by Transmute Jun
Warning: this review contains multiple spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 8, Episode 7.
Last week I pointed out that there were only 2 more episodes left in this half-season, and that the show would have to set up for the mid-season finale. And that’s exactly what Episode 7 did: set the stage and leave us eager to know what’s going to happen next.
We all knew that Rick’s plan would go awry. We all knew that something would happen to tip the scales back in Negan’s favor. I’m just really annoyed that it was Daryl who messed it all up. If it had been Eugene, I would have understood. If it had been the Heapsters, I would have understood. But no, it was Daryl. Of course, the show has been leading up to this. Daryl has been hotheaded and unrepentant this entire season, shooting before thinking and trying to grab dynamite from Rick to blow up the Sanctuary. So I guess it’s not surprising. I just had higher hopes.
Tara wasn’t any help either. She referenced her silence about the guns at Oceanside as a reason to go forward with this bad idea of Daryl’s. But the argument could just as easily have been turned the other way. Tara’s silence about the guns at Oceanside should have taught her that she needs to keep everyone informed. Yet she and Daryl decided to do this crazy thing without consulting Rick or Maggie or Ezekiel, who are technically the leaders of this group. Daryl and Tara have radios, so they should be able to confer with the leaders so if they had wanted to… but they didn’t. Daryl knew that the leaders would nix his idea and he didn’t want that. He just wanted to go ahead, and he wasn’t going to let anyone stop him. We saw that last week when he got into a fistfight with Rick.
The even sadder thing is, both Rosita and Michonne realized on their own that this was not the right thing to do. Rosita actually learned from her wild plan to storm the Sanctuary with Sasha that it wasn’t a good idea to concoct plans last minute without the full group behind them. Michonne realized that there was no point in risking themselves to pull off this plan when the other one was working. Yet did either one of them attempt to convince Daryl of this? No, they just walked off on their moral high horses and let the damage be done. That makes them just as culpable, in my book.
And so the horde outside of the Sanctuary went into the Sanctuary. As expected, the Saviors were able to fight it off, with only a few no-name Saviors getting eaten. The named characters all survived, which was no big shocker. Although Gabriel looks iffy. How the heck did he develop an infection/fever so quickly? He wasn’t sick at all outside of the Sanctuary, yet it didn’t look like he had been bitten. Certainly, Dr. Carson didn’t mention a bite. Is it possible that Gabriel got sick from having all of those guts around him? Did he get some in his mouth? I’m just not buying that he suddenly fell ill with superflu when he was dumped into the cell.
I liked the focus on Eugene this episode. While he’s not a likable character, he’s an interesting one, and if I’m being honest with myself, he’s probably the person I would be most like in the zombie apocalypse: terrified, and willing to do just about anything to stay safe. He’s a good person at heart, but he puts his safety above the needs of others, and as such he was clearly struggling this episode.
Eugene enjoys the ego strokes Negan gives him. Telling Eugene that he’s second in command (What happened to Simon?) and shaking his hand as a show of ‘mutual respect’ are things that would matter a great deal to Eugene, and Negan knows it. Negan’s smart enough to understand that in a war like this, Eugene might be tempted to switch sides and sympathize with his old group. Yet Eugene is holding firm in his belief that Negan is a better bet for him. You know that if Eugene truly thought that Rick could win, he would jump ship. He certainly had opportunity to do so in this episode. Yet he chose to side with the Saviors, even risking getting shot to launch his drone. You might think that this proves that Eugene will do what he thinks is right, regardless of his own safety, but I believe the opposite. Eugene explained it right before he launched the drone: if he didn’t launch, Negan was going to kill him for sure. If he did launch, Dwight was probably not going to kill him. Eugene went with the higher probability of surviving, which is consistent with his character. “I will survive…It’s all I know how to do.” Eugene told Dwight, and for the most part, his actions are consistent with this.
Eugene does have feelings. He was clearly affected by Gabriel’s distress, and moved when he retrieved the iPod from Sasha’s coffin. He’s drinking to get to sleep, which shows his troubled conscience. And he wishes for Razzles (He has simple tastes). Eugene had the opportunity to tell Negan about Dwight’s duplicity, but he didn’t, and even told Dwight that he wouldn’t do so. Eugene’s motives in this aren’t as clear. Why wouldn’t he squeal about Dwight? One possibility is that he likes Dwight. Dwight stood up for him, and has helped him out. Maybe Eugene feels like Dwight is the closest thing he has to an ally at the Sanctuary. Another possibility is that Eugene is playing it strategically, holding this secret in his back pocket to have some power over Dwight, or an ace to play in the future, should he need it. Of course, toward the end of the episode, it looked like he was going to rat out Dwight to Negan, but he backed off when Dwight arrived on the scene too scared to confront Dwight directly, even with Negan right there.
And just to point out a plot hole: why didn’t Morgan (or the other Team Rick snipers) shoot Eugene when he appeared on the roof of the Sanctuary? It seems like an obvious thing to have done. But at least we now know why Team Rick went to all of the trouble to shoot out the windows of the Sanctuary: they needed their snipers to be able to see inside and have clear shots. That actually makes sense and shows a lot of foresight on Rick’s part.
The other big drama of the episode was Rick and the Heapsters. To give him credit, Rick kept his cool the whole time, remaining strong when confronting the Heapsters, even clad only in his boxers (I guess Rick is not a tighty-whities man). He warned them of the consequences, and could have taken out Jadis and her lieutenants had he wanted to do so. Jadis was actually scared when Rick was forcing her face close to that biting walker head. That was an awesome fight scene! I loved how Rick took charge and just ripped off the walker’s head, fighting with the pole and using whatever he had to win. He’s done this before (most notably when he ripped the Claimer’s neck out with his teeth in season 4) but at this stage in the game it’s good to know that the old willing-to-do-whatever-it-takes Rick is back. He’s going to need that strength. At the end of the episode, when he came to the Sanctuary and saw that the herd was gone, the expression on his face wasn’t anger; it was fear. He was practically terrified. Because Rick knows that if Negan and the Saviors are gone, they’re marching on Alexandria, and he’s in the wrong place. His people are coming to the wrong place. And they are sooooo screwed. Based on the sneak peek shown on Talking Dead, it looks like this is exactly what will be happening next week.
I’m still not certain what’s going on with Jadis. If she allied with Negan, why isn’t she working for Negan? Why aren’t there Saviors at her trash heap? And wouldn’t she know that Negan wanted Rick alive? Attempting to kill him again (in another walker fight for her own amusement) would be going against Negan’s wishes. And when Rick fought back and turned the tables on them, it turned her on. Now she wants to sculpt Rick naked. I tell you, these Heapsters have something weird going on with nudity… or at least, Jadis does. You may recall that last season Jadis asked Michonne if she would ‘lend’ Rick to her. Ugh… that gives me the shivers.
There weren’t a lot of humorous moments in this episode, and nothing that really stood out on my radar. For the comics readers, there was the moment where Rosita uttered the infamous line, “I believe in Rick Grimes.” We shall see if this mantra catches on in the show the way it did in the source material.
For those who play the Walking Dead: No Man’s Land mobile game, this week’s season 8 mission is Negan, Dwight and Eugene clearing out the remaining walkers on the factory floor after blocking off the hole through which they were entering the Sanctuary. While it is incongruous to have Eugene fighting off the walkers, he is a playable character in the game, so it works on that level.
Warning: the following paragraph contains spoilers for The Walking Dead comics.
On Talking Dead, Chris Hardwick revealed that there will be a ‘shocking’ moment in next week’s mid-season finale. Based on the comics, my guess is that it will relate to Negan’s counter-attack on Alexandria. In the comic series, before attacking Alexandria, Negan covers Lucille in walker guts, and tells his people to do the same with their weapons. Everyone does so, including Dwight, who dips his crossbow bolt into the guts. The idea is that anyone who gets hit, even if the blow is not life-threatening, will get infected and turn. In a pivotal moment during the attack, Dwight shoots Rick with a crossbow bolt. Dwight’s allegiances at this point in the comics are somewhat cloudy, so it is unknown whether or not he used a bolt that had walker guts on it. And then Rick gets a fever… This was a big cliffhanger in the comics and I can see it working well in the show. Yet Dwight’s allegiances are not in doubt on the show. So I’m wondering if it might be this kind of situation that happens in the show, but with Eugene attacking Rick instead of Dwight. It would certainly make for some tension over the next few months as we wait to see what happens!
Do you watch The Walking Dead? What do you think will happen in the mid-season finale? Join the conversation on FoCC!