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If I'd had any doubts that TWD was totally back on top, this episode would have made squashed Walker brainsout of them. What an ending!
I almost wished I didn't know about the Whisperers, because that bit when the one-we-assume-is-Beta ducked Jesus's sword would have been a mouth dropping open moment. How do you fight the Walkers, when the Walkers fight back?
And that voice.... you are where you do not belong.... thanks to all concerned for a great mid-season finale! The dead are centre stage once more, and from Aaron and Jesus's chilling observation that they're behaving differently, to Eugene's theory that it is possible for them to evolve and his (slightly mocked) insistence that he heard them talking, to Daryl's face when his flare and Dog's barking didn't work, the growing sense of unknown menace was spine-tinglingly terrifying.
...especially when Daryl revealed what was underneath....
As for the end scene.... déjà vu, anyone? I've always loved how TWD uses echoes from the past, but at least when our gang were totally surrounded in S6:16 Last Day On Earth they knew what/who they were dealing with. This time, they couldn't even see the foe; all they could hear was ...circle... keep them together...
(that other aerial shot when they were totally surrounded: 1.00 in)
Looks like Tara's going to be running Hilltop after all, then... I couldn't understand why Jesus went back in to fight, on his own, when he could have just got behind the gate, but... yeah, I can go with it. It's TWD; I suspend my disbelief.
Talking of people who have too great an idea of their own invincibility, I am sure Henry's new mate Gage is soon for the bite. No new character can be that cocky and live. The idea that he, Addy and Rodney have lived at Hilltop for over half their lives is interesting; what used to be is gone, irrelevant, as children grow up knowing only the new world.
back at Alexandria, the other main event of the day was, of course,
Negan's escape. What's he going to do with his new-found freedom? Will
he join in with the coming war against the Whisperers, or find a
kindred spirit in Beta? Will he persuade former Saviors like DJ and
Laura to kneel once more? After he resisted Gabriel's psychoanalysis, I
rather liked 'Gaby's' momentary loss of serenity: 'Badenough I have to clean up your shit, I shouldn't
have to listen to it, too'.
Thanks to Anniek for reminding me, in the comments, that this wasn't the first time Gabriel left the door open; remember the end of S5?
Jesus talked some sense on his last day, about how, as a species, we are natural explorers; made me think of what Daryl said to Aaron, many moons ago, when they were trying to rescue Buttons the horse in S5:13 Forget: 'When they've (his group) been out here a while, they become who they really are'.
I think it's this that holds the key to the enduring popularity of TWD, as much as the suspense, scary stuff and characters we love, because it makes us wonder how we would fare, too. Without technology, commerce, politics and so-called civilisation, some become the creators of homesteads, some defend them, others travel alone and meet traders along the road...
...and discover sides of themselves that would otherwise remain hidden forever. Look at Carol.
Her meeting with Michonne brought a tear or two to my eye - I'm dying to know what happened to divide the communities. Gage mentioned 'the war'; it must have been something horrendous, judging by the reception Diane gave Michonne's group, and most of all the look on Tara's face.
Come on, you've known each other since Terminus, and you walked the weary road to Alexandria together. I imagine it's why Maggie's gone, but surely any awful thing Michonne did must have been influenced by her grief over losing Rick.
Scott Gimple said the general feel of the world, post time-jump, would be 'medieval Amish', and the way the look-out near Hilltop shouted 'Riders!' and everyone scarpered back behind the gates underlined that; as of old, riders must mean danger, or news, either good or bad. I notice Alden has done his bit by growing a distinctly Amish-style beard, too. Love that he's with Enid - everybody say ahhh. Sorry, Henry, she's way too cool and too old for you. High Five to Earl for telling him that if he can't hack being a grown-up, he can 'take his scrawny ass back to Kingdom.'
What next? I am sure this fair that Carol keeps talking about could lead to something very good (as Tara said, albeit a tad sarcastically, it looks like the old gang's back together), but some seriously bad stuff is bound to go down, too. I can't wait. Excellent, excellent season. Now, what do we do until February?
An excellent short, sharp shock opening this week, with Rosita running from The Whisperers - as scary as any horror film, the hint of what she can hear but cannot see more terrifying than any Walker. Thank you to Vivian Tse for writing and yes, expertly directed by the lovely Michael Cudlitz!
I like these slower episodes, sinister rather than death and gore; the most frightening is always that which bides its time, below the surface. As you need a variation in pace in books, these make the action-packed episodes that follow more of a shocker - especially when they contain a whisper of terrors to come...what did Connie think she saw on the journey to Hilltop?
Good to see lots of Daryl this week - the ultimate survivalist (snake stew, anyone?), and the archetypal loner; just him and his dawg, 'cause the world of people can be too painful. A stroke of genius, giving him a dog, and, as ever, the scenes with him and Carol tugged at the heartstrings, especially when she sorted out his hair, and he told her, 'They never found the body, ever. After a while it just got easier to stay out here.'
What with the X-shaped scar on his back, like the one we saw on Michonne last episode, and all the stuff left unsaid by Michonne, particularly with regard to Maggie, is there a hint that a whole bunch of other dark stuff happened during the time jump that we don't know about yet? Especially as the communities are clearly estranged from each other now...
Incidentally, I loved the meeting along the road with the spear-carrying Hilltoppers; it could have been set in medieval England, when messages were carried from one town to another by the fastest riders.
Back to Daryl - his taking himself off reminded me of Season 2, after he'd been fully committed to the search for Sophia. Afterwards, the loss cut too deep and he left the group, to be on his own, unable to bear the company of others. Remember those conversations with Carol, Lori and Dale? Back then, though, as now, he didn't stray too far from those who care for him... and Carol knows now, as she did then, that he does need them, really.
Carol was as brilliant as ever in this episode; how artfully she persuaded the ever-trucculent Henry and Daryl together. As the realist she is, she knows people; she sees that Henry and Ezekiel's idealism could be their downfall. And she understands Daryl better than anyone, as she always has.
As for Michonne, it seems the loss of Rick (and whatever might have happened in the ensuing years) has affected her as Terminus did Rick; that experience started him off on the road to lack of trust in anyone. Now, Michonne is not cutting Magna's gang any slack at all, until they've proved themselves; I loved her face when she talked to Magna.
think the new group are integrating into the show very well - Luke is
lovely, Yumiko, Kelly and Connie seem cool, and I bet Magna will get over her initial strops.
Another good touch - the way they refer to the Walkers as 'sickos'.
I've always liked how the writers have made sure each group has their
own name for them (Biters in Woodbury, Roamers in Alexandria, lame-brains, skin-eaters, etc), as of course they would.
'Michonne ain't so bad. I used to be a Savior. We were real assholes.
Then I got with the programme.'
And so to Hilltop - okay, I was wrong, it never occurred to me that Jesus would be its leader, albeit a singularly unenthusiastic one. He's not a leader type, he's a restless loner. Like Joe Claimed said to Daryl, ain't nothing sadder than an outdoor cat thinks he's an indoor cat. Perhaps he should have just said no, and let super-secretary Tara do the job, as I am sure she will, eventually.
Why does Siddiq think it's a good idea to lecture Michonne about her promise to Carl, when it was his dumb-ass ideas that got Carl killed?
Why are Hilltoppers making clay pots? Weren't there thousands of empty houses and shops filled with crockery when the world fell?
Do the writers realise that if they let Daryl's dog die, it will probably be the worst thing they've done since killing off Glenn and Abraham?
To survive in the post apocalyptic world, do you have to learn how to do the almost imperceptible nod to indicate general approval? Daryl has always been master of it....
The final scene, with Dog, Daryl, Aaron and Jesus riding off to save Eugene was a perfect piece of cinematography...
I think this mid-season finale is going to be staggeringly good!
.... and here's a bit more info from Binge Rampage; some stuff you've seen before, some you haven't, and more about the Whisperers. That shot that is possibly Ryan Hurst as Beta looks terrifying!