So unless Rick’s son shows up lumbering around and hungering for brains and a haircut, then Carl is officially dead. This week, we get to see the fallout from the main cast member’s death along with the progression of some other long-forgotten plot threads.
Also, to make things super clear and artsy, the episode was helpfully divided up into segments from particular character’s viewpoints, which was marked with a title card bearing their name.
As you might imagine, Rick and Michonne are understandably upset about Carl’s death. They are so upset, in fact, that Michonne (who is normally one of the smartest and most clear-headed thinkers in the group) decides to halt their retreat from Alexandria so they can try to put out a raging fire with a couple of tiny extinguishers. Why was this fire so important to douse? Because it was consuming the husk of a gazebo that Carl used to like.
Yeah, I don’t remember him sitting there ever, either.
Thankfully, this scene did give us some cool action sequences before Rick made yet another stupid decision. This time, he decided to go visit the Scavengers, a trip which has consistently resulted in him getting betrayed–and once forced him to be a nude art model.
When Michonne and Rick arrive at the trash heap, however, they find it abandoned. Then they make the same mistake many of us have made in our downstairs utility closet and begin pulling items down. After everything starts falling down on top of them, a horde of poorly dressed zombies begins to lurch their way.
Negan tells Simon to go check on the Scavengers and kill one of them to make sure they know not to cross The Saviors again. Simon wants to kill more people. Negan yells at Simon to follow orders. Simon misses a perfect opportunity to come back with “SIMON SAYS NO!”
As if things weren’t tense enough, they get a special delivery from the Hilltop–Dean’s zombified remains in a coffin. After Negan kills him with a staple gun, Simon and Negan yell at each other more.
Remember when Enid and Aaron went to Oceanside to ask for help…and then totally pulled a Rick by killing one of their leaders?
Well, turns out that the residents there are still pretty ticked about it. They leave the decision on whether to execute the pair up to Cyndie (the victim’s grandmother). When she comes back and decides “Yes, killing my grandmother is worth my vengeance,” Enid is somehow able to convince her otherwise with one of the stupidest argument imaginable. I won’t retell it here for fear of suffering an aneurysm, but it basically boiled down to “Killing us won’t feel good, so don’t do it.”
Instead of killing Enid and Aaron, the Oceansiders force them to leave. Enid takes the hint, but Aaron does not. Instead, he decides to hang back in the woods and stalk them for a while before embarking on a second attempt at getting them to help fight The Saviors.
The fact that he is a man doing this to an all-woman community makes his plan that much more brilliant.
Remember when Negan told Simon to only kill one person to send a message? Then you already knew exactly how this was all going to go down.
That being said, however, it was nice seeing Jadis get scared into speaking in complete sentences before all her people got slaughtered.
We cut back to Rick and Michonne fighting off the walkers in the dump, who helpfully don’t grab for them when they climb to higher ground. The pair finds Jadis pouting by herself and (FINALLY) speaking like a regular person. She gives Rick and Michonne some stupid story about how she used to come to the dump to find stuff to paint and that inspired her to build a better world through starting a weird cult or something. Rick reminds her that she was the one who put her people in position to get zombified.
Once Rick was done throwing shade, he and Michonne make shields out of trash and head back down toward the exit. Michonne forgets she has a katana blade and almost gets overtaken, but thankfully, Rick remembers that he’s able to score multiple perfect head shots with a revolver while running and moving his arm. When Jadis pleads with them to help her, Rick does the first smart thing we’ve seen in months and leaves her to die…
…but then Jadis does the first cool thing we’ve EVER seen her do and leads her zombified followers to a grinder, which turns them all into Taco Bell meat as she sinks into isolated despair.
After leaving Jadis for dead and heading back out on the highway, Rick pulls over and reads Carl’s letter. This inspires him to ring up Negan on the radio.
The two verbally spar a bit before Rick informs Negan that Carl is dead. Negan is visibly distraught by the news, then tries to use it to tell Rick he’s a bad father. Rick says he doesn’t care if Carl wanted peace. He’s going to kill Negan, anyway.
This final scene I just mentioned is a near-perfect example of why The Walking Dead is so bad right now–and why it could/should still be good (like the comic).
Negan’s pain and sadness at Carl’s death is so evident that you almost believe it. Unfortunately, the show has done very little to establish that he would react this way beyond having Negan throw a few lines about “really liking this kid.” Do you honestly expect me to believe that a guy who threw his community’s doctor into a fire pit over a suspected crime would be this sad about a kid who had double-crossed him and caused multiple people in his crew to be killed?
At least in the comics, Negan’s affection for Carl was well-established and believable. Here, the only thing we have to establish it is some damn good acting by Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
And then there’s Rick, who once again is being a complete idiot. I get that he’s mad, but even he admitted that The Saviors had nothing to do with Carl’s death. Maybe his call to Negan was a little cathartic, but all it accomplished was giving Negan a chance to throw things back in his face AND give him information. It made for some good dialogue, but also once again confirmed Rick as a terrible leader.
As far as the rest of the episode goes, I’m not sure how much more I can handle of these characters making dumb decisions. Between Aaron’s Oceanside gambit and Simon’s sure-to-backfire massacre, it appears that the walkers would be best served to look elsewhere for brains.