The Walking Dead 7.10: New Best Friends
Jeffrey F. January
In the previous installment, Rick was put at bay by the Kingdom and Hilltop, leaving him to minor victories like hiding Daryl with Ezekiel and generally avoiding another bloodbath. But the end of the episode presented hope, and while it takes a bit of doing, Rick finally seems to have his army. And it’s not a small army, and it’s largely a bunch of unknowns. The term that comes to mind is “cannon fodder”, but that’s entirely the point; the purpose of cannon fodder is to force the enemy to use up their ammunition or simply give the real soldiers a chance to advance.
It’s a critical turning point, but that doesn’t mean that it was smooth sailing. I’m not referring only to Rick’s need to run the gauntlet that Jadis puts before him, but rather, the credibility of said gauntlet. Because elements of this episode were utterly ridiculous. Perhaps it’s just the writers and producers fully embracing some of the absurdity of the situation, but this new group is simply ill-conceived. Jadis speaks in riddles, rules a huge community in the middle of a trash dump, and essentially forces Rick to survive “Walker Thunderdome” to prove his will to survive. (And the less said about the horrible design of the “Battle Walker”, the better.)
King Ezekiel’s inherent absurdity is balanced by the fact that The Kingdom is played almost from the beginning as a ploy: Ezekiel is knowingly using his reputation and “legend” as a means of giving his community a means of escaping the harsh realities of survival. It’s a game, everyone pretty much knows it’s a game, but they’re willing to play. Jadis and her group is all too earnest, which makes them harder to reconcile.
Meanwhile, the seeds of tension between The Kingdom and The Saviors are beginning to bear fruit, and it can’t be long before something happens to push Ezekiel into joining Rick’s resistance movement. Rick’s new allies will be part of that equation, I’m sure, but it feels like Ezekiel is going to need something more than sheer numbers on a potential casualty balance sheet to take the plunge. That’s why Richard’s plan, at least from the point of view of desperation, seems like it might be worth it.
Richard’s mistake is trying to get Daryl on his side by presenting Carol as the sacrificial lamb. He can’t know that Daryl would figure it out so fast or that Daryl would never let something like that happen to Carol. But it does suggest that Richard may make himself, accidentally, the sacrifice, and that the audience will be happy to see it. The net effect, however, is getting Daryl and Carol back in the same room, which is one step closer to getting her back into the Team Grimes fold.
The most interesting wrinkle, of course, is Daryl’s decision not to tell Carol about Glenn and Abraham. It’s a lie that serves the short-term goal of keeping her from being more upset than she already is, but it’s also one that will not last very long. It might also break the long-standing trust between them, which would be very unfortunate. Besides Daryl getting killed, that might be the least-desired turn of events for the fandom!
- Rick takes another big step towards preparing for war
- The scenes between Daryl and Carol were worth the wait
- The design of the Battle Walker looks more like an orc from Lord of the Rings than something from this series