Who said, “Things couldn’t possibly get worse!”? Whoever said that, needs to shut up, especially when it comes to this show. The writers delight in causing tension for its viewers. I spent more than a few moments actually on the edge of my seat or screaming at my TV. That’s how good this show is. Mostly at any scenes that involved children.
I read somewhere that children exist, in movies and TV shows, to give adults a reason to have drama, or to create tension by putting them in danger. They rarely have their own plots and backstories. If that’s the case, then tonight is Sam’s (Jessie’s son) time to shine because there is no more annoying character this episode. First up, the blatant metaphor of having an ant invasion in his room, paralleling the Walker invasion outside.
Sam has spent the past couple of days holed up in his room trying to avoid the dangers of the world, like zombies and Wolves. He just wants to be safe. I get that. I think the message here is that you can’t hide because the danger will only come for you later.
Another recurring theme of this season is how different children are coping with the zombie apocalypse. Enid, in JSS, gives up on living in favor of simply surviving. Her argument is to just let everything go,run away, not deal with it or get close to people. This is her way of psychologically checking out.
Ron’s method of coping is to become deeply myopic. Instead of focusing on the larger dangers, he has winnowed his attention down to the most immediate problems, which are the loss of his father and then his girlfriend by the Grimes’ family.
Of all of them, Carl seems to be handling the apocalypse the best. Part of it is that Carl is reasonably intelligent and has a great supporting cast of his father’s friends and followers. He’s been taught by Rick since he was very young. He’s also able to see the best and worst of Rick, in play, and then weed out the worst behavior by paying close attention to how his father’s friends react. So Carl, unlike the other kids, is stepping up to the idea of a being a capable protector and a fighter, with an eye on issues beyond his own needs. Ron, Sam and Enid, were never taught these things. We’ve seen him show his ability to make command decisions a couple of times this season.
We pick up where we left off, last week, when the watchtower, which had been damaged in the attack from the Wolves, finally gave up, and fell into the compound. This destroyed part of the wall, allowing the Walker horde to invade Alexandria.
Once again, you have to remember that all of these episodes are happening almost simultaneously or at least within the same couple of days. Earlier that morning the heavy hitters were out herding walkers, when the Wolves attacked the town and everyone scrambled to get home. During their scramble, everyone is separated. Rick has a near death experience, so do Glenn and Daryl. Enid runs away but is found the next day by Glenn.
On the second day, Morgan has an intervention with Rick and the others, and is discovered to be holding one of the Wolves hostage. Spencer makes reckless decisions which lead to a falling out with his mother. Maggie confesses she’s pregnant to Aaron, who finds out that it was his recruitment photos that led the Wolves to Alexandria’s doorstep.
This same day, Maggie has a near death moment herself and just barely makes it to safety, as the Walkers head to the heart of the town. Everyone runs for safety. Rosita, Tara and Eugene are trapped in a garage, but later, escape. Deanna and Rick hole up in Jessie’s home with Judith, Michonne and Carl. Morgan and Carol, find an abandoned house.
Deanna, severely injured in their run for safety discovers that she’s also been bitten. She has a lot of advice to impart to Michonne, as she is one of the few people who believes in Deanna’s vision for the town. Deanna tasks her to think about what she wants for Alexandria and for herself. It’s interesting that she didn’t say these things to Maggie, who will be busy with her own issues, soon enough.
Carol, also injured, manages to escape Morgan’s attention for thirty seconds and runs off to kill his captive. Morgan reaches her just in time while Denise, and the Wolf, look on with interest. The Wolf keeps encouraging Carol to kill him, while Morgan tries to talk her out of it. Carol threatens to kill him too and the two of them duke it out, until Morgan, exasperatedly slams her to the floor, knocking her unconscious.
I love both of these characters, understand both their viewpoints, and see this as an example of Fight Philosophy, where a fight isn’t just two people hitting each other. Its a contest between competing philosophies, Morgan’s philosophy of Compassion and Carol’s philosophy of Pragmatism. Each one of these ideas has a price. For Carol the price for doing what needs to be done is her soul or sense of self. This is simply not who she is or should be and Morgan can sense that she is headed down a wrong path. Morgan, however, gets to keep his soul, but because he won’t kill, the price may be his life.
This is made evident when the Wolf, taking advantage of the situation, attacks Morgan, takes Denise hostage and escapes.
Outside the walls, Glenn and Enid try to figure out a way to get inside and help their friends and family.
At Jessie’s house Sam has a panic attack when he realizes the town has been invaded by zombies. He has to be talked down by Jessie, who tells him to pretend he is a brave person. The house itself is invaded when Ron, with his usual incredible timing, decides now would be a good time, to hash out his problems with Carl. When Carl finds him in the garage, he tries to shoot him and the two of them wrestle for the gun, shooting out the garage windows, which allow the zombies to get into the house. Later, Carl lies to Rick, about how this happened.
Rick and the others come to the rescue but are too late to stop the tide of zombies. Short on time, Rick’s risky plan is one I like to call The Zombie Guts Maneuver, first introduced by Glenn, I believe. Once again Sam panics and has to be talked into it by his mother. I don’t think Jessie is going to teach him to be strong enough, fast enough, for him to survive. He’s had a very coddled existence, and is simply not equipped, for this kind of thing, on such short notice.
Unfortunately, they have to leave Deanna behind. Rick gives her a gun, which I think she’s supposed to use on herself, but she goes out in grand (but painful) style, when she elects to use the bullets on the invading Walkers.
The group successfully makes its way through the Walker horde in the house, and outdoors, where their mission is jeopardized by Sam who, utilizing some of Ron’s incredible timing techniques, (this must run in the family) decides right then would be a good time for him and Jessie to have a heart to heart talk. So yeah, if someone doesn’t do something soon, little Sammy is going to get eaten.
Sasha, Abraham and Daryl are still on their way back to Alexandria, when their vehicle is commandeered by a gang of men on bikes. Men who say they’re from Negan. Incidentally these are the same guys that ambushed the group earlier, and chased after the trio that captured Daryl, in the episode Always Accountable.
Who said things can’t get any worse?