The Walking Dead S08E11: Dead or Alive Or
This week on The Walking Dead, the Saviors hunt the surviving Alexandrians as they make their way to the Hilltop; Dwight affirms his loyalty to Rick’s group as he distracts the Saviors and helps lead the group to safety. Eugene leads a crew of Saviors in crafting bullets at a new outpost while Negan plans to taint the Saviors’ weapons with walker blood. Doctor Carson tries to help a feverish Gabriel to safety; the Saviors eventually catch up, killing Carson and recapturing Gabriel.
We rejoin the Alexandria crew as they continue their trek to sanctuary at the Hilltop. They are led by Daryl, backed up by Rosita and Tara, with Dwight in their company, and little Judith to protect. Dwight advises that they traverse through a swampy area that Negan has deemed unsafe for the Saviors to pass through. The likelihood of crossing their path in this area is far less than if they were to take another path.
Tara is still highly skeptical of Dwight’s intentions, and is hell-bent on killing him as revenge for killing Denise. In the middle of the highly dangerous journey, with several lives to protect, she decides to end Dwight. I have always disliked Tara. Her actions in this episode were infuriating. But they did end up in the path of a few Saviors who were out looking for Father Gabriel and Dr. Carson. Dwight revealed himself and was able to lead the Saviors in the other direction so that the Alexandria team could continue unnoticed. Was this an act to prove his loyalty to Team Rick, or was this his way to slide back into Team Negan?
Maggie, Carol, and the others are happy to see the Alexandrians arrive at the Hilltop and receive them with open arms. But the happiness of the reunion is short-lived as they learn of Carl’s demise. The one who takes it the hardest is Enid. Superior acting skills from Katelyn Nacon. Nacon usually portrays Enid as a tough-as-nails young woman who has seen a lot in the apocalypse and just survived somehow.
The Alexandrians’ arrival is also sprinkled in with certain challenges. Maggie is experiencing the challenge of leading the Hilltop, managing the prisoners from the Savior’s outpost, and struggling to survive with dwindling supplies during the war. We also see the conflicting struggle between Carol and Morgan’s morality when dealing with Henry after he murdered Gavin during the altercation at the Kingdom. Henry wants revenge on the Savior that killed his older brother, Benjamin. Carol wants to preserve Henry’s innocence, but Morgan finally breaks and tells him who it was. We will see how this plays out in a later episode, I’m sure.
Faith Is Tested
The scenes with Father Gabriel and Dr. Carson escaping the Sanctuary seemed like a bad buddy-cop movie. Gabriel maintained his faith in the mission, and things seemed to fall into place a little too conveniently for them along the way. All while Gabriel is incredibly sick and slowly losing his eyesight—potentially from his exposure to the toxic zombies at the Sanctuary. So it was obvious that it was not going to end so well for at least one of them. And… it didn’t. They are caught by the Saviors, and thrown into a truck to be taken back to Negan. Dr. Carson attempts to take a gun from a Savior’s holster and is killed in the process, right in front of Gabriel. We see Gabriel in hysterics as they drive away, realizing that his mission has ultimately failed.
While these acts had some of the worst aspects of the episode, they also had some of the best. The makeup on Seth Gilliam was incredible. He looked incredibly ill with the makeup and contact lenses. On top of that, his acting in this episode was stellar, even if the writing was sub-par.
The walkers that Gabriel and Dr. Carson encountered at this location were also pretty cool. The mushrooms and fungi that were growing on them were a nice visual touch. We have not seen something this unique so far in the series. To come up with new and innovative makeup and effects for the walkers after eight seasons of The Walking Dead is quite impressive.
Negan’s New Plan
Nearly all of the Saviors’ stockpile of ammunition has been depleted by the escape from the Sanctuary and the attack on Alexandria. Negan has shifted his reliance over to Eugene and his bullet-making abilities. He puts Eugene in charge of an outpost (and the power goes straight to his mullet), where Eugene begins the assembly line process.
Negan also pulls his remaining population of Saviors (including Dwight) outside for an inspirational speech and graphic demonstration of his new secret weapon… walker guts. He knows that the guts contain something that makes people sick, and he wants to infect the Hilltop survivors and Rick in their next attack.
It was nice to see a wider spread of the cast across this episode. It feels like we are finally catching up and progressing the story along. It’s hard to believe that the current episodes are only about two weeks after Glenn and Abraham were killed by Negan. (Yes, two weeks. That’s why Maggie is not showing her pregnancy yet.)
The writing for The Walking Dead has been on the weak side this season. But they are setting up for some (potentially) interesting developments in future episodes. With only five episodes left in season 8, we can only hope they come before the end of the season.