If we were hoping Rick Grimes would learn some harsh lessons of humility and forgiveness from his son’s passing last week, we’ll have to keep waiting. In this week’s episode Rick is as frustratingly pissed off as ever. To make matters worse we check in with two groups we really don’t care much about: Oceanside and the Junkies, making for a very weak episode.
For some reason The Walking Dead put character title cards between various storylines and situations. We’ve been constantly jumping between characters and locations for years, so doing this now just feels weird and kind of pretentious, like suddenly trying to be A Song of Ice and Fire novel. Events are told slightly out of order, but it doesn’t really make the episode any more compelling.
But since they organized the episode this way, I shall do the same thing with my recap.
Michonne: This is basically just Rick part 1, as he and Michonne are still together after burying Carl. After a weird stint where Michonne attempts to emotionally put out a fire at a gazebo, the pair finally leave the broken remains of Alexandria.
They discuss opening the letters that Carl left behind, and find that one was addressed to Rick and one to Negan. Instead Rick decides he needs to pay another visit to Jadis and the Junkies (there’s a great name for an 80s cartoon band).
The Junkies have been aggravating at best, literally hostile at worst. But Rick wants the firepower they possess.
At junktown they find the junkies have been zombified. Something has gone terribly wrong, and they have to fight their way out.
Negan: Our first check in with Negan after the mid-season premiere finds him in relatively good spirits. They’ve just retaliated against Rick’s group and pretty much destroyed Alexandria, though he’s dismayed that the entire group seemingly got away.
He lays their successful exodus at Carl’s feet, reminding us that Negan seems to legitimately respect him. He’ll be getting the bad news later on.
Gavin hasn’t yet returned from The Kingdom (that’ll be more bad news for Negan), and Simon begins voicing his displeasure over this whole operation. There’s a deliciously tense scene between the two men where Negan asserts control. Definitely some discord at Savior HQ.
He tells Simon to make a run to the Junkies to send the usual message for compliance – kill one of them, and take their guns. Simon is frustrated and just wants to kill them all at this point, and he’ll soon get the chance.
Enid: Oh yeah, remember that dumb part of the mid-season finale where Aaron and Enid went to Oceanside and Enid ends up killing their defacto leader in self-defense? I don’t really care either, but Enid and Aaron are briefly captured and we’re reminded that there’s this whole community of women survivors who really just want to be left alone.
Despite being the gray-area murderer here, Enid is assertive, confident, and kind of a dick to Cyndie. Not only are they not executed, they’re seemingly free to leave, though Aaron refuses. He wants to do what they came for, enlist their aid for the war. Hopefully this alliance fares better than the junkies because I’m already bored with this whole plot line.
Simon: Simon arrives at junktown with all the bluster and swagger that makes me love him. He does is usual spiel, disarming the junkies and dressing them down for double-crossing them (remember Rick got them to try to attack the Saviors while they were holed up, only to find them escaping).
Jadis is quiet and surly, as usual, creating a humorous pairing. One last thing Simon requires is a proper apology, but Jadis doesn’t give a fuck, simply repeating that “there is remorse.”
Problem is, Simon has grown increasingly frustrated and unwound. When Simon executes the second junky, Jadis slugs him, knocking him to the ground. Simon brushes himself off, grins wildly, and gives the order. The Saviors mow down all the disarmed junkies, much to Jadis’ horror, and we obviously realize this occurred prior to Rick and Michonne’s arrival.
Simon returns to the Sanctuary to repeat that all is taken care of, lying right to Negan’s face. I guess the blue paint that splashed on Simon’s shoes during the firefight was supposed to represent the blood that Simon has on his hands. With Gavin dead and Simon acting on his own, Negan may find the Saviors slipping from his grasp.
Jadis: If you were wanting a good chunk of an episode in season eight to focus on Jaids, you’re in luck. For the rest of us, just, why? It’s hard to suddenly manufacture sympathy for a character that betrayed and shot Rick just last season, and who has been incredibly unreliable and annoying to work with (though I actually enjoy her weird mannerisms).
This section is more about Rick and Michonne anyway. The two of them find Jadis, the only survivor, on top of a trash heap. Rick, being the McGuyver of the zombie apocalypse, creates a zombie-smashing shield out of a car door, and he and Michonne fight their way out.
They really don’t give a fuck about Jadis; Rick’s had enough of her (now that she lacks the firepower and manpower). He even shoots a bullet in the air as they’re leaving to ward her off, like a wild animal.
Jadis manages to escape on her own, making it over to a trash compactor. She easily lures the zombies into the grinding gears below, creating one of the goriest scenes in Walking Dead history as the zombies are literally churned into a bloody pulp. She’s upset, then sits down for a can of applesauce. I’ve no idea what we’re doing here.
Rick: Rick is defensive about not helping Jadis. He seems to think he did good by not just murdering her on the spot. Apparently he literally forgot everything he learned and promised to Carl about helping people and building a better world.
Rick gives Negan a ring on a walkie-talkie. He informs him of Carl’s death. Much to Negan’s credit, he takes it really hard. Negan hates Rick, but he did like Carl.
The two leaders then go into their usual dick measuring banter. Rick is reduced to a sputtering, angry teenager, spouting his usual “I’m gonna kill you” emptiness, while Negan seems to cut him deep, telling him Carl’s death is on him, and that he should give up. We actually end with Negan getting the last words rolling around in Rick’s head.
Despite literally burying Carl last week, Rick still has a ways to go to get over his hatred and learn some compassion. We certainly didn’t need an entire episode focused on shenanigans at junktown, but at least that’s apparently wrapped up, unlike Oceanside. But hey, we did get a lot of Steven Off this week!
Simon: Simon’s a fun character, someone who relishes his position for the respect and power, but still manages to be charming and likable, in a I’m-terrified-of-you kind of way. Steven Ogg is easily one of my favorite actors on this show.
Weird Character Point of View Title Cards: Just, what are you even doing with this? Half the episode and POV’s occurred at the same damn place. Do they really feel like they can’t just show us a scene between Negan and Simon without announcing their POV’s?
Rick Grimes: Seriously, did we learn nothing from Carl? He wants you to trust people, befriend them, build a better world, not scream at Negan and shoo off Jadis when she actually needs help. Rick Grimes is a jerk.