Review by Gene
David Lynch’s daughter Jessica gets her first shot at directing a Walking Dead episode, and totally nails it! We got owl breakers, backstabbers, wife beaters and cookie bakers. What’s not to love?!? (spoilers ahead)
I’m getting the sense that whatever ends up being good or bad about the season finale will have been setup largely in this episode. There is SO much happening this episode both within the walls of Alexandria and outside. Let’s just go through them one by one.
Gabriel finally gets some play! He’s been quiet this entire half of the season. The script possibilities are endless with a minister in the mix during the apocalypse. He opens the episode with setting up a garage church when his guilt gets the better of him. He begins ripping pages out of his Bible. Considering his actions at the end of the episode when he essentially betrays everyone in the group, I take this to be the abandoning of, or at least the twisting of his faith to serve his own agenda. Some may say when he abandoned his previous congregants he abandoned his faith. Redemption is a powerful tool in story-telling. Using that device with a minister could make it all the more interesting, and I had hoped they would go that direction with Gabriel. It doesn’t appear that way, although for the life of me I can’t imagine what his angle is at telling Deanna that his group isn’t to be trusted and they are “false apostles”.
Our supply run group heads out to a solar power warehouse. Aiden, Deanna’s son, and Nicholas lead the charge. Or at least they lead in so much as Glenn agrees with what they want to do. Tara, Noah and Eugene join the posse as well. Glenn and Aiden each get a heartfelt/reassuring goodbye so you know one of them is a goner. Aiden’s poor choices lead to his death, while also revealing some details about the workings between he and Nicholas. Nicholas chooses to abandon Aiden while Glenn and Noah try to save him. Then, while running for his life, Nicholas gets he, Noah and Glenn all stuck in a revolving door. Actually, it’s Noah that pulls Glenn into the door which makes what follows all the more sad. Nicholas again acts selfishly and this time it costs Noah his life. Noah’s death is probably the most brutal on the show thus far and Glenn is forced to watch the whole thing. Just like that Nicholas and his selfishness are the target of everyone’s disdain.
Unfortunately Nicholas’ tactics, abandoning others to save himself, aren’t the exception. That’s more the rule with the Alexandrians. We witness it next with Abraham and the construction crew gathering materials to expand the wall. A woman is cutoff from the main group and left for dead when a small horde of walkers descends upon them. The Alexandrians act selfishly, they close themselves off to their neighbors in danger. This is the type of thing which Gabriel’s character could bring in an interesting aspect. Putting others before yourself is an inherently Christian trait. Phil. 2:3-4, 1 Jn. 3:17, 1 Cor. 10:24 among many others lay this out clearly. It would be incredibly interesting to see how that ethic plays itself out in this world while throwing in a religious angle to it. What’s also interesting is that the group that was on the road for so long, which you might expect to be the most callous and detached, holds to this ethic of putting others first much more so than the “civilized” Alexandrians.
All of this happening outside the walls of the community, while within Deanna is questioning her placement of so many of Rick’s group into roles of authority. That is on her mind when Gabriel visits to speak with her about Satan and his elusive ways. After that meeting you can hear the screams of Glenn as what’s left of that group returns without her son, and with claims of abandonment against Nicholas. Deanna is about to make some important choices regarding the future of her people and Rick’s, but she may have already handed the reigns to the town over to Rick and company. Toss into all that the fact that Rick just discovered that Pete is allegedly beating his wife Jessie, and you have all the chemicals present for a major implosion coming soon upon Alexandria. That’s all without even considering how an outside group, like whoever is marking walkers with a “W”, might play into the season finale.
My Rating: A-
Though not without its predictability, this episode was particularly strong in setting up future conflict and delivering on a good bit of the inner turmoil within some characters as highlighted last week. A lot of things were set into motion that will eventually determine if our group can coexist with the Alexandrians, or if they’re just going to run rough-shot over them all. For its attention to story elements and accomplishing the setup of multiple trails of future conflict, this episode gets high marks.
Previously: I predicted that Jessie’s husband will reveal something major about Alexandria to Rick or someone else in the group. This is hedging toward an interpretative headache. Like, he “reveals” to them he’s abusive to Jessie, so I’m right! Haha. I’m going to give this one another episode or two. I predicted that Enid is the one that actually took Rick’s blender gun with the ‘J’ on the handle. That remains. I also predicted Rick’s new position as constable will put him in a position to administer a rule or law against one of his own.
New predictions: Gabriel, Gabriel, Gabriel. What game are you playing? You back-stab the group that kept you alive, and confide in someone whom you expect to do what exactly? I don’t get you, but here’s a shot in the dark. Gabriel is motivated by the truth coming out about him abandoning his previous parishioners and being seen as unworthy to lead a flock at Alexandria. I think that’s his motive behind “outing” Rick’s group as “false apostles” and warning Deanna to have them leave. Sorta lame, but that’s all I can come up with. Also, if the current trend in episode titles continues, the next one should be called “Save”.
I’d love to hear some of your thoughts of this episode or any predictions moving forward.