SPOILER ALERT

This episode really felt like two parts.  The second half where Rick & Gang raided the Survivors’ base was pretty riveting.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was pretty intense TV for the last 15 minutes.  The first half was mostly a soggy mess and I found myself playing with my phone during most of it.

So what made the first half crappy?

  • The Breakup: To be clear, I think the concept of a post-apocalyptic breakup could be a fascinating story.  Breakups are dramatic in the normal world, but the problem is that TWD has too big of a cast to ever dive into this nuanced story, so why even bother teasing us with it? I guarantee that this story will get nothing but minimal story time from hear on out.
  • Carol and Trevor or Horton or Whatever-his-name-is: Where did this come from?  Was I playing with my phone during an old episode when a romance sparked between Carol and this Alexandrite (whose name I can’t remember and refuse to look up).  It just seemed random and honestly I expected more from Carol stories than random romantic interests.  They’re just building this dude up so they can kill him later.
  • Morgan: Yeesh… I really like Lennie James as an actor and think he does some powerful stuff, but the material he has to work with is so lukewarm.  He’s like a whiner at work, whining to the boss all-day about how they’re doing it wrong.  Bosses fire people like that.  Rick should just tell Morgan to get out.  I know they’re great friends and all that, but Rick is now murdering people who aren’t even threatening him yet, so why keep a whiner like Morgan around?

Thankfully, the second half was a lot tighter.  Not perfect, but it was so exciting and well-shot and edited that I didn’t mind little things like, why is Maggie even present, Heath’s emotional struggle with killing…

It’s just a reminder that TWD is BEST when it is up-tempo and exciting.  The show almost always terrible when the pace slows, but having these guys running around in this old TV station murdering dudes was pretty awesome.  Who really cares about the moral aspect or whether Rick’s gang is now just as bad as everyone else?  I wish they’d just stop talking about that and show them kicking ass.  If I want moral drama, I would re-watch Breaking Bad or The Sopranos or The Americans and see it done at an elite level.  I watch TWD for the excitement and the sense of “what next,” and this episode felt like it delivered because it ended on a high note.

It’ll be very interesting to see what happens next week with the Carol and Maggie hostage drama.  With Negan about to be introduced and those grim Polaroids of smashed heads, I have a feeling someone is going to die.  I just wonder if the show will stick to the comic (my bet) or go off in a random direction.  I mean, if Negan’s first onscreen act is bludgeoning Maggie with a bat, THAT would certainly be a talked about moment!  If he ends up bludgeoning some nobody like Spencer or Horton, I’ll be very disappointed.

-Dean Stell

Grade

B-

Conclusion

An episode where the strong ending overshadows a very "meh" opening half. TWD reminds me of what they call a "50 mph lawn": It looks okay if you drive past at 50 mph, but if you're going slower, you see the weeds and bare patches. Just keep it moving!

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