“Spend” – The Walking Dead Goes Darker
“You’re going to have to kill him.” – Carol Pelletier.
As I mentioned when The Walking Dead hosted a dinner party last week, a consistent issue with the show seems to be its rather large cast. So it was not a huge surprise to me to see that this week, we would be getting more Father Gabriel, Tara, Noah, Glenn, Maggie, and Abraham.
I’ll start with what I consider to be the most unfortunate plot, and it is the one that bookends the start and end of the episode. Father Gabriel is a troubled man, but mostly, he’s a troubled character. While turning him into a villain of sorts against our heroes is a valiant effort at making him a more interesting character, it also instantly makes a boring character unlikable. His motivations from the beginning of his introduction have seemed thin and weak, much like his character, and having him deem our group as “bad people” after they’d saved him countless times seems both selfish and insane. I would assume that his main grievances from them come from their brutal assault on the cannibals in one of this season’s many standout episodes, “Four Walls and a Roof.” However, if he cannot truly see the reasoning for their actions, if he can’t see passed the brutal murder, he won’t be long for this world. A coward in The Walking Dead is not an interesting character. What I think most people hope to see from the smaller characters, those who seemed weak, is to see them grow in this new world. See: Carol. But more on her in a bit.
I wanted to touch on what I thought was a highlight of this episode, though it will probably have the least impact of anything we saw. Abraham taking the lead on the construction crew. Although a man gets punched, there really isn’t a lot of conflict in his story, and I think this is what made it so refreshing. Abraham proves his worth on the field. He finds that the people will follow him. And the previous head of construction, the guy Abraham punched, was man enough to admit that he wasn’t the fit for the job. We’ve had a lack of Abraham since the reveal that Eugene had been lying to him, and it’s definitely nice to see him finding a place in this new community.
Maggie, too, is finding her place, and although she isn’t given much to do this episode, it becomes more established what her role will be in the community. We see her working more closely with Deanna and her husband, finding out what people should be doing, and being a reference point for a lot of our group members. Though Deanna seems to realize that their group is taking up all the important roles, Maggie reminds her that Alexandria will need them. I am curious to see what Maggie does with Father Gabriel’s betrayal.
In our required zombie-plot of the episode, we unfortunately lose another character. Noah, who was showing such promise by trying to take after Deanna’s husband and learn about the building of the walls, is killed in a rather clever sequence involving rotating doors. While character deaths have become commonplace on The Walking Dead, it both frustrates me and relieves me when we see another one go. As I mentioned, the cast is huge. So killing off characters is a necessity. But what has always bothered me is the way characters are killed. Tyreese’s death was foolish. Beth’s death felt forced.
I didn’t feel this kind of anger about Noah’s death. Not that it didn’t affect me in the same way – I had in fact come to like Tyler James Williams in the role. It was more that I didn’t feel any anger at the manner of his death. So often the show has to rely on tropes and character stupidity to have a death, but here it felt, as I mentioned, clever. The ploy with the revolving doors was obvious, but the way the show dolled out the punches of how it would play out ended more interestingly than I would have anticipated. So while it was predictable that Eugene would pull around one side to lure zombies away, it doesn’t immediately click that this doesn’t actually get them out of danger yet. In the end, Nicholas decides to continue to be an asshole, and pushes his way out, directly leading to Noah being pulled into the building and devoured in what I would describe as one of the most gory deaths The Walking Dead has yet produced.
This all leads to the bubbling conflict between our survivors and the group of Alexandria. As Deanna mentioned, she has a lot to think about, and she will have much more to think about when she discovers that her son is dead. The inevitable confrontation between Rick and Pete will likely have effects that Rick and Carol will not have anticipated. I don’t know how the pieces will fall, but I believe that The Walking Dead has set itself up to end the season on a very high note.
- I mentioned Carol’s badassery, but she’s running really hot right now. I think she can tone it down just a notch.
- Abraham, like Sasha, seemed to be thriving on the zombie conflict. Will his new position as head of construction help him get through living in Alexandria? We’ll see.
- Speaking of Sasha, if I hadn’t seen her in the promo for next week, I would not have been surprised to not see her for the rest of the season, simply due to the sheer size and scope of the show in its current form.
- I don’t think that Tara is going to die. Do you?
- Daryl didn’t have much to do this episode, but we know that he’s begun his job as a recruiter. I bet he runs into trouble.
- Although I praised the revolving door bit as clever, it really wouldn’t have happened if our survivors would finally learn to be smart – kill the walkers in the cage. Practice safe scavenging.
- We have two episodes left in the season, and I’m predicting that Morgan will finally return, and this time, with some impact. I can’t wait.
Episode Grade: B+