The Walking Dead Review: East

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By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

The Walking Dead is adapted from previous source material. This review is not meant to compare similarities and differences between the show and comic. It’s meant to be read purely as a take on the episode as it stands.

That being said, SPOILERS AHEAD.

“You’ll be alright.”

The opening to “East” was about as ominous as you can get, considering there was blood pooled on the pavement and Carol’s recently acquired rosary beads. It makes sense considering the way last week’s episode ended, as presumably Carol was on the road for her great escape. The storytellers decided to flashback a bit, though, to when Carol was packing up and preparing to bolt. It was interesting to see Carol go into something of a PTSD-like state when Denise’s life was being recounted to her. Carol didn’t even seem to hear anything being said; instead, she went to some other place mentally.

Cutting back to what got Carol in the presumed state the episode opened up with is a group of Negan’s men stopping her on the road. What’s a little strange is the direction of her character towards this passive, non-aggressive version who’s terrified of everything. Going back to “The Same Boat,” Carol has undergone something of a personality shift where she seems to be tired of living the way she’s lived. It’s becoming more and more likely that she really is tired of being so ruthless, but it’s such a dramatic turn for her as a character that it’s still a little hard to digest. Despite this, she still manages to singlehandedly take out about five of Negan’s men without hesitation.

Her state of mind contrasts pretty sharply with that of Rick and Michonne. The two of them are clearly loving life, although the Adam and Eve metaphor was a little heavy-handed. Michonne reached to her nightstand and grabbed an apple to take a bite, followed by Rick doing the same. Sure, it’s possible that they keep an apple within arms’ reach for a handy breakfast, but a deeper look would imply that by eating the forbidden fruit they’re about to let evil into the garden. It’s foreshadowing for sure, but knowing how the show plays out it’s likely a good portent of things to come.

Speaking of Rick, the Rick and Morgan buddy road trip is a lot dourer than the Rick and Daryl road trip. In many ways, Rick and Morgan sort of started a journey together when Rick encountered Morgan in the neighborhood with Morgan’s son. Their paths have crossed a few times here and there, but now that they’re together, it offers a pretty solid juxtaposition. Rick’s son Carl has been through the ringer, but he’s still alive. Morgan’s son, meanwhile, isn’t. Rick has become ruthless and violent, while Morgan has become peaceful and non-aggressive. The two have gone down very different paths since the show began and it’s interesting to see them interacting with one another.

The change couldn’t be more apparent than when Morgan confronted Rick about Carol’s actions at the prison. Carol burned the two survivors because they were sick and Rick made the unilateral decision to banish her. Morgan asked Rick if she did the same thing now if he would kill her, to which Rick responded he’s do just that or thank her. Rick has grown in just as many ways as Morgan has over the course of the season and it’s entirely likely that he would do either one of those things. But Morgan recounted how he saved the Wolf at Alexandria, who in turn saved Denise who turned Carl—a fascinating way to spin the story and turn it on its head against Rick.

Carol wasn’t the only one who bolted, as Daryl felt some personal revenge was needed for Dwight. He took off, prompting Glenn, Michonne, and Rosita to go out after him. Common sense doesn’t often prevail in The Walking Dead and even though Glenn tried his hardest to talk some sense into Daryl, Daryl felt personally responsible for Denise’s death. It was Daryl who tried to help Dwight and Polly earlier in the season and his generosity essentially got Denise killed when they returned at different points. And of course Dwight seems to live in the forest, as he stumbled upon Glenn and Michonne in an ambush.

How the Saviors can be so stealthy in the woods so frequently is pretty astounding. They even got the drop on Daryl and Rosita when they tried to save Glenn and Michonne. That surprise clearly left the survivors with something of a problem, as the episode ended with a gunshot that appeared to hit Daryl and splashed blood on the camera. If Daryl meets his end next week, there will likely be nothing short of riots across the board, considering how well-loved of a character Daryl is and has been throughout the series. It would be a pretty tremendous introduction for Negan, though.

Negan has been pitched as a massive, unknown terror for most of the season and he’ll get his debut next week in the season finale. The Saviors have shown themselves to be quick to violence and Negan is likely as violent as they come. The Hilltop is terrified of him and the Saviors, so if Rick actually encounters him there will be a ton of fireworks. “East” made it pretty clear that someone will lose their life in the show’s finale and it’s going to be something that will stick with viewers the entire offseason. Until then, all fans can do is speculate.

Four Stars


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