A Rick-less episode of The Walking Dead is, conventionally, an eventless episode of The Walking Dead, and Dead or Alive Or, the 11th chapter to season 8, was no exception. It had its moments, but this episode felt more like a set up for what’s to come than a climax to what’s already happened, much to the disappointment of many viewers.
But hey, seeing as the show’s been on a notable high since its mid-season break, I’m less annoyed about this lack of action than usual, and many of the questions I’m left with after watching episode 11 could have satisfying payoffs if AMC manages to pursue them effectively. Read on below if you don’t mind major spoilers for The Walking Dead season 8 so far, and see if you and I are asking the same things about Gabriel, Negan, and the rest of Atlanta’s survivors now that this week’s episode has aired.
Has Gabriel’s faith finally been broken?
It turns out Gabriel’s ailing eyesight isn’t the biggest problem he has to contend with for the rest of season 8, as his entire belief system appears to have been crippled by the death of Dr. Carson, which I’m sure he feels partly responsible for. Having bigged up the power of God’s protective guidance for the entire episode, the problematic priest realises he may have misguided himself after Dr. Carson finally shows a willingness to believe, only to end up getting pathetically shot in the chest by the Saviours as a result.
With yet more blood on his hands, this tragedy might be the final nail in the coffin for Gabriel’s faith, who looks absolutely miserable stuck in Eugene’s gun factory, sorting bullets while contemplating on the irresponsibility of his zealous behaviour. Perhaps he was right, he was on a path, but it’s a path to world-weary agnosticism, not manifest destiny.
Should we be worried about Negan’s “big day”?
Despite his regrettable circumstances, and having just heard news of Carl’s death, Negan seems likes he’s in worryingly good spirits this episode, and that begs the question, why? He even talks about a “big day tomorrow” to Eugene with a wide grin leaping across his face.
Is he planning an attack on Hilltop? Does he know something that we don’t? How exactly does he plan to deploy the walker-tainted weaponry he talks about in the episode’s closing scene? In more hopeful news, it looks like it’s going to take a while before Eugene has managed to create a decent stockpile of ammunition for The Saviours, so Rick’s gang aren’t entirely outgunned just yet.
What’s with all the swamp zombies?
Seriously, what the hell were all those zombies doing just lying beneath the water in that swamp? Other than conveniently allowing AMC to throw some more jump scares at the screen, I mean. Have the Saviours been chucking dead bodies in here to cover their tracks? Was there some sort of swamp-themed party that was going on before the outbreak hit Atlanta?
I get it, it was a neatly devised scenario for more human vs walker action, but the least AMC could do is provide some plausible context! To be fair, I didn’t understand why Daryl didn’t just lead the Alexandrians around the deep end of the swamp, rather than deciding to wade right through the murkiest, most ominous looking part of it. This is The Walking Dead, Daryl, you’re mad if you think you won’t run into trouble going through that.
Is Dwight in trouble?
Dwight’s got some nerve going back to Sanctuary, knowing full well that Lauren could return at any time to expose his double-crossing credentials to Negan. So what’s his game plan here? Negan must be curious as to where his right hand man has been this entire time, especially as the big boss is becoming increasingly paranoid now that loyalty is starting to wear thin amongst his ranks.
Is Dwight assuming that Lauren is dead? No one dies off-screen in The Walking Dead, so you can bet on anything that she’ll be making an appearance sometime this season, and that spells trouble the guy. In any case, Dwight’s back on the inside now, so it seems, and he might just be able to let Rick know about Negan’s devious new combat strategy before it’s too late.
Will Maggie regret ignoring Gregory’s advice?
For once, Gregory might be onto something, or least partly. I’m not saying his idea to pack up and flee the warzone is a good one, but it does highlight Hilltop’s vulnerability as the next big target on The Saviour’s list. In fact, it’s pretty much the only target now that Alexandria and The Kingdom are in tatters, and every key character is hiding within its walls.
If I were Negan, I would be going straight there to reign hellfire on the entire place before Rick can even think about making the first move. But I’m not Negan, obviously, I’m rooting for Hilltop, and I hope that Maggie has a Plan B in case The Saviours come knocking at her front door next week.