The Walking Dead Tries Another Fake-Out Death, Because It Worked So Well the First Time

Monday, 28 March 2016 - 2:06PM
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Monday, 28 March 2016 - 2:06PM
The Walking Dead Tries Another Fake-Out Death, Because It Worked So Well the First Time
Remember when The Walking Dead was an exciting show with high stakes and huge, shocking developments that didn't need to resort to trickery? In its sixth season, TWD is running out of steam, and after completely failing to learn its lesson from the "Where's Glenn?" debacle, ended another lackluster episode with a manipulative, (most likely) fake death.

Spoilers for The Walking Dead "East" ahead!


Let's start with the good parts of this episode, because there were a few, although the bad parts definitely outweighed them. First, the sequence with Carol and the Saviors was incredibly tense, and Melissa McBride perfectly played the character's mixture of fake terror and real remorse over the prospect of killing more people. And the show also continued its trend of acknowledging that the survivors have gone too far in justifying cold-blooded murder in the name of pre-emptive protection; after his harrowing experience at the Saviors' compound, Glenn finally went back to being the voice of reason in the face of Daryl's reckless grief, and the conversation between Morgan and Rick, while a little heavy-handed, was much more philosophically shaded than usual.

It was fascinating to hear Rick admit that he had become as ruthless as Carol—probably more so—at the time that she killed Karen and David, which was probably her most controversial act aside from the "look at the flowers" scene. Over the course of six seasons, Rick has gotten very close to becoming a sociopath, and it's refreshing to see the show acknowledge that. I haven't re-watched the second season in a while, but I can only imagine that Shane's actions are pretty tame compared to what Rick has done at this point.

But other than that, this episode was pretty much a disaster. The Walking Dead is at its worst when it employs the usual B horror movie tropes, and almost everything that happened depended on the characters making uncharacteristically stupid decisions. Carol left the group because she didn't want to kill people anymore, but completely predictably puts her people in more danger by leaving them. Carol knows her friends, and should have known that they would search for her, not to mention that with the Saviors around, she will inevitably be forced to choose between killing, dying, or giving up Alexandria. She would have been much less likely to need to kill people if she had stayed within Alexandria's walls.

And then there's the Glenn/Rosita/Daryl/Michonne fiasco, which sees Daryl and Rosita being needlessly reckless (although that can be somewhat excused, considering the emotional turmoil both characters are in), and the Saviors getting the drop on everyone, First, they kidnap Glenn and Michonne, and then when Daryl and Rosita find them, Dwight sneaks up on both of them, even though Daryl is an expert tracker who had his guard way up after losing Dwight the first time around. 

And then there's the kicker at the end: Daryl getting shot. It's bad enough that Carol is ambiguously wounded, but we're not worried about her at all, because there's no way she would get a fatal wound offscreen. But then fan favorite Daryl is shot in a muddled manner that's filmed so we can't see where in his body he was shot, or even definitively whether he was shot. This smacks of Glenn hiding under a dumpster, although at the very least, Reedus assures us that Daryl was, in fact, the one who got shot:

Opening quote
"Exactly what you see happens, happens. It's not a trick. It's definitely Daryl getting shot. I won't tell you where he's getting shot. But you see [Dwight] pull the trigger, and that's Daryl's blood." Reedus told TVLine. "I can't say whether or not he's dead. But he is definitely shot."
Closing quote


Opening quote
"You should be very worried about Daryl. At the end of the episode, there's a comment that Dwight makes ["You'll be alright"]-and we're really good about throwing you off base. That comment might not even be to Daryl. It could be to Rosita-or to anybody there," Reedus told THR. "Or it could be to something that some scuffle that happens directly afterward. Do you trust that guy? Anyone automatically assuming that's the obvious play is trusting words that come out of that guy's mouth and we're really good at throwing you for a loop. So… food for thought."
Closing quote

So it may not be a trick on par with Glenn-gate, but it's still annoying. I sincerely doubt that Daryl would die in such an abrupt, anti-climactic manner, which means that making it so ambiguous is just meant to manipulate the viewers. I'm fine with Daryl getting shot, even though he's one of my favorite characters, because we really do need to know that no one is safe. But considering that there's a 95% chance he'll be fine by the end of next week's episode (in which Norman Reedus is set to appear), this doesn't feel like real drama. It feels like a cheap trick.

On the plus side, we got our first look at Negan (and Lucille) in the promo for next week's episode! If anything can serve as a soft reboot for this flagging show, it's the arrival of this villain:



Reedus echoed the sentiments of the other cast members regarding the finale, and called it their "most gut-wrenching finale yet":

Opening quote
"It's super shocking and it's pretty hardcore. Andy said he was late for work because he read it all night; Josh said he threw the script; Lauren threw up," said Reedus. "It's gnarly. I was instantly curious. I had ideas what would happen and it made you feel sick and it was painful."
Closing quote

So, who do we think is going to bite the big one when Lucille arrives? We'll have our final predictions for you later this week, but as of now, I'm starting to think it will be Glenn, Maggie, or both. I thought they would put Daryl in mortal danger by the end of this season in order to prove that "no one is safe," but they're clearly trying to accomplish that with this annoying shoulder-shot, and Maggie's apparent miscarriage might make either her or Glenn do something reckless in next week's episode.

What do you think?

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