The Walking Dead 'Crossed' Review: Be Careful What You Wish For
Many fans have been complaining about the last few episodes of The Walking Dead focusing on only a small portion of the main group, and last night's episode addressed these dissatisfactions, as all the core members of the cast were given a proper amount of screentime. Unfortunately, there were so many threads in this episode that it was difficult for the writers to craft any cohesive themes, and the episode's status as the penultimate episode of the season meant that it was mostly set-up without much actual action or enough time to do significant character work. It wasn't a bad episode, and it was certainly an efficient lead-in to next week's finale, but it was just not particularly memorable. One of those purely utilitarian episodes that I'd likely skip if I ever did a rewatch.
The most memorable part of this episode by far were the napalmed walkers. They were disgusting, shriveled pink things that were melted into the sidewalk, and Daryl sticking his fingers into one of their eyes like a bowling ball and then ripping off its head in order to beat a hospital cop senseless with it was the best zombie kill in recent memory. The napalmed bodies also obliquely alluded to the military's extremely disturbing response to the zombie apocalypse: giving up on Atlanta and firebombing the entire city. Who knows how many of those walkers were still alive when that happened.
It's unsurprising that Daryl got the resourcefulness award, but it was more surprising to see him take on the role of Rick's conscience. Or, not surprising so much as relatively new, as we saw him essentially do the same for Carol last week. He's determined to save Beth because he cares about her, but also because she's partially responsible for this softer side of him coming out. Norman Reedus said in an interview with Hollywood Reporter, "Beth has meant a lot to Daryl. It wasn't so much lovey-dovey feelings; she had hope in her. Hope in anyone is hard to find in this world." Beth helped him find his hope, and therefore his humanity, which allowed him to give their hostage the benefit of the doubt and aim for a peaceful resolution with Slabtown.
Unfortunately, if this episode did have a cohesive theme, it was an argument against sentiment and compassion. Daryl and Sasha both gave Bob II the benefit of the doubt, and now he may foil their entire plan to save Beth and Carol. If Beth and/or Carol die (which seems likely at this point), then it will be the indirect result of a little bit of faith. And no one is implicitly indicted more for holding onto a defunct moral code from the Old World than Father Gabriel, who still can't manage to kill a walker, even though it's probably the more merciful thing to do for all involved.
I'm pretty sure Judith is going to kill a walker before Gabriel. #TheWalkingDead— Meredith Jacobs (@MeredithJJacobs) November 24, 2014
That being said, the show takes a bit more of a balanced approach than that, as it spends a good deal of the episode glorifying the strength of a character like Beth, who actually draws on her compassion as a source of that strength. She's inspired to be more competent than we've ever seen her by the thought of Carol dying, with even Dawn admitting, "I thought you were weak. You proved me wrong." She's also shown to have her wits about her, which is refreshing; her "How much power does your DVD take?" was the best line of the episode, and she's shown to understand that Dawn is probably setting her up by giving her the key to the medicine closet, even as she refuses to let that stop her from helping Carol. Although the general trajectory of the show seems to be "give people the benefit of the doubt, and terrible things happen," the writing is more nuanced than that. Even if Daryl's actions in this episode have dire consequences, the writers definitely seem to distinguish between Daryl and Beth's shows of compassion when violence isn't strictly necessary and Father Gabriel's hypocritical cowardice, not to mention that they went out of their way to show the frightening logical end of the "trust no one" attitude with the Terminus plotline.
-Maggie's reactions to Abraham were perfect this episode, particularly the "Sit down or I'll put you down." She's a great character, although I would like her even more if she spared approximately three words about her poor lost sister.
-Speaking of people who don't care about their family members: Rick has gone back to being allergic to Judith, so all is right in the world.
-I wouldn't mind a new Glenn and Rosita ship based solely on the characters, but I don't think the characters have so much chemistry that it's strictly necessary to go down this road, and part of the charm of Maggie and Glenn's relationship is its stability. I think it would be a mistake to try to shake it up, particularly when they already have their fill of Caryl/Bethyl shippers. (Although half of them might be gone after this midseason finale!)
-Speaking of potential new ships:
Noah's gonna date Beth then he's gonna die. Because being Beth's boyfriend is like being the dark arts teacher at Hogwarts. #TheWalkingDead— Alyssa (@TalkRheeToMe) November 24, 2014
-All of the Bible passages seen on the wall of the church were thematically relevant, but this one hits the hardest:
Luke 24:5 "In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, 'Why do you look for the living among the dead?'"