Friday, December 8, 2017

The Walking Dead Season 8, Episode 7: Time For After

As you can probably tell by the nonsensical title, this week's episode of The Walking Dead features Jadis and the Garbage Pail Kids, which may be enough to make any rational viewers in the audience lunge for their remotes. 

If that wasn't enough to make you check your channel guide to see what's on, this is also a very Eugene-centric episode, casting the spotlight firmly on the series' resident bemulleted savant. All your least favorite hits stuffed into one very bizarre episode!

It's obvious that the writers believe Eugene's dilemma is interesting enough to warrant an entire episode, and that the audience actually cares what happens to the Aspergian goon. They're sorely wrong on both counts. If his little side story absolutely had to be told, then it should have happened several episodes ago, not on the eve of the big mid-season cliffhanger.

Don't get me wrong, I don't actively hate Eugene. He's OK when used in small doses as comedy relief. An entire episode filled his long-winded, tortured syntax is something else entirely.

The biggest loser in this episode is Rick, who, for reasons known only to the writers, is determined to recruit Jadis and her idiotic minions into his army. Why the hell he wants them, or feels he could ever possibly trust them, is left to our imaginations. This is another side story I won't be sorry to see go.

This week's episode also featured more confusing and puzzling character motivations, that once again seemingly appear out of the blue. This week it's Rosita's turn to completely reverse her feelings. She does a complete 180 degree turn as she decides that attacking Negan is far too risky. This is in direct contrast to last season, when she actively tried to shoot him in the head at point blank range. I've said it before, but it's never felt more true I really do believe there's a "Wheel Of Motivation" in the writer's room, and each week they spin it to see what a particular character believes. 

Although quite a bit happens this week, somehow it still feels like a filler episode. I honestly can't understand why the writing staff keeps slowing down the plotline and giving us these "side story" episodes. There's a perfectly good blueprint out there for The Walking Dead that they could be using as a guid for the show. It's called the comic book. All these plots are already laid out there in great detail. All the writers need to do is adapt them. Heck, every issue of the comic even ends on a minor cliffhanger which would work out perfectly for the series.

So why doesn't showrunner Scott Gimple simply follow the printed adventures of Rick & Co. more closely? Part of me wonders if he's secretly ashamed of the comic book origins of his little zombie show. It's almost like he feels a lowly comic book couldn't possibly be competent or well written, so he's compelled to constantly alter and futz with the plot. I dunno.

Anyway, enjoy this bizarre calm before the storm, as there's likely to be a bloodbath on next week's big mid-season finale.

The Plot:
We open with Rick still sitting in his hot box shipping container in the Garbage Pail Kids' junkyard. Suddenly the door opens, and a couple of guards drag him out into the sun. Jadis, the leader of the Garbage Pail Kids, takes several photos of the semi-naked Rick with an old school camera. For some reason, another weirdo sketches Rick as well.

Never one to admit defeat, Rick once again asks Jadis to join his army. Why he wants her people to sign up is beyond me. Maybe he needs them as cannon fodder in next week's mid-season finale? Anyway, all she says is she plans to sculpt him "after." Screw these characters and their idiotic storyline.

At the Sanctuary, Eugene confronts Dwight, telling him he knows he's the Traitor who's been working with Alexandria, the Hilltop and the Kingdom. He tells Dwight to stop immediately, or he'll run and tell Negan. This is an interesting attitude on Eugene's part, considering he's the biggest traitor of all, having sold out his Alexandrian friends to Negan last season.

Dwight tells him the Saviors are finished, as the Sanctuary's currently running low on supplies and is surrounded by thousands of walkers. He suggests simply waiting and letting Rick's Plan play out. Negan will then fall and they can both walk away winners. Eugene refuses to listen, saying the Saviors aren't perfect, but he trusts in Negan. He says he'll keep Dwight's secret for now, if he promises to protect the Sanctuary.

Eugene runs into Dr. Carson, who reports that Father Gabriel's in bad shape. Apparently he wasn't bitten back in The Big Scary U, but instead contracted a nasty infection after he and Negan slathered themselves with walker guts to disguise themselves from the herd. Carson leaves Eugene with Gabriel while he looks for medicine.

Gabriel weakly asks Eugene to help him sneak Dr. Carson out of the Sanctuary, and take him back to the Hilltop so he can deliver Maggie's baby when she finally has it several years from now. Eugene refuses, saying everything he does is to ensure his own survival.

Cut to Morgan, who's in a sniper's nest somewhere outside the Sanctuary. Apparently after his tiff with Jesus a few episodes back, he hooked up with a group from Alexandria (I guess?) who are staking out the Sanctuary and making sure no one gets out alive. Note that I think this is what's happening, but it's never quite made clear. Morgan sees Daryl, Michonne, Rosita and Tara approach in a large garbage truck. He radios the other snipers and says the truck is "one of theirs."

Daryl's ready to ditch Rick's Plan and destroy the Sanctuary now. He intends to plow the garbage truck through the side of the building, so the massive walker herd can wander inside and kill everyone. Despite the fact that Rosita tried to kill Negan last season, she suddenly gets cold feet and says it's too risky. She says they should trust in Rick's Plan, and leaves.

Meanwhile, Negan meets with Eugene in his conference room (oy, this again?). He tells Eugene that people are gonna die if something isn't done soon. He says he knows Eugene's smart, and urges him to come up with a solution. Eugene says he'll try his best. He goes down to a storage space and finds the coffin Sasha died in, which the Saviors apparently brought back with them for some reason. Inside it is the iPod she was listening to when she died.

Daryl, Michonne and Tara approach the Sanctuary in the truck. Morgan radios them from his vantage point and says he'll provide cover for them. Daryl asks if everyone's ready, and this time Michonne starts having second thoughts. She says things are working out "OK" right now (tell that to Glenn and Abraham!), and what they're about to do isn't worth their lives. She then buggers off, presumably back to Alexandria with Rosita. It's just Daryl and Tara now, against the entire Sanctuary (!).

Up on the Sanctuary roof, we see Eugene's built a makeshift drone out of spare parts. He's lashed the iPod to it, so it'll play music as he flies it around, drawing the walkers away from the Sanctuary. That's... actually not a bad plan. Just as he's about to launch it, Dwight puts a gun to Eugene's head and tells him not to do it. 

Eugene says he's only trying to save people, but Dwight insists he's gonna get Rick and all his other friends killed. Eugene claims Rick and the others were never friends, but just "traveling companions," and he doesn't care what happens to them. He presses the button and his drone flies off the roof, blaring a song.

A furious Dwight comes thisssssss close to pulling the trigger and blowing off Eugene's mulleted head, but he settles for shooting the drone out of the sky before he runs off.

Tara sneaks up to the Sanctuary gate, and starts firing at the windows. Morgan helps as well by picking off anyone who looks out. Daryl guns the garbage truck, and barrels toward the Sanctuary. He puts a cinderblock on the gas pedal and does an impressive action movie roll as he leaps out of the cab. The truck plows through the walker herd and crashes through the wall of the building.

The walkers then start filtering into the building and munch on the Saviors. Chaos ensues, as workers and soldiers alike are bitten, eaten and torn apart. Regina declares the ground floor a loss, and everyone retreats to the second floor. The walkers try to follow them up the steps, as Regina and several other Saviors gun them down. Eventually the bodies form a temporary barrier on the stairs, protecting them for a while. Eugene stands above, watching with horror.

Negan then meets with Eugene again (more meetings!), and says this attack (which he thinks was orchestrated by Rick) demands retaliation. He asks Eugene if he can make enough ammo for a war. Eugene promises he can, and says he has something else to tell him, intending to reveal that Dwight's the traitor. Just then Dwight walks in with Regina and a few others. Eugene loses his nerve and scuttles off. He goes back to his room and has an honest to goodness nervous breakdown.

Back at the Junkyard, Rick's taken out of the shipping container again, still clad in just drawers, his hands bound by rope. He's led into a clearing and forced to kneel. Jadis appears and in that charming and endearing way she has, says, "Time for after." Suddenly two men appear, leading a walker leashed to a long pole. The walker's wearing a spiked helmet so it can't be "killed." As it gets closer to Rick, it snaps its teeth like a rabid dog.

Suddenly Rick punches the man holding him down and grabs the walker's pole (wow, that sounded dirty!). He swings the walker around at the guards, keeping it between him and them. Suddenly the walker's head pulls off, and Rick uses the now empty pole to knock out the guards. Jadis comes at him with a gun, but he pins her down next to the severed walker head, which is somehow still snapping. She orders her people to stand down.

He tells her he has Negan trapped inside the Sanctuary by a herd of walkers. If her people help him kill Negan, he'll give them a fourth of their supplies. She says she'll agree for half the supplies, plus she gets to sculpt him nude (?). He says fourth, and no nudes. She eventually agrees. Jesus Christ, this is weird.

Cut to Rick leading Jadis and a group of Garbage Pail Kids to the Sanctuary. He radios his sniper team, but no one answers. He climbs to the top of a handy water tower to get a better look, and is horrified to see the Sanctuary courtyard's completely empty, with no walker herd to be seen.

• As I said above, I'm at a loss to understand why Rick wants Jadis and her Garbage Pail Kids on his side. Let's take a look at everything she's done so far:

Jadis agrees to join with Rick to defeat Negan in New Best Friends.

Jadis then betrays Rick and Alexandria in The First Day Of The Rest Of Your Life, after Negan offers her a better deal.

In The King, The Widow And Rick, Rick asks Jadis to join him again. She tells him no, and then for no good reason locks him inside in a shipping container for an indeterminate amount of time.

Why the hell does Rick want this weirdo on his side so badly? How's he ever going to trust her again? What's to keep her from betraying him a second (or is that third?) time?

• Apparently Jadis is mightily attracted to Rick, as she has him dragged out of his cell so she can take photos of him (in his underwear) to use as reference for one of her wire sculptures.

Does Jadis have a fully functional darkroom, full of scavenged development chemicals? I hope so, because that ain't a Polaroid camera she uses to snap his pic.

• This was a very Eugene-centric episode, and as we all know, any time a side character suddenly gets a backstory or a spotlight, it means they're doomed. Eugene's still alive and well in the comic, long after this All Out War storyline, so one would think he's safe. But TV Eugene has already deviated greatly from the comic version, so who knows? Are they planning to kill him off in next week's mid-season finale?

• Jesus Christ, Eugene even writes like he talks!

• I honestly though Eugene and Dwight were gonna kiss in this scene. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

• A couple weeks ago in The Big Scary U, Negan and Father Gabriel smeared themselves with zombie guts so they could move undetected through a walker herd. At the end of the episode we saw that Gabriel was gravely ill, despite the fact that we never saw him get bitten. I wondered if maybe he caught some nasty disease from exposure to the horribly septic zombie juice.

Welp, it looks like I was right. In this episode, Dr. Carson tells Eugene that Gabriel has an infection, and "Maybe more than one."

This is the first time we've ever seen that cutting open a rotting, reanimated corpse and smearing its disease-ridden entrails all over one's body might be hazardous to one's health. Who knew?

Way back in Season 1, Rick and Glenn used the Guts Trick to disguise themselves from a zombie herd and safely walk through them. Ever since then, fans have wondered why the characters don't use this tactic more often. Could this be the writers' attempt at giving us an answer? 

• I'm puzzled by Morgan's presence in this episode, and what the hell he's doing. A few weeks back in Monsters, he got into a fight with Jesus over whether or not to kill their Savior captives. The fight ended in a draw, as Morgan said keeping the prisoners alive is a mistake. He then ran off in a huff.

Apparently sometime between episodes while we weren't watching, he wandered over to the Sanctuary, saw that Rick had set up several sniper nests around the place, and decided to join in. 

Note that I think this is what must have happened, as it's all very vague and never quite made clear. In fact at first it almost sounded like Morgan was using his walkie to communicate with other Saviors! For a few seconds I actually thought he'd switched sides!

By the way, in one scene Morgan peers through his binoculars at Daryl in his garbage truck. Naturally his binocular POV is represented by two joined circles. 

Jesus, are we still doing this in 2017? Yeah, yeah, I get that it's a time honored TV and movie tradition to depict binoculars this way. That doesn't change the fact that you don't see anything even remotely like this when you look through a pair! You see an image inside one circle. ONE!

• At one point Negan has a discussion with Eugene in his conference room (yay, more meetings!). Once again Eugene pledges his loyalty to Negan, saying he'll do everything in his power to save the Saviors. Negan then holds out his hand. Eugene looks at it for a few seconds, then actually starts to kiss it! Negan jerks his hand away and says, "I was going for a handshake."

OK, I admit it's a funny scene, but look at the way Negan's holding his hand in the image above. If Negan was really sticking out his hand for a shake, why the hell is he delicately holding it palm down, like he's the frakin' Queen of England? It looks like he's wanting Eugene to kiss the Royal Ring! No wonder the poor guy was confused!

• After his meeting with Negan, an agitated Eugene bursts into the infirmary and shrieks at Gabriel, telling him he'll never help him or Dr. Carson escape, as he's only out for himself. He then storms out as quickly as he came.

A very confused Father Gabriel then practically looks into the camera as if to say, "What the f@ck?"

I think this scene was meant to be dramatic, but unfortunately it turned out to be unintentionally hilarious.

• All through the episode the Saviors are threatened by the massive herd of walkers that surrounds the Sanctuary. Eugene spends a good amount of time trying to come up with a plan that'll draw them away.

How about just lobbing a few Molotov cocktails into the crowd? They were bunched together so tightly that if one caught fire, the one next to it would light up as well, and so on and so on until the whole herd burned to a crisp. Heck, we've seen in past episodes that walkers are actually attracted to fire, so once a few started burning, the rest would come a runnin.' Well, come a shufflin' at least.

For some reason, Eugene uses an old school tape recorder to document his thoughts before launching his makeshift drone. Dwight then appears and points a gun at his head, ordering him to stand down. He says Rick's Plan is almost ready to start, and when it does, Negan will fall.

How much do you want to bet that Eugene secretly recorded Dwight here? And that next week he'll play the tape to Negan, exposing Dwight was the traitor? I'd say odds are pretty good that's exactly what'll happen. Why else would he be carting around a tape recorder like that, unless it was a Plot Point?

• I'm baffled as to why Rosita suddenly decides Daryl's plan is too risky. After all, just last season she tried to shoot Negan in the head at near point-blank range. 

This rash action on her part rewarded her with a nasty facial scar. Could it be that incident taught Rosita a lesson? One she sees every time she looks in the mirror? If that's the reason for her sudden change of character, then good on the writers. I have a feeling though it's just more random character motivation, ala Carol a couple seasons back and Jesus this year.

• Near the end of the episode, Jadis tries to kill Rick (again) by bringing out an armored walker to dispatch him. The Armored Walker's kind of cool looking I guess, but... we've seen this type of thing before.

Jadis had a similar, even better-looking Armored Walker back in last season's New Best Friends. I can't wait to see them use it again next season.

• Rick eventually escapes and pins Jadis down next to the Armored Walker's decapitated head. It snaps its jaws as it tries its best to bite her.

Could a reanimated decapitated head still move its jaws? I guess so. The jaw muscles are in the head, but when I open and close my mouth really wide, I can feel tendons and such moving around in my neck. I think the only way to know for sure is to cut someone's head off and ask them to snap their jaws before they die.

• At the very end of the episode, Rick approaches a water tower outside the Sanctuary wall. He sees a group of walkers feeding on a body tangled up in the tower's ladder.


Hmm. Was this scene an homage to the way Father Gabriel dies in the comic? In the comic, Gabriel survives the All Out War arc and is still alive during the Whisperer War storyline, which'll probably happen on the show at some point.

In Issue #158, Gabriel desperately climbs up a water tower to escape a herd of walkers, as well as the deadly Whisperers. He slips and falls, dropping his rifle and getting tangled up in the ladder. One of the Whisperers then slits open Gabriel's belly, leaving him for dead. The walker herd then descends on him.

I wonder... if they're tossing that death into this episode as an homage or Easter egg, then that means Gabriel most likely won't die the same way on the TV show. Which reinforces my belief that he's gonna die in next week's big blood-soaked mid-season finale!

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