The sixth episode of the season follows one of the best so far, and its lapse in quality is all the more evident for it. Tedious and unengaging, it was a disappointment from start to finish.
While the episode ditched the structure of a single storyline and treated us to footage of more of the characters, it still didn’t feel complete. Yes, we saw more from characters (some of whom are well-liked) but we still didn’t get enough information, their plots crammed into the nooks and crannies of the bigger picture. This denies the show the opportunity to expand and really create the sense of the large world that it’s attempting to portray. Not only did the scenes feel squeezed in, but many of them were infuriatingly ridiculous, as people made decisions that were absolutely irrational and out of character (see Daryl’s slow-but sure descent into antagonism). Perhaps this was an attempt at portraying the impatience and irrationality of war, but – already at the end of my tether with the show – I refuse to give it the benefit of the doubt.
“…we still didn’t get enough information, their plots crammed into the nooks and crannies of the bigger picture.”
The action – and the zombies- are usually the most praised elements of the show even since the quality in writing and story began to dwindle- however, now even that is rapidly devolving. A show once-praised as grounded now resorts to cartoonish action sequences, whereby people are blown to bits with a bazooka from ten feet away- with no ramifications for the person pulling the trigger. Yes, it sounds awesome in theory- however, it requires a level of suspension of disbelief that the Walking Dead has never had to rely on in better seasons. It goes to show that the writers’ room is focused more on keeping people materialistically entertained, and less on the layered drama of seasons past.
Refusing to learn from the mistakes of Season 7, the show returns to the Scavengers, a group of primitive survivors who were the undoubted bane of the previous season. Unfortunately, their story was left wide open in the season finale, so their return was inevitable (and almost unanimously unwanted). Their inclusion in this episode made for one of the most contrived arcs the show has explored so far in Season 8. I’m sure I wasn’t the only person shouting at the television in despair and disbelief as we saw Rick going about the most unnecessary and painstakingly boring task yet. So infuriating were Rick’s scenes in this episode that King Ezekiel’s were nearly superb by comparison. In the wake of his defeat, we got another chance to see a more human side to the King, in a frank discussion between himself and Carol. Both characters addressed how outlandish his “King” persona was, finally telling the audience that this isn’t in fact standard apocalyptic procedure. It was a little taste of reality that was well needed.
Another dud and a disappointment, The King, the Widow and Rick is not the final straw- thanks to minor highlights- but the camel’s back is near breaking point.