A few seasons back, when our heroes on ‘The Walking Dead’ were still hanging out at the prison, many episodes were criticized because not much would happen in them during the first two-thirds, only to have something significant happen in the last couple of scenes. For good or for ill, that’s exactly what happens in this week’s episode, one that – regardless of slow pacing early on – turns out to be one of the more significant entries this season.
In the pre-credits scene, we’re shown the inhabitants of Alexandria repeating their daily routines over and over – supplies are counted, guard shifts change, and Morgan practices with his staff outside. We also learn what Morgan’s been building. It’s a prison cell. When Rick “Just Shoot ‘Em Dead” Grimes shows up and sees what Morgan has put his blood and sweat into building, his only question is, “Why?” Morgan replies that it’s so they have some options. I’m calling it right now: Upcoming baddie Negan will wind up in that cell after he does whatever evil he’s going to do.
The focus of this week’s entry is on two groups. First we have Abe and Eugene going out on patrol together. Then we have the trio of Daryl, Rosita and Denise (in her first trip outside the walls of Alexandria since before the Walker apocalypse) heading out to an apothecary (or as most people call them, a drug store) to pick up some needed supplies.
Eugene takes Abe into a small town’s abandoned metal factory. When Abe asks why Eugene has brought him there, Eugene says they need to start making bullets and he believes he can do so at this location. While Abe congratulates him for his smart thinking, Eugene – never one for subtlety – tells Abe that he doesn’t need him anymore. He tries to prove this fact by killing a Walker that shows up, but the Walker had molten lead poured and hardened on its head, making it difficult to stab. Abe has to jump in to save Eugene, although Eugene insists he had everything under control. He demands an apology from Abe, but Abe just walks out on him, wishing Eugene good luck in finding his way back to Alexandria.
Daryl, Rosita and Denise drive in a truck on their way to the apothecary when they come upon a fallen tree across the road. They have to abandon the truck and walk from there. Rosita insists on taking some train tracks that lead into town, but Daryl – in a nice nod toward the Terminus storyline from a couple seasons back – refuses to go that way and takes the long way around instead. They later reunite and get to the store, where Daryl and Rosita stock up on supplies from its pharmacy section. Denise hears some odd noises coming from behind a door and – quite stupidly – goes to investigate on her own. She finds a decaying Walker inside and possibly the remains of an infant. Fortunately, Denise is smart enough to get out of there before anything can happen to her, though she’s shaken by the experience.
In a change of heart, Daryl agrees to follow the train tracks back to the truck. That decision will assure that he’ll never follow tracks again for the remainder of the series. Seeing some abandoned cars near the tracks, Denise goes down to investigate and spots a cooler inside one of the vehicles. However, there’s also a Walker inside. Thinking the cooler could hold something they can use, Denise opens the car door and tries to kill the Walker, but it grabs hold of her and tumbles out of the car on top of her. When Daryl and Rosita run to help, Denise yells for them to stay back. She needs to do this on her own. Eventually, she kills the Walker and claims her cooler prize: a can of orange soda. Daryl yells at her for being so stupid, but Denise goes into an extended speech about how she needed to do it, what great people she thinks both Daryl and Rosita are, and… WHAP! An arrow goes straight through Denise’s right eye, killing her.
Suddenly, Daryl and Rosita are surrounded by Saviors, led by Dwight (you can call him “D” if you want), who looks familiar. As it turns out, Dwight is the guy Daryl met out in the woods who stole his motorcycle way back in Episode 6 of this season. We had no idea who Dwight was back then, but it turns out he’s with Negan. To make a bad situation worse, Dwight and his men have also taken Eugene hostage.
Dwight tells Daryl and Rosita about how they’re going to lead them back to Alexandria and let them in to take what they want, when Eugene notices Abraham hiding behind some barrels nearby. Surprisingly, Eugene gives Abraham up to Dwight – but it turns out to just be a distraction so Abe can open fire and Daryl and Rosita can get some cover and join in on the gun battle. Eugene also makes a move to get free, biting (and I swear I’m not making this up) Dwight right in the crotch! Dwight’s men are driven back and the remainder of them – including Dwight – make a run for it. Daryl starts to pursue them, but Rosita stops him.
During the firefight, Eugene got shot. The three others carry his body back to the truck and get him to the infirmary in Alexandria. Fortunately, the bullet only grazed him and the antibiotics they were able to get from the drug store will allow him to make a speedy recovery. After Abe apologizes to Eugene for questioning his fighting abilities earlier, he goes to Sasha’s house and tells her that even if he got to spend the next 30 years with her, it wouldn’t be long enough. She invites him to come inside, which I guess means they’re officially a couple now.
This week’s episode ends with an additional shocker: Carol writes a “Dear John” letter to Tobin (who she’s been staying with), telling him – and essentially Rick and the others – that she can no longer kill people for them. She has left Alexandria and asked not to be followed.
While it’s certainly sad to see Denise go this week (the series seems to have to stopped its trend of killing off African American characters and is now killing off all the women – Deanna, Jessie and now Denise), I have more questions about the character of Carol and why she’s being written so differently all of a sudden. I mean, this is the woman who was kicked out of the prison because she killed and burned the bodies of a couple of sick people, and now she’s more of a pacifist than Morgan? I don’t buy it, and I feel that the writers are manipulating the character in ways to serve the storyline rather that to serve who the character really is.
I’ve got a bright shiny nickel that says Negan will capture Carol in the season finale. Any takers?