Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Walking Dead Season 6, Episode 7: Heads Up

This week's Walking Dead was yet another "pause before the storm" episode. That makes four in a row now. Thank Christ next week is the fall finale so we can finally get the main plot (you remember, the horde of zombies heading toward unprepared Alexandria?) back on track.

Of course the big news this week is the fact that Glenn's still alive. Told you so! His fate came as no surprise to most viewers, who figured out the twist several weeks ago in the episode Thank You. The way he survived played out exactly as we all predicted, and was frankly a bit anticlimactic. I'm glad Glenn's not dead, but the whole thing seems like a huge cheat. This series already has more than enough real deaths— teasing us with fake ones feels cheap and unnecessary.

Plus one of these days Glenn's going to die for real, and the event will be lessened by this little stunt.

This episode set up all the various pieces for next week's bloodbath. I have a feeling the cast is going to be significantly smaller as we go into the winter hiatus. I predict most of the Alexandrians won't survive the hour, including Deanna and Spencer. And I have a feeling the Ron/Carl showdown will end badly, with Carl marked for life, just as he was in the comic.

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
This week we rewind yet again to the early hours of the terrible, horrible, no good very bad day. We pick up with Glenn and Nicholas trapped on top of the dumpster, as seen in Thank You. Nicholas shoots himself, and his dead body knocks Glenn off the dumpster into a sea of hungry walkers.

But wait! It seems Glenn's not quite dead yet! As the walkers snack on Nicholas' entrails, Glenn slides underneath the dumpster (good thing he's skinny!). He kills a few walkers that grab for him, which forms an undead shield around him. After a few hours the walkers get bored and wander off. He cautiously crawls out from under the dumpster and encounters Enid, who tosses him some water. Enid wants to go off on her own, but Glenn convinces her to come back with him.

Back at Alexandria, Rick criticizes Morgan for letting the Wolves go during their attack (mostly because after they escaped they almost killed Rick). Morgan defends his actions, saying he's convinced not killing is the right thing to do. The writers finally remember Rosita's on the show, and have her teach the Alexandrians how to use machetes.

Rick teaches Ron how to shoot a gun (bad), but refuses to give him any bullets (good). Ron breaks into the armory and steals some (bad again). Deanna gives Rick and Michonne her fanciful and unrealistic expansion plans for Alexandria. Morgan talks Dr. Cloyd into treating the Wolf leader he's secretly holding in the jail. Carol sees this and confronts Morgan. Spencer tries to sneak out of Alexandria to draw the walkers away, but is almost eaten.

Meanwhile, Glenn and Enid find the signal balloons Rick was using for the walker parade. They reach Alexandria and see its surrounded by zombies. Glenn releases the balloons to signal he's still alive. Ron begins stalking Carl with his newly-loaded gun.

Just then the church tower, which was damaged in the Wolf attack a few weeks back, collapses and tears a hole in Alexandria's wall. Uh-oh!

Thoughts:
• I was sure this week's episode would be another flashback, showing us how Rick escaped the RV and how Michonne managed to get Scott and Heath back home. Apparently not, and those events are being left to our imaginations.

• Now that we know Glenn's alive, Steven Yeun's name has reappeared in its rightful place in the opening credits. I told you they were trolling us the past few weeks by showing the watch but leaving his name off.

• Once the walkers got bored with trying to eat Glenn, they wandered away and cleared out. Boy did they! In Thank You there were several hundred of them crammed into Glenn's dead end alley, but in this episode the entire town is mysteriously void of even a single walker. Where the hell did they all go?

• Glenn happens upon the zombified David, the guy who couldn't wait to get back to his wife in Thank You. If you'll remember, he was with Michonne's group and couldn't make it over the fence before being swarmed by walkers.

The way that scene played out, one would think David would have been torn limb from limb. And yet here he was sitting in front of the fence, pretty much intact. How the heck did that happen? Did the walkers just take a few polite bites from him and then move on? His horrific screams in Thank You would indicate not.

• I assumed Enid was a Wolf spy, who fed intel about Alexandria to her group. Apparently not! This episode implies she's just a sullen loner who left the town to be on her own.

It's possible she was a Wolf, but fears reprisal if she goes back after telling them the Alexandrians would be easy pickings. Or maybe the Wolves were all wiped out in their attack, and there's no group to go back to.

Another possibility— maybe she's not with the Wolves, but the even more dangerous Saviors?

• Speaking of Enid, Glenn forces her to come back to Alexandria with him. If she doesn't want to go, I honestly don't see how it's any of Glenn's business. And his reason for forcing her— because Maggie would want him to save her— is pretty weak. It felt like these two characters were paired up just because the writers needed to eat up twenty minutes of runtime.

• Hey, we finally see Carol this week! I was beginning to wonder if she'd barricaded herself in her house, furiously baking casseroles.

• Rick holds an impromptu little tribunal to judge Morgan for letting the group of Wolves go free instead of killing them.

Um... Rick does know that there were five Wolves surrounding Morgan, right? And at least one of them was armed? Did he really expect Morgan to kill all five with a damned stick?

• Father Gabriel made a rare appearance in this episode, putting up ads for a prayer service. Rick then appears, tearing down the signs as he walks by.

What the heck was up with that? I get that Rick has no love for Gabriel after all he's done, but tearing down a preacher's signs just made him look like an asshole.

• What happened to Heath? He's a major character in the comics, so I was glad to see him finally show up on the series. Then after appearing in what, two episodes, he's suddenly become MIA. Surely they didn't kill him already, and offscreen yet?

• As I suspected, Rick teaching Ron how to shoot is a very bad idea. After just one shooting lesson he's already got a bullet with Carl's name on it.

As for Carl, he was quite the smug little douche this week. During Ron's shooting lesson, every word out of Carl's self-satisfied, priggish little mouth seemed designed to irritate. Was that on purpose? Do the writers want us to side with Ron?

Also, Carl still needs a haircut. He looks ridiculous with his Mary Tyler Moore flip. Don't worry, if things happen like I think they will, he'll get a haircut next week, and more.

• Ron distracts Olivia (in the oldest and most obvious way possible) so he can sneak into the armory and steal a handful of bullets. Um... why the hell isn't this room locked? Other than to give Ron easy access to it, of course.

I can see the dimwitted and ill-prepared Alexandrians not thinking to lock up their guns, but there's no way in hell Rick would allow such an idiotic system to stand.

• Deanna presents Rick and Michonne with her wildly fanciful expansion plans, that look like they were drawn by a ten year old. 

This scene had the feel of character development about it, so you know what that means on this show. Yep, Deanna's a goner.

• I'm still flabbergasted by Dr. Cloyd's lack of basic medical knowledge. Does she really need a mnemonic device to recognize signs of infection?

I realize she's a psychiatrist and only had a year of medical training, but infections seem pretty basic.

• Sometimes cold hard reality intrudes into the world of TV production. Like when an actress becomes pregnant, but her character isn't supposed to be. When this happens, producers have to scramble to hide the actress' rapidly expanding belly. They usually do this by shooting them from the chest up, dressing them in layers of bulky clothing, or filming them standing behind couches and such.

Or it you're The Walking Dead, you have your actress straddle a bar stool and hold the backrest in front of her gut. Yep, that's Tara, played by Alana Masterson, who was pregnant during the filming of this season.

You can also place a hastily erected and ridiculously obvious plank of wood in front of your "expecting" actress.

I have to admit Tara's "salute" to Rick was one of the few times I've ever laughed while watching The Walking Dead.

• Spencer tries to crawl above a mosh pit of walkers with what appears to be a Batarang. It goes about as well as you'd expect. This seemed like an idiotic stunt even for Spencer, and seemed like it was wedged into the episode just to give it a few much-needed seconds of walker action.

• Last week actor Norman Reedus (who plays Daryl) said that the mysterious cry for help we heard on the radio was not Glenn. I assumed he was lying in order to prevent spoilers, but it looks like he was telling the truth!

So just who was it that we heard? I have no idea. There've been so many flashbacks and episodes airing seemingly out of order that it's impossible to sort out the timeline. For all we know, Daryl might have been hearing the last survivor of Alexandria after next week's attack!

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