There are soooo many spoilers ahead, in case you missed the title. This past Sunday’s The Walking Dead perfectly delivered the addictive suspense we all feel wondering which beloved character will bite it horribly. It also offered the perfectly head scratching situations the audience has to simply look past to feel that suspense.
It was a great lead up episode to the much hyped season finale. The Walking Dead generally does a good job of getting us excited to see how it will all end… for now. The most effective device in “East” came from the focus the episode maintained on the “core” characters. Rick, Daryl, Morgan, Carol, Maggie, Glenn, and Michonne all anchor the episode through a very tactically misguided chase for Carol and Daryl.
That isn’t to say that Carol and Daryl’s reason for bouncing from Alexandria weren’t authentic. Carol, possibly the most authentic character in the show, has decided on self-exile because her conscious (she was never a sociopath) can no longer handle her capability to do anything to protect others and survive. Honestly, if I ever knew Melissa McBride well enough for her to even joke about killing me, I would apply to witness protection.
Daryl, who has found his conscious in the apocalypse, has decided that it led him astray when he didn’t kill Dwight in their first encounter back in the first part of this season. He clearly feels the full weight of Denise’s death on his shoulders. Daryl has set his (crossbow) sights on revenge.
The two of them have always been characters in isolation, despite being surrounded by the group. They went on their separate walkabouts at crucial personal moments. And then the rest becomes a bit of nonsense to drive the plot forward.
It’s fun nonsense, as usual. Glenn, Michonne, and Rosita rush off to find Glenn. Rick and Morgan rush off to find Carol. Nobody coordinates at all, which leaves a pregnant lady and a teenager to take extra guard shifts while putting almost the entire leadership of Alexandria at obvious risk. As the search party roams the countryside looking for their wayward companions there are multiple loud conversations in wide open spaces like a road, a farm, a clearing, a sparsely wooded forest. Did our group forget both that they live in a world of flesh eating creatures attracted… by… sound and are now being hunted by a well-armed, ruthless militia? Hey Rick and Morgan! Why don’t you go ahead and paint giant red circles on your chest and back while you discuss murder vs mercy, again.
Some of the conversation is thought provoking, some of its filler (mostly between Maggie and Enid). Morgan and Rick do re-discuss the merits of shooting first vs asking questions. The dialogue, however, effectively drives them toward each other’s position. Morgan kinda wins the day (Go Morgan!) when he sends Rick away to be the leader he is and Rick recognizes that Morgan can successfully find Carol without shooting people who are running away from you in the back, just in case.
On the Daryl front, maturity (Glenn and Michonne) loses out to revenge (Daryl and Rosita) in the hunt for Saviors. There are uncountable common sense reasons (particularly about the consequences of capture for the bigger picture) why two people shouldn’t seek out a gunfire (crossbow) confrontation with an armed militia. None of them are mentioned in the discussion after Glenn, Michonne, and Rosita find Daryl. Daryl has a well-crafted character motivation to go after the Saviors. Rosita joining him comes off more along the lines of “They killed her in front of me, so I’m pissed.”
Speaking of capture, the pairs separate and Dwight happens upon Glenn and Michonne. After apparently not doing a perimeter sweep of a circular encampment with two people tied up dead center, well, Daryl and Rosita get caught too.
In the meantime, back in Alexandria, Maggie might be having a miscarriage.
I had to watch Daryl get shot twice, which to me, means the ending achieved its intent. he final shot (look kids, a double entendre) manages to surprise and leave you unsettled. Daryl fans everywhere lost their mind. Heck, I’m a little worried for the guy. Whether dead or critically wounded, that last scene was the perfect set up for the advertised “darkest ending ever” to season 6.
Daryl Dixon, a leader and a potentially the most skilled survivor, has been knocked off the chess board. Glenn and Michonne are surrounded by the enemy. Maggie has been left on an unprotected square. Rick and Morgan are isolated, while Carol has wandered off the playing surface.
I’m excited to see where the rest of the pieces fall…