I’m afraid not even Ezekiel, with his infectious zeal for the fight, is enough to snap the show out of its sleepwalk through the rebellion at hand. Yes, we’re only two episodes in and, yes, things are actually happening now. But old themes keep getting rehashed as the plot, which could’ve been much tighter and packed into fewer episodes, gets more screen time than needed. What kind of people does this apocalyptic world force us to become? The better question: When have we not been faced with that? I’m not sure The Walking Dead has much else to say that hasn’t already been addressed at this point — or, for that matter, wasn’t already addressed in its companion Fear the Walking Dead — beyond pitting Rick’s group against new adversaries, having them stumble onto new encampments, and bringing back characters once thought to be dead in an attempt to shake things up.
Even the opening, which blends from character close-up to character close-up, looks more like a promo for the upcoming episode. That’s a minute and 27 seconds that could’ve been used elsewhere. Then Aaron and Eric lead an assault on another Savior outpost, where I couldn’t help but notice that the few extras hit by gunfire calmly lie themselves on the ground as if to take a nap instead of acting like people who’ve been pelted with bullets. No struggle, no physical twitching from their wounds. They just rest their heads in their arms and remain still. For a show that’s given us some true spectacles of zombie warfare, it just seemed lazy.
At least there’s Ezekiel to perk us up: “Onward! Whoo!”
The various squadrons of Hilltoppers, Alexandrians, and Kingdomites continue targeting various Savior strongholds. Aaron and Eric’s team just mean to contain their enemies in the small space until enough of the dead rise as walkers and kill the rest. Morgan, Tara, and Jesus attempt to get around a “moat” of walkers, while Rick and Daryl are trying to find where the Saviors are keeping their weapons. Ezekiel and Carol dust themselves off from the explosion that released a small herd of walkers from a nearby building. Their men make quick work of the dead, despite the pounding Phantom of the Opera-esque organ music accompanying the battle. But now they have to track the Savior who threw the grenade in the first place before he runs back to warn the others.
Diane, the archer of the Kingdom, silently takes out a couple guards on patrol amid a little distraction from Morgan, and their team infiltrates the outpost, killing whatever Savior they come across. They spread themselves out around the building, just outside various rooms, and wait for the signal to move in. Tara picks the one in front of a spray-painted message that reads, “Tomm says kill the bitches.” When Jesus gives the order to attack, Morgan, paired with two inexperienced fighters, is caught off guard when more Saviors than expected emerge and gun all three of them down.
Don’t worry, Morgan isn’t dead.
Tara and Jesus find a Savior cowering in a closet, having peed himself. He begs to be spared and throws his hands up in surrender. With “hellfire” waging in the hallways outside and Morgan M.I.A., Jesus and Tara are on opposite sides of this current predicament; he wants to keep the man alive, moved by his story about a wife and kids and forced labor, but she doesn’t believe him and is anxious to carry out the plan, which was to kill them all. Jesus argues they shouldn’t become like the Saviors, but Tara is fueled by revenge and becomes more angry when she sees Maggie’s prenatal vitamins and other medical supplies stolen from Hilltop.
Tara is proven right when the Savior grabs Jesus and puts a gun to his head. He stomps Maggie’s vitamins and taunts Tara by saying he peed himself on purpose. When he goes to shoot her, Jesus disarms him and knocks him to the ground but still doesn’t let Tara kill him. “It’s not about revenge, it’s about getting it done,” she says. Jesus ties him up and notes that Maggie will listen to him if this debate continues.
When the rest of the Saviors retreat, Tara, Jesus, and Diane lead their men to find another exit. Morgan, meanwhile, pops awake, staring into the bloodied eyes of the corpses that used to be his allies. Newly enraged, he picks up two guns and sprints after the Saviors. (Recap continues on the next page)