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“The Walking Dead” perseveres with the six-year time-jump. Not that I was expecting an “It was all a dream” scenario, I am just still bothered by how the time-jump has been handled thus far. It still feels rather arbitrary and just a way to avoid handling and resolving complex narratives, rather than using the device as an opportunity to really drive the narrative forward. The problem with shaking a series up “etch-a-sketch” style is that the writers need to make interesting but believable changes - changes that make sense for these characters. All we have seen so far is a rehash of familiar drama, the only novel touch being the new hairstyles and a thoroughly bizarre relationship (actually, I am quite happy never seeing how Rosita and Father Gabriel got together.)

More than anything else, the timing of these changes is strange. The season started strongly and then the writer’s had to manage some unavoidable cast changes – but I cannot help but think it could have been plotted and written more effectively. Two time jumps in quick succession feels a little ad-hoc and has undoubtedly had an effect on the rhythm and pace of the show this series. Hopefully we can just settle down now for the remainder of the series.

Anyway…back to the episode. Fortunately, the series is continuing to address numerous characters in a single episode and we don’t have to go weeks and weeks without seeing Daryl, Carol etc. This was a big complaint of audiences (myself included) and although it was quite fun sometimes to spend an episode with just a couple of characters, it never really seemed to move the plot forward.

Maggie’s departure is explained…I can only hope she returns at some point, as the character deserved much better than that. There are rumours that she will return for season 10 so we'll just have to wait and see on that one. Even Michonne was surprised by her exit – though it was obvious their relationship was damaged after Rick “died”. It seems Tara is likely to lead Hilltop now Maggie is gone and Jesus is far from dedicated to the position.

I always enjoy scenes between Daryl and Carol, and we got some of that in this episode. Daryl’s “there seems to be more and more lately” comment around the number of Walkers is ominous, and likely a foreshadowing of the next “villain” of the series. Daryl living out in the woods by himself like some kind of Bear Grylls type is at least one thing that's happened in the last six years that feels logical. He's a loner after all. Although now he has a dog...called 'Dog!'. Glad that his new pet didn't get wasted in this episode too - as animals don't tend to fare well in The Walking Dead. Especially horses and tortoises...

Jesus and Aaron found Rosita and take her back to Hilltop. Eugene is still in danger and this will likely form the drama of the mid-season finale. Well that and…The Whisperers.

Overall, the episode was not bad. It is just far from good right now. As an audience we are adjusting to some shifts in characters and dynamics – and now we have the mid-season finale. Based on where this series is at, I don’t think next week’s episode could illicit more than a shrug from me.

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