Monday, February 26, 2018


When last we visited THE WALKING DEAD, the Saviors had somehow managed to escape the Sanctuary, which shouldn't have been possible and wasn't explained, and were able to terrorize our heroes' communities, which they shouldn't have had the remaining manpower to manage after a half-season of being killed in bulk, with, in the case of the team that lay siege to the Safe Zone, a platoon of guys armed with never-before-mentioned super-grenade launchers--weapons that would have made escape from the zombie-surrounded sanctuary rather easy but that only appeared after the Saviors had spent the half-season buttoned up at their compound and increasingly desperate about how to escape.

(Takes a breath)

"Honor," tonight's midseason debut, reverses gears in the pre-credit sequence and makes a show of explaining what happened at the Sanctuary but while the Saviors' escape is a massive plot problem, it may have been better not to even try. The writers had painted themselves into a corner on this one. The scenario they created--the compound surrounded 50-deep in zombies, with snipers posted beyond the dead with orders to blast any Savior who shows himself and all of this further complicated by Daryl's decision to punch a hole in the building  so some of the dead can get inside--is basically impossible to defeat. While one can imagine ways to get out of it--those grenade launchers would have made it a pretty simple task--the writers had already spent half the season piddling around inside the compound showing that the Saviors clearly had no means of dealing with the problem and were becoming increasingly desperate. In such a circumstance, nothing this writing team is going to concoct is going to be satisfying.

It isn't. For the purposes of allowing the Saviors to escape, the zombie army is suddenly reduced to 50 or 60 guys milling around in the parking lot. The Saviors show up at the windows with automatic weapons. The snipers observe them but for no reason at all, decline to shoot them. The snipers just sit there with multiple enemies in their sights and watch as the Saviors shoot zombies, which, hilariously, are kind enough to fall into neat piles that form  a sort of barricade. The Saviors then come charging out the front door through the trail protected by those barricades. Again, the snipers do nothing, and the Saviors begin firing at them. And that's it.

From there, it's all downhill. Before the midseason break, Coral had just been bitten by a zombie and was looking pretty rough. It was an open question whether the writers would drag out his inevitable death or just do a one-and-done but given the soap melodrama format of the show, the latter was to be particularly feared. It's the one the writers, in fact, chose. Most of the ep tonight is just Coral taking a long time to die while making a very long string of TWD's patented pseudo-profound anti-naturalistic speeches. The TWD version of a slow-motion death from POLICE SQUAD but without any (intentional) laughs.

That business starts where it left off, with our Alexandrian heroes huddled in a wonderful metaphor: down the drain, under the Safe Zone. Above, the town is being pummeled by grenades but below, Coral is on his deathbed saying his teary-eyed goodbyes to his companions. If our heroes were caught down there, it would be the end of them but the heartless villains apparently respect the need for melodrama; none of them bother to check out the drain, an obvious escape-route and clearly visible on both sides of the Safe Zone's walls.

Eventually the Saviors leave, and everyone decides to depart for Hilltop. Coral is obviously in no shape to be moved, so Rick and Michonne stay behind to see him to the end but shortly after everyone leaves, Rick randomly decides to move Coral anyway. Down the drain, Coral is in a safe place on a nice cot with a pillow--as good a deathbed as he could have in such circumstances--but Rick insists on dragging him topside, hauling him around the now-ruined Safe Zone and eventually bringing him to rest on the hard floor of the smoking remains of the church. The deathbed is a speech-breeding staple of the melodrama and perhaps the writers decided only one wasn't good enough for TWD--had to get that second one in there.

They certainly get in the melodrama. Coral makes speeches through all of this, interacting with the others while maudlin music whines away.

This seemingly interminable plotline--if one can call it that--is the centerpiece of tonight's ep, which the creators turned into another extended, 90-minute affair to accommodate all that emoting. Well before it's over, one suspects even the viewer with the sternest appetite for this rubbish will be wishing they'd just get it over with and let him die. Even when he finally does, though, it probably isn't over--Coral wrote goodbye notes to everyone, something future eps will no doubt dwell upon with substantial gravity.

Over at the Kingdom, Carol and Morgan are set on rescuing Ezekiel. Morgan gets to go Terminator on a bunch of baddies. In the highlight of the ep, he disembowels one of them who is in the process of killing him. It's sort of a bummer that Morgan didn't then use the guy's innards to strangle him. Seems an obvious use for them, right? Gavin, the somewhat "reasonable" Savior, is on hand and throughout the evening, Ezekiel keeps hinting to him that he should switch sides. He's pretty intransigent but maybe he'll come over. Then it turns out that was just a ploy by the writers to fill time; Morgan captures Gavin, sets out to destroy him and we get another of TWD's usual bullwinders where everyone stands around contemplating whether Morgan really wants to kill the fellow. In the end, it doesn't matter; a kid with a sharp stick turns up and pokes Gavin in the throat (one of Gavin's lieutenants murdered the boy's brother).

That's "Honor," an ep that, if it had any, would have committed seppuku early in the evening.


Twitter: @jriddlecult