The Walking Dead recap: Friends and enemies

Danai Gurira as Michonne, Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes - The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 10 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC via AMC Press
Danai Gurira as Michonne, Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes - The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 10 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC via AMC Press /

The Walking Dead Season 8 continues at a molasses pace as our gang revisits tangential communities at Oceanside and the landfill.

So begins the post-Carl era of The Walking Dead. And thus far, it’s a pretty boring place.

This week’s episode picked up some storylines that had been dangling over the break. We saw Aaron (Ross Marquand) and Enid (Katelyn Nacon) briefly deal with the fallout from killing the leader of Oceanside, and Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) returned for a visit with the double-crossing Garbage Pail Kids.

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But all of it felt mostly like a stall tactic.

For all intents and purposes, this war should be over. Yet, for some reason, the series has made the mind-boggling decision to stretch it out over TWO ENTIRE SEASONS even though there’s not nearly enough story to do so. Stalling involves bringing in the Garbage Pail Kids, circling back to Oceanside, and a lot of stale back and forth banter with Negan.

Now, I have no doubt that a land war in the zombie apocalypse would most certainly be repetitive and the heroes would of course make their share of dumb mistakes. But this is TV, and things on The Walking Dead are getting real boring real fast.

This week, the show kicked off with Michonne and Rick burying their dear Carl. The two aren’t even really looking for solace in one another, and given their close bond, that’s extremely disappointing. There was minimal expressed grief, and we didn’t even get to see anyone else grieve for the fallen Grimes boy. (Oh, except for Negan, but we’ll get to that.) The Walking Dead used to be very skilled at helping viewers process their grief for beloved characters, and somewhere along the line, the writers lost the ability to do so, instead choosing to focus on spectacle. I was particularly upset about this issue with Glenn died back in the Season 7 opener, and things haven’t gotten any better since then.

The Walking Dead
Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Danai Gurira as Michonne – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 10 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC via AMC Press /

So because they no longer know how to do TV grief properly, the show sends Michonne and Rick on a wild goose chase to the landfill la la land of the Garbage Pail Kids. While there, they find out that Simon (Steven Ogg) has already offed all of the grammatically challenged gang, and Jadis (Pollyanna MacIntosh) is all by her lonesome at the top of trash mountain. Having lost the very world that she’d built, she drops her odd speech affectations and reveals her humanity.

Even though her story is a superfluous stall tactic designed to prolong this never ending war, Jadis’ predicament in this episode somewhat feels like a superhero origin story. Richonne listens to Jadis’ sob story, and then they flee, ignoring her pleas for help. Yet, she doesn’t really need their help. She’s tenacious. Just like Gloria Gaynor, she survives, luring all of her dead friends into the gaping maw of a conveniently placed trash compactor. When the machine finishes its business, Jadis is a canvas of death, the hem of her white dress transformed into a bloody Jackson Pollock. It’s a tragic scene that sets her up for an insane comeback, and in a show where everyone is out for revenge against the Saviors, she has the most compelling cause of all.

Also, the landfill also holds the mystery of the helipad. We know that it’s been used in the past, as Rick saw a helicopter fly overhead a few episodes ago. Simon pointedly asked Jadis about the amenity, and then follows it up with an ominous statement: “I wanna know if you know.” Know what? What’s the deal with the helicopter? And will it be the key to Morgan’s escape to the land of Fear the Walking Dead? Signs point to yes.

The Walking Dead
Danai Gurira as Michonne – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 10 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC via AMC Press /

Once Michonne and Rick leave the dump behind – hopefully forever – Michonne reflects on the lessons Carl tried to impart before he died. Carl would have saved Jadis, but Rick doesn’t really care. He pulls over and leafs through the letters that Carl wrote before he died. He reads both the letter addressed to him and the one addressed to Negan. Turns out that they have very similar content. Rick flips to Beast Mode and calls up Negan on his walkie.

Oddly enough, the exchange between Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Rick is the only moment in the episode where we get any sort of meaningful catharsis regarding Carl’s death. Negan wants to know if his team is responsible for Carl’s passing, and Rick gets all hot and bothered by that question. In a true Ricktator move, he decides to completely ignore his son’s dying wish and, instead, doubles down on his death threat to Negan. Looks like the expected will happen and this war is eventually going to come to a violent and predictable end.

Oh, and over in Oceanside, my bet is that Aaron is going to be left crouching by that tree for a good long while. I hope he hasn’t been skipping leg day.

Until next week…

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Random Thoughts Before I Go:

  • Each shift in narrative was accompanied by a title card announcing which character’s story we were being dropped into. This was not clever or needed. It’s either a gross insult to the viewers’ intellect, or a way for the series itself to keep track of its disorganized mess of storylines. Either way, it indicates another precipitous drop in quality on a show that used to be known for its deft storytelling.
  • We finally get to see Gabriel again next week! I’ve been wondering if he’d make it for awhile, and here he is, valiantly helping Dr. Carson get back to the Hilltop.

‘The Walking Dead’ airs Sunday nights at 9/8c on AMC.