Whatever you thought about that ending (more on that in a minute), one thing is for certain: The Walking Dead knows how to deliver an intense episode without anyone dying or fighting. Hell, I was anxious watching Abraham drive that Winnebago because he wouldn’t keep his damn eyes on the road. One of the things that made this episode so good was the sound. The very beginning had me remembering The Dark Knight and that slow, two or three note build up every time Joker was about to come on screen. And then the whistling. Holy shit the whistling. We didn’t have to see anyone die, and yet right up until the end (more in a minute, I promise) it felt like the whole world was going to crash down on these people at any moment.
Really, just look at Rick. Back at Alexandria, Rick was big man on campus. Except for the fact that everyone wanted to go to Hilltop despite him trying to tell each person to stay back. At one point, Rick looked around like “does anyone here actually listen to me?” It was hilarious.
But I digress. Back at Alexandria, Rick was exuding confidence. So was Carl. This was a quick trip to the Hilltop (well, about as quick a trip one can take when society has fallen to the dead) and every savior they had seen that far died at the mere sight of their group. Seriously, it was like cutting butter with a hot knife. Carol wasn’t even sure she could kill anyone, and those Saviors burned to a crisp with no problem. It was like they locked the door themselves.
But then, Trevor Phillips showed up, and Rick was fucked. What the bitch, indeed, Abraham.
I don’t know how the Saviors knew Rick’s group would be coming that direction at that time, but one thing was sure: They knew where Rick’s group was going. Remember: At the beginning, Rick was all confidence. After that first encounter, cracks began to form. Rick warned Trevor’s group: “So I don’t have to kill any of you. Any more of you,” and “Do you want this to be your last day on Earth?” And what happened? Just like back at Alexandria where no one would listen, Trevor threw Rick off. “Be kind to one another.” Hot damn that was creepy.
There were only a few routes to the Hilltop from Alexandria, and the Saviors knew them all. The second road block was a little bigger than the first, and Sasha and Rick and the gang had an epiphany: There were a lot more Saviors than they thought. HILLTOP, YOU HAVE SOME ‘SPLAININ’ TO DO. Gregory sold the Saviors as a pesky band of thugs that hassled them for their shit. Rick’s plan was going south so fast.
The next roadblock was even bigger than the second, and Rick and his gang didn’t even bother to get out of the van. Just back it up. Then they found the Walkers chained up, with Michonne’s hair and Daryl’s arrows on/in two of the walkers. The message was clear, and Rick was shook even further. His plan was falling apart, and there wasn’t a damn thing he could do. The Saviors shot at their feet, and got them to go through the walker-wall. They were being herded, like cattle to the slaughter.
The last roadblock (I believe, I may have the order mixed) was a giant stack of logs blocking the road, with Trevor on the other side. “I hope you have been kind to one another.” Holy shit. I was at the edge of my seat. Oh, and they dropped that dude from the overpass; and the group recognized him as the guy getting beat up in the first group. Message delivered. They truly were neck deep up shit creek with their mouths wide open.
Then Eugene had the brilliant plan to split up: The Saviors were expecting the Winnebago, not the group. I think Eugene lasted all of five minutes before the Saviors got him.
When Trevor finally introduced us to Negan, the whole gang was assembled: Rick, Carl, Abraham, Sasha, Rosita, Eugene, Maggie, Glenn, Daryl, Michonne, and Aaron. Negan gave one of the best monologue speeches I have heard in recent memory, and went to work ordering at the table. And then, it happened: They showed us Negan bashing someone’s head in from the receiving end’s perspective, and the season ended. BITCH NUTS THAT WAS SOME BULLSHIT.
Seriously, the entire season has built for that one moment (Who would meet Lucille), and they make us wait until October 15 to find out. (I’m guessing on that date, but usually they come back the second or third weekend of October every year, so expect it then). I watched Talking Dead, and Gimple explained that the story was the loss of confidence of Rick (absolutely fucking done perfectly, mind you. Each stop drained more and more from Rick), and the act of Negan smashing someone’s brains in was the conclusion of that story. Gimple explained that the story of who died and what effect that has is the story of next season.
Bull. Shit. This is the age of instant gratification. Don’t make us wait seven goddamn months to see who died, show us who died, and then make us wait seven months to find out how the group deals with it. I understand what Gimple was saying, and I wholeheartedly disagree. As I said. Instant. Gratification. The show is notorious for trying tricks to hide who dies, and may well keep everyone on set when the next season starts filming to throw scoopers off the trail. It’s not a new thing: Rumor has it Civil War filmed three death scenes to keep the real one under wraps until the movie comes out. So if Maggie died, for instance, they’s pay her to hand out and get dressed up in costume to make it appear that she was filming new stuff, when she was really offed in the first episode.
Thing is, we will find out the truth about who is dead long before the show wants us to. Instant. Gratification. The impact of the death will be long gone. This show is about moments and the impact those moments have on the surviving characters, and this move lost the impact. Just show us the garbled face (holy shit what is wrong with us) of Lucille’s latest victim and send us off to summer on our merry way. Don’t blue ball us like that. It’s rude.
1. Trevor Phillips was such a good Savior, I’m almost sad they didn’t save him for the next bad guy of the show. That mustache alone could move mountains. Lets be real here: At least some of Rick’s group is going to fight and win Negan, because that’s how shows work (Unless The Walking Dead is taking that “new show every eight episodes” mantra to heart and is starting over fresh with Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and in that case I’m intrigued). Trevor could have been the leader of a competing community, and would have owned the role. Ah well, that’s just how bad Negan is, if his second in command is that terrifying, Negan is going to be something else.
2. Rick kept telling Maggie that they would make it because they always made it and everything always worked out because they were together and that’s all that mattered. Yeah, about that. When Negan began picking who to hit, it was clear that all of the remaining original cast (from the first few seasons) was present and accounted for. One of them would be a goner, and it wasn’t going to work out and be okay like Rick said. This was one of the few times where shit actually was about to hit the fan.
But who could it be? Negan told the Saviors that if anyone moved, to dig out Carl’s good eye and feed it to Rick. I know the comics had him kill Glenn and no one got up because of shock, but I’m not so sure about here: Glenn practically ripped his restraints off when he saw Maggie not feeling well. Abraham had just told Sasha that he was ready to do something big with her like Glenn and Maggie. The entire reason Rick is still alive is because of his kids. If Sasha, Maggie, or Carl were on the receiving end of Lucille, then Abraham, Glenn, or Rick would have reacted, so I think they are safe. The only people there without some deep connection to another person lined up (besides Rick and Michonne, but that’s just starting, really), are Michonne, Daryl, Eugene, Rosita, and Aaron. Eugene gave Rick the recipe to make bullets. Rosita was basically on her own after Abraham so brutally dumped her. Michonne is shaping up to be the Andrea of the Comics. I was wrong before to think it would be Tara or Heath (where the hell are they), but I think it’s either Glenn (and Kirkman lied to us), Daryl (and they all lied to us on Talking Dead), Rosita, Eugene, or Abraham. In the comics, Abraham got a bolt through the head, and in the show that fate was given to Denise. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Assholes.
3. Morgan and Carol found the MOTHER FUCKING KINGDOM. HOLY. FUCKING. SHIT. I am so excited to meet Ezekiel and Shiva, his pet tiger. HE HAS A PET TIGER. Those dudes that rode up on Morgan and Carol with the hockey pads were Kingdom patrolmen, and will come in to play in a big way. In the coming conflict, we know the Saviors have a lot of numbers. So far, the only real fighters on Rick’s team are lined up on their knees right now. Ezekiel has numbers of his own, and Rick’s group will need his help. Now that Michonne is turning into the Andrea of the comics (and is bunking with Rick), I think Carol will take Michonne’s role in the fight with the Saviors, and get close to Ezekiel. The world just got a lot bigger. Holy hell I’m excited.
4. So when Morgan came back, I thought he would be Rick’s cheese maker. I was wrong. Morgan is going to be Carol’s cheese maker. Carol was ready to die, and Morgan saved her (no matter what she wanted). Morgan even showed Carol he was capable of killing, even though he didn’t want to. Despite what Carol said, it is possible to have people you care about and not want to kill. Morgan is going to bring her back from the edge. Rick will see Carol’s turn around, and follow suit. That jail is going to get a lot of use in the near future.