'The Walking Dead' S08E13 Recap: "Do Not Send Us Astray"

Could it be? Two great episodes in a row? I cannot believe I’ve become so cynical, I was a diehard defender of the show for years. I hope that we are seeing trends here and not momentary improvements.

The Saviors continue their trek to assault the Hilltop with the bio-engineered weapons, which is a fancy way of saying arrows and knives coated in dead guts, with Simon at the helm. Negan, for those who forgot, is a prisoner of Queen Trash and we do not hear from them at all throughout the episode. The saviors finally arrive and a huge battle starts with big losses on both sides. The hilltop is more ready than they appear and, under Maggie’s surprisingly adept battlefield command, repel the saviors but not before taking a number of casualties, including Tara who was shot in the arm with an arrow by Dwight, possibly saving her from Simon who was ready to make the kill. More are injured then dead, both stabbed and shot with arrows, but they will live to fight another day….or will they? In a bit of the most terrifying TV I’ve seen in a long time the biological end of the Saviors attack begins to take hold as the Hilltop lays down to sleep. Starting in the hospital wing the injured begin to die, and the dead begin to rise leading to horror that has not yet been seen inside the walls of the Hilltop. Meanwhile Henry stalks the captured saviors with an assault rifle, hoping to kill his brother’s murderer. The Z-Outbreak throws a wrench in his plan and allows the saviors to escape, with most leaving but some deciding to stay after seeing that Simon wanted to let them die during the earlier battle. In the aftermath the survivors are left to figure out how the Outbreak happened, which Rick is able to shed some light on. All eyes turn to Tara, will the arrow Dwight shot her with prove fatal, or was he really aiming, pun intended, to save her life.

The Good: 

  • The aforementioned Zombie attack was amazing. Seeing the dead begin to rise in such a safe space was truly unsettling. It was shot in almost total darkness leaving much to the imagination. When the attack finally happens it brings back that chaotic notion that anyone can go at any time, a true edge of your seat scene that the show desperately needs more of
  • Simon stepping up as the leader of the Saviors and highlighting that Negan may not really be so bad after all, even if he is severely mistaken on the best way to do things. Seeing Simon’s psychotic and vengeful take on leadership will bring some much-needed sympathy to Negan’s character in the episodes to come. Depending on how they follow the story it may or may not be needed. 
  • More Daryl. I know it’s cliché but Daryl is, or I should say can be, the best character in the show. He’s a fierce warrior with a heart of gold who’s endlessly loyal to those he’s close to. He just hasn’t been getting anything outside of punching and grunting for quite some time. He leads off the attack against the saviors in the coolest of ways with a machine gun mounted to his bike, ala Machete, and later has a heart to heart with Tara where he brings up his brother Merle for the first time in forever. 
  • Maggie getting a chance to voice the motivations behind her leadership which are, to her, totally selfish, but to her people she is what is keeping them alive. 

The Bad: 

  • Maggie’s lack of a baby bump. Yes I know I said this last week but it is REALLY bugging the shit out of me. It’s been two seasons since Glenn died, even with a slowed down sense of time she’d have to be at least 6 months along and even still with malnutrition she’d have to have SOMETHING, right?
  • They need Jesus in their lives! No, not the bearded fella from Nazarene I am talking about Jesus of Alexandra. When the protector of Alexandria first showed up it was with great fanfare, and the writers seemed to be aware of that for a while, highlighting his amazing charisma and unparalleled fighting skills. Yet, at some point, they decided we cared more about Morgan, or that kid Henry….hell even Gregory gets more screen time. I am reminded of this thanks to a 4-second clip of Kung-Fu Jesus regulating when the zombie outbreak occurred. The stark reminder of how awesome this guy is hurts, make his story matter! Create a reason for him to be a top player! Shit, just create a side story where he and Daryl roam the undead countryside along ala Kung Fu the show. 
  • Henry. We get it, he’s pissed that his brother was murdered and wants revenge. Is this storyline really worth the 10 minutes an episode they’ve been devoting to it?
  • Finally, Simon’s speech. Is it just me or has he been going to the Eugene school of verbosity. He puts the 3-dollar words on for full effect and really ends up sounding like Damon Wayan’s character from the classic “In Living Color” sketch. “We need to constipate the conflagration of the constitutions amalgamations”

The Dead: 

  • Rejoice, for the prodigal children have returned. As I mentioned in the summary the Z-threat is back in full affect…for the first time since they got to Alexandria. Yes the dead have broken the defenses before but this was different. The fact that they fully infiltrated the house when everyone felt very safe and were sauntering amongst the living as they lay sleeping on the floor was anxiety inducing to say the least. To quote the internet: “MORE OF THAT, MORE OF THAT, LESS OF DUMB STUFF, and MORE OF THAT!”