* SPOILERS … AND CAROL HYPERVENTILATING … AND PEOPLE GETTING CAPTURED … YES, AGAIN *
Peace, or its relative facsimile given that the next Big Bad off the production line, Negan is circling off in the near-distance with his Saviours hovering devotedly close by, does not seem to agree with the good people of Alexandria.
Or more specifically with Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his once-close crew who spent both “Twice as Far” and “East” fracturing ever so slightly here and there, the once tight bonds between the ‘family” members leveraged open by new romance (Abraham and Sasha, played by Michael Cudlitz and Sonequa Martin-Green), a declining appetite for killing (Carol played by Melissa McBride) and a new determination to prove that they have what it takes to survive out in the apocalypse (Eugene played by Josh McDermitt)
With all that time to think and ponder – raids to wipe out Negan’s outposts notwithstanding; all of which raise the question – who’s the aggressor here, Rick or Negan? A fascinating moral conundrum, one of many The Walking Dead grapples with so well each week – everyone is finding themselves in far different places than they might have if they had remained out on the road.
Just how calm and peaceful things are was underlined brilliantly by writer Mark Negrete and director Alrick Riley, who began “Twice as Far” who began this reasonably low key episode – one chilling death aside; more on that later – with everyday scenes of repetitive routine.
We see Olivia (Ann Mahoney) happily checking an unusually full pantry (let’s hear it for selling our souls for mercenary payoffs!), Eugene and Sasha at the front gate nodding in a collegiate fashion, reborn badass Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) on patrol around Alexandria, Tobin (Jason Douglas) kissing Carol and Rosita (Christian Serratos) leaving Spencer’s (Austin Nichols) bed … in other words normal life.
Or as normal as it gets in the apocalypse.
But as noted, all that domestic bliss, full bellies and absence of violence and walkers allowed everyone to ponder, muse, chill and think, all the sorts of things that otherwise would never have crossed their minds, or at least been entertained, meaning that some big decisions were made.
Denise (Merritt Wever) decided that now was the time to head off and prove her mettle by raiding an apothecary in an abandoned strip mall for all the drugs she was fairly confident were hidden away there.
Being the sensible girl that she is, she brought Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Rosita along for company and security, and as she told them because Daryl reminds her of her brave, now dead twin brother and Rosita, effectively now all alone in the world, needs something to do and someone to be with.
While the drugs were purloined and even some soda found – rather dangerously given it was sitting in a cooler in a car with a walker; yup folks, someone fled the decline of civilisation with a six pack of soda … go figure – Denise, brave, capable Denise who’d found her inner mettle and love in recent times, found herself shot through the right eye with one of Daryl’s arrow, mid-sentence, in one of the more sudden, shocking deaths of the entire series.
One minute she’s lecturing Daryl and Rosita on the fact that it’s possible they don’t have all their collective shit together – there is a certain arrogance lurking around Rick’s group that manifests itself as a ” we know best” mentality, the very same one that has set them off on their ill-advised Negan-baiting path – the next? Words slurring, tumbling towards Daryl, who simultaneously shocked and horrified that she’s died and that it was at the hands of his weapon, now in the hands of Dwight (Austin Amelio).
Daryl is immediately stricken with guilt over his “complicity” in Denise’s death, setting him off in “East” on a reckless quest to take out Dwight, with Rosita, Glenn (Steven Yeun), and Michonne (Danai Gurira), fresh from eating a “shag apple” with Rick in bed (yes an actual piece of fruit thank you) in hot pursuit, hoping to stop him.
They kind of do but in the process of doing so they’re all captured – for the love of god people, stop all this captured stuff; it’s ruining your apocalypse survival street cred.
“East” ends with Daryl being shot although a voiceover as the episode fades to black would suggest it wasn’t as final as it sounded.
Meanwhile Abraham and Eugene went on an excursion to an old metal foundry where the one time timid follower, with grand plans to manufacture bullets, stared down newly-in-love Abraham, and stated he was ready to stand on his own two feet.
Yes and no – yes he’s more capable than he ever was before but no, as his later imprisonment by Dwight proved all too conclusively, not entirely up to speed just yet.
His later injury while being rescued led to a touching moment between Abraham and himself where both realised their relationship had shifted entirely. Abraham for his part admitted to Rick that new life both made him feel more vulnerable and yet more apt to kickass, a sentiment with which Rick, out on the road in “East” with Morgan (Lennie James) on the trail of a runaway Carol, heartily agreed.
Ah yes Carol – turns out she is really having an existential crisis. She doesn’t want to kill anymore – although when forced, such as out on the road fleeing Alexandria in a stake-studded hatchback, she dispatched a crew of Negan’s Saviours with ruthless, calculated efficiency – and realises that if she loves Tobin and her Alexandrian that more killing on a grand scale is necessary.
See what I mean? All that peace, and happiness and time to think? Both good and bad for the human spirit, a double-edged existential sword that both episodes played out with quiet but devastating emotional richness, these smaller stories building to next week’s explosive season 6 finale.
- So next week it’s Negan and Lucille and death and mayhem and hubris come to collect its price … it ain’t gonna be pretty …