Warning: Spoiler Alert!
Turn back now if you haven’t seen this week’s episode, if you have, I’d like to introduce you to someone.
A Cult, a Cult, My Kingdom for a Cult
Rick and Co. continue their quest to recruit allies this week. Last week didn’t go so well with Hilltop and the Kingdom, so why not try recruiting a weird trash cult? Seriously, how long did it take to choreograph that silent surrounding maneuver. They must’ve stumbled upon the legendary Cult of Aimless Walking (not a real thing). Rick was bemused by the whole business, right up until the point when he was thrown into a Rancor Pit by the cult leader.
Monty Python presents: The Cult of Aimless Walking
It was fun watching him fight the spike-armored zombie. He stabbed his hand on the creature’s bladed helmet and slashed his leg open, all while Michonne had to watch through a glory hole. Rick proved himself to the cult leader by felling the creature, and he was granted an opportunity to negotiate an alliance. The connection between Gabriel, the cult, and the boat full of supplies came to light, but it was pretty weak. Was there really a cultist forcing Gabriel to take the stuff to them? Were they just going to keep Gabriel captive for awhile? Did they know a rescue would be mounted so they could capture the rescuers and negotiate for more stuff? What the heck is going on?
Well, whatever, the garbage cult made for an interesting set piece, though it also gave us one of the worst and most unnecessary CGI shots I can imagine (see below).
Editor: cut that out! All that shot establishes is how large the garbage dump is, and who the hell cares about that? The Walking Dead is so good at using real sets, including the rest of the trash fortress, which looked great. Just stick to those unless absolutely necessary. This was not one of those times.
Anyway, Rick struck a deal with the cult leader, Jadis, to fight Negan in exchange for some of the stolen supplies they already had in their possession, 1/3 of whatever they can seize from the Saviors, and a boatload (zing!) of guns. Rick also acquired a cat trophy representing his completion of the garbage cult mini-quest. Is it an epic magic item? Or does it just sell for some gold?
I know an orc that would give you 15 copper for that.
Daryl + Carol = Dream Team
If Carol and Daryl teamed up, they would have no problem defeating Negan. That’s probably why the show needs to keep them apart.
The emotional core of the story this week was the reunion of Carol and Daryl. Those two have been through so much together that it was touching to see them hug it out and eat a peaceful dinner together. If one dies, you know the other will go totally berserk. They have earned that tight brother-in-arms relationship and wordlessly portray it to excellent effect. It’s incredible what one shot of Daryl walking away from the house then doubling back for one extra hug can do to convey the depth of their bond that no amount of words possibly could. Television is a visual medium, and The Walking Dead is (often) excellent at using it.
Daryl also chose to lie to Carol about Glenn and Abraham dying to keep her out of the fight. Does Carol truly believe him, or was she crying because Daryl cares about her enough to honor her wish to live in peace? Make no mistake, Carol has setup a fantasy life for herself where she can sit back with a book on the couch while the others struggle for freedom and survival. At least Ezekiel deals with the Saviors himself, even if he doesn’t tell his people about the threat they pose.
Eventually, though, you know reality is going to come rudely knocking at Carol’s door (another zing!). Seriously, the hermit woman who wants to be left alone can’t even finish a page in her book before the next person comes knocking.
Morgan again retreated into pacifism after kicking some butt early on. Daryl tried convincing him to work on enlisting Ezekiel to the resistance, while petting Shiva no less, but he would not budge.
Side note. Of course Daryl and Shiva would get along. Daryl is the human equivalent of a tiger: temperamental, solitary, and very dangerous when angry.
The doors of the Kingdom opening at the end and releasing Daryl was letting the proverbial tiger out of the cage. He never had any intention of being a house cat (see also his leaving Carol’s hermitage). Extended metaphor achieved!
Rick and crew’s foray into the trash cult’s garbage fortress provided both the best and worst visuals of the week. It was also fun and comic-bookie, though a bit silly. The emotional gravity of the episode came entirely from Carol and Daryl, who could hold the entire show on their shoulders if they needed to. It’s a well-earned and complex relationship that is well-worth watching 7 seasons in.
Photos by Gene Page/AMC