SEASON 8; EPISODE 14
I thought this week’s episode was rather anti-climactic. After the teaser for this episode I had wanted to see more of Negan and Jadis. Their scenes were not poor but the most interesting thing that emerged (again) was the helicopter. “What the sh!t?” indeed Negan!
We did at least get a reference to Negan's wife (also named Lucille) and although we didn't see the photos that Jadis valued so highly, we can only assume that they were of loved ones that have been lost (although why on earth did she leave a bag with a gun, a flare gun and a load of personal photos next to Negan? Come on Jadis, you're better than that!) It's a common theme and when we look at all the major players in this episode (and of the series) - Negan, Jadis, Rick, Carol, Morgan - they are all defined by how they have dealt with their grief.
I know Rick is somewhat of an anti-hero, I know he has lost his grip on his sanity and morals in the past, but when Rick’s scenes in this episode were juxtaposed with Negan’s, Rick came off as the less moralistic and generally sh!ttier character of the two. Rick takes out some of the prisoners, within a minute of them having saved his own life. And all the while Negan is negotiating with Jadis, even after she sets him free he goes on his “merry” way, true to his word.
I understand some of the audience may not have been as disturbed by Rick’s decision to off some characters (the “Prisoners”) we didn’t really know or care for, but it left me feeling conflicted about who this character has become. And this is a bit of a conundrum when the writers really need the audience to invest in this “all-out war” storyline that has been unfolding for the entirety of this season. I appreciate that each character should be complex and contradictory and that to question who we support any why, in any narrative like “The Walking Dead” is not necessarily a bad thing. I just don’t think this is the time shine a light on Rick’s shortcomings. It appears most of the audience has already grown weary of this “battle”; take away the one foothold we have – that Negan is essentially a bit of a monster, that Rick, at the heart of things, is still our hero – and what do we have left? Just a protracted battle scene with an ever- weakening desire that Rick usurps Negan’s leadership.
I believe the writers are likely trying to use Carl’s death as the catalyst in Rick’s story arc; he is either going to be moved into committing further brutality and even further away from his “hero” status than ever before, or he’s going to have an epiphany and broker peace. Rick asked Morgan “Why did you save me?” and Morgan responded with “Because my son was there”. Morgan and Rick are fumbling around in the dark, without anything to stay true to. As I’ve repeated, I am rather bored of Morgan’s journey now, but perhaps Rick can catch himself before he really loses it (forgetting the fact he has certainly “lost it” in the past). In the closing scene I thought we may get a Carl voice over but alas, I was disappointed.
I would comment on some other scenes but, in all honesty, very few were particularly remarkable. Carol finding the kid? Meh. Ezekiel giving pep talks? Meh. Also, I am so, so over Daryl’s desire to off Dwight. It seems very few of the core characters can see the “bigger picture” in this series.
Most interestingly, Negan welcomes an unknown figure into his vehicle. I hope this is addressed early in the next episode and that the series can try to gather more momentum before the finale.