The Walking Dead recap: I don’t think it ends

Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier - The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 13 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier - The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 13 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC /

The Hilltop went full Hometown Buffet in the latest episode of The Walking Dead.

Sing it with me now…

This is the war that never ennnnds! Oh it goes on and on, my friennnnds! Some people started fighting it, not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue fighting it forever just because!

Repeat times a million.

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There is no arguing that All Out War has way overstayed its welcome as a plot point on The Walking Dead. Anyone who foolishly hoped that the show would surprise viewers by finally bringing this brow-beaten narrative to a big and bloody end this week (::raises hand::) was sadly mistaken. And, when Carol told Tobin, “I don’t think it ends” mid-episode this week, I fully think she was referring to the stalled state of the show. (Yes, I know she wasn’t, but let’s pretend, shall we?)

But hopefully not. There are three more episodes left to the Gimple era of TWD, and then newly minted showrunner Angela Kang will take over for Season 9. Honestly, this development is one of the only reasons I’m still sticking with the show despite my mounting frustration with the AOW storyline that never ends.

That, and the characters. This week was a refreshing change as all of our heroes were finally in one place, working towards the same goal. We even got a charged moment with the core leaders of the gang all strategizing in the same room.

There was much focus on Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and her chops as de facto leader of the Hilltop / all of the people ever. She’s taken in the refugees from both the Kingdom and Alexandria and she’s somewhat responsible to all of them. Since they’re on her turf, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) have deferred to her judgement, and she’s actually come up with a pretty solid plan.

The Hilltoppers have prepped the lead up to their gates with nail-embedded tire-slashers (shades of Mike Erhmantraut from fellow AMC property Better Call Saul). Once they remove the porcupine boards from the road, they charge full speed at the gates. Big mistake. Huge. Maggie’s planned for this, and she orders that the gates be opened wide. A magic school bus races up, blocking the caravan from fully entering the compound.

Chaos ensues.

Austin Amelio as Dwight, Steven Ogg as Simon – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 13 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Austin Amelio as Dwight, Steven Ogg as Simon – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 13 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC /

And here are the Cliff Notes of the Great Hilltop Battle of 2018: Siddiq engages in heroics. Ezekiel shoots out a bunch of headlights. Tara gets shot by Dwight. Daryl tries to kill Dwight. Michonne drags Daryl away. Rick brings up the rear. Maggie joins him. The Saviors retreat.

However, even given that all of our faves were blessedly in the same place and fighting for the same cause, the show didn’t bother to take advantage of that fact. The Savior altercation had a fractured and rushed quality to it as seemingly randomly selected groups of characters popped in and out of the poorly-lit frame like a game of Who’s Who whack-a-mole. This much-hyped battle between the Saviors and the Hilltop lasted for a grand total of twenty minutes – including commercial time. Honestly? We couldn’t have had a wham-bang fight? Why the eff do battle scenes always take place at night on this show? Does the budget for the biggest show on cable not account for lighting? So much ugh.

After the Saviors do their damage and retreat, the show regresses back to the exhausting task of rehashing what just happened for an interminable amount of time. But just as I was about to hit the snooze button on this episode, Negan’s blood bucket plan starts to pay off.

Starting with sweet Tobin (Jason Douglas), certain Hilltoppers who were unknowingly infected with the Saviors’ dirty weapons start to turn. And even though they’re loudly going about their business, falling down stairs and such, no one seems to wake up.

Macsen Lintz as Henry – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 13 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Macsen Lintz as Henry – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 13 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC /

However, over in the prisoner pen, baby psychopath Henry (Macsen Lintz) sneaks over with an assault weapon and starts threatening the hostages. He wants vengeance for his brother, but honestly kiddo, read the room. Of course things go wrong and Henry doesn’t get his man, and this twist is a giant misstep for the show. Since the kid is missing by the end of this episode and Morgan is on the crew in charge of finding him, it seems as if this whole storyline is just a means to an end for Morgan’s transition to Fear the Walking Dead. Time will tell how this all plays out, but in the meantime it’s just frustrating filler.

While Henry inadvertently frees the prisoners, the rest of the crew deals with the all-you-can-eat walker buffet. Finally, someone wakes up and has the sense to scream about the situation, and our heroes jump into action. Ezekiel bops a walker on the head while it’s mid-forearm chomp, and then turns to Rick for some amputation assistance. Rick sighs and just goes “yeah” like someone asked him to pick up milk from the store on the way home from a long day of work, and not HACK OFF A DUDE’S ARM.

As the threat winds down, the crew does have a few moments together where they get to problem solve like the good old days. Rick tells Maggie, Daryl, and Carol that he saw Negan’s bloody bat, and he puts the puzzle pieces together. Too bad they’re coming to this realization right in front of a dude with a fever, and it becomes obvious that the prescription for what ails him is not more cowbell.

For arguments sake though, Negan got the idea of using walker guts as a weapon from his episode with Gabriel back in the first half of Season 8. And Gabriel was easily cured of his fever with a dose of antibiotics. Sure, Gabriel wasn’t exposed to the guts through a wound, but it took quite some time for the virus to affect him. Here, the Hilltoppers not only died but also turned within hours of exposure, so I call BS on this whole development.

Lauren Cohan as Maggie Greene – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 13 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Lauren Cohan as Maggie Greene – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 13 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC /

At the end of the episode, a forlorn Maggie surveys the growing graveyard, and circles back to Glenn’s old assertion that everything has a cost in this new and brutal world.

Even though there were a few genuinely engaging and terrifying moments in this week’s episode, current showrunner Gimple is clearly running out of ideas. In fact, the “sick walkers come to life and kill sleeping good guys” seemed like a direct callback to the prison arc in Season 4 when a bout of flu turned a bunch of people and caused chaos within the community. In the context of the prison storyline, the illness arc was genuinely surprising and a welcome change of pace, illustrating that Mother Nature is a cunning lady who can throw all sorts of curveballs to humans struggling to survive.

Three episodes left, and here’s hoping that this never ending war will finally come to an end.

Related Story: The Walking Dead S8E12 Recap: A Future From The Past

Random Thoughts Before I Go:

  • When Daryl tells Tara to go get medical attention for her wound, she says it’s “just a scratch”, recalling Mercurio’s famous line in Romeo and Juliet. As a result, Shakespeare lovers may be worried for her, however, it’s likely that Dwight’s arrows weren’t infected, and she’ll live. Phew.
  • You’re telling me that a giant zombie Tobin bumbling around, plus a walker dude tumbling down a sweeping staircase doesn’t wake up a single person, but Henry says four words to Gregory at the prisoner pen and all the Saviors wake up? Yeah. Okay.
  • We did get a brief Richonne moment in the episode where Michonne (Danai Gurira) tries to reach out to Rick, but he’s not having it. In the wake of Carl’s death, it seems like they are drifting apart, and I hate it.

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