The last time a major character died on The Walking Dead we were treated with “Them,” a pitiful filler of an episode where the group moped around walking down a lonely road and comically sidestepped walkers. With the tragic loss of yet another major member of the group last week, how do the characters – and more importantly the show – handle it this time around? This week’s The Walking Dead review looks into that, as well as the many ways that Rick Grimes dun goofed.
Cold opens can be hit or miss, especially on The Walking Dead, but the one to kick off “Try” is a rare moment of self-aware brilliance for the show. For starters, Deanna and the others playing the CD that Aiden usually blasted to pull walkers away from Alexandria during their little memorial is stupid. The fact that it is stupid for Aiden’s family to do it, and the fact that they actually realize it is stupid, is where the bit of brilliance shines through. It shows just how unprepared the citizens of Alexandria are. While Rick, Carol, and others are out dealing with the loss in a real way (all to the thumping beat of the music, no less), Aiden’s family is awkwardly blasting his old mixtape trying to remember him. They are still half in an old world where this type of thing is considered ok, while Rick and the others have completely moved on. Sure, they still mourn deaths (as it gets dragged out later in the episode) but they don’t sit around and light candles anymore. They kill things.
Unfortunately the mourning and killing sections of the episode are a complete drag on an otherwise great hour of The Walking Dead. Sasha continues to have the characterization of a paper bag, with no clear motivations for anything she does. She’s nothing but a vehicle to overreact and create some fake walker drama when an episode wouldn’t call for it otherwise. Similar to the problems with “Them,” having to follow around the group as they mope and kill things doesn’t get anything new across. We know they are sad when people die, and we know they kill things when they are sad. It’s what they do, and we’ve seen it almost every week for the past five seasons. At this point these stages of grief would be fine to glaze over, but they keep being used as blatant filler in episodes, or whole episodes at their worst.
Even the teenagers Carl and Enid running through the forest for no reason makes more sense as they are just stupid, scared, and bored teenagers.
“Try” doesn’t quite pick up exactly after the events of last week, instead it appears to be the night of, or the night after Glenn, Tara, Eugene, and Nicholas returned from their ill-fated supply run. With Deanna’s odd mourning ritual out of the way in the cold open, we explore Glenn and Nicholas recanting their own stories of the run. It’s told in a quick fashion, with both of them cutting back and forth telling their side of the story; Nicholas speaking to Deanna, Glenn to Rick. There’s no real assumption that Nicholas would have misinterpreted the events of the run as poorly as he explained, so it’s clear he’s being a coward and a liar to cover his own ass, something we already know he’s capable of. Glenn on the other hand, tells the whole thing perfectly in line with how we actually saw it. Some shades of grey when it comes to events of the supply run would have served these scenes well, but it’s not hard to blame The Walking Dead for sticking to a black and white image of what happened, to clearly paint Nicholas as the liar, and Glenn as the one being truthful.
The important sections of the episode, book-ending the filler bits of Sasha, Michonne, and Rosita, pointlessly killing walkers is Rick wanting to confront Pete for hitting Jessie. It was clear from the get-go when Deanna rejected Carol’s casserole and burned her condolence note that she no longer trusts Rick’s group. So, predictably, when Rick straight-up asks her to execute Pete, she instantly rejects the idea, giving Rick the first hint that he isn’t in control as much as he’d like to be. This lack of control boils up through the episode into the final confrontation when the Ricktatorship that he worked so hard to build collapses.
Rick would have done well to heed the words from another popular AMC show: “no half measures.” Thinking he was in complete control, and maybe at that point he was, he decided to keep the idea of turning on Alexandria a secret between him, Carol, and Daryl. In doing so, he gave no hints of a mutiny to the other members of his group and even encouraged them to try and fit in for the long haul. In essence, he was keeping his toe in both waters, half-way trying to fit in, and half-way planning to bring the whole society down if need be. You can’t blame him for it in a way, as he clearly wants Carl and Sophia to grow up in a safe place, but it ends up being his ultimate undoing in this penultimate episode.
Just as he suggested they do, the rest of the group has assimilated into Alexandria, and maybe a little too well. Other than Glenn who has his own obvious reasons for not wanting to fit in, most everyone else has found a home in Alexandria one way or another. When Rick finally goes in for the kill on Pete, he finds himself alone among a circle of onlookers covered in blood. When he has complete command over his group, the statement that made may have worked and convinced everyone to rush to his aid no questions asked, but instead it leads to him looking crazy and officer Michonne (who I’m glad to finally see getting some screentime) knocking him unconscious.
The last five minutes of “Try” are just as good as the beginning, but for different reasons. They’re full of tension, plenty of red herrings to throw off your attention, and they leave a lot open for next week. Throughout the episode the ‘W’ carved into to many walker’s head was constantly emphasized, and it’s clear that something is either coming next week or will be left over for the next season.
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