Sigh. After the promise of the series opener, this week’s instalment was very anti-climactic. Ultimately it is becoming quite tiresome to regularly level complaints about different elements of this once-great series. I don’t like to feel like I am jumping on what is already an over-crowded band wagon but the series really needs to find its mojo again, and quickly. The odd decent episode like last week’s episode cannot pull the series out of the slump it fell into in Season 7.
Episode 2 felt like we were back to treading water – only this time, we had guns. Unfortunately, the almost constant action in this episode couldn’t save it from being rather dull overall. That is not to say I didn’t enjoy some of the action sequences in their own right but the main problem lies with the fact we do not really know what is going on. We have not been given any insight into Rick’s overarching plan. When we visit our heroes taking down another outpost it feels like Groundhog day - there is little to tell us how much this is driving the bigger plan forward. The close-up shots of different characters worried expressions were more melodramatic than dramatic. It was almost as though the writers and director wanted you to sense that something really serious is unfolding, without actually building any tension in the scenes that followed. I found myself feeling that this episode could have been condensed into ten or fifteen minutes of a much more interesting episode.
The writers insist on covering old ground such as the question of morality for characters like Morgan and Tara, even though this has been played out before. The dialogue between Tara and (the ever-compassionate) Jesus about whether the spare the life of a Saviour felt a little over-egged. There is no “right” ethos – the Saviour was a worm but Jesus still did not feel it was right to end his life then and there and there was something admirable, if naïve, about that. I do hope that Jesus doesn’t change – because every other character who has truly valued human life has undergone a breakdown of some description. At this stage this kind of character exploration is nothing new – and this has been tackled far more effectively in previous seasons (with Carol and Morgan in particular).
Thankfully, the episode did end on somewhat of a cliff-hanger, and it was enough to spark some intrigue. Personally, I don’t remember Morales. If I had, perhaps that final scene would have been far more emotive. That being said, I don’t know how Rick is going to detangle himself from that situation and what the fall-out could be.
And finally - what happened to Negan and Father Gabriel? I can’t wait to see Dwight and Eugene again, and to see how they are coping with the aftermath of everything that happened in the first episode. I think I am beyond hope that Eugene will come through for Rick – but if he realises that Dwight is a turncoat, I don’t know how he will handle that either.
Overall, a disappointing episode, but at the very end it gave me just enough to keep me coming back for more…for now.