Work and illness have knocked me on my tuchus, so this will be a brief one. As has repeatedly happened, often resulting in good changes to plot events and character development, the show has veered a little off-course from this particular comic book arc.

Honestly, I was expecting the following exchange to happen this episode, but it didn’t:

As shocking a moment Rick’s statement would have been, it probably wouldn’t have fit where he is, so to speak, emotionally.

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As subtle as an anvil

From the opening scene of last night’s episode—as Sam listens to a 45 of “Tip-Toe Thru’ The Tulips With Me” while drawing a picture of himself tied to a tree as two walkers approach (like Carol threatened she would do in S5’s “Forget”), and while ants are marching into his bedroom through a crack in the window and swarming a plate on which sits a half-eaten cookie—besides the obvious metaphor being obvious I thought Sam may not get tied to a tree, deep in the woods far away from every person he knows, but he’s going to get set upon by a gaggle of walkers and be as alone and as abandoned as he’d be in Carol’s “cookie monster” scenario.

We haven’t quite got there yet, but we do get some of what happens in issue #83, when Rick leads Carl, Jessie and her son out of the house using Walker-camouflage, with the episode ending on Sam’s repeated “Mom?”

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He might as well be Stuart from Mad TV saying, “Look what I can do!” Poor Sam, if only you had a Frodo to give you a purpose in life. But you don’t. I think we all know his time on this show will be short-lived, because in TWD you can’t simply “pretend you’re someone who’s brave,” as his mother says. You have to find something within yourself to keep yourself going.

Just like the obvious metaphor being obvious, I was irked by the Peter Jackson slow-mo that was used to show Sam’s perspective. While Jackson’s use of slow-mo often resulted in fake-outs, young Sam’s are, I think, a way to show his inability to think or react in a swift enough manner befitting the present crisis.

But enough of cookie-loving, Carol-stalking Sam. If he makes it past the cold open of the first episode after the hiatus, I’ll be surprised.

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I bet RED was on Deanna’s Netflix queue

While this episode does a really good job in telling an engaging story, providing genuine concern for at least one core character (seriously, Maggie’s escape from the horde was quite tense), it also had me cheering for Deanna, whose guns-blazing exit is bad-ass. She decides to die purposefully, unlike her husband’s untimely death, using the bullets to kill a few more walkers instead of herself. I do wish we could have heard her scream, as that sums up the show for me: though you may fight with all your might, struggling against the inevitable for as long as you can and believing in the promise of a better future, eventually you’ll be cornered by the unstoppable, insatiable advance, whose ears are deaf to anything you might say. Their moans are as devoid of meaning and negating of attempts to find meaning as Deanna’s scream is replete with the unspeakable anger, frustration, and desire to live.

But I digress.

Deanna’s scene with Michonne is also a stand-out, and it’s a nice parallel to the brief scene between Glenn and Enid, the latter of whom laments of the breach: “This is how it happens, and it always happens.” Glenn seems to set her straight with a line about her fatalism leading to losing people “even after they’re gone.” I guess we’ll see how much of that sticks.

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Despite some of the character moments in this episode, its ending isn’t all that satisfying. We all knew it’d end on a cliff-hanger, but this feels like they ended it ten seconds too soon. That said, given Ron’s place in line behind his brother, I don’t think Carl’s going to need to be worrying about him for much longer. Likewise, though the speech Negan’s henchman gives Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham is well written and well acted, Negan should have delivered it.

Random observations

  • Morgan, when a captive tells you that you better kill him, you should listen to him. I know you’re going to hate to admit it, but Carol is correct in this instance. You think she’s taking too extreme, too absolutist a stance on this, but in your oppositional absolutism, you’re blind to the collateral damage you’re creating.
  • Rick, when you tell the bitten woman that she can’t be left alone with Judith any more, that someone will have to be with her at all times, don’t leave her alone with Judith shortly thereafter.
  • Tara, are you breaking the fourth wall? I mean, your unwillingness to accept that Abraham is dead because you didn’t witness it is a little too on the nose. Is this a dig at viewers who feel cheated by the fake-out with Glenn’s death?
  • Eugene, please find a purpose soon. Picking a lock isn’t going to cut it. And let’s face it, you can’t cut or slice anything, not the way you were holding that machete.