Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Walking Dead: Season 9, Episode 11: Bounty

So we have the Walking Dead and it’s a tale of two storylines. One which is really interesting and desperately what i want The Walking Dead to become and the other is just dull dull dull and needs to end quickly

Sadly I think I will be disappointed

So the dull dull dull first. Alpha has arrived at the gates of the Hilltop and is demanding her daughter. They’re a relatively small crowd of several unarmed people in scary masks. People take this seriously because of Luke and Alden they have hostage. Daryl still wants to tell them to jog on (and while I appreciate the sentiment, Jesus may have died but he didn’t make you king, Daryl) but his threat to mow them all down is weakened because they have a baby.

Plenty of targets besides the baby, just saying

So they need to exchange Lydia for their two hostages, only Henry who is REALLY TRYING to make me hate him has decided to rescue Lydia and run off with her because it’s all so mean and unfair. In fact, the meme MUST exist by now

Ah, internet, thank you.

Daryl catches up with them and Lydia says how she totally misses her people in a “I’m not lying honest” way and agrees to go back. She does point out that Alpha is breaking her rules by coming for her. There’s a prisoner exchange and Henry pouts. Aldren and Luke are greeted with hugs, Alpha slaps Lydia for calling her momma.

Oh but before that the dead move in and the baby won’t stop crying despite the zombie masked mother’s attempts to quiet them. Alpha has a simple rule - the baby is quiet or they leave it for the dead - and the mother leaves the baby on the floor to be eaten. Connie, who never made it to the wall, runs out to save the baby, alerted by Luke signing, and there’s a hairy moment of running through a corn field full of zombies carrying the baby (especially hard for the Deaf Connie since the corn restricts her vision and she can’t hear the dead advancing on her) before Darryl and Kerry rescue her - and the baby.

Henry is super pissed about all this but Enid and Darryl both make the point to him that sometimes things are awful and you have to live with it. He even invokes Daryl’s own history of abuse to demand how he could send Lydia back - which is just rubbing salt in the wounds.

Henry leaves in the night to save Lydia, Daryl goes after Henry and Connie goes after Daryl because we need to centre these new characters somehow.

Ok someone has to tell me why the Whisperers are so scary. Or how they even work

I mean, when we first met them directing a herd? That was scary. In the dark, whispering? That was scary. But outside of that context they’re like a haunted house with the lights turned on

Like how even do they work? They stay with the herd, presumably using the time old practice of smelling like the dead to avoid the zombies eating them. Which generally has meant rubbing yourself with zombie guts. Which means they’re all one scratch away from some really bad blood poisoning. They exist only by foraging what they can - moving at walking speed and being careful their own zombies don’t notice them - I can’t imagine nutrition or healthcare is big among them. And if they do attack they’re armed with a small knife at best, can’t make sudden moves without the undead attacking the - and any small wound they take iss likely to attract attention

And as to a walled settlement - what they going to do? Shout insults? Sure they had hostages - but the minute your got them back you could massacre them - or not even wait. And don’t tell me sending a girl back to an abusive parent is more honourable than breaking your word.

The Whisperers are a threat because the writers have decided they are. And we’re playing the same story we played twice before with Negan and the Governor. A big bad evil who is almost cartoonishly awful is attacking and the good guys need to decide whether to make TERRIBLE CHOICES to survive. Rinse repeat, over and over and over again.

The more interesting storyline involves the Kingdom. And starts with a flashback of the always awesome Jerry telling Ezekiel and Carol that he’s going to be a dad and back then Jesus and Tara still working with them to try and make their unity reality - including trusting Ezekiel to hold on to the charter they drafted to unite Alexandria, Kingdom and Oceanside. It’s all very hopeful

And moving to the present, Ezekiel is planning to lead a hunt after many elk for a feast for the fair - and he still has high hopes for them all working together and being united. He didn’t expect Carol to insist on coming with them (she still resists being called Queen as well).

The hunt goes well but Ezekiel has another agenda which he tries to hide from Carol. Yeah, that doesn’t work. Ezekiel tries to get Jerry to back him but even Jerry knows better than to go against Carol, even if one’s king commands it.

So the side quest is to go into a zombie infested cinema to claim the projector bulb there so they can play movies again - especially for the kids who have never seen a film before. Carol is sceptical since it means taking them into danger, facing a load of zombies, all for the sake of something you can live without

But Ezekiel awesomely sells it - adding it will be great for the fair and encourage joy and friendship

They go in and fight zombies and i swear at every turn I’m waiting for Jerry to die and I would be soooo upset if he did… but they make it through. But lose the bulb in a horde - Ezekiel is ready to give up but Queen Carol (embracing the title) steps up - they can do this!

And they do.

Without casualties!

Without regret or sadness - and they also pick up a giant movie poster frame for Ezekiel to frame the Charter/Constitution in

And this - this is what I want to see. We’ve had “evil group is super evil and will super evilly destroy everything so we have to be evil in return, angst. Angst angst. We’ve had it over and over. They’ve been defeated, now we have a network of 3+ settlements trying to find their way. And this is what Ezekiel and Carol are doing here - let us build! Let us debate whether they can afford to risk and devote resources for frivolities. As their society stabilises can they look at things like cinema, preserve art from the past, make space and time for things that are not directly connected to safety and survival. Especially when it means actually risking for what are, basically, frivolity. But if their society doesn’t have frivolity then what does it have?

This is the perfect chance to move The Walking Dead on - and after 9 seasons you need to be looking for that. And Ezekiel and Carol are perfectly placed for that - Ezekiel has always had both an edge of the frivolous but also the charisma and vision to dream, to see something bigger, something greater - while Carol has always been the excessively pragmatic one. They would work while being centred here in this new chapter of the show