If last week’s “Service” showed me anything it was that the very excellent Jeffrey Dean Morgan is turning in an uncharacteristically dull performance as Negan. There’s something about having pretty much the same cadence for every single darkly jolly line that starts to get dull after awhile, so it was nice to leave him behind for an episode while still getting a dose of The Saviours and their overbearing ways.
This time, the bullying takes place up at The Hilltop, requiring subjugated leader Gregory to willingly surrender his dignity (and Scotch) as he demonstrates to us, the viewers, exactly what Negan wants Rick to be. This is no leader, and “Go Getters” does a fine job contrasting Gregory’s sniveling ways with Maggie’s integrity to further push the newly widowed farmer’s daughter into a believable leadership arc. However, that’s the extent to what works in this week’s otherwise dull filler episode.
First there’s the cold opening which is appropriately somber, with the only purpose being to remind us that Gregory exists and yep, he is an asshole who wants a pregnant Maggie (who has been informed to stay put by Dr. Carson) and a very protective Sasha gone out of fear of retribution for The Saviours. After a flat reminisce between the Alexandrians over the graves of Glenn (**sniff**) and Abraham, Gregory shouts words of cowardice at the two women before Jesus steps in and very calmly and reasonably defends them. There’s a lack of any real tension here, an empty atmosphere that makes that urgent opening tune seem awkwardly placed.
Second, we have that very odd walker invasion with Jean Sibelius’ dramatic “Finlandia” playing. Seemingly The Saviours used an armoured car to break open The Hilltop’s gates, with walkers and inexplicable patches of fire coming with it, a “0 to 100” moment when Sasha and Maggie were just about to get some much needed shut-eye. Outside of Jesus, no one in The Hilltop seems to be able to handle such a situation which leaves Sasha to try and take the responsibility all on her own, before Maggie commands the show’s resident ninja to help out. There’s a few nice walker kills here, but the climax to all this action is just having Maggie end it all by driving a tractor over some walkers and squashing that car (and its annoying stereo). It’s a filler within a filler (fillerception?).
The other working part of this episode involved Carl and Enid, everyone’s favourite forced soft-of couple. They kiss, but that isn’t really the point of going back and forth between this casual stroll from Alexandria to The Hilltop (seriously, what the hell is with that corny rollerblading scene?). The point is to establish that Carl, like Michonne, Sasha, Rosita, and Maggie, isn’t standing by while Negan and his men throw their weight around; unlike his father, Carl wants immediate revenge, and he watched Abraham and Glenn die because he needed that rage to motivate him.
And so we end up with the little twist at the end of the episode, where Jesus jumps in the back of The Saviours’ supply truck to follow them back to Negan only to find that Carl is already hiding in there with seemingly the same intentions. It’s a necessary ending to let viewers know that yes, The Walking Dead does have a clear sense of where to take this Negan storyline next, the bad part is that we’ll probably have to wait a few weeks to see how that plays out because The Walking Dead is now one, big disjointed story that isn’t quite handling this ‘world building’ as deftly as we expected.
Review Score: TWO AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
- Carl and Jesus on their way to Negan
- Jesus a protective and benevolent ally to Sasha and Maggie
- Sasha’s determination and willingness to sacrifice herself so Maggie could stay
- Maggie refusing to take Gregory’s shit
- Getting to know Negan’s right-hand man
- Lack of any real tension
- Wedged in walker kill sequence felt awkward
- Enid and Carl’s on-screen chemistry thin and forced
- Rollerskating sequence made little sense
- Yes Gregory is not a leader, but is leaving Hilltop without one such a good idea? And why is it all on Jesus to arbitrarily decide that Gregory isn’t leader anymore? Is Jesus more than just a nickname?
- Simon was very vague about the walkers-at-night scenario. Could it be that another group unleashed all that pointless action on The Hilltop? The script certainly kept that open, and I have enough faith in the show to believe that it’s for a reason.
Episode MVP: Jesus
The Walking Dead Season 7 will air in Australia every Monday on FX, fast-tracked from the U.S at 1:30pm AEDT and again at 7:30pm AEDT.