‘The Walking Dead’ aired a new episode against the Oscars this week. I opted to watch the Oscars live and delayed ‘The Walking Dead’ another day. As I feared, the show spent an hour catching viewers up on all the season’s dumbest and most frustrating storylines.
For some reason, the episode is divided into six segments, each identified with a character’s name on screen. I don’t recall the series doing this before and it serves little apparent purpose. However, it does help me to structure this recap, so I’ll follow along.
Rick and Michonne are sad about burying Carl. Rick makes a cross marker out of sticks and hangs Carl’s pistol from it, which I guess is supposed to be an homage to Shane’s death in the comic book. But then Rick takes the pistol anyway, because he’s not stupid enough to leave a perfectly good gun behind.
Alexandria is in ruins. On their way out, Michonne sees a gazebo burning and decides that it’s terribly important that she put the fire out, because it was Carl’s favorite spot in town. This isn’t a particularly bright idea. She and Rick get swarmed by Walkers and have to fight their way out, leaving the gazebo to burn behind them. It was a futile, pointless effort.
Puzzled over Carl’s final wishes, Rick notices that he wrote a letter to Negan. He sets all the letters aside for a while, unable to bring himself to read any of them, then tells Michonne to drive to the dump. Even though the Heapsters betrayed them, Rick is still convinced that they’re a valuable resource, and he doesn’t want the Saviors to align with them again. “They’re ours, not theirs,” he angrily insists.
Arriving at the dump, Rick and Michonne promptly step into a booby trap that blocks the exit and draws a bunch of Walkers toward them. How many times does Rick have to get tricked by these stupid trash people before he realizes that they’re a waste of time? Idiot.
Upset that the Alexandrians got away but impressed by Carl’s cleverness and chutzpah (and unaware that Carl is dead), Negan orders the Saviors to hunt them down: “Nooks, crannies and holes, people!”
Simon is getting antsy to kill some people, but Negan instead orders him to go to the dump. Assuming that he’ll get to kill all the Heapsters, Simon is down for that. Negan angrily reminds him of their philosophy that people are a resource, and that indiscriminately killing all of them is a bad idea. His instructions are to follow the standard procedure and kill just one person to send a message and get the garbage people back in line.
Some of Negan’s other underlings walk into the room carrying the coffin that Maggie sent with a zombified Savior inside. Negan kills the zombie, whom Simon recognizes. Furious, Simon wants to immediately retaliate against the Hilltop and kill everyone there. Negan once again chastises him and is clearly losing patience with his lieutenant.
Let me make sure that I have the timeline of the Oceanside storyline correct. Unless I’ve missed something, it goes something like this:
- Rick and the Alexandrians invaded Oceanside, stole all their guns, and left the Oceansiders to fend for themselves with sticks and shovels.
- Aaron and Enid drive back to Oceanside, allegedly with the intention of recruiting the Oceansiders to join the Alexandrians who had just wronged them.
- Upon arriving at Oceanside, Aaron and Enid set up a trap to capture some Oceansiders. Which, in their minds, will somehow convince these people to join their side?
- When some Oceansiders come sniffing around the trap, Enid immediately and with little provocation murders their leader, Natania.
- Upon having been captured after murdering their leader, Enid, the murderer, lectures Natania’s grieving granddaughter Cyndie about how the Oceansiders should stop killing people. At the same time, she asks the Oceansiders to help them kill all the Saviors.
- Despite all this, Cyndie lets them live and sets them free, merely asking that they don’t come back again.
- Ungrateful, Aaron decides to stick around, snoop around like a creepy stalker, and badger the Oceansiders some more. He then sends Enid on her way home before she can fuck anything else up. I’m sure he’ll take care of that all on his own.
That covers it, right?
By this point, Simon must have a death wish. He brings a team of Saviors to the landfill per Negan’s orders, but is clearly itching for an excuse to defy Negan and kill all the Heapsters. When Jadis claims that she didn’t have a deal with Rick, but rather brought him to the Sanctuary to deliver him to the Saviors, Simon doesn’t buy that story for a second.
Simon tells the Heapsters that they’re in luck, that the Saviors are willing to forgive their transgression so long as they agree to abide by their alliance and behave themselves in the future. However, he’ll have to take all their guns. Jadis grudgingly agrees to this deal.
Simon drops a tantalizing hint about the dump having a helipad and solar panels, but Jadis feigns ignorance about that. Simon lets it slide, but demands an apology for her earlier betrayal. She offers one, but Simon isn’t convinced of her sincerity and kills two of her people, including her right-hand-woman, Tamiel. Enraged, Jadis punches Simon in the face and knocks him to the ground. He steps in some blue paint and gets it on his boot, which the camera lingers on for a long time to let us know that it will be important later.
Delighted that he got the excuse he wanted, Simon orders his people to “Light it up, gents!” and open fire on the Heapsters.
Later, Simon returns to the Sanctuary and lies to Negan that the mission went smoothly without a hitch. How long does he think he can cover that up?
Jumping forward in time a little, Rick and Michonne fight through the Walkers and climb the trash heap, where they find Jadis all alone, obviously distraught. For the first time, she talks to them in complete sentences rather than the gibberish broken English she’d used previously. She mutters something about how her community was a grand experiment to restart civilization on their own terms, but now that’s all lost.
Realizing that she no longer has anything to offer him, Rick announces that he’s had enough of Jadis and is done with her. He picks up an old car door to use as a shield, then he and Michonne fight their way back through the Walkers to the exit, leaving Jadis behind even as she begs to go with them.
Left all alone, a living queen in charge of a kingdom of death, Jadis sets up another trap and lures all the Walkers in the dump (all of whom were her former people) to walk single-file into a huge industrial trash grinder, which mashes them into hamburger. She’s especially upset watching the zombified version of Tamiel fall in and get ground up.
On the way to the Hilltop, Rick asks Michonne to pull their car over. He gets out and reads the letter that Carl wrote to Negan. Then he gets on a walkie-talkie stolen from a Savior and demands to speak to Negan.
When Negan hears that Carl is dead, he seems genuinely saddened by the news and offers what sounds like sincere condolences. Rick declares that Carl was wrong, and there can be no peace between him and Negan. He once again reiterates his promise to kill Negan himself.
Negan blames Rick for getting his people and his son killed, telling him that he failed as both a leader and a father and should just give up. The conversation ends with the flames of war stoked all over again.
This episode is none too subtle in making Rick act like a deranged maniac, constantly bellowing about how he’ll kill Negan and cut loose anyone else he doesn’t like. Meanwhile, Negan looks calm and reasonable in comparison. If the intent of this is to set the stage for their eventual reconciliation, I call bullshit on that. Negan isn’t a nice guy beneath his gruff exterior. He’s a psycho who gets off killing people, and he needs to die. I don’t think I can bear another season of him on the show, especially not if he’s granted redemption. Screw that.
Simon behaves like a real jackass this episode. Obviously, his actions are sowing the seeds for an eventual falling out between him and Negan, which can only end with Simon getting killed. That’s preordained at this point. Why play coy about it?
Every single thing that happens in the Oceanside storyline is nonsensical and idiotic, and it just gets worse every time they show more of it.
The Heapsters were annoying and good riddance to most of them. Why bother keeping Jadis around now? It makes no sense that Simon would let her live when she’s the only evidence that he betrayed Negan. The helicopter we glimpsed in a prior episode is obviously going to come back around soon. Will we learn that Jadis is conveniently a pilot? Of course we will.
I also have to point out that the giant meat grinder scene was basically stolen directly out of ‘Pink Floyd: The Wall’.