SERIES 9; EPISODE 2
We covered a fair bit of ground in episode two but unlike certain episodes in series past, it still felt like there was enough substance and momentum to keep us engaged. It's great to see the ensemble cast all get equal amounts of screen time – and it makes for a much smoother viewing experience. I must admit, I was also hoping that as there was a sizeable time jump between this and the previous series, that they would relocate some of the action and maybe change up some of the personnel but alas it looks as if we are set to continue with more of the same. The challenge for the writers is to make things feel a little different and to explore some new dramatic avenues and I think in that respect, the signs are encouraging.
Episode two is actually set a month after episode one – and that in itself is quite refreshing. Maggie is still trying to decide what to do with Earl (the guy who got drunk and attacked her). It's clear that she's not a vindictive person (Gregory might disagree...well, he would if he was alive) but the desire to set down rules and punish those that step out of line are things that she clearly values. However a one on one chat convinces her that he can still be of use to the community and that he is deserving of a second chance. Michonne was pushing for this the whole episode and will have been relieved that Maggie's stance has softened – and also that she has agreed to give more supplies to the sanctuary. However I have a feeling this accord will be short-lived. It looks as though Jesus and Michonne will be the ones trying to keep the peace, whilst Maggie, Rick and Daryl continue to butt heads.
Maggie isn't the only one who is reluctant to do the ex-saviours any favours (hey, that nearly rhymes!). Daryl can't hide his contempt for his former captors and you can't blame him really. It's a testament to Rick's desire to unite everyone that they are still even a part of any of the communities but you get the feeling that even his patience is being tested. I mean, I know walkie-talkies sometimes malfunction but is anyone really buying that nonsense from Justin? Daryl certainly wasn't. Aaron's mushed up arm is one of the most grisly images that we've seen in The Walking Dead and if the first two episodes have taught us anything, it's that even though Negan has gone – there is still conflict and imminent danger around every corner. Still, Enid did a stellar job patching him up and fingers crossed, he'll pull through.
Of course, the episode was bookended with Rick giving an account of the day to an incarcerated and very hairy Negan. Rick appeared to be lauding it over his old enemy, emphasising the success and unity of the group. Rick wants to prove Negan wrong, because to do so would be honouring Carl. He must be hating the isolation, he loves nothing more than the sound of his own voice...well, maybe Lucille. But even though Rick appeared to be the one in the position of power, Negan still poses a threat and clearly knows how to get under his skin. He thinks that Rick's efforts will fail and that the time of Negan will come again. The early evidence suggests that the factions and in-fighting within the communities, might well prove that prophecy correct.
So, Anne (Jadis) and Gabriel eh? Who saw that coming? We didn't – and you know why? Because it just seems really odd. The two characters haven't really interacted on screen up until this episode and yes, we know that a lot of time has passed since we last saw them but still...it just felt a bit weird. We're just getting used to Carol and Ezekiel being an item, this feels like it's been thrust upon us a bit too soon. More importantly though, we saw the helicopter again. Well, Anne did anyway. Her silence infers that she is aware of who it may be but quite why she decides not to inform anyone is a mystery. There have been hints of this story thread in the last season so it'll be fascinating to see where it goes.
Finally, we bowed out with the exiled Justin apparently meeting his demise at the hands of an unseen attacker. He clearly knew his assailant so that narrows it down a bit (it's not Daryl surely, that's too obvious) but the mysterious disappearances of a number of sanctuary dwellers that is referenced during the episode infers that it might be a new threat that we are not entirely familiar with. Expect more clues to be laid out next week.