Monday, March 27, 2017
Something THE WALKING DEAD Needs Is Better Writers
After the cold opening, Filler came out slugging; Maggie is explaining gardening to the Hilltoppers, who, by all indications, were gardening just fine before she came along. Sasha, after her ill-advised one-girl attack on the Savior compound, has been captured and stuffed in that dreaded closet, the one we've already seen over and over again this season. About half of tonight's ep was set there as well. Negan decides he likes Sasha, as happened earlier in the season with Daryl, Carl and Eugene, and tries to seduce her into coming over to his side, repeating material we've already seen at length with Daryl, Carl and Eugene. Then Sasha tries to manipulate Eugene into bringing her a weapon, on the pretense that she wants to kill herself when she's actually planning to kill Negan. He spoils her fun by bringing her a fairly worthless poison capsule.
Idiot Plot Syndrome fights back hard. Tara previously revealed to Rick the existence of the well-armed Oceanside community, which had been horribly mistreated by the Saviors. The bulk of the rest of the ep is devoted to what Rick does with that information. Rick is going to war and needs warm bodies for the fight. His plan for getting Oceanside to join him in this endeavor is the sort of masterstroke of diplomacy one expects from a great leader like Rick: he sends Tara to take its boss-lady Natania hostage at gunpoint and to announce that the Alexandrians will be arriving shortly to take all their guns! But you ladies can join us if you like. And it gets even better. When the Alexandrians appear, they actually attack the Oceansiders, using up many of the very few explosives they have to terrorize these already-terrorized women into submission. The explosives bring a horde of zombies from a beached ship nearby and Rick and co. have to fight them off. Their decision to do so via weapons set to fully-automatic fire scores some additional body-blows against Filler; while it looks all kewl and stuff on camera, it makes even more noise and wastes large amounts of precious ammunition. The zombie attack was just thrown in to spice up the ep with some more action but it does underscore how dangerous this world can be. If our heroes' attack on Oceanside wasn't Savior-like enough, Rick and co. do, indeed, cart off all of the communities' weapons, leaving it defenseless in the face of that world. There's no negotiation, no real pitch for the cause. A great way to make lots of new enemies. Fortunately, the same writers are penning the Oceansiders. Some of the women want to join the fight. Natania refuses rather adamantly. Cyndie, the sympathetic girl who helped Tara escape earlier in the season, says "Some of us do [want to fight] but not all of us, and it has to be all of us." If that makes any sense to you, well... you know how this sentence ends. None of them join up.
Filler fights back with a minor subplot involving Gregory at Hilltop. The last time we saw Gregory, it was pretty clear he was going to go to Savior Simon and try to get the Maggie stone from his shoe. In this ep, he still hasn't done it, so we get to waste some more time on it. After Maggie saves his life from a zombie--some Idiot Plot Syndrome counter-punching here--he finally decides to set off to see Simon. At this pace, he should get there by about the fourth ep of the next season.
At the end of the fight, it's Irish rules--the ref gets to call it. Both the lads put up a furious battle. Neither deserves a hand. While I call the fight a draw, there is a clear loser:
 Negan wouldn't be able to maintain any loyalty with this behavior. Daryl, Carl and Sasha liquidated multiple Saviors and his response was to try to recruit them. How well are the other Saviors going to accept new recruits who killed their buddies. Why would anyone be faithful to a leader who, upon seeing his loyal followers killed, seeks to reward their killers?
 The waterlogged zombies are actually one of the only good points about the ep; they're very EC Comics in their design. Stylized and ghoulish.
ADDENDUM (27 March, 2017) - Something I forgot to mention: the writers, last night, tried to retroactively plug some of the narrative problems they'd created. As I've noted here in the past, Eugene's story arc from last season was entirely erased and he was reverted back to a sniveling coward. In this ep, he offered a revisionist take on this, explaining that his heroism in the previous season amounted merely to when he was driving the RV "into the sunset" at the end of the last season but then were frightened so badly, he realized that was folly and reverted to type. That is, of course, not what happened. It was actually a story arc that played out throughout the prior season in which Eugene fundamentally turned a corner and became rather crazily brave, even in the face of death. Apparently, someone on the writing staff finally remembered part of this.