by Transmute Jun
Warning: this review contains multiple spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 9, Episode 3.
This week’s episode started out sweet and hopeful, with a Grimes Family Fun Day. It was nice seeing Judith playing with Rick and Michonne, and I had to smile at the ‘katana lesson’. I’m wondering if Judith will soon be ready for Carol’s brand of defensive lessons, like she gave to the children back in the prison. On the other hand, I don’t think any of those children are still alive, so perhaps those lessons weren’t as good as they seemed.
Of course, the day wasn’t entirely fun, as Rick placed a tomato on Carl’s grave, symbolizing his son’s dream for the future. As you may recall, Negan was picking tomatoes in that dream. Yet right now, Negan is in a cell, hardly part of the community, and at the end of the episode a tomato is crushed underfoot, showing us that Carl’s dream is a long way from being realized.
And there is even more tomato symbolism in this episode. Maggie and a Glenn clone (seriously, that guy was channeling Steven Yuen) were delivering tomatoes to the Sanctuary, only to be accosted by Jed, who stole one of them right off the back of the wagon. Did this represent that the Saviors still want to steal the resources of the other communities, or just that Jed is a jerk? I’m more inclined to think the latter.
So the mystery of the disappearing Saviors was solved. It wasn’t the Whisperers, it wasn’t Dwight or Alden on some weird kind of vigilante justice, it was bitter Oceansiders. Yeah, I had almost forgotten about them too, seeing as they’re not very memorable. While it was a less satisfying resolution than I had been hoping, it worked… mostly. The big hole was that when Justin saw the Oceansiders in his drunken state, he would have been angrier with them, and more on guard. His reaction didn’t make sense unless he was encountering a Savior, someone he trusted. But I’m willing to gloss that over for the setup this brings to the conflict between Rick and Maggie.
The Oceansiders definitely have a ‘girl power’ vibe going on. They’ve lived without their menfolk for so long, and they seem to trust females (Tara, Maggie) far more than males (Rick, Aaron). It makes sense that they would follow Maggie, and that Gregory’s execution would have made an impression on them. I suspect that this support will get stronger, and there will be a split community, with Alexandria and the Kingdom on one side and Hilltop and the Oceansiders on the other, with the Sanctuary sitting uneasily between the two. It certainly seems like that’s what the show is building up to for the midseason finale.
Maggie walking away from the Oceansiders as they were executing Arat was significant. It was a tough decision, and personally, I’m not sure what I would have done. Once again, the show is drawing parallels to our world. How do we treat the enemy when the war is over? Are ‘war crimes’ forgiven, or punished? We see crime lords and heavy-handed dictators taking over small countries with outside support from other nations, yet we also see people pursuing punishment for 90-year-old former Nazis, and even more so for terrorists. While logically it makes sense to forgive (because there cannot be true peace without forgiveness), it also feels wrong to let people who committed such horrific crimes go free. Where do we draw the line, and what can truly be forgiven? Even Maggie is torn, recognizing that Rick’s way is best for Baby Herschel, but siding with the Oceansiders when she was pressed to make a choice. I’m glad that the show is exploring both sides of this issue, because there isn’t a simple answer for anyone. I think Jerry summed it up best when he asked if it was going to be ‘a Gregory or a Negan’. No one knows the answer.
It is interesting that Rick instructed everyone to ‘pair up with someone you trust’. While it’s no surprise that the Oceansiders went together, Rick chose Carol, and Maggie chose Daryl. The lines are definitely being drawn between the original season 1/2 characters.
But the internal struggles in this episode were more than just the tensions with the local communities. Jadis is in contact with the helicopter people (who may, or may not be, the Commonwealth from the comics universe) and she’s had dealings with them in the past. She’s been trading people for supplies. Gabriel is instantly horrified by this, but should he be? We don’t know what the helicopter people are doing with those traded people. They are graded ‘A’ and ‘B’. We don’t know what that means, although Jadis said that she had thought that Gabriel was a B, implying that he is actually an A. And on Talking Dead, the actress who plays Jadis, when asked, stated that Chris Hardwick was an A. Those are the only clues we have. I’m completely guessing here, but I’m wondering if A people get traded away, while B people are worthy of sticking around and becoming part of Jadis’ group. Then the radio call would then make sense, as the helicopter people replied that it would take an A for Jadis to receive ‘compensation’. Of course, it could be something entirely different, but with the current clues, that’s how I’m leaning. I’m hoping that the ‘A’ people aren’t eaten or put into slavery, but are actually incorporated into this other society. If the helicopter people are indeed the Commonwealth from the comics, then they are actively looking for people to help their community grow, yet aren’t above chicanery to bring them in. There is apparently a rumor that Jadis will trade Rick to the helicopter people, which is how he will exit the show. I haven’t heard anything about this myself, but I’d love to see that happen, if only because it would allow for Andrew Lincoln to potentially return at a future time.
The rushed ‘romance’ between Anne and Gabriel last week makes sense, because now there’s a whole sense of ‘betrayal’ on both of their parts. Still, it feels weak to me. If Gabriel had feelings for Anne, he could have heard her out more, instead of jumping to the worst conclusions with minimal information. And Anne could have tried harder to understand Gabriel’s point of view. Instead, she ignored every kind thing he has done for her (including standing up for her when she was accused of killing Justin) and knocked him out, emotionally abandoning him. There is definitely a personality difference between Anne and Jadis that is more than just the hair and the speech.
There were some interesting moments this week. I loved the hands going through the boards of the cabin door, harkening back to the hospital cafeteria doors from episode 1. There was the suggestion that Rick and Michonne might be trying to have their own child, which may have implications after Rick leaves the show (Andrew Lincoln only has 2 more episodes, so it’s coming soon). Rick fell back on his old career, investigating Justin’s murder like a cop, enough that even Daryl (who had a poor relationship with legal authorities before the zombie apocalypse) noted and resented it. Rick should have known better; Daryl is not one to sneak around. If he hates someone, if he thinks they should be killed, he just says so/does it in front of everyoone.
There was even a funny moment, when Rick told Gabriel to ‘keep an eye’ on Anne. Because of course, one eye is all Gabriel can keep on Anne. I guess that since Carl died, Rick has had a backlog of one-eyed jokes piling up. I also had to laugh when Cyndie and Maggie were fighting the walkers at the cabin. Maggie was single-handedly taking on the big group, while Cyndie was unable to take out even one on her own. It was reminiscent of last season, when a similar scene played out with Maggie and Gregory, illustrating Gregory’s weakness and inability to deal with the world. I guess the same could be said about Cyndie, who was hiding from everyone for so long.
For those who play the AMC Walking Dead mobile games, this episode’s No Man’s Land seasonal mission shows Maggie is dealing with fixing the banging roof panels on the abandoned house. Our World is also highlighting Maggie this week, with special infestations, each giving Maggie cards. Additionally, Maggie has a new upgrade ability and does extra damage all week.
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