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THE WALKING DEAD Recap: Rick and Co. Make Some “New Best Friends”

THE WALKING DEAD Recap: Rick and Co. Make Some “New Best Friends”

Editor’s note: This post contains spoilers for the latest episode of The Walking Dead! Proceed with caution, survivors. For reals, if you haven’t yet watched this week’s episode, “New Best Friends,” we highly suggest you do so before proceeding. Okay? We good? Let’s go.

There’s just no getting around the fact that Carol is the most interesting character on The Walking Dead. In fact, I’d wager that while her increased presence might not have saved the first half of this season, it sure as hell would have improved things considerably. But I’m willing to put that behind me for the time being, so long as we get more Carol-centric episodes like “New Best Friends”.

Not that Carol’s the only one to do the emotional heavy lifting this time around, but the further we move from her orbit here the less invested I am in the characters on screen. Rick obviously has a lot to do in this, the second episode of this season’s second half, but it’s primarily physical. After meeting Jadis, the leader of the community (dubbed by fans “the Garbage Pail Kids”) by which he and his group were apprehended at the end of last week’s “Rock in the Road,” he’s immediately forced to prove himself in gladiatorial combat against a walker decked out the like the Mouth of Sauron, complete with steel spike-studded helmet shielding his undead brain. (“His name’s Winslow,” says Jadis, an obvious reference to the title character in Brian De Palma’s Phantom of the Paradise, a disfigured musician who wears a similar chrome dome.) After triumphing over the creature (with a little help from Michonne), Rick makes a deal to get his new buddies guns in exchange for their help in the coming war against Negan.

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It’s worth nothing that this new community–which looks, walks, and talks an awful lot like a race of aliens on Star Trek (seriously, I get that this could all take place in the future, but not the distant future)–is not a part of Robert Kirkman’s comic book. So all bets are off as far as how trustworthy they are.

Elsewhere, Daryl’s thirst for revenge against Negan reaches critical mass. So he strikes up a partnership with Richard, who’s become just as antsy with bloodlust after the Kingdom’s latest meeting with the Saviors results in him getting his ass whooped yet again. Unfortunately, Daryl soon learns his new business partner’s plan involves sacrificing Carol, so he sets out on his own, and checks up on the widow Peletier. Seemingly content living a life of peace (albeit at the cost of a community) Carol has no time for visitors. But she loses her composure upon seeing Daryl and hugs him until he whimpers for her to let him go.

The Carol-Daryl dynamic is one of the show’s most popular, and it’s easy to see why when she breaks down in tears upon explaining to him why she left. She’s never been better at articulating her feelings–not with Morgan, not with Ezekiel–as when she tells him she would have kept killing to protect the people she cared about until there was nothing left of her. When he initiates the conversation by simply asking, “Why’d you go?”, he sounds like a broken child reunited with a neglectful mother. It’s more heartbreaking than any abuse we’ve watched him suffer this season at the hands of the Saviors.

Though Daryl winds up leaving Carol and the Kingdom and heading off for Hilltop, “New Best Friends” ends with another newly formed friendship–between him and Morgan, who identifies with the bowman when he learns he spared Carol the knowledge of her friends’ deaths. That friendship should soon help ally the Kingdom with Alexandria, with Hilltop, and with the Garbage Pail Kids. Though as Gabriel points out to Rick, a price will have to paid before final victory can be achieved. The question is, who will wind up paying it?

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Undead Afterthoughts

— Scottish actress Pollyanna Macintosh is awfully good as Jadis. With a minimum of dialogue, she gives her a spark and an inner life that rivals that of any leader we’ve yet met on The Walking Dead.

— “I figure any guy that has a pet tiger can’t be that bad.”

— Any guesses as to how long it’ll be before Carol re-enters the fray? Sooner or later, her supply of romance paperbacks has to run out.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).

Images: AMC


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