Last week’s episode showed us Carol’s futile struggle to regain her humanity in the midst of a burgeoning war with The Saviors. This week, things seem much calmer…which is always a bad sign the main characters’ this late in the season.
The episode opens with artistically transitioned shots between a few of the characters and their daily tasks. To be honest, the effect made my head hurt. Fortunately, the content behind it was pretty good.
- We find out what Morgan’s been building: A prison cell. I was hoping for a weaponized mech suit or Metalhead (to keep with the whole Donatello/Ninja Turtle theme), but this was good too. Like he tells Rick, it gives them another choice instead of killing their enemies. Whether it’s a good one or not is debatable, but at least Morgan is actually DOING something to make his ‘No Killing’ philosophy feasible instead of just a pipe dream. There’s also a neat parallel with him building a cell in the name of life and how his devotion to never taking one started inside one.
- Denise needs medical supplies.
- Daryl and Carol talk. Daryl wishes he’d killed those people who took his bike back in the sixth episode of the season. Remember them? Tina, Honey, and Dwight (aka the dude who looked like a redneck version of Ryan Gosling)? Anyway, Carol feels bad about killing Paula and her gang last episode, because that’s apparently how her story arc is supposed to go.
- Rosita is still depressed about Abraham breaking up with her. Making matters worse, she’s just had a one-night stand with Spencer, who clearly likes her a lot more than she likes him.
Denise insists on accompanying Daryl and Rosita to a nearby pharmacy. We get a funny moment of Denise trying to teach Daryl to drive a stick (unsuccessfully) before they’re stopped by a fallen tree in the middle of the road. Despite the shortest route being a straight shot along some nearby railroad tracks, Daryl doesn’t want to go that way (for somewhat understandable reasons if you remember Daryl’s last experience following a railroad), so he splits off from the women and takes the long route. This gives Rosita and Denise a chance to open up to each other about their lives, which made me even more nervous for their safety.
The trio meets back up at the pharmacy, where Denise is relegated to the sideline while the two badasses clear the area. This doesn’t sit well with her, so she attempts to find and take care of a potential walker herself. Instead, she discovers a zombie melted into the floor and what I really hope was just a drowned kid floating in a tank (file that under Sentences I Never Thought I’d Write) and not a baby walker going for a swim. Can you imagine one of those things crawling around on the floor and biting at your ankles? Talk about a good argument for birth control.
Anyway, Denise (understandably) flips out a bit. Later, Daryl tries to cheer Denise up by giving her credit for leading them to more medical supplies. They also bond over their shared/strained relationships with an overbearing older brother.
The Mullet Takes a Stand
Keeping with the theme of a physically weak character attempting to take control of their own fate, Eugene leads Abraham on a mysterious supply run of his own. On the way there, Abraham dismisses Eugene’s assertion that he is becoming braver.
Wow, Abraham is really becoming unlikable.
The pair eventually finds a machine shop, which Eugene says he can utilize to help their people make bullets. Abraham is impressed. Riding high from getting the Ginger General’s approval, Eugene calls dibs on a nearby walker to prove his newfound survival skills. Unfortunately, this particular zombie just happened to have a bunch of metal poured over its skull, which made it…
A.) Look like knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
B.) Really hard to kill.
…because OF COURSE that would be the walker Eugene chose. When Abraham steps in to help (and save Eugene’s ass), Eugene gets angry because he called dibs on the kill. He then tells Abraham that his “services are no longer needed,” which Abraham responds to by leaving the warehouse.
Sheesh. Both these dudes are acting like bigger brats than Season 4 Carl.
On their way back to Alexandria, Denise spots a car with a cooler in it. Daryl and Rosita insist they keep moving, but Denise isn’t having it. She opens the car door and pulls the cooler—along with a walker—out onto the ground. Just when it looks like she’s about to die, Denise kills the zombie herself (and promptly pukes).
When Daryl and Rosita rightfully ask what the hell she was thinking, Denise produces an orange soda, which she had wanted to get for Tara. She then launches into an impassioned speech about how it was totally worth the risk because it was for someone she loved (uh oh). They could die any day in this world, so they shouldn’t just take risks on things for basic survival (oh no). She also made a point to tell Daryl and Rosita what great people they were (INCOMING), which pretty much sealed her fate. Out of nowhere, an arrow slices into Denise’s skull and through her eye. She tries to continue her speech for a second longer before falling over dead.
Fun Fact #1: This scene played out in a very similar manner in the comics, but with Abraham getting killed instead.
While I usually like the way the comics treat the characters better, I actually think the show did a better job with this death scene for a couple reasons.
- Denise’s speech is better, particularly the parts about taking risks for things besides basic day-to-day survival and what she said to Rosita, who really needed to hear it.
- Abraham’s become a bit of a jackass lately, but Denise has been pretty darn lovable during her time on the show. Add in the good screen time she got this week, and it makes her death that much more tragic.
- The fact that she’s the one who fixed Carl’s eye—and saved his life—makes the placement of her fatal injury even harder to stomach.
- While I’m terribly sad that Denise is gone, at least she’s been spared a lifetime of having to be Tara’s girlfriend, which some might say is a fate worse than death.
Fun Fact #2: While Denise and Abraham’s speeches aren’t exactly the same, I was still able to time the arrow shot to almost the exact second, which made my wife think I was a wizard.
Dude managed to keep talking a bit longer than Denise did.
Nuts and Bolt Away
A pack of Saviors emerge from the trees with Eugene as their hostage and Dwight holding the murder weapon (i.e. Daryl’s crossbow). Despite having just killed someone, Dwight seems a lot more cocky/evil than he did when we last saw him. He also has a huge scar on the left side of his face.
If you read the comics, you know what that’s from. For the rest of you, here’s a hint: He probably had to iron things out with Negan before being allowed back in The Saviors (h/t to Bill Derpson from The Spoiling Dead Fans Facebook group for that gem of a pun).
Dwight then has the nerve to tell Daryl that Denise wasn’t the person he was aiming for. He then says he’ll spare the three of them if they lead his group to Alexandria. Eugene interrupts the one-sided negotiations by alerting them to Abraham’s presence nearby. This seems like a pretty dick move until Eugene uses the distraction it causes to bite Dwight’s junk. Hard.
As Dwight unleashes a howl of anguish, Daryl and Rosita spring into action, grabbing their weapons and starting to kick some ass. Abraham does the same. Meanwhile, Eugene is still giving Dwight what I’ll delicately call the Shawshank Redemption treatment (think about the speech Andy gives to Boggs in the film room).
Once Dwight frees his giblets from Eugene’s choppers, he and the surviving Saviors beat a hasty retreat. This should have bothered me more than it did—three Alexandrians routing that many armed attackers—but I was too busy freaking out/cheering/feeling sympathy pains due Eugene’s ballsy act of bravery.
Love and Loss
Back in Alexandria, Abraham makes up with Eugene (in the most hilarious way possible) and goes to confess his love for Sasha. She responds by inviting him inside. (Ugh).
Meanwhile, Carol plays Captain Hindsight and tells Daryl that he was right about thinking he should have killed Dwight the first time. Later, she breaks up with Tobin (good) and breaks up with Alexandria (WHAT?), leaving the town with a cheesy voice over about how she just can’t kill anymore.
Is It Good?
This episode was all types of good until the end.
I don’t buy Sasha ‘inviting Abraham inside’ (which is TV code for ‘having relations’) just because he said a few sweet things to her. She’s been through too much and lost too much to open her heart up like that so quickly to someone else. I think she would have at least taken things slower.
And Carol is leaving now? Seriously? Is the show trying to telegraph that she dies in the season finale or something? This is a woman who we’ve watched go from meek and abused to one of the smartest, most ruthless, and most resourceful members of Rick’s crew. Now she’s just going to up and leave the people she’s been with and put herself in a lot more danger because Morgan spit some questionable philosophy at her? Give me a break.
Other than that, however, this was an excellent episode, particularly the stories we got to see for Denise and Eugene. Denise’s death was well executed (pardon the pun), particularly in the way they set up things up to look like she was having a major breakthrough in her outlook on life going forward. I also like that we’re getting more time with Rosita, which will hopefully continue to remind people of what a colossal jerk Abraham is. Sasha can definitely do better.
Meanwhile, The Saviors continue to help save this season from the disaster it was a few months ago. Having a freshly scarred Dwight show up and prove Daryl right about wanting to kill him did a lot more than kill of a great character Denise. It also killed a part of Daryl’s soul—the part that still wanted to give people a chance. It may have only hung by a thread, but it’s definitely gone now.