“The King, The Widow and Rick” is an episode title that suggests a clear and deep focus on all three leaders of the war against Negan and The Saviours. I mean, at least that’s the logical interpretation, right? Wrong. This sixth episode in The Walking Dead’s eight season took certain liberties to slow things down a little and move a few chess pieces around without attempting anything drastic (that’ll be saved for next week, I’m sure).
The result is kind of boring, as we’ve come to expect from “filler” episodes. We got a new character in the form of Carl’s new BFF Saddiq (the guy from the premiere); Rosita blew up a saviour from a couple of metres away using a missile launcher to cause a strangely self-contained explosion; Rick made a proposal to Jadis and her very fucking weird and jarring garbage crew; Maggie locked up the Saviours Jesus saved; and Daryl showed us that he has learned absolutely nothing from getting Glenn brutally murdered, taking the entire war into his own hands (which will probably get Tara or Rosita killed – or if they really want to turn Rick against Daryl, Michonne).
Writing that, it doesn’t seem like the episode was all too bad. But it was. It was dull, uninspired, plodding, and exactly what the show doesn’t need in the midst of a hugely publicised ratings slip.
Perhaps the most interesting was the stuff going on over at The Hilltop. Jesus’ mercy is all kinds of frustrating but it would be awkward for Maggie to just line them all up and kill them already, since we’ve got the retain a sense of humanity here – even for shit-faced Jared. The solution is to build a vaguely sturdy cage out of barbed wire inside of The Hilltop compound and march all The Saviours into it, then to sweeten the deal throw old mate Gregory in there as well because he really is a slippery bastard. It’s revealed later in the episode that Maggie is only keeping the Saviours alive as bargaining chips (as if that’d work with Negan) and will gladly kill them if that doesn’t work. This plan obviously doesn’t sit right with Jesus (neither of them; thou shall not kill or whatever) so watching his relationship with Maggie from here on out will be quite interesting. Oh, and Aaron is now headed back to Alexandria with Enid in tow, which will give the writers reason to cut their vague adventure into all the action at some point before the mid-season finale.
On the opposite end you had Ezekiel (FKA King Ezekiel) who is defeated, deflated and depressed, no longer wanting to continue his regal act despite sitting high up on a platform next to his “throne”. Carol made a good case at trying to convince the king to re-join the fight against Negan and lead his people, but he wasn’t having it. It fizzled out with what was essentially a “yeah nah” after Carol spent all that time working up the inspiration to get her future-boyfriend (c’mon, it’s obvious) to snap out of it. It’s like when Rick went crazy after losing Lori, but worse.
Rosita and Michonne’s aim felt a bit too unbelievable. Smart, strong and logical women somehow developing an insatiable need to “see” The Sanctuary overrun by walkers did not make sense. They were willing to leave Alexandria two very capable fighters down just so they could satisfy a curiosity – not buying it. It was a way for the episode to conveniently lead them to two rogue Saviours who turned out to be brilliant strategists, planning to save The Sanctuary by blasting loud opera music and leading the horde of walkers away. However clever they were, they ended up no match for Rosita and her missile launcher as well as Deus Ex Daryl who suddenly came out of nowhere and happened to smash into a would-be escapee. This is getting ridiculous now. Although it did serve it’s purpose, getting all three – and Tara – and in the same spot so they could follow Daryl on his plan to “end this once and for all”. We’ll likely see what that actually means next week, but for now the piece has been moved firmly in place with the promise of a nice slice of action and maybe a character death or two.
Lastly, let’s talk about Rick shall we. He made the very strange choice of going back to Jadis and her junkyard squad – you know, the ones who were so defective that their ability to talk normally eroded in a matter of years following the zombie apocalypse. Recognising that The Scavengers remain agnostic in this All Out War and asking them to side with him might have been understandable had we at all spent some time with these kids following last year’s finale, but shoved down our throats randomly and unexpectedly just made it seem like a contrivance for Rick to get kidnapped. We end the episode with him naked wasting away in a locked shipping container, and it’s not at all filled with tension because such a violent break in Rick’s momentum could completely undo all the slightly above average work done before it. Why you do this Walking Dead?
Review Score: TWO STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
- Carl befriending Riddiq was nice, I guess
- Maggie shutting Jesus’ mercy right down
- Gregory reduced to blood, sweat and tears as he is forced into the makshift cell
- Daryl becomes an impulsive child
- Michonne and Rosita’s motivation for leaving Alexandria was unbelievable
- Random Saviour finally has a name and face and it’s obvious he’s the “proof” Jesus needs to convince people that this group are innocent humans
- The entire side-trip to The Junkyard
- Ezekiel despondent and stubborn
The Walking Dead Season 8 screens in Australia on FX/Foxtel every Monday at 1:30pm and again at 7:30pm.
Image: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC.