Last week I had zero time to write a proper “East” post, so instead I’ve decided to combine the penultimate episode with the season 6 finale. Don’t be angry with me!
A simple wrap-up of “East” is as follows: Carol leaves, Daryl leaves, people go looking for them. Maggie has pregnancy pains setting up the plot for “Last Day on Earth.”
I’ll expound on “East” a little more. Daryl feels bad about what happened to Denise, especially since he knows he could have killed Dwight way back when. He goes out on his own looking for Dwight’s group, which obviously isn’t a great idea in a time of heightened threats. Knowing this, more people leave Alexandria to get him back… what? I get the “nobody left behind” thing, but our heroes know The Saviors are a big threat, they know The Saviors aren’t close to being all dead and they know that Dwight at least knows where Alexandria is located. Leaving home base now is frankly real dumb and I don’t get why three of their best soldiers – Glenn, Rosita and Michonne – have to go looking for one guy. Especially Glenn with his pregnant wife in Alexandria and knowing he narrowly escaped death once before. Short of Judith, he should be the last person trying to leave Alexandria. They leave, Daryl won’t come back to Alexandria quietly and at the end of the day, Dwight gets the drop on them all and their all captured. And Daryl gets a shot to presumably the shoulder leaving him weaken.
On the other side of thing, Morgan feels responsible for Carol’s leaving and he resolves to go after her. This is fine to me; Morgan doesn’t want to kill anyone anyway so he’s expendable to this group. In contrast to Glenn, Morgan should be the first survivor to leave Alexandria given his lack of killer instinct. But, again for some dumb reason, Rick decides to go with Morgan and I have no idea why. He’s the frickin’ leader for Odin’s sake! Why is he so cavalier about leaving his people, two of which are his own flesh and blood, to go on a scavenger hunt with Morgan?! It makes no sense, but it’s an easy way to push on us the threat of The Saviors. Bad writing? Probably. By the end, Rick thankfully goes back to Alexandria and leaves Morgan to look for Carol.
End of “East”
As a way to make our heroes leave Alexandria yet again (this time for an admittedly good reason), Maggie is having pregnancy pains, so Rick along with Abraham, Eugene, Aaron, Sasha and Carl decide to head to The Hilltop’s doctor, the only doc they know of now that Denise is dead.
I don’t hate this plot point. I don’t love it, but it’s reasonable and it gives the whole episode a sense of urgency as our heroes are trying to avoid The Saviors. And I love that this episode is set up like a horror movie, with each encounter with The Saviors getting worse and worse.
Rick rolls up on the first group of Saviors blocking the road. There’s only a handful of them, so Rick feels confident he can swing his dick around without any consequences. The main Savior of this group, who we see for the rest of the episode and who I hope stays around for a while, tells them how it’s going to be – they’re probably going to kill someone in Rick’s group and then Rick is going to give The Saviors Alexandria’s stuff. Obviously, Rick doesn’t like this plan, counters with the same swagger that the Savior just did feeling hopeful that he has the upper hand. I mean it’s Rick, c’mon, everything always turns out alright for our favorite Georgia sheriff right? They back the RV up and head in a different direction.
Each road our heroes go down is ultimately blocked by Saviors. They know where Rick is trying to get and they know the land better than Rick and co. On each encounter, it becomes obvious that Rick doesn’t have the upper hand this time. And The Saviors aren’t hostile initially. They only stand there menacingly, weapons in hand, only meant to look intimidating, knowing full well they could take Rick’s group down at any moment. This fact is becoming clearer and clearer to Rick at each barrier and the fear grows inside him. Meanwhile the urgency of Maggie’s ill state is wearing on him and us, the viewer.
While some could argue that there are too many road blocks and they become a drag for the viewer after like the 4th one, I think the message is well conveyed that Rick is up shit’s creek with The Saviors. For non-comic book readers, this realization is even more shocking because they find out at the exact time Rick realizes that he’s drastically underestimated the enemy. This episode does well in worrying the audience as Rick becomes visibly shaken and even begins to tear up when he’s speaking with a very sickly looking Maggie. Knowing full well how this story ends up, my palms were even sweating during the final half-hour or so during my first viewing. However, the buzz that the first 89 minutes of “Last Day on Earth” gave me was stomped on in the final minute. But before I get to that, let’s talk about the B plot a little bit.
Continuing last episode’s hunt, Morgan finds Carol is rough shape, but she refuses to return to Alexandria, even after Morgan gives another one of his holier than thou speeches. They stay in a library overnight and Morgan awakes to find Carol gone, obviously trying to get away from another speech. She runs into a Savior who she neglected to kill last episode and he shoots her a bunch in nonfatal body parts to watch her die slowly. His whole presence is contrived, meant only for Morgan to kill him later, which he does. Not the only instance of terrible story telling this episode. Two more people armor-clad gentlemen show up to investigate the gun fire and they offer to bring Carol back to their settlement to give her aid.
This Savior’s been shot a bunch, acknowledges that he’s going to die slowly, but instead of heading back to The Savior’s compound to maybe live some more, he decides to follow miles and miles of track to catch Carol so he can watch her die along with him… what?! Bad, bad, bad, bad storytelling by Scott Gimple and the gang, YET AGAIN keeping a character around and drawing out his existence (in essence, wasting our time to give unneeded length to the episode) only for a small payoff later that doesn’t justify the length of time they spent on him or her. I’m truly sick of TWD writers and AMC thinking were sheep and we’re going to blindly follow everything they throw at our eyes; that we can’t recognize phony, uninspired, loose plot lines when we see them. Stay tuned for a larger rant later in this post.
But for as unnecessary this scene is, it did finally introduce us to The Kingdom. We’ll have to wait until next season to get a fully introduction to their community, but I’m glad AMC is going ahead with the comic story and including The Kingdom, hopefully expounding on it further than the comic does. I’m also glad that Carol’s disappearance (as stupid as it looked at the time) leads the viewers to the introduction of The Kingdom. It puts two of our heroes who don’t want to kill safely away from The Savior action for now, but lets us know that we’ll see them again.
In the source material, the altercations with The Savior and the eventual confrontation with Negan is called “Something to Fear.” Until now, the viewers thought Rick’s gang handled The Saviors well, winning every confrontation, and that they were just another enemy like the Termites or Woodburians. This episode gives the viewers, possibly for the first time in the series, something to fear. As a last-ditch effort, they set out on foot thinking they can sneak past The Saviors. Wrong. They run right into The Savior’s trap, where from complete darkness, blinding lights engulf our terrified heroes, revealing to them dozens of hard, pipe-hitting soldiers who all look like they want to kill Rick. Completely powerless, they drop to their knees and Negan steps into picture. Rick is uber nervous, sweating bullets are he looks around wildly in disbelief. Then, starts the long, drawn out introduction of Negan and his selection process of who he wants to kill.
The payoff at the end of his speech isn’t worth the 10 plus minutes he takes to make it.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan commands the screen as soon as he steps into picture. And that’s saying a lot given how long we’ve been with our heroes; the personalities we’ve become greatly familiar with. We forget all about them when Negan begins to speak in his placid, almost soothing tone about who he’s going to kill and how he’s basically enslaving Alexandria. He stays calm, cool, collected through the scene, but there’s a definite under current of viciousness, quite the same that we know Rick is capable of. I loved Morgan’s performance and I really can’t wait to see a whole lot more of him in season 7, but his introduction into the series was waaaaaaay ruined by the god damn anti-climactic, POV shot of one of our heroes getting Lucille to the dome.
All season I’ve put up with Gimple’s contrived stories and bullshit suspense pulls knowing that this scene was coming up and things would get interesting going into season 7. And they will, but to START a season with a major character death is, as plain as the nose on my face, horrible storytelling. They did this to start the second half of season 6 where Carl gets shot, Jessie get’s dead and we’re left to wonder where Alexandria goes from there. A great end to the half season right?!!!!! NOPE! MAKE IT THE FIRST EPISODE COMING BACK! So we weren’t at the time wondering for too long what comes next for Alexandria, because the very next week we found out and a whole new storyline started in the second episode of this half season. WHAT?! Same thing will happen in season 7 next October. Instead of fearing The Saviors and wondering how Rick is going to defeat these new villains, we’re stuck in season 6 wondering who was killed. We’re still back at that one scene in the woods, hoping and wishing we knew who got the bat so we can move on to heavier matters. At this point, I don’t even care what major character died because it’s not the most important point of next season. It most certainly would have been the most talked about point and most emotional point of season 6, heading into the offseason on a high note. NOPE NOPE NOPE! Gimple and AMC strike again, pulling us out of the moment, treating us like fucking idiots because at the end of the day, they know this is bad storytelling. They know we’ve all been waiting for this big moment, putting up with their happy horse shit because we’re all excited for this one scene. They fuck with us because they know they can. They know we’ll be rip shit now, but in October, like moths to a fucking flame, we’ll be back for more; paddling up shit’s creek with our mouths open.
I just don’t understand why it has to be this way. Constant shit being tossed at us and we eat it up blindly, hoping that it’ll get better somehow. It’s like a dead-end relationship where neither party knows how to end it properly. It’s a crying shame because the source material that they’ve based the series on is a masterpiece. The comic is iconic in the medium, and maybe TWD show was like that when it started, but I fear that it’s lasted too long. The writers don’t know how to sustain the greatness and it’s dying a slow death, a few million viewers at a time.
Season 7 is going to be great… just you wait…