In recent weeks, The Walking Dead has changed its formula in two interesting ways. First up, we’ve had a string of slow, character driven episodes, and although they might be a bit much sequentially, most of them have been individually okay. Secondly, we’ve seen signs of hope and humanity among the miserable apocalypse losers, which makes them easier to stomach.
Well, that couldn’t go on forever. Life in this show objectively sucks, so time for another painful broadcast from the EVERYTHING IS SHIT, WHY EVEN BOTHER? dimension. Miserable spoilers follow.
Children Are Evil
This week, it’s the Tyreese/Carol gang’s turn under the all-episode microscope, as they try and settle in a new home, fight off the zombies and discover that the real threat is within their own human ranks. Yes, that could describe almost any episode or season of The Walking Dead, but at least they’re hitting their theme consistently.
I was up for this one, as Melissa McBride and Chad L. Coleman are great but underused members of the cast. Both of them get meaty emotional beats to work, and more or less all the scenes involving those two together are decent. Their final confrontation, hashing out a subplot from way back in the first half of the season, is especially good.
However, the main thrust of the episode is the two younger girls, Lizzie and Micah, who soar to opposite ends of the zombie apocalypse reaction spectrum. One is hardened to the point of confusing her humanity, while the other is softer than a rotten liver.
Kill All The Children
Remember when Judith was revealed to be alive a few weeks back, and we are all Oh, of course, they wouldn’t kill off a kid! Well, The Walking Dead refuses to show any weakness, as it knocks off two of them this week. It’s definitely a shocking twist, probably a big relief for those who felt this horror show lacked stomachturning moments. (Also enjoyed the visual of the charred zombies, actually.)
But did the big shock work? It surprised me in the moment, though I think I was more struck by Carol and Tyreese’s reactions than the big bloody tableau itself. The set-up in the first two thirds also got a bit samey – they made their points about the two girls, then reiterated them two or three more times. Another episode which could’ve maybe used a B-plot to provide more material.
Overall, shakier ground than recent weeks, a bit dull at times but I’ve seen much (much much) worse from this show. Must admit, I’m keen to see some sharper progression – maybe a little glimpse of the mysterious TERMINUS next time? Or will that be at the end of the whole run, saving a proper reveal for season 5? We’ll see.