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Potentially, last night’s episode was a real game-changer. There were strong points and weak points to this episode. Much of the episode felt like we had watched it before (which I know is a complaint I repeatedly level at this show). Rick trying to kill Negan, hard-line Maggie, Simon’s acrobatic eyebrows…

But, in amongst this, we met new characters, and these characters brought an altogether more hopeful message. Undoubtedly, their scenes will divide audiences. Admittedly “Georgie”, “Hilda” and “Midge” do sound more like Enid Blyton characters and there was some clumsy humour in there, which didn’t really feel like it completely worked. But I did feel they breathed some life into the episode because it was a welcome antidote to the “we fight, we die” ethos which has been animating most of our characters for almost two seasons now. Nobody seems to have anything to live for anymore, outside of revenge. Tara and Rosita are two prime examples. Many of our heroes just grow more and more blood-thirsty. At some stage this war will end and as the characters are now, I don’t know what will really be left at the end of it. These new characters go some way in answering that.

Speaking of which…Rick is still all about killing Negan. Not that that is shocking, not that it is not understandable, it is that he is just so bad at it. Back when this series was at its best (this is completely subjective, obviously, but for me that was season 1 through to 4), a character could die halfway through a season, and not on a mid-season finale. “The Walking Dead” used to keep me so –off-balance. Think of Dale…Lori. These deaths didn’t wait for a season finale. Along with “Game of Thrones”, “The Walking Dead” is the only series that has made me incredulously text my friends with “What on earth just happened!?” at least once a season. And, back then, that was not a negative thing. These days, we may lose a peripheral character but never a core character in an episode that is not already loaded with expectation. Carl’s death was a shock in some ways, sure. But the timing wasn’t. The series has lost that thrilling feeling of “anything could happen”. And this change of gear makes the scene where Rick and Negan are trapped in a house and facing off against each other, all too predictable. It wasn’t terrible, it just felt needless. And Negan yelping for Lucille felt comical.

“Let’s get candid, let’s get weird”. Simon really does deliver some of the best lines in this series and he didn’t disappoint. His small smile when he realised Negan had been hit was great too. He didn’t have to work on Dwight for very long but the look on Dwight’s face at the end of the episode suggested it didn’t take him long to realise he had had jumped to the wrong ship. Simon is shrewd but he’s brash and opportunistic. Nothing he has done has been well-planned or thought-out. He lost his temper with Jadis. He never planned to entrap Negan, he just made the best of the situation, on-the-fly. I don’t think he’s particularly careful and when Negan does come back, he may not last very long. I don’t see Negan forgiving so easily and I also don’t see Negan dying any time soon, so I can’t help but feel Simon might.

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