SERIES 8; EPISODE 11
This week we got to hang out with a few characters who we haven't spent too much time with recently. Rick and Michonne and Jadis were nowhere to be seen. Instead we spent our time flitting between the Saviours, Hill Top and Daryl and the Alexandrians. We also got to chill with a poorly Father Gabriel and Dr Carlson as they were road tripping around. To be honest I had forgotten they were on the loose and their escape before the mid-season break had totally slipped my mind. Your car breaking down in the middle of the zombie apocalypse is never a fun experience – and even less so when one of you can barely see anything. But Gabriel and Carlson's luck seemed to change when they stumbled upon a house and discovered some antibiotics. Gabes obviously assumed that there was a bit of divine intervention going on and although this kind of thing usually irks me (I'm a atheist, sue me!) the whole thing was done with a bit of levity and humour and actually provided some much needed relief in what was an otherwise tense episode. Of course, the run of good luck had to come to an end. Walking Dead is a lot of things but it's not really the kind of show that's put too much stock in fate or spirituality. And sure enough, Gabriel's instructions to the good doctor that what was happening was all part of a larger plan ended with the latter getting a bullet in the chest. Gabriel was left broken and taken back to the saviours. It'll be interesting to see if he views all this as a 'test of faith' etc. Luckily for Eugene, Gabriel didn't grass him up but you feel that it's only a matter of time before his cover his blown.
Meanwhile Daryl and the remaining former inhabitants of Alexandria began their risky journey to Hilltop to join forces with Maggie and her crew. Daryl is a great soldier and a pretty proactive force in the series but he's never been a leader as such but he seems to have assumed the mantle with both hands, although I think it's more out of necessity than choice. You get the feeling that if Carl was still around, he'd have been leading them but sadly that's not an option. Unfortunately for Daryl, he had two rather big issues to deal with. After taking advice from Dwight, he decided to lead the group through swampland which is so dangerous that even Negan refused to travel through it. Ambling walkers are one thing but ones that are hidden underwater and growing mushrooms out of their face are a different kind of problem. Kudos to the practical effects people once again, they seem to rejoice in having a chance to create slightly different types of walkers and the swamp zombies were a lot of fun. Last week we got to see a load of em' ground up into mince meat and this week we got to see some underwater action. You can't complain at that (although some people probably will).
These however were of secondary importance to the internal issues within the travelling group, namely between Dwight and Tara. You can't blame Tara for wanting to kill the guy that murdered Denise but in the grand scheme of things, you feel that he is going to be a very useful weapon in the war against Negan. Plus, he's also one of those characters who elicits some degree of sympathy. Sure, he has done some bad shit before but who hasn't but his recent actions – including saving Tara before she was discovered by a pack of saviours, indicate that he may be fully committed to the cause. Even Tara seemed to be swaying by the end of the episode. Dwight ends up back at The Sanctuary just in time to hear Negan explain his plan for the next stage of the war, which is basically to use the walkers as a weapon. But not in the usual 'let's breach their defences and let a load of walkers in and create mayhem' kinda way (as Rick and his lot did earlier this series) – but instead using the blood and guts of the walkers to spread infection. It's a gruesome and terrifying prospect and one that hasn't really been explored by the show. What happens if you get a bit of blood in your eye or mouth? Do you turn? And if so, how quickly? I have a feeling we'll find out pretty soon...