AMC’s The Walking Dead went off road and off the books in “East”, the penultimate episode of the show’s sixth season. While it didn’t bring the events of Season 6 to a head just yet–they’re saving that for the 90-minute season finale–it did end with quite a few of Alexandria’s most resourceful members in very real jeopardy. It’s a safe bet that not all of them are going to make it back to the walled city alive, but just which character that is remains a mystery. (You can still cast your vote for who you think will bite the dust in Season 6 in our poll here.)
Our heroes have done a lot of silly things in recent episodes, which is no new pattern, but in this episode even the most experienced and level-headed among them were outsmarted by the Saviors. And it all started with desertion by one of Alexandria’s most valuable players.
Last week’s episode ended with the realization that Carol had finally had a mental break of sorts. She decided that being out in the badlands on her own, away from the people she loved and would have to defend through killing others, would be the best way to avoid any more blood on her hands. That line of thinking was quickly shown to be rather foolish since the world outside the walls of Alexandria is every bit as savage as it has been since the show’s beginning, perhaps even moreso thanks to the hardened and capable Saviors lurking around every turn. In a terrible twist, Carol’s attempt to keep her friends and family safe actually resulted in a number of them facing certain death by episode’s end (though Carol’s sequence with the hidden weapon a la Trigun was a fun little wrinkle).
So while Rick and Morgan teamed up to go in search of Carol–each for their own reasons–Glenn, Michonne, and Rosita went after Daryl. In last week’s preview of this episode, it looked like Daryl might be going after Carol, but in actuality he’s going in search of Dwight in order to get revenge for Denise’s death. Basically, after the Alexandrians’ attack on the Saviors’ compound, which cemented the new agreement with the Hilltop Colony, the Alexandrians have been preparing for the inevitable backlash…and now their best fighters are scattered out in the woods, leaving only the relatively inexperienced folks behind. Perfect.
Eventually, Rick and Morgan came across Carol’s Mad Max-style car and the scene of bloodshed the resulted. Rick’s proud of her, a woman he once exiled from their group of survivors because she did something cold and calculating–killing two of their own afflicted with a highly contagious sickness–without conferring with him first, even if it was for the good of the group. Morgan, however, wanted to find her to prove to her that there’s always another way, a way that avoids killing at all costs. Season 6 has been playing up this angle all along, with Rick now fully committed to killing first and asking questions later, Morgan newly converted to doing just the opposite, and Carol caught up in the middle but philosophically pulled apart by the two extremes. “East” didn’t resolve the moral quandary and the finale might not either, but something tells me that final 90 minutes is going to put a real strong foot down on one side of the argument or the other.
Rick and Morgan’s paths soon parted, which came as a bit of a surprise considering the promise of their eventual reunion that had always been at the back of our minds throughout the series. Morgan, who’s going to walk the Earth like Caine spreading his message of “All Life Is Precious” (at least until he gets killed), confessed to Rick about the events that transpired among himself, Carol, Denise, and the escaped Wolf back in Alexandria. This was all news to Rick, something he’s not entirely thrilled to hear. It’s clear these two weren’t going to get along all that well, as evidenced by Rick trying to shoot down a potential threat (i the back, as the man was running away) when he was shoved off his aim by Morgan. With that, Morgan went after Carol while Rick headed back to Alexandria (after basically forcing a gun into his friend’s hand)…but he’s the only one who had returned.
Elsewhere, Rosita, Michonne, and Glenn tracked Daryl, even though he ended up tracking them. He’s hellbent on hunting down Dwight, partially to finish what he should have done in the burnt forest and partially because he feels guilty for Denise’s death. Glenn almost convinced Daryl to come back to Alexandria with them where they were all needed, but Dixon’s headstrong nature took him deeper into the physical and metaphorical woods. In a surprising move, Rosita went with him. Sure, part of it is the fact that she feels a share of the guilt for Denise’s death and part of it is the fact that Rosita’s been jilted by Abraham for Sasha so I guess you could say she’s feeling a bit reckless.
Recklessness might be the theme of tonight’s episode. The strongest fighters in Alexandria ventured off into the woods, got split up, and ended up surrounded by well-armed Saviors. The first folks to get captured are Glenn and Michonne, of all people. But don’t worry, Daryl and Rosita will rescue them, right?
As you saw, it looked like Daryl and Rosita had the drop on the Saviors who had Glenn and Michonne tied up, but it was actually a trap set by Dwight to lure his buddy Daryl into his sights. We saw Daryl get shot, point blank, by Dwight and his handgun, but we also heard Dwight say, “You’ll be alright.” So here’s the question: Will he? Will he really be alright? I highly doubt they killed Daryl off without a proper sendoff in the episode, so I fully expect him to be severely injured for the finale. (I’m guessing that Dwight just shot Daryl’s arm or hand so that he can’t use his crossbow again.) But now that this foursome is in captivity, Morgan is searching for Carol in the wild, and at least one Savior who survived Carol’s “Fury Road” is on the loose, who is going to end up being the hero and who is going to end up dead?
All in all, and with that final scene aside, this felt like a classic penultimate episode. Sure, there were a lot of questionable actions taken, but at least the stakes were raised a bit more for one final showdown at the end of this season. We know that Negan is coming. We still don’t quite know which one of our heroes–one or maybe more–isn’t going to make it out alive. And we have just one more week until we find out!
Rating: ★★★★ Very good
The music’s a bit better this week, though you can’t go wrong with Johnny Cash. “It’s All Over”
What’s up with the apple scene with Michonne and Rick? Biblical reference or just a nod to how good the Alexandrians have it now that Hilltop is trading with them? Either way, “pride goeth before the fall.”
Michonne: “Maggie has us on a schedule and I’m not pissing off a pregnant lady.” Rick: “Yeah, not that pregnant lady.”
Rick: “The world’s ours, and we know how to take it. Everything we need is right here inside these walls, and we’re not losing any of it again. I’m not.”
Rick: “No one else leaves. Everyone, stay ready for a fight.”
Hopefully you noticed the baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire etched into the grip of that handgun that Carl picked up. That might as well be a Bat-Signal for Negan’s arrival.
Enid: “Let me help. Put up your feet and eat some pickles.”
Rick: “Tire tracks pointed east, we go east.” Morgan: “Savior’s compound, the one that you went to, that was west. Seems like she went east.”
Morgan: “There is no ‘right.’ It’s just the ‘wrong that doesn’t pull you down.’” Rick: “It hasn’t pulled me down.” Morgan: “I think it will, because I know you.”
Rick: “I’m proud of her. She put four of them down. That woman’s a force of nature.”
Glenn: “It’s gonna go wrong out here.”
Morgan: “People can come back, Rick.”
Rick: “I don’t take chances anymore.”
Rick: “You’re coming back.” Morgan: “Yeah, but if I don’t, don’t come lookin’.”
Rick: “Morgan…Michonne did steal that protein bar.” Morgan: “Oh, I know.”
Maggie: “I have to keep going and I don’t want anything getting in my way.”
Is Maggie going through birthing pains already? Or is this to indicate that either something is wrong with the pregnancy or that she’s been struck by a sudden foreboding due to Glenn’s predicament?
Dwight: “Hi Daryl.” ::bang:: “You’ll be alright.”
Let’s start a riot.
In the meantime, here are some sneak peeks at the season six finale, “Last Day on Earth”: