Monday, March 12, 2018

Not Wanted: Dead Or Alive Or THE WALKING DEAD

As with so many episodes of THE WALKING DEAD, the writers of tonight's "Dead Or Alive Or" didn't bother to provide an adequate plot. As so often happens, they chose, instead, to take a few minutes worth of material and pad it out to fill the running time. As has so often happened in recent season, this padding was so extensive that the ep even ran 5 minutes over its regularly-designated timeslot. Have to get in those extra minutes of commercials to pay for all that "work" the writers are doing.

Two weeks ago, Daryl, Rosita and Tara departed the Safe Zone to lead its mostly-nameless-and-faceless residents to Hilltop. This is the latest example of the brilliant strategic thinking typically displayed by our heroes. Why make it tougher for Negan to defeat you when you can all hole up in the same small, closed-in community to which his forces can easily lay siege until he's starved out all opposition, right?[1] This being TWD, that Safe Zoners plot-string was skipped last week and, this being TWD, tonight's ep, which picks it up, didn't begin with those characters at the gates of Hilltop. Instead, that's how it ends. Way back in December, Eugene arranged for Dr. Carson and the ailing Father Gabriel to escape Savior custody. They were heading to Hilltop as well but as the show finally returned to their thread three months later, they're not there either. They're lost and driving around backroads. Most of the ep just follows around the Safe Zoners as they try to hike to Hilltop and Gabriel/Carson as they mostly just dick around and waste time instead of trying to find Hilltop.

Neither of these threads feature anything interesting; they're just present to eat up running-time.

The Safe Zone group opt to cut through a swamp on the premise that the Saviors wrote it off as dangerous and won't be poking around there. They run into a zombie logjam ported in straight from Z NATION season 2 but it doesn't lead to anything--they just kill the zombies and move on. Tara is still furious at Savior turncoat Dwight and, being a dimwit, tries to kill him. He eventually hooks up with a group of Saviors who haven't heard of his betrayal and leads them away from the Zoners.

Gabriel and Carson find a cabin, hang out there, go on and on about Gabriel's increasing loss of vision.[2] In order to safely walk among the dead, Gabriel, several eps back, covered himself in zombie guts. Characters on TWD have been using this same trick since the 2nd episode of the series, even those with open wounds.[3] We've seen people splattered with zombie blood and gore, seen it get in their faces, their eyes. No one has ever suffered so much as a cough as a consequence but this season, the writers suddenly decided zombie gore was toxic.[4] Gabriel is ill and going bind.[5]

We find out why this was suddenly written into the plot toward the end of the ep. After breaking out of the zombie-surrounded Sanctuary, the Saviors are running low on ammo and Eugene's reloading operation isn't turning out enough at a fast-enough clip--Eugene may be foot-dragging on purpose. When Negan leans on him, Eugene comes up with the idea of using primitive siege weapons to chuck zombie gore over the walls of Hilltop. Negan doesn't like this suggestion at all but from it, he gets the bright idea to have the Saviors coat their weapons in this grue, use it for a sort of biological warfare. I'm disappointed we're not going to get to see Medieval trebuchets and catapults chucking zombie-parts over the wall.

And that's it. Near the end, the gate guard at Hilltop yells that Rick has returned but because if he appears, Andrew Lincoln gets paid for the ep, we never see him.



[1] As if to compensate for this obvious idiocy, the writers have Gregory point out to Maggie that the Saviors are on their way and suggests evacuating Hilltop. "How can we win?" Maggie replies, "look around, Gregory. How can we lose?" But it's so idiotic, even she doesn't sound as if she means it.

[2] The Saviors reapprehend Gregory and Carson; when Carson goes for a gun, they shoot him, one of the last doctors in the world. Fortunately--and coincidentally--the stranger Coral took in has medical training. Absurdly, Negan assigns the dying and nearly-blind Gabriel to sorting empty shells in preparation for reloading them.

[3] In fact, Rick, the first one to use the trick on screen, had an open gunshot wound in his side when he first did it.

[4] Zombie grue should be potentially rather dangerous--human corpses are a regular stew of bacteria--but after 8 years of watching people intimately interact with it to no negative effect, it's a bit late to be making it poisonous.

[5] Negan's plot-armor comes with an immunity charm; he covered himself in gore from the same zombie as Gabriel but remains unaffected by it.

Twitter: @jriddlecult


  1. Couple questions you may have insight for:

    1- Nothing was made of Simon's betrayal of Negan's orders in the previous ep, but Simon wasn't even on screen I don't think (Nodded off a few times..) However they showed a sneak peek for next week's ep and he's still there driving a car in a convoy with Negan. Are we to believe that nobody informed Negan, the person everybody kneels for and become absolutely lost without, about Simon's defiance?

    2- Was there any mention of a food shortage before? Seems strange there isn't enough food now since they don't have to supply the Saviors any more...

    1. 1 - The fact that Negan doesn't know yet is, of course, absurd. His men may not know Negan told him to only kill one but they'd certainly talk about it with their comrades after they returned--Negan doesn't kill entire communities and this would have probably been the first time they'd been told to do such a thing.

      2 - I don't remember any prior mention of a food shortage. The Safe Zone was blown to bits and probably looted of anything like that but the Kingdom and Hilltop should still have a good supply. Hilltop is somewhat crippled by the decision to take in a bunch of Saviors who have to be fed, and, of course, the Safe Zoners are just more mouths they'll have to feed but the writers couldn't wait for them to arrive to introduce the idea of shortage. If they had, what else would Maggie talk about while this filler ep played out?

      The Saviors wouldn't have carted off the Kingdom's food, which appeared to be plentiful; it was their intention to move into that community until the Sanctuary could be cleaned up. This is definitely something that should be addressed but won't be.

    2. Thanks for the info... another one I'm a little hazy on is the Dwight thing: does anyone in Saviorland know of his betrayal? I think he mentioned this at the swamp, that they'd kill him if he ever went back, but when he meets of with some of them, and grabs a rifle, he willingly saunters right back to the main group as Negan himself is making his zombie-goo speech... So, nobody DOES know of his turncoat actions and he was lying? Because if anyone did, then going back with them and not murdering them as soon as he had a chance was the same as committing suicide, right?

      Again, I may have missed some actual relevant info in episodes past as this show is getting pretty sleep-inducing, but I honestly don't know what the hell's going on here...

    3. Didn't Dwight even mention in this episode, that one of them got away and if he'd be back with the Saviours, that it would be his death sentence?

    4. Dwight drove his own group of Saviors into an ambush and helped wipe them out. The woman who was riding shotgun with him saw all of this then got away. When Dwight ran into that Savior patrol, he asked if anyone had seen her and they said she was still missing in action. So no one knows of Dwight's betrayal until she turns up.

  2. Might have missed it in a previous write-up, but did the show ever spell out Rick's grand plan for defeating the Saviors?

    1. No, it has never been spelled out. They surrounded the Sanctuary with zombies, wiped out the outposts and the heads of the communities were going to meet at Sanctuary and... maybe the Saviors would eventually surrender? Something like that, or that's how it unfolded (or failed to unfold).

    2. It was also never shown/explained, how they got away from the walker surrounded compound in the first place (other than firing a few rounds into the approaching dead on the lower level of the building).

    3. They shot zombies on the ground, who were polite enough to fall in nice piles on top of one another, forming barricades against the rest of the dead, then just went out through the walkway they'd created. Really bad.