The Walking Dead, S07E10

The Walking Dead, S07E10

“New Best Friends” Strives for Connection And Intermittently Succeeds


Another week, another slog through a dystopian apocalypse only marginally more disconcerting than the one we’re slowly ambling towards in the real world. God, whatever happened to escapism? This week’s episode, “New Best Friends”, is regrettably not the My Little Pony/The Walking Dead fanfic mash-up that I submitted to AMC last week (though they do owe me for that title). Instead, it’s an installment of minor progressions and tedious stalling, both in the narrative and amongst the communities scattered throughout this world. If it were even a little more compelling, I’d call it frustrating; for the most part, it’s just kinda incidentally unsatisfying.

Rick, uuuh, does not read these reviews. (AMC)

This week, we open on a meeting between Gavin’s small group of Saviours and King Ezekiel’s vanguard. In a moment of conflict so contrived I could almost see the writers out of frame pushing the characters into one another, one of Gavin’s crew confronts Ezekiel’s right-hand man, Richard. Though these two did have a scuffle in a prior episode, the reason for them beefing now is basically so Gavin can hang a timer on the plot, warning that something will have to be done about Richard if this keeps up, sewing the seeds of discord twixt the King and his most loyal subject.

Morgan – being the seething, pacifist, quasi-samurai clusterfuck of a character that he is – of course interjects in the scuffle, loses his magic stick and gets sulky about it. When he returns to the Kingdom, Daryl then slams him for going along with Ezekiel and engaging with the Saviours despite all the suffering they’ve inflicted upon the main group. It seems for a second that there could be an interesting dynamic to explore here, between Morgan’s calculated desire to preserve life and Daryl’s hotheaded need for vengeance, but then they both just stare at each other for ages like they’re about to kiss before the convo finishes abruptly.

Forbidden fruit is always the juiciest. (AMC)

Then, just before the opening theme, Richard kicks off one of the main plotlines by asking Daryl to help him deal with the Saviours. After the credits have rolled, he reveals his plan to do this, which is so idiotic it’s almost impressive: he wants Daryl’s assistance in killing a convoy of Saviours, then intends to leave a trail to Carol’s house so they will attack her in retaliation, which will then spur King Ezekiel to fight back against the Saviours. Yeah, there’s some typical undercurrents of the “by any means” approach even the good guys need to adopt in this world but, beyond that, this seems particularly foolish of Richard on a couple of levels:

  1. “Hey, random dude I just met who looks like he immediately kills people that piss him off, I was just wondering if you’d be cool with sacrificing an innocent woman for the greater good?”
  2. “I know that you and Morgan go way back, but there’s no way you’d know that other person that Morgan goes way back with, right? Oh… And you say you don’t want her dead?”
  3. “Well, anyway, Imma do this thing to manipulate King Ezekiel into fighting back against the Saviours, ’cause that’s literally the only action he could possibly take if Carol gets murdered. Fuck, I am a genius!”

Needless to say, Daryl beats the piss out of Richard’s dumb arse and heads off to find Carol. Meanwhile, Rick and his merry band are captured by a group of survivors, who we will call the Junkers from this point on. The Junkers, who you might remember got the drop on the main group last week, bring everyone to a junkyard and their leader, Jadis, summarily asks a tribute of them all if they wish to stay alive. Rick’s response suggests both mounting Stockholm Syndrome and a poor grasp of corollaries: he insists that his people already belong to Daddy Negan and that, if the Junkers kill them, the Saviours will come and kill the Junkers in return. “You only have two options when it comes to the Saviours”, he continues: “Either they kill you… or they own you.” But, fuck me, there’s also a third option he forgot to mention was part of the two options (which would technically make it a whole other number of options, known as “three”): “Join us.” Yes, your massive group should join up with the five of us you just kidnapped ’cause, otherwise, you wouldn’t stand a chance!

Jadis and her crew, slumming it. (AMC)

To her credit, Jadis takes a brief moment to consider all of the ways she could point out the absurdity of what Rick is asking, before replying with an incredulous, “No!” Then, after a reeeeeeeally dumb skirmish, Gabriel (shit, remember Gabriel? Yeah, he’s there too) convinces the Junkers to stand down with the most compelling argument he can muster, and I’m paraphrasing here: “The Saviours have stuff. You want stuff? You can have their stuff!” And, yep, that somehow seems to work, which could function as a higher commentary on material gain being prioritised over people’s lives in this reality if it wasn’t so fucking drilled into us already from every interaction with Negan last year.

When Rick and Jadis then climbed to the top of a trash heap and she explained her sudden openness to working with the former’s people, I rolled my eyes at how quick a U-turn she had pulled in the two minutes since threatening to kill them all. For that reason, I was pleasantly surprised by Jadis pushing Rick into a trash pit and making him face off against a spiky-faced zombie named Wilbur (I am not kidding) in order to prove himself. The brawl itself, however, is fairly rote and faux-tense, concluding when Rick dumps what looks like a couple of light garbage bags on Wilbur and then stabs him in the head with a shard of glass. Having sufficiently impressed Jadis, she agrees to work with Rick’s group for a cut of the stash they take from the Saviours. Sure, I guess.

“Take me with you…” (AMC)

Look, with all that criticism aside, I will say that my heart isn’t entirely a hunk of snarky gravel, because Carol opening the door to Daryl and embracing him with tears in her eyes was quite lovely. I’d be hardpressed to tell you why exactly these two are so close; that is to say, specific shared incidents between the two don’t leap to mind (because this show’s been running fifty years now), but the characters have both been around so long and have such apparent chemistry even in this brief scene that their affection for one another feels innate and unforced. It’s that rare sort of moment this show has actually earned the right to milk, making it all the more remarkable that it doesn’t linger on it.

Additionally, while we’re on the bright spots, Melissa McBride (as Carol) does some amazing work in her scene by the fireplace, asking Daryl in a barely-contained plea if everyone at Alexandria is still ok. He lies to her, as I expected he might, in a nice bit of acting that still serves as a stupid delay of the inevitable knowledge that will bring her into the fight with the Saviours. Not to mention, it’s a fairly hamfisted and unappealing way to establish a future rift between the two of them when they’ve just now reunited. Once again, even in its more engaging moments, watching the glaring cable ties manipulating each character on The Walking Dead makes it a deeply predictable and fairly pointless experience. Holy shit, that should be the show’s tagline: “Deeply predictable and fairly pointless.” That’s the next thing I’m submitting to the network, for sure.

“I can’t remember why we’re friends but, dammit, I missed you!” (AMC)


Quotes & Random Thoughts


  • Daryl’s crossbow already strains credulity as a viable weapon, so that random women and Richard using a bow and arrow is basically just cosplaying at this point.
  • “Read the goddam room, sensei!” You couldn’t have said that two minutes ago, Gavin?
  • Richard: “I would die for the Kingdom.”
    Daryl: “Why don’t you?”
    Any gripes I have aside, the fact remains that you do not wanna fuck with Daryl.
  • That interminable weaving walkabout routine that the Junkers did when they entered the scrapyards reminds me of an exercise I used to do with my acting class back at Uni. Man, and I thought we looked stupid.
  • Also, the Junkers all speak like they were taught English by a foreign Yoda.
  • That green screen shot of the landscape behind Rick at the top of the trash mound was bad. Like, cardboard cutout scenery under dull lighting bad.
  • I don’t wanna be that guy, but just because the world is now littered with ambulatory corpses and Negans, doesn’t mean that nail through the hand isn’t gonna cause some more pedestrian problems for Rick. Dude is gonna have some wildly unpleasant lockjaw.
  • “Trash: my one weakness! OH, THE IRONY!” Presumably Wilbur’s final thoughts.
  • Jadis: “You know we will win?”
    Rick: “Ooooh, I know it!”
    No shit.
  • A smiling, sheepish Jerry brought cobbler for Carol. No exaggeration: this might have been my favourite moment in the entire seven seasons of the show.
  • Gabriel: “What made you smile? What made you so confident?”
    Rick: “Someone showed me… enemies can become friends.”
    I tear into Rick a lot of the time, but I don’t envy Andrew Lincoln having to say such ridiculously hammy shit on the regular. He almost even pulls this line off. Almost.
  • Daryl pets Ezekiel’s giant pussy (his tiger). Subtext?

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