by Transmute Jun
Warning: this review contains multiple spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 8, Episode 11.
It seems like we’re finishing out the day after Negan’s nighttime attack, which was only a day or two after Team Rick attacked the Sanctuary… has the entire season so far really only been over a few days? It feels like much longer. This was a slower episode, wrapping up the leftover storylines from the earlier episodes.
Father Gabriel and Dr. Carson 2.0 are on the run from the Saviors, but apparently can’t read a map (let this be a warning to all GPS-dependent millenials) and are lost. This isn’t helped by the fact that Gabriel’s eyesight is deteriorating rapidly, thanks to whatever infectious disease he has picked up. It’s strange that no one else has caught this disease, but I’m guessing that no one else needs to be ill for plot reasons. An amputee walker dragging the remnants of a bear trap and chain is approaching the car, and with two such low-level survivors, this pathetic undead is actually a threat. Except that the amputee walker disappears. It is shown approaching the car, and then we cut to Gabriel sitting on the car being checked out by Dr. Carson, with amputee walker nowhere in sight. And the sound Gabriel hears is not the walker, it’s the warning sign posted in front of the house hidden in the trees.
It seemed a little too good to be true for Gabriel this episode. It was almost as if he had drunk a Felix Felicis potion (the ‘lucky’ potion from the Harry Potter universe) and everything was just going his way. He finds a secluded house where they can rest, antibiotics for his infection, and a car and a map. Gabriel even makes that shot to kill the walker attacking Dr. Carson. But unlike in the Harry Potter universe, in the Walking Dead universe when things go right, it only means that they’re about to go very wrong. And in Gabriel’s case, it didn’t go wrong for him; it went wrong for Dr. Carson, who was finally starting to buy into Gabriel’s ‘God has a plan’ talk. At least Dr. Carson was happy when he went, which is more than we can say for most people in the Walking Dead universe. I am sorry to see Dr. Carson 2.0 go, but honestly, as a character he didn’t have a lot of depth. This was really the first time he was spotlighted in any episode. As such, it’s not surprising that he went down, although it does leave the Sanctuary without a doctor. Fortunately for the Hilltop, they now have Siddiq.
The Hilltop has problems of its own. Although they are the farmers for the Sanctuary, they have run out of food. Presumably the Saviors took it all, and because it’s only been a couple of days, they haven’t had time to grow more. And since everyone is regrouping at Hilltop, Maggie has more mouths to feed, especially as the Alexandrians just showed up, and she agreed to give the captured Saviors food. Of course, at the rate this war is going, the season will be done before the Hilltop runs out, even though they can barely make it to the end of the week.
Even some of the Kingdom people are at Hilltop, while presumably the rest of them are still hiding out in Carol’s cabin. Henry is evolving in a creepy Children of the Corn kind of way. He was talking to his brother’s murderer, but even Jared had enough sense not to answer back when Henry demanded to know who killed Benjamin. Even Morgan, who is swinging back to Crazytown about now, recognized that Henry needed to be reigned in, and lied to the boy about who killed Benjamin. I want to see where this goes with Henry. This kind of psychological trauma is something the show rarely gets to explore. They haven’t done it since Lizzie looked at the flowers.
I had to laugh when Gregory called Maggie, ‘Margaret’. He is holding on to his habit of calling her by the wrong name, but it’s also the ‘right’ name. And he used ‘Margaret’ twice. But Maggie didn’t lash out at him, so I guess she’s accepting of it.
The character of Alden is interesting. He’s the good-looking Savior who seems to be nice and reasonable and is conversing with Maggie, asking for exercise time and such. I thought he was just trying to scam her, but when I checked out his past episodes, he does seem to be a reasonable guy. He was the one who convinced all of the Saviors at the outpost to surrender rather than die fighting for Negan, because he wanted to live. He was the one talking to Jesus outside of the Hilltop. He even got Jared to back off when he was being mouthy inside of the prisoner pen. Alden seems to be something of the ‘moral compass’ for this group of Saviors, and even hot-headed Jared took Alden’s advice. Of course, we know what happens to ‘moral compass’ characters on The Walking Dead, but it’s possible that this guy is on the level and that we might see more of him. I have a feeling that Maggie’s reasonable treatment of the Savior prisoners is going to come back in the future. In a good way or a bad way, I’m not certain.
Eugene is also clearly having second thoughts about his subservience to Negan. He cares about the fate of the Alexandrians, which suggests that he understands why they tried to blow him up. He’s clearly troubled by Gabriel’s return, more than worry for Gabriel’s fingering him could cause, especially as he now knows that this didn’t happen. At the same time, Eugene was rude to Tanya and doesn’t get that she’s trying to be nice to him, perhaps because he’s wrapped up in his own problems. I do find it interesting that Negan is sending two of his wives to look after Eugene. Is that because he’s certain that Eugene won’t attempt to lay a hand on them, or because he’s trying to keep Eugene happy? Right now, Eugene is the most important Savior, given that he can make bullets, although by setting up this factory, he is teaching others the skill, so that aspect of his value to Negan may disappear. And if he continues his wine-drinking ways, he may just destroy his own brain before Lucille does.
Dwight is definitely another character to watch. He proved himself to the Alexandrians (most importantly, to Tara) this week, by not betraying them and leading the Saviors away from where the Alexandrians were passing, only seconds after Tara had tried to kill him. He’s committed to bringing down Negan, but more importantly, he’s committed to becoming the better man that Sherry wanted him to be. And he’s risking his own neck going back to the Sanctuary when he knows that Laura could return and expose him at any moment, not to mention Eugene. Dwight is beginning to discover who he really is, and I’m pretty sure that he’s going to be an important character in upcoming episodes, not the least of which is because he was front and center when Negan was announcing his plan to coat weapons in walker guts and infect everyone they touch.
I have a problem with Negan’s plan. It falls in line with the comics, and brings us back to the main storyline in that universe. That’s a good thing. But there’s an inconsistency. In the television show, back in Episode 603, Rick grabbed a knife (from the wrong end) that was sticking out the front side of a walker. He cut his hand on the blade, which had been inside of the walker (and was therefore covered in walker germs/blood/stuff). He then spent a number of subsequent episodes with his hand bandaged. Comics readers who had read about Negan’s ploy with the walker guts in that universe wondered if this was a sign that Rick had been infected with the virus. Chris Hardwick even mentioned it on Talking Dead that same night that Episode 603 first aired. I suspect that the showrunners are going to ignore this issue. I really hope that they don’t use it as an opening to developing an immunity or some such, as that would just ruin the show. While plot consistency is highly desirable, in this case, ignoring that past incident might be the better option.
For those who play the Walking Dead: No Man’s Land mobile game, this episode’s season mission is Daryl, Rosita and Tara killing walkers in and around the swamp.
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