Carol and Maggie are taken to a facility by Paula (Alicia Witt) and her group after witnessing Rick and his crew take out the munitions outpost. Carol feigns a scared persona to fool them while Maggie is interrogated. Paula attempts to set up a trap for Rick but Carol escapes with Maggie and the pair kill Paula and her crew along with the following group that arrive. Rick and the others find Carol and Maggie leaving their prisoner, Primo admitting that he is Negan. Rick executes him on the spot, a move which disturbs Carol after everything she went through to survive with Maggie, who is also disillusioned with their survivalist lifestyle.
If ever there was a time to dig a little deeper into Carol’s psyche, now was the prime time to do it. Tonight’s episode was voracious in its tight shots and Saw-esque atmosphere but also capitalized on characters who might have had promise in future episodes as the opposition. One piece of subtext we understand for certain is that Negan has his influence buried in these followers who may seem independent in their own right, but deep down, are driven by one villainous champion. Great episode overall and valiant choice to keep everything centered on the pair that were captured.
Alicia Witt was fantastic, a true living parable to Carol’s tempered nature. It’s both a testament and a shame that she was given such dominant traits but in the end was forced into a villain-of-the-week showdown that left her the same as so many others in the past, dead and torn up. Still, she was magnetic and cautious to a point, except when it came time for monologue to shine, that’s when Carol knew exactly what she was dealing with. If a character like Paula can perform at this caliber, then Negan will be all the more monumental when he arrives.
As stated before, our core focus centered on Maggie and Carol’s situation. Nevermind the pawns that drew in with Negan and their shattered back stories, but here we get to see two main-stay characters finally reach a point in their lives where violence and killing can’t be the only things they know. I might have expected such a change of heart with Maggie, but I really wasn’t with Carol. It’s as though she tapped into that old self that Paula determined she did, but it resonated in such a way that Paula became a horrid mirror for what Carol would eventually become, so heartless that killing brought no emotions whatsoever. It’s good that these characters reach those moments of epiphany regardless of the direction it takes them. It’s just a matter of seeing if those changes reflect in a way that they can still survive in such brutal conditions.
It’s a minor note, and I understand the long-standing delay in revealing the machination that is the cult of Negan, but seeing our characters still in the dark over who Negan is and how much influence he has is starting to wear a little thin. No one answered Carol about Negan except to say that “We are all Negan.” and Primo admitted he “was” Negan even though we as an audience know he isn’t. It’s a surprise in a surprise but we know the surprise already and it’s not going to be one except for those who haven’t read the comic, and that’s my sticking point. As a comic fan it’s like knowing the Red Wedding is on the horizon and TV only watchers are going to be really treated to some mother-of-all-carnage, but I’m just tired of waiting. Bring it on!
The last stand between Paula and Carol. It was tense, and I’ll admit, Carol could have a long lease on this show, but she was also painted in a way that had she been taken by the walkers instead of Paula, I would have thought she found that catharsis she needed. Playing into her role would have been very ironic if she played it too well. And though Paula never did anything specific to earn her fate, she was on her own and inferior to Carol’s raw tactics. Good play out to this climax.
Carol really does earn the spot tonight. I’ll admit I was starting to have my doubts about where she was going as an interesting character. But I think I understand how she’s been built up this season and it took this episode to finally reach a point where who she’s becoming is affecting her negatively. But the dual role she played, letting the truth slip through the facade was brilliantly done and though she pulled through, seeing her react to Rick’s killing of Primo was the exclamation point to her saturated problem with losing all sense of humanity. She is easily projecting onto Maggie, which leads me to believe they’ll grow closer in friendship in the coming episodes.
The cut on Maggie’s stomach was likely very light if she was cut on the skin at all. For a moment, I thought they were about to go in a very different direction on this show as compared to the comic. That has happened plenty of times already. Way to keep me on my toes.
Things will likely return to some semblance of status quo now. Rick can’t keep running into Negan’s crew over all three episodes unless there’s another long drawn out stand-off like this one which I don’t think is the right move. Negan needs to hit like a freight train and considering Rick thinks the worst is behind him, that’s when everything will come crashing down, just like that tower during the mid season.
I do wonder if now would be a good time to skip ahead a few more months, or even further to when Maggie has her baby. At the rate we’re going, it’s going to be a very long 7 months to get to that birth. I don’t mind skipping ahead, it could help sell the idea that Negan really isn’t looking to bite back that fast.
9 out of 10. Keeping the action and dialogue centered on Maggie and Carol was the right move. We’ve seen Rick plan and dirge through plenty of scuffles like this and seeing the villain group’s perspective is fresh during this kind of plot. We had some character development and the semblance of finality to the “Negan” epidemic, but wiser fans know this is just one more calm before the hurricane hits home. Rick and crew will need to dig their feet in a little deeper to make Alexandria a fortified home that now trades. I liked Paula a lot and was sad to see her leave to sudden. If this is any sign, we’re have more characters of her stature ready to kick ass and take the names. Thanks for reading.
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