Tense moments and memorable effects. Maggie and Daryl each had unforgettable and powerful scenes that won't soon be forgotten.
Uncharacteristic conflict between characters and unresolved arcs left this episode feeling unfinished. Puzzling behaviors and everything left open at the end didn't give this episode any level of satisfactory conclusion.
Character conflicts, unresolved plot lines and confusing behaviors this week on The Walking Dead left us scratching our heads and hoping next week will tie up things that felt unfinished.
The Walking Dead — In an episode that touched on almost every plot line set up in recent weeks, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) leads a group to Atlanta with a risky plan to assault Grady Memorial in order to rescue Beth (Emily Kinney) and Carol (Melissa McBride). When Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) both voice that capturing two of Grady’s officers for an exchange could lead to no bloodshed, Rick relents and agrees to the simpler plan. When the capture nearly gets out of hand in a vicious struggle, the group finds themselves with three prisoners instead of two, but an unexpected twist may leave them highly vulnerable. Meanwhile, Beth works to save the critically wounded Carol inside of Grady’s when Dawn (Christine Woods) decides that no further resources can be wasted on Carol’s recovery.
With Eugene (Josh McDermitt) still unconscious, Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) must find common ground to give their group, and perhaps most especially Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), purpose after the revelation that Eugene cannot save the world. Seeking an unknown purpose of his own, Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) becomes more and more unstable at the church where Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Carl (Chandler Riggs) await everyone’s hopeful safe return. With so many moving parts, this episode left us with far more questions than answers, but that’s as good a reason as any to sift through the hot mess and find out what did and didn’t work this week!
If there was a common theme of this episode, it was that every group had a divide and none were crossed before the hour closed.
When Rick outlines his plan to assault Grady and mercilessly kill anyone opposing them to get Beth and Carol back, the looks on everyone’s faces shows they hope this plan will work, but confidence isn’t high. When Tyreese voices objection to the murder of Grady’s guards and instead proposes to lure two guards into a trap for trade, Rick seems adamant that his plan of direct assault is the only sure way to get their people back. It’s Daryl that changes the course of things by agreeing with Tyreese.
As this episode unfolded and every storyline from the past few weeks was touched upon, we got the sense for the first time in a while that this show wasn’t sure of identity. Upon reflection, the conflict between Rick, Daryl and Tyreese was indicative of conflicts in almost every group this episode visited. If there was a common theme to the episode, it was that none of the groups were in complete harmony or agreement. Each had their struggles and odd moments.
We have a suspicion that the conflicts, unresolved tensions and difficulties will all reach some level of resolution in the mid-season finale, but with so many things unresolved in this episode we were left feeling that we’d watched the first half of a two-hour finale and now need to wait a week for the second half where everything started in the first hour works it’s way to resolution in the second.
When the plan to capture two guards nearly goes awry at the surprise showing of a third, things get hectic and crazy in a heartbeat. Rick clearly has little patience for those that put his group in jeopardy. The events at the prison and the slaughter of the Terminus group have seemingly left him a place where compromise is a secondary option. When Rick looks as if he might shoot the third guard once things are under control, it’s Daryl that once again voices reason.
“Rick, three is better than two.” ~ Daryl
Despite a glaring look, Rick relents again and lets the guard live, but the individualistic nature of everyone in the group makes things feel much more like a loose collection of people with their own agendas and not one that’s a tight, close family. Every group in this episode had a divide and despite the episode title, none of those divides were crossed by the end of the hour. Abraham still sat stoically in the road despite a tense confrontation with Maggie and Rosita (Christian Serratos). Even Gabriel seemed to be at odds with Michonne and Carl as he hid away in his office from the reality of a world he seems less and less able to comprehend.
New connections may lead to a brighter future, but some could definitely have dire consequences in the end.
Despite the unresolved conflicts there were new connections that we didn’t expect that gives us hope for the future of this group. When Tara (Alanna Masterson), Glenn and Rosita break away to find more water and whatever supplies they can scrounge, the three of them share a rare quiet moment on this show were things seem almost normal again.
As Rosita shows them a way to filter water that Eugene taught her, Glenn’s thoughts seem to have already shifted to the survival of this group and moving on from the loss of D.C. When he and Rosita successfully catch fish from the stream, he assures her they’ll need the kinds of skills she’s displayed to make it and asks her if she’s in wherever they all end up. A smiling Rosita agrees. She’s in.
Clearly Eugene’s intelligence provided him with more value than he ever thought and some of the group may ultimately forgive him based on the things that he can teach them. The central question might be if Abraham can do the same. The bonding between Tara, Rosita and Glenn was a good and solid moment in what was an odd episode at times. That bonding might be part of the glue that bridges the gap between this small group and Abraham in order for them to all move forward, but only time will tell if that’s the case.
This episode certainly had its good moments, but it had its head-scratching connections as well. Case in point, when Dawn is faced with the decision to stop supporting Carol with resources, Beth speaks up in objection to the officers’ wasteful behavior. Dawn immediately sides with her officers and shuts down Carol’s support and when the two are alone Dawn blames Beth for the decision.
“You just killed that woman. Who do you think I have to side with? You don’t know how fragile this thing is. There’s nothing I can do. So you’ll just have to do it. You’re gonna save that woman’s life. This is to the drug locker. I don’t even trust Edwards with this. So take it.” ~ Dawn.
When Beth asks Dr. Edwards (Erik Jensen) what medicines will help Carol, he immediately suspects she has the key to the drug locker and warns Beth that if Dawn gave it to her, it wasn’t out of the goodness of her heart. We couldn’t help but think of Shane (Jon Bernthal) in this moment and his careful manipulation of others. Dawn reminds us of a more cautious and reserved version of him and though we don’t trust Dr. Edwards either, we tend to think he may be right about Dawn. If feels like she’s playing a game. One Beth may lose.
Despite the warning, Beth elicits the help of another ward to create a distraction and get Carol the medicine she’ll need for a chance to survive. We have to admit that the ward’s sudden heart attack behavior and its incredibly effective distraction of the guards felt off and wasn’t this show’s finest moment, especially when he recovered immediately. But in the end, Beth did secure the medicine Carol needed. The question will be, what price she’ll pay later for that act.
Don’t turn your back on anyone you don’t know on this show. You just never know what they may do.
We just don’t know what to make of Father Gabriel. He’s been an enigma from the first moment we met him. Clearly he’s struggling with decisions he’s made, but up to now we’ve only been given small clues to what those decisions have been. Yes, we know he locked the church and condemned his followers to a gruesome death and we are sure that would rattle anyone, but every episode he’s in seems to show him less and less stable.
When Carl encourages him to take up arms and learn to defend himself in this new world, the good Father simply can’t handle the thought it seems. Closing himself in his office gives him the chance to pry away the floorboards and escape. We suppose after the slaughter of Gareth (Andrew J. West) we’d have questions about Rick’s group as well, but we’re still not sure exactly where Gabriel’s head resides. We don’t think he knows either. When he barely survives an encounter with a walker, Carl’s words seem prophetic.
“You’re lucky your church has lasted this long. You can’t stay in one place anymore. Not for too long. And once you’re out there, you’re gonna find trouble you can’t hide from. You need to know how to fight.” ~ Carl
There’s a certain and uneasy truth to what Carl describes. Every place this group has tried to settle or secure has led to disaster. Oddly the same may ultimately be true of Grady Memorial. After Rick plans his negotiation with Dawn with the help of Sergeant Bob Lamson’s (Maximiliano Hernández) help, this new Bob is left alone with Sasha who is still grieving her own Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) . Despite his help and advice to Rick, we didn’t trust Bob one bit and we felt somewhat vindicated when he did finally betray Sasha’s vulnerability and trust.
Bob’s predictable betrayal wasn’t at all tipped by the good performance of Hernández. If anything, Bob was too convincing and too helpful. Yes, he made a valid point that he didn’t want to die and only wanted to solve things in a peaceful manner, but as soon as Sasha was sucked into helping him we simply knew Bob was no good. Sure enough, when he takes advantage of her good will and escapes we were left shaking our head. Sasha should know better than to turn her back on someone she doesn’t know. Especially one you’ve got handcuffed and held captive.
FINAL VERDICT: Memorable and forgettable moments marked an episode that won’t be labeled as exceptionally good or bad. With no resolution of any arc, we’re left to wait for the mid-season finale to see where any of this goes.
Overall this episode felt very much like the unfinished first half of a whole. Judged alone it was inconsistent and predictable in places and character conflicts gave us pause to wonder instead of fleshing out the real motivations behind everyone’s actions. It did have a few good moments too, but in the end we’re hoping that we get to judge this one based on how it set up all the things that may get resolved in mid-season finale. As an individual episode, it most likely won’t ever stand out from the pack as a memorable one. It simply felt like a bridge we have to cross to get to the things to come.
Though disjointed and full of curious decisions, this episode did have a few highlights as well. Maggie’s confrontation with Abraham and threat to put him down if he didn’t sit back down was a jaw-dropper. And while the episode may fade in our minds, the effects department once again gets amazing props for something we hadn’t seen. The gruesome melted walkers and perhaps most especially Daryl’s ingenuity in grabbing a walker’s head by the eye sockets, bowling-ball style, to use as a weapon against one of the Grady officers were visuals that will stick with us. Even if we don’t remember the episode years from now, Daryl’s moment won’t soon be forgotten.
Writer Seth Hoffman was faced with an unenviable challenge in this episode to set up a lot and not give away or resolve much. It may be unfair to judge this episode on its own, but since it was aired by itself, that’s exactly what are left to do. None of the open-ended arcs were resolved in a way that gave us any satisfaction, which left this episode by itself feeling very much unfinished. We have no doubt some of those things will be wrapped up next week, but that made this episode feel very much like a waiting game save a few moments worthy of remembering.
Maggie’s confrontation of Abraham and Daryl’s scuffle and subsequent skulling of a Grady officer were moments this show thrives upon. They were unique and memorable elements we enjoyed. Father Gabriel’s odd behavior with little explanation was puzzling at the very least and New Bob’s betrayal was very much predictable. Had Bob’s betrayal come at a different place, we might have been surprised. But the framing of him behind Sasha just screamed of a moment we’ve seen a thousand times and sure enough that’s exactly what we got when he rammed her into the window pane from behind.
Director Billy Gierhart did a respectable job with an episode that didn’t have much substance and may ultimately be remembered as just a filler before for the mid-season finale. We are fully invested in this series and have a suspicion that the final episode of 2014 will make up for a lot of this week’s unresolved elements. We’ve just come to expect much more from The Walking Dead week to week and even episodes that set up later ones have had a satisfying resolution on some front while making it clear more is coming later. When the only real memorable moment of an episode is a gag (albeit a good one with the walker skulling) that has nothing to do with moving the story forward, we’re left feeling a bit disappointed. This show is better than that and through four plus seasons we’ve come to expect excellence.
In the grand scheme of things, we still want to see how everything set up this week plays out. We kept waiting for something real to happen in this episode, but ultimately it never did because none of the story lines in this episode ever really went anywhere. If we know anything about The Walking Dead, just when we things feel stale, the entire world shifts with something unbelievably profound or heart-wrenching. We have a sneaky suspicion both may be coming next week. We’re counting down the minutes until Sunday and have our fingers crossed we get to see it.
Questions, Comments, Concerns and My reaction on Twitter…
- Something bothering you there Father G? You can’t erase the blood on your hands by cleaning that stain.
- “I’m sorry. Don’t. Please don’t.” I’m still not over it either Sasha.
- Band of Brothers. Nice nod.
- “Sit down or I’ll put you down.” Maggie just doesn’t take any sh*t anymore.
- Hmm. Dissension in the ranks Rick. Daryl & Tyreese make a lot of sense.
- “You’re going to find trouble you can’t hide from.” Carl has the most level head of all of them sometimes.
- “Get over yourself. You’re not the only one that lost something today. It’s never going to get better than this.” ~ Maggie. Amen sista
- I didn’t really picture Abraham for one susceptible to a mental breakdown.
- I do believe if the angelic Lauren Cohan stood over me .. I’d experience a miracle and wake up.
- I’m not sure I trust ANYTHING Dr. Edwards says Beth.
- And the SH*T just hit the fan.
- Melted walkers. That’s about as gruesome as the bloated ones.
- “Rick. 3 is better than 2.” ~ Daryl. And Rick had to pause to think if he meant cops or bullets to the head.
- Is there anything that Daryl can’t make a weapon from? Cop got skulled.
- I have a deep feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach. Something very bad is about to happen here.
- Where the hell are you going Gabriel??
- Dammit New Bob. Once Hydra, always Hydra.
The Walking Dead Review: Episode 5×07 “Crossed”