Posted Sunday, October 22, 2017 by RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
While "The Walking Dead" remains a hugely popular show as it enters its 100th episode Sunday, there is a general sense of zombie fatigue in our fair non-zombie world.
And for the creators of the show, the ability to change the tune or find new beats gets increasingly difficult. This first episode is more like a first salvo in a new war, which should in theory be fascinating. But we kind of know that no matter what Rick's crew does now, it is merely an appetizer for what's the come. Negan isn't going to die. It's too soon.
But what's frustrating is nobody of note dies on either side. Not a one.
And man, the amount of artillery and explosive material expended is mind boggling. Where are they getting all this from? They shot out Sanctuary windows with seemingly hundreds of bullets. Yet did they actually kill anybody? It was bizarre and nonsensical.
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Sure, attracting a horde of walkers to the Sanctuary was not a bad idea. The Saviors will be distracted for awhile. And it was cool to watch Daryl hit some explosives while riding his motorcycle and play Pied Piper for the walkers.
Otherwise, this was a decidedly one-sided opener that created more questions than answers. Even Rick's crew taking out several of the Savior sentries makes little sense. If the Saviors have so many people as Negan boasts, why not have two sentries at a time? And why are they just standing around with no protection? That made it comically easy for Rick's group to take them out.
Plus, in reality, usable gasoline would have been long dissipated three years into a zombie apocalypse. Nobody would be driving any vehicles, but they need some Mad Max action so I can overlook that for the sake of the storytelling. At least we find Carl actually searching for gasoline. We almost never see that on this show. (The side story about him not wanting to kill a seemingly "good" guy and then leaving him food with a note saying "sorry" felt out of place.)
After this episode, we have no idea what the Saviors have in store for Rick. That is clearly by design. But it's also annoying.
We also know that Dwight is feeding intel to Rick surreptitiously, attaching arrows with notes. (Is that really that surreptitious? I presume that's how Rick new where the sentries were located.)
And we see Gabriel trying to save Gregory, whose efforts to get the Hilltop on "his" side fail miserably. Naturally, Gregory leaves Gabriel in the lurch because he's Gregory.
To save his own hide, Gabriel gets around some awfully lethargic walkers and hides in a trailer. Unfortunately, he finds out he's in the same space as Negan, who provides one of his dumbest lines ever: "Do you have your sh***in' pants on? Cos you are going to s*** your pants!" How that ridiculous line managed to leave the writer's room is beyond me.
We also get speeches. Lots and lots of speeches, mostly from Rick but with assists from Maggie and King Ezekiel.
Rick is his arrogant self, trying to evoke his inner George Patton. "It's ours by right!" he proclaims. "Those who use and take and kill to carve out the world and make it their alone, we end them! We don't celebrate it. We don't have shame about it either."
He gets grandiose, saying, "We keep making the world bigger... together!"
But wait! Rick is actually humble. He tells Gabriel, "It isn't about me."
Gabriel agrees: "It isn't. You made it like that."
At the end of the episode, he gives one more speech: "With everything we've beat, everything we've endured, everything we've become, if we start tomorrow right now, no matter what comes next, we've won. We've already won!"
Plus, we get what may be a fever dream of Rick's or perhaps a fast forward where he awakens to "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Another One Rides the Bus" with a long beard and Michonne, Carl and a much older Judith happily prepping for an owl festival in Alexandria. Is this an actual happily ever after or just what Rick hopes for?
Clearly, the producers didn't want a "downer" of an episode like the season seven opener when Negan brutally killed Abraham and Glenn. Instead, we are told to love Rick's crew because they're doing the right thing and if that means unleashing an entire armory of bullets without killing anyone, so be it!
Take that, bad, bad Sanctuary windows!
EPISODE GRADE: C-plus