. For an hour of television, even an hour of “Walking Dead” television, not that much of note seemed to happen in “East.”
Let’s get down into this week’s water treading.
+ “When they come for us, we’ll end it. … This won’t be like before. … These people know what to do now. … The world’s ours, and we know how to take it.” Rick CANNOT get more delusional and overly confident than he is this episode, can he? From bragging to Michonne about how great his leadership is to then refusing to acknowledge to Morgan that some human decency is needed in this world, Rick seems extra off his game this week. Sure, they’re building up Alexandria’s defenses, they’re pumped to have the food from the Hilltop, and they think the Saviors won’t be a problem. But isn’t it an issue that Carol and Maggie were so easily kidnapped? Doesn’t the weirdness surrounding everything with the name “Negan” worry Rick even a little bit?
What’s frustrating here is that we’re supposed to buy Rick’s complete assuredness in himself, even though time and time again in the past few episodes they’ve been caught off-guard by the Saviors. It’s clearly a setup for something terrible going down next week, and Rick’s consistent head-in-the-sand approach isn’t particularly fun to watch over and over again.
+ “Maybe Daryl’s gonna get himself killed.” I won’t even discuss this subplot that intensely because there is no way Daryl is dead, even though Dwight possibly shoots him at the end of the episode (“You’ll be alright” is Dwight’s last line), because straight DROVES of people would quit this show, and the writers aren’t that ballsy. But again, we’re supposed to buy our characters acting like idiots. Daryl leaves, so Glenn, Michonne, AND Rosita go track him down? And ALL managed to get captured? What were the Saviors doing, just hanging out in the woods and waiting for them all this time? I don’t mind the Dwight vs. Daryl dynamic – it’s interesting to see Daryl built out as a character with regrets, and of course he would think killing Dwight would right some of his wrongs – but I think it’s so forced this episode, and it again makes our protagonists suddenly seem like all idiots.
Although, I will admit: Dwight’s “Hi!” was hilarious and I loved it. That guy is such a troll, and I treasure him for it.
+ “I’m not really from anywhere. I’m not really going anywhere.” “The Walking Dead” keeps trying to sell us on Carol’s increasing panic and self-hatred with her dissolving into tears upon meeting the Saviors on the road, which was so uncomfortable and outside of her character that I could barely pay attention during the scene. And then she killed practically everyone in that car anyway before walking away; how long was it between her disappearance and Rick and Morgan showing up? Only a few minutes? Where did she go? The timing of that whole sequence was kind of suspect.
Initially I thought Carol was faking with all this, but the show’s insistence that Carol is actually Going Through Something is so damn tiring. It means either two things: that Carol will die soon, which would be terrible, or that Carol will snap back to her senses and abandon all guilt and regret when something awful happens to the group, which again suggests that someone major is going to die next week. And if so, why have we been watching Carol cry all this time if it means nothing in the long-term? Bring back “force of nature” Carol, please.
+ “People can come back, Rick. … All life is precious.” Morgan finally comes clean to Rick about keeping that Wolf hostage, his subsequent confrontation with Carol, and the fallout including Denise, and Rick is … fine with it? For a man who was just telling Morgan that he would murder his own people if they put him in danger, Rick’s reaction to Morgan admitting that he had, in fact, PUT THEM IN DANGER was unbelievable.
I mean, I guess it showed that Rick is a major hypocrite, but still, I thought this interaction didn’t track with who we’ve seen Rick be. Morgan being honest about his past and his future – loved the line “If I don’t, don’t come looking,” because with Morgan, you truly believe he’s done with Alexandria at this point – is finally forward progress, but he has to find Carol and bring her back, right? I can’t imagine the show cutting both of them, not with how much time they’ve spent developing each of them as warrior badasses in their own way.
And some odds and ends:
+ Not only does Alexandria have running water, but running HOT water? How is this place better outfitted than my goddamn apartment after my neighbor showers and uses up our entire supply? Ugh. Your sensual and intimate shower offends me, Glenn and Maggie!
+ Bad Savior guy has Carol’s rosary. What are the chances on them using it as some kind of fake-out to trick Rick and Co. in next week’s season finale?
+ Why would Sasha be carrying Abraham’s cigar during her shift? Look, it’s nice you all are in love now, but that shit is gross.
+ Rick and Michonne eating an apple together in bed probably inspired a bunch of new, and gross, erotic fan fictions. You should be ashamed of yourself, Internet.
+ “Jesus came through.” The writers are just deliberately referring to Jesus by name for shits and giggles, right?
+ “A woman like you, no weapons, no protection, no clue. You really shouldn’t be out here alone.” Oh, are you implying that Carol could be raped, writers? Because IT’S WHAT YOU IMPLY EVERY DAMN TIME THERE IS A FEMALE CHARACTER ONSCREEN WITH A BAD GUY, SO YEAH, WE GET IT.
+ Were the Saviors doing Jennifer Lawrence-style Mockingjay whistles as they came out to surround Glenn and Michonne? That was weird and unnecessary and I kind of liked it.
+ Maggie cut her hair, because apparently it was “getting in my way.” And then she had major pregnancy pains, because there was NO WAY that wouldn’t happen.
+ SPOILER ALERT, re: clips from next week’s finale episode: Hey, Jeffrey Dean Morgan. I see you’ve brought Lucille with you. Sup?