The Walking Dead: Josh McDermitt on 'Rock in the Road' and the best clothesline in TV history
Every week, The Walking Dead’s very own Josh McDermitt, who plays Dr. Eugene Porter, is taking EW behind the scenes of the hit AMC horror series. For each episode, McDermitt will share his thoughts on what went down and what’s coming up, plus walk us through the ins and outs of the show. This week, McDermitt dives into season 7’s midseason premiere, “Rock in the Road.”
I’m so excited The Walking Dead is back as it was a rough couple of weeks between my Green Bay Packers losing in the playoffs and the premiere of this half of Season 7. I mean, what was I supposed to do for all of those vacant, barren, and lifeless Sundays? Spend time with loved ones? Nice try….
This episode picks up at the Hilltop with Gregory (Xander Berkeley) saying no to joining Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the gang in trying to fight Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). For the record, I still love/hate Gregory. He’s such a smarmy bastard, but I like those characters in a story. They’re wildcards. But the good news for Rick (is it, though?) is the Hilltoppers want to fight. This leads to…
The Kingdom… where they reunite with Morgan! We see Morgan (Lennie James) reveal to Rick that he had to kill a man. This is HUGE! I’m sure you remember the battle Rick and Morgan had throughout season 6? But then when Rick and Co. are lobbying King Ezekiel (Khary Payton), Morgan chimes in and says if there’s another way to get rid of Negan, we must try for that. Oh, Morgan, you’re not fully changed yet… hopefully someday soon you’ll turn into that very sane renegade killing machine we know is hidden deep within your soul.
To me, Richard (Karl Makinen) should be leading the Kingdom. Richard is ready to go to war, but King Zeke doesn’t want to join the effort. He wants to take care of his people and he has a good reason: All the children with missing limbs are because he sent them out to fight the Walkers when he shouldn’t have. The one redeeming thing he does is that he offers asylum to Daryl (Norman Reedus), which is great because the Saviors are on the hunt for Negan’s missing Man-Toy. But in talking to Rick, Richard has a point when he says this isn’t about soldiers. “We’re making them stronger. The more food we give them, the more arms, the more everything — every day someone gives them something, they become harder and harder to beat.” Again, more reason for him to lead the Kingdom. This guy gets it.
I can’t get enough of Rosita (Christian Serratos) in this episode or the last eight episodes for that matter. Best line of the night went to her when the group was walking out of the Kingdom and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) basically says that she knew King Ezekiel would turn them down. Rosita’s bitchy response is why I love her. “The hell you telling me for? We both had sex with the same dead guy. That doesn’t make us friends.” She’s so savage. I need to see more and more of Rosita each week. But also what a horrible thing to say to the sweet badass known as Sasha. I also noticed Sasha had her hand on her knife the whole time. It was almost like she knew talking to Rosita could get a bit hostile and she just wanted to be ready to go in case she had to stab Rosita if things got out of hand.
Poor Rick is leaving behind his man-crush Daryl. This has to be a tough decision for him, but Rick ultimately says, it’s the smartest play and Daryl knows it. Can’t argue with logic as we see Simon (Steven Ogg) and his band of Saviors come tearing through Alexandria later in the episode looking for Daryl. Honorable mention for best line of the night goes to Rick when he tells Daryl to stare King Ezekiel into submission. Hilarious.
Let’s talk about the dynamite scene and our group retrieving explosives: Big props to Rosita (Christian Serratos) for knowing things. I can’t tell if she had this knowledge on her own, or because of Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) or perhaps because of Eugene (badass)? I want to believe option three for obvious reasons. They spent a lot of time together in a military truck on their way to Washington, D.C. I’d like to think in between sneaking a glance at her cleavage, Eugene was dropping some knowledge on her that she was able to use in this episode. And if I may… Rosita is the only one who mentioned that Negan took Eugene. I mean, I know they want to go to war with the Saviors, but I feel like at this point, “THEY TOOK EUGENE, DAMMIT” should be the lead-in with every sales pitch. But maybe I’m biased?
Best clothesline in television history? I say YES! I honestly don’t remember reading that part in the script so it came as a total surprise to me to see Rick and Michonne (Danai Gurira) on a Sunday drive, clotheslining a herd of Walkers. I giggled with excitement. Big props to our producers and writers for coming up with new and awesome ways to kill zombies.
And Rick smiles at the end. I’m not exactly sure what he’s smiling for, but we haven’t seen him do that in a while so that was nice. I’m interested to see next week and why he decided to show his toothy grin with about 100 emo kids pointing guns at his face.
Let’s talk Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam). We can’t forget this one. It looks as though he stole the food in the pantry and skipped town. Or did he? Rick and the gang go to investigate, believing that he couldn’t have done that. We’ll see, I guess. I thought I saw someone else in the car with Father G, but maybe I’m getting old and my eyes are paying tricks on me. I know you want more insight on that one, but I’m not going to give anything up. I’m so excited the show is back and I’m pumped for these next eight episodes. I hope you are, too; I’m happy you’re with us. Keep coming back here to EW for my weekly episode recap. I’ll see you next week!
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.