A lot of questions are brought up in this season’s penultimate episode before the finale, but it does answer one – Michonne did in fact steal Morgan’s last protein bar. Aside from that major revelation though, ‘East’ was a bit of a struggle to get through for The Walking Dead. Some major things are clearly going to happen in next week’s finale, but to get there, we apparently needed this somewhat clunky episode that only featured so many highlights.
One of those highlights was Carol, as usual. This episode does not exactly make the ending of last week’s episode better, but it does lead to another awesome moment with the character, before an ambiguous ending that better be resolved next week. We get to see more of this new version of Carol who has begun struggling with her choices to kill her enemies. It leads to a terrifically tense scene where the focus is more on if Carol will go through with killing a gang of saviors, as opposed to whether or not she will live.
It is those personal character moments that stick out, along with the one on one scenes that give us a chance to balance differing perspectives of our main characters. This is why Rick and Morgan have a few great scenes together this week, while I could not care less about what Tobin is going through. ‘East’ could have started stronger were Carol’s new relationship to have any meaning, but instead we get a weirdly built up series of events that lead to a bunch of people leaving to bring others back.
Let’s focus on that for a second, by the way. So in an effort to bring back Carol and Daryl, who both left on their own accord, heavy hitters Rick, Morgan, Michonne, Glenn and Rosita all take off. That’s a lot of this show’s best players to go after people. We can only hope things don’t go way too far downhill by the time we meet this Negan character in next week’s finale. Regardless, if the writers deem it necessary for these people to take off, so be it, let’s see what happens.
For Rick and Morgan, things get philosophical, as usual. Fortunately, they work for this show. The writing is just strong enough to make these concepts not feel tired at this point, as Andrew Lincoln and Lennie James have a great amount of chemistry. The two chat, deal with walkers and get to a point of separation that occurs naturally. It makes Rick more likable in the process, because he doesn’t have to make an example out of anyone or go all crazy.
It’s a bit trickier with Daryl and those after him. Daryl continues on his stubborn path, with Glenn and Michonne left pondering what to do next. Next thing you know, evil Dwight and his pals show up and capture these two. Somehow Daryl and Rosita are not able to account for Dwight’s sudden flanking skills and also get captured. The show even goes a step further by having Dwight shoot Daryl, only to say out loud that he will be alright (we don’t have to worry about another dumpster-Glenn scenario, I guess).
Condensing those two aspects of this episode was honestly a lot easier than watching them. I’m all for The Walking Dead that allow characters to reflect, but ‘East’ really felt like it just had to line a bunch of people up in certain locations. Most of the scenes basically worked, but the level of interest felt off for me. Perhaps I’m just getting antsy for the other shoe to drop. We’ve been waiting a while for the threat of the Saviors to really show itself. Hopefully next week’s finale delivers.