The war continues, this time around focusing solely on the group from The Kingdom. When we last saw the group they were surprised by machine gun fire and scattering in a field. This episode picks up right where that left off showing the complete carnage left in the wake of just one browning .50 caliber machine gun. Wounded and beaten both physically and mentally the survivors, which are limited to just Ezekial, Carol, and Jerry (thank God!) fight their way from the danger left by so many dead bodies. While Carol goes full Jane Bond to complete their mission and capture the guns.
– Ezekial proves why he is King with a VERY theatrical “Still I Smile” speech that we all caught in the trailers. This episode his star making turn with a good 60% of his character development happening right here. He comes to terms with the silliness of his King persona and at the same time comes to understand it’s importance to the people who follow him
– Carol also gets a BIG push in this episode finally earning that ‘Bad-ass Soccer Mom’ title she’s been holding for some time now. Yes she’s always presented as cold as ice, at least since about season 3, but what have you really seen her do that was above and beyond the level of a regular foot soldier? This time around we see her just annihilate the competition. Even as she’s pinned down with no hope of survival you see her pull out an amazing okey-doke and gaining the advantage on 4 grown as soldiers. Of course, the merc with a heart of gold ends up succumbing to those motherly instincts when she opts to save Ezekiel and Jerry instead of securing the guns. Which brings me to….
– JERRY! A fan favorite since his hilarious debut the big guy really earns his place as Ezekiel’s right hand. He doesn’t show up until half way through the episode but damn does he make an entrance, cutting Ezekiel’s captor in twain (hmm..guess we all can’t pull of the Shakespeare speak). His loyalty and honesty are what keeps the King going, and what makes him realize the importance of his regal charade. More than just a funny presence Jerry just cemented himself on the list of ‘Please don’t kill them I’ll go into a deep depression!” characters.
– Daryl and Rick, or Dick….err…Raryl? We’ll just stick with Daryl and Rick. The gruesome twosome is making strides in their badass bromance as of late. Never so awesomely as in this episode. A perfect hero entrance, just when all hope is lost and you see the truck carrying the machine guns, and Negan’s surefire victory, on its way down the road a familiar sound comes to greet us…Daryl’s motorcycle. The two chase down the Saviors and a pretty awesome chase/gun battle ensues. Obviously, the good guys win, but not before Rick goes over an embankment in the hummer carrying the guns. Their banter on Rick’s emergence from the brush is perfect and something I want to see a lot more of to bring some light to this bleak world they’ve created.
– You’ll notice I didn’t mention much about the first half of the episode. Aside from Carol’s Jane Bond segments the first half left a lot to be desired. It was cool seeing the damage caused by the .50 cal guns, which really hammered home why obtaining them was so important, but outside of that…meh. Ezekiel is captured by some wanna-be David Koresch looking punk who just over does the whole creepy bad guy thing. The best thing that character does all episode is allow himself to be cleaved in half by Jerry.
– The series jumped back to a, mostly, single story episode format. It just feels like it’s slowing down the entire war story arc for something that could have been handled in half an episode. This isn’t such a big deal if it only happens this one time, if it becomes a regular thing we could fall right back into a show that feels like it’s stalling the whole season just for that finale episode.
– This last thing is more of a quibble than anything else, but I really can’t stand when TV/Filmmakers are inconsistent in the damage caused by firearms and explosives. I mentioned how great the gore was in that opening massacre, and it really was, showing the capabilities of these guns is paramount for having us understand why it was worth risking most of the fighting force of the kingdom. They falter in the end for the sake of an action beat. When Rick and Daryl are chasing down the Saviors one drops the tailgate and, in true 80’s action movie fashion, has a .50 cal machine gun setup and ready to fire. Now these guns literally RIPPED apart 60 people earlier in the episode, however when they’re fired into Rick’s jeep they just plink off the hood with little more than a spark. Just for arguments sake, these are the bullets that are fired from fighter jets (at least the ones that have guns), it would do to say that one quick burst would rip that Jeep to shreds.
– This was an especially painful episode for loss, and no not because of the 60+ humans massacred, and not because of the flashbacks that showed their last moments with their families. No, this pain is caused by a CGI tiger. Sheva, we hardly knew ya! Ezekiel’s tiger, in a moment the comic fans knew was coming, goes down in a horde of Zombies while protecting her human and allowing him to escape. It was truly heartbreaking.
– The zombie’s this episode were top notch. As I mentioned earlier the gore effects from those ripped up by the machine guns were gnarly to a new level. If that wasn’t enough, while Ezekiel, Carol, and Jerry make their escape they have to do so by crossing a toxic waste dump area. Let me tell you, toxic waste and sewage zombies are the worst zombie. Greg Nicotero’s crew proved that hands down. Say what you will about the consistency of the show’s quality but one area where they have yet to stumble is the effects department.
The Return of Negan!!