This review will be filled with SPOILERS for The Walking Dead season 6’s penultimate episode, “East.” If you have not seen the episode yet. We would highly recommend doing so before reading this. If you don’t care about spoilers, then read on, but don’t say we didn’t warn you.
In my review of last week’s episode of The Walking Dead, “Twice as Far,” I mentioned that a few fans have felt some of this season’s recent episodes have been filler. That they show has been killing too much time while it gets ready to unleash the Big Bad we’ve all been waiting for since Jeffrey Dean Morgan was announced to be playing Negan. I presented my case for disagreeing with such assessments, but “East” does no favors to help my arguement, since it feels, more than any episode in this back half, less like a complete story and more like a chapter of a larger tale.
Daryl has been simmering since Denise’s death last week, and he’s about to burst with hatred for Dwight, who stole his bike, his pride, and the life of one of his friends while she was under his protection. So he sets out in search of the on-again, off-again Savior, while Rick and Morgan take off in pursuit of Carol. “East” starts with a flashback to the latter’s last night in Alexandria, but I’m not sure it’s necessary, since it doesn’t tell us much we didn’t already know about Carol’s mental state, why it prompted her to leave town, and her regret upon doing so.
On the road, we get another look at her increasingly distraught psyche, when she runs afoul of a gang of Saviors who blow her tires out. She trembles in tears while warning them they’re in danger. Then she mows them down with a gun hidden in her sleeve. We’ve already seen Carol go full Rambo in other recent episodes, but what justifies this latest massacre is the fact that it proves once and for all her tears aren’t a front, that they’re not just part of a role she’s playing to prompt her enemies to lower their guard. She’s deeply damaged, as most people would be if they had to kill the number of people Carol has in cold blood. And it looks like the one person who truly understands her plight is Morgan. Since he elects to continue searching for her and sends Rick home, I’m happy to see she’ll once more be squaring off with him. But will it be the last time?
Rick begins this episode cockier than ever, when he wakes up with Michonne and tells her not to worry, that they’ll take care of Negan the same way they’ve solved every problem to come their way. His attitude has me worried there’s truth to the recent rumors that more than one regular will perish in the season finale. That it could be a lot more than one. Because if there’s one thing The Walking Dead loves to do (in addition to staging shocking deaths) it’s punishing pride.
There’s certainly some prime new candidates. Still more of our people are placed in danger this week when Glenn, Rosita, and Michonne go off in search of Daryl, whom Rosita well knows is after Dwight. There’s not much narrative purpose behind this search party other than a means of placing all of them in the hands of the Saviors, whom Dwight appears to have rejoined. After Michonne and Glenn are captured, Daryl and Rosita prepare to rescue them when the archer is surprised from behind and shot point blank. Blood splatters the screen, followed by a quick fade to black. But before riots begin across the world, we hear a muttered, “He’ll be alright.”
I dislike this last note, because it’s obvious the show is trying to have its cake and eat it too, causing us concern for one of our favorite characters while refusing to own the moment in which his life is jeopardized. It’s like this season’s controversial Glenn fake-out, but in hurried miniature. It’s a safe bet that Daryl will not be one of those killed by season’s end. But who will be? Each step she takes places Rosita higher up my list. She doesn’t have much of an arc right now, and it might bury Abraham in remorse for taking up with Sasha should something happen to her (though I’d rather Sasha not have to pick up the emotional pieces). Glenn too is a likelihood. But then I feel like he’s been living on borrowed time since Dumpstergate happened.
— The Walking Dead gives us our first ever couple’s shower scene this week. Unfortunately, in the wake of the group’s assault on the Saviors, it’s the least erotic couple’s shower scene ever.
— Morgan is saddled with some pretty lame dialogue this week. On his mission with Rick, he’s forced to state the obvious at every turn. But then maybe I’m giving Rick too much credit and he really does have no idea what blood looks like.
— To paraphrase Michael Caine in The Dark Knight, some men just want to watch the world burn and some men just want to tear it a new asshole.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).