Monday, February 13, 2017

The Walking Dead, Season Seven, Episode Seven: Rock In The Road

Image result for the walking dead season 7

When we last left The Walking Dead, much of our merry band of survivors had reunited and they had made a promise to find a way to fight back against the Saviours.  Due to the large force that Negan commands, for the first time ever, this is a threat which Rick and his ragged band cannot take out on their own.  It means that they are going to need allies. This necessitates a major increase in the population of The Walking Dead, which will allow a lot of nameless faceless people to die in what is sure to be an epic battle, as well as set the stage for a more settled type of survival.

The first order of business is to get the asshole Gregory on side.  Gregory is adamant that the Alexandrians didn't live up to their end of the bargain and therefore, he is not going to join a war against the Saviours.  Gregory wants Rick and his crew to simply disappear so that The Hilltop is not tainted or accused of working in collusion.  At this point, I really want to know why it is that people are even following Gregory? What did he do to inspire their trust in his leadership abilities?  Jesus is not shy about pointing out that the last time the Saviours decided to teach them a lesson, it was Maggie who saved the Hilltop.  This is absolutely foreshadowing a change of leadership at the Hilltop and the only one who doesn't really see it yet is Gregory because he's an arrogant asshole.

While the adults have been talking, it seems that Enid ran around telling everyone of the plan to resist the Saviours.  It seems that Gregory doesn't have the true pulse of their people because quite a few step forward to volunteer to fight.  It's absolutely a start however even with the volunteers, Rick & Co., still don't have enough people to take out the Saviours, particularly when they only have two guns. Rick moves to head back to Alexandria, not wanting to be gone if Negan returns but Jesus suggests that it's time that Rick meet King Ezekiel and besides, Jesus stole one of the Saviours radios and now they can listen in on them.

Once in the Kingdom, Rick and Morgan reunite. Morgan's chooses to respect Carol's expressed desire to be left alone and simply tells Rick that Carol's gone.  Morgan explains that Carol was attacked and that he had to kill someone to save her. This of course is the big set up because Morgan will weigh in on Rick's suggestion that all of the communities join together to go to war. Morgan is still on his anti kill program despite what he did to save Carol.

Rick tries to sell Ezekiel on going to war with Negan but Ezekiel is not impressed that Jesus told Rick all about the issue they are facing, given that he has chosen to withhold information about Negan from his people. Rosita and Michonne detail the havoc and death that Negan has brought into their lives. Richard is absolutely in support of going to war against the Saviours. After hearing everyone out, Ezekiel turns to Morgan to find out what he thinks.  Morgan, who is clearly still living in lala land points out that many people could die in a war and suggests that maybe they could find a way to just capture Negan.  At this point, I'm super irritated with Morgan. I know that he didn't see the savage way in which Glenn and Abraham died, but he knew these men and should have felt something more at the loss of their lives.  War is not an easy thing and it's not as though Rick was asking to go to war for no reason.  I think they've beaten this pacifist Morgan thing to death. Ezekiel decides he wants to think about it for the night and Rick tells a story from his childhood about the rock in the road, hence the title of the story.

While Rick is making his pitch to Ezekiel, Father Gabriel is busy clearing out all of the food from the pantry in Alexandria.  He also grabs shovels and knives and anything that can possibly be used as a weapon.  In the dead of night, Gabriel drives off without saying a word to anyone.When Gabriel pauses to close the gate, a head pops up indicating that he's not alone.  Has dude gone back to his cowardly ways after spending so much time professing how he has changed?

Benjamin takes a trip into the woods to try to work on his skills and to check on Carol.  I cannot help but be amused the way the males of the Kingdom seem to assume that Carol is so helpless and defenseless because of her gender.  It's sexist as all get out but it leads me to believe that it's only a matter of time before Carol shows them exactly who they are dealing with. At any rate, Benjamin offers Carol some water and food explaining that since there aren't many people left, people should help each other when they can.  It reminds us of just how naive Benjamin really is. Carol suggests that he gets out of the woods before it gets dark and to change the way that he walks because she could hear him from miles away.  When Benjamin suggests that Carol follow her own advice, Carol is quick to point out that she'll be just fine.

Later that evening, Benjamin finds Ezekiel saying one of MLK's speeches to a child as a bedtime story. Ezekiel asks Benjamin's opinion and Benjamin reveals that he thinks that they should fight. It seems that Benjamin believes that when given the choice to be a hero, one should always say yes.

In the morning, as predicted, King Ezekiel decides that his people aren't getting involved. He admits that the peace with the Saviours isn't an easy one but at least it's peace.  Ezekiel offers Darryl sanctuary, saying that the Saviours don't enter his community and so Darryl will be safe.  A disappointed Rick & co and Richard head towards the gates.  Richard acknowledges that everything each community gives to the Saviours makes them stronger.  Darryl is stunned when Rick tells him to accept Ezekiel's offer of sanctuary. Rick wants Darryl to try and change Ezekiel's mind and stare him into submission if necessary. Sasha and Rosita walk side by side and Sasha tries to talk to Rosita at her anger about being turned down by Ezekiel and Rosita makes it clear that they are not friends and simply slept with the same dead man.
Image result for damn gif

As they head back to Alexandria, the group hear Negan give a memorial speech for Fat Joey, who Darryl killed in his escape from the Saviours. The road home is not smooth sailing because they find that the road is blocked by cars and steel wire loaded down with explosives.  They decide to move the cars and put them back and take the explosives, so that the Saviours don't know that they were there. 

Negan's next announcement is to order his troops to Alexandria to search for Darryl. If that were not enough of a problem, a horde of walkers has started to approach.  They manage to grab some of the explosives and Michonne and Rick hot wire two cars and drive the line through the walkers, causing an explosion. It's an absolutely awesome scene and epitomizes The Walking Dead at its best.  

Sasha and Jesus split off from the group to return to The Hilltop and the rest arrive in Alexandria in time to greet Simon. Rick is quick to deny that Darryl is in Alexandria, but Simon decides to search the community. It's Simon who notices the lack of food which is a shock to Rick. Rick is quick to cover and explains that they have a lot of people to feed and will be going out scavenging again soon. 

As soon as Simon and crew are gone, Rick and Co get together to discuss the missing food and the missing Gabriel.  Everyone is shocked by Gabriel's defection but Rick is certain that Gabriel is a changed man and that there must be something going on that they don't know about.  Rick picks up Gabriel's bible and on the last page, Gabriel has written the word boat in really large letters. This is curious because Rick has no idea how Gabriel knows about the boat that he and Aaron found. 

Aaron heads back home to let Eric know that he is going out again and Eric is anything but pleased with this news.  Eric points out that the last time Aaron went out, he caught a beating while Rick remained unharmed.  Aaron questions what Eric wants him to do and asks if he wants to leave.  Eric says that he just wants them both to be safe.  This is a nice scene because Eric has largely remained hidden since Aaron started going scavenging with Darryl last season.  That being said, they are the only LGBT couple on the show right now and they should be getting more attention than they are. 

Rick and Co arrive at the area by the boat and see footsteps indicating that Gabriel has been there.They keep following the trail but find themselves surrounded by a large group of armed people. Rick raises his arm and smiles.  Okay, this is a moment because Rick never smiles but it indicates to me that he's probably thinking that these people are numerous and have the weapons he needs to take on the Saviours. 

Rock In The Road marks a departure from the first part of the season where we saw Rick Grimes humbled in a fashion that we never have before.  This came on the heels of watching Glenn and Abraham being savagely murdered by Negan. What we are witnessing now is the return to Rick Grimes, white, straight, cis ruler or the world. Even with all of the build up, we know that Rick is going to emerge victorious and so it's only a matter of who is going to die along the way.  

When Simon arrives at Alexandria to search for Darryl, Rick barely manages to hold in his contempt for the man.  We can see simmering below the surface Rick's desire to simply beat the shit out of Simon. It's yet another reminder that while Rick is down, and horrified by what he's been through, he's not yet defeated. 

There's an interesting juxtaposition between Gregory and King Ezekiel. Both men make the same decision about going to war with the Saviours. Both men have similar reasons for saying no to Rick and yet we are actively encouraged to hate Gregory. We know that Ezekiel is wrong to say no but we also are lead to believe that in his heart, Ezekiel is a good man.  It's worth noting that both Gregory and Ezekiel have tried in a fashion to resist the Saviours, and it has not led to much for either leader.  I suppose one could argue that Gregory is a coward while Ezekiel's concern is for the safety of his people and keeping the illusion of his ridiculous kingdom. 

Speaking of Ezekiel, I was really glad to hear him give MLK's speech as a bed time story to a child. Much of the Black experience has been erased from The Walking Dead, despite having several Black characters over the years.  In fact, this is the first explicit example of race since T dog spoke about his fears of being with two white cops to Dale, way back in season two.  Yes, people have to worry about survival but that doesn't mean the core of who they are simply disappears into one big kumbaya fest, as though race hasn't pervaded American Society since its inception. 

One of my ongoing problems with Michonne is that she's often been treated as a weapon rather than a person with real feelings.  Since Michonne's introduction to the show, she's been the one who Rick has come to depend on the most but until the advent of Richonne, she's largely been silent. It bothers me that now that she's in a relationship, Michonne is far more vocal, even taking time to puff up Rick, so that he doesn't get despondent by the great challenge ahead of them.

The more I think about what happened with Gabriel, the more I'm certain that he was forced to take the food and the weapons. It's the only thing that makes sense since before this incident, Gabriel had gone into full on worship mode of Rick. I cannot see anyone in Alexandria choosing to leave with Gabriel and so this hints that someone from the group which currently is surrounding Rick and Co now forced Gabriel's hand.