by Transmute Jun
Warning: this review contains multiple spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 8, Episode 4.
It‘s been a long day for Team Rick and the Saviors, and it’s still not over. Yes, it’s amazing to realize that all of these episodes so far this season have all been on the same day, beginning with Team Rick’s attack on the Sanctuary. And based on the previews for next week’s episode, it looks like we’ll be back to the Sanctuary but still on the same day. Anyone who survives this day can consider themselves lucky, because so far it’s been a bloodbath.
The majority of the episode focused on what was left of King Ezekiel’s people. It looks like my prediction last week was right: other than Jerry, Carol and the King, only one other person survived the assault with Negan’s powerful (and portable) guns. And it doesn’t matter that I’ve forgotten the guy’s name, because all he did was help Ezekiel get off of the battlefield, and then he died too. So it was just the three ‘main’ characters (I know, that’s stretching it for Jerry, but he’s so awesome!) who survived the worst of the Saviors’ counteroffensive. Even Shiva was not immune to the bloodbath, although her death was far more heroic than most of the unaware members of the Kingdom’s forces. For those who have read the comics, Shiva’s death was expected and honorable, but it was a more devastating blow to those viewers who had no idea that it was coming, especially after Ezekiel gave his little speech about how he chose to save Shiva. Naturally, Shiva would die choosing to save Ezekiel.
King Ezekiel began the episode with a different version of his motivational speech from last week ‘And yet, I smile.’ Everything he said in that speech came true. They fought and shed blood, yet they took the day. But for Ezekiel, whose people took the brunt of it, that victory feels like a defeat. He initially agreed to serve the Saviors to prevent his people from getting hurt, but agreed to join Team Rick when he saw what the Saviors were capable of doing. Yet now, at least half of his people are dead. You know that somewhere in his mind, he has to be wondering if he made the right choice to ally with Rick. Of course, the alternate choice would have been to flight alongside the Saviors, and his people might have been killed anyway, so in the end, the war was destined to turn out poorly for the Kingdom. Hopefully, they will be able to come out of this and grow into a strong, vibrant community once more.
Of course, the war is not over (even once this seemingly endless day finishes, it’s not going to be over) and you know that Carol will continue to fight. I suspect that Ezekiel will too, if he can get his head back together. Jerry will stay by the King’s side, doing whatever Ezekiel does. That’s just the kind of loyal guy he is.
Jerry is always such a fun character to watch, with his natural joy for life spreading to others around him. I think this episode is the first time I haven’t seen him smiling. And wow, when snarling and covered in blood, Jerry is a beast! When he split that creepy-Jim-Carrey-Savior in two, he earned all of the street cred he ever needs. Those who thought of him as just a comic relief character saw him differently in this episode. He’s exactly the person I would want to be in the apocalypse: he improves the morale of everyone around him, yet when it comes down to brass tacks, he’s got what it takes to survive. No wonder he’s Ezekiel’s bodyguard!
Carol was her usual badass self in this episode. She apparently missed the outside assault completely, because she was sneaking up behind the Saviors and looking for their guns! I gather that ‘off camera’ Rick and Daryl contacted her on the radio and told her about the guns being at that location, and that they were coming. Otherwise, how would she have known to do what she did? And how would she have known at the end that even though she let the guns get away, that they would still not make it to the Sanctuary? Still, it would have been nice just to see her briefly on the radio, maybe just ‘signing off’ with Rick, to fill in the gaps. Even so, it’s always fun to watch Carol do what she does best, which is handle herself like a pro, taking down a bunch of big, burly guys who think they’re the toughest thing around.
The flashback conversation that Carol had with Ezekiel was interesting. He said that he had decided to be who he was. I think that’s true of most people. We’re all born self-centered and scared, only seeing ourselves in the world, but as we grow, most of us choose to move away from that and become the people we want to be. In Carol’s case, when Ezekiel asked her if she had decided, I’m sure most of us immediately thought back to her abusive husband Ed and her daughter Sophia. Carol was a completely different person at the start of the show, and she decided to be strong. But actually, Carol has decided twice. It wasn’t that long ago that Morgan had gotten into her head and convinced her that she couldn’t just kill people, and she was hiding away in her little cabin. After hearing about Glenn and Abraham, she decided again to take a stand and fight. Is she stronger or weaker for having decided twice? From what I can see, she’s even more firm in her convictions now, so I think she’s better for having gone through her personal crisis (much as it frustrated viewers at the time).
The best line of the episode was when Ezekiel sneered at the creepy-Jim-Carrey-Savior and told him that Negan didn’t even know his name, but he responded with ‘I am Negan.’ I had to laugh, but it was so true. Negan has a powerful personality and he really has indoctrinated his people. Clearly, this guy was hoping to bring back Ezekiel alive (as Negan has ordered) and make a name for himself within the organization. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t anticipate meeting up with Jerry’s axe. R.I.P. Jerry’s axe.
Speaking of Negan’s orders… we’ve heard twice now that he wants Ezekiel, Maggie, and Rick alive. I was thinking that he wanted to break them, make them bow to him, but creepy-Jim-Carrey-Savior said that Ezekiel was going to adorn the fence. (Speaking of which, did any other comics-readers shudder when he made the ‘head on a pike’ comment?) But in all of this, they never mention Daryl. I would think that Negan would want Daryl alive too. In Negan’s mind, Daryl was almost broken, and he wanted Daryl on his team. You would think that this viewpoint would continue, but apparently not. I suppose that Daryl has worked his way down in importance, and now Negan just wants to make examples of the leaders.
Rick and Daryl’s car chase (Was that the first car chase ever on this show?) was certainly exciting, and it was a good way to bring a positive note back to the episode, even if only briefly. It’s nice to see that Rick is still using his police training to bring down the bad guys. I was a little worried when he knocked Mr. Beardy out of the truck, and then the guy wasn’t on the road when Daryl came up a moment later. I thought for sure he was going to jump out of the bushes and hit Daryl. Yet Daryl’s comment made it seem as if the guy just rolled down into the grass. Regardless, Rick and Daryl now literally have the big guns, and they can continue their offensive on Negan.
Of course, the show had to end on a somber note with Ezekiel returning to the Kingdom with his now pathetically small retinue. His last spoken words in the woods, “I’m not your king; I’m just some guy.” were significant. Were they only to convince Jerry to leave him and save himself, or were they indicative of Ezekiel’s state of mind? He was a king to inspire his people and pull them together. Does he no longer deserve to be King, because he led them to their deaths? That’s a question to be answered in future episodes, but I think his people will want him to remain in charge. Regardless, his silent, defeated return to The Kingdom needed no words, and none were spoken. We shall see what Ezekiel says when his words return.
For those of you who play the Walking Dead: No Man’s Land mobile game, this week’s season episode was clearly going to be centered around Ezekiel. I was thinking that it might be the King and Jerry fighting off walkers while Carol tried to open the gate behind them, but instead it is an interesting mission getting Ezekiel to safety across the muddy riverbank while his health is down and his movement is severely limited (due to his leg injury). This one is an interesting addition to the season missions roster.
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