The Walking Dead S06E15 “East” REVIEW

The Walking Dead S06E15 “East” REVIEW

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stars 4

Airing in the UK on FOX, Mondays, 9pm
Writer: Scott M Gimple, Channing Powell
Director: Michael E Strazemis

 

Essential Plot Points:

  • We see a car. We see blood. We see Carol’s rosary. We hear a scream. We go to opening credits.

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  • The day before Carol leaves, Alexandria is quiet. She sews, quietly packs a backpack and carefully doesn’t tell Tobin what she’s planning when he comes home. That night, she sneaks out and takes one of the new cars they put on the barricade.

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  • We see Alexandria wake up. Glenn and Maggie shower, Glenn examining the bruises Maggie’s carrying from her recent ordeal. Daryl squares his bike away. Rick and Michonne wake up and get ready for work. At the gate, Rosita, Abe and Sasha carefully keep their distance.
  • Then it all goes to Hell.

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  • Daryl heads out to find and kill Dwight for murdering Denise. Rosita, Glenn and Michonne go after him. Tobin reports to Rick that Carol’s left and Rick and Morgan head out after her.

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  • And outside, we see Carol driving away. She passes a pickup truck that shoots her tyres out. A stand-off ensues, with, again the Saviours mistaking Carol’s terror at what she has to do with terror at their presence. She kills them all aside from two, one of whom rushes her and possibly injures her. The other, hurt and knocked out, wakes up to find himself alone aside from his dying friend. He hides…
  • Back at Alexandria, Enid relieves Maggie from watch.

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  • Out on the road, Rick and Morgan find the site of the battle. They kill the Walkers who’ve already turned and interpret the scene. Working out where Carol went, they set off after her across the fields.
  • The men Carol killed were carrying weapons made by the Hilltop blacksmith. The Saviours, again. Rick slowly realises the force he’s picked a fight with are much, much bigger than he thought.
  • After they leave, the last Saviour standing comes out of hiding and takes Carol’s rosary…

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  • Back at the site where Denise died, Rosita, Glenn and Michonne find Daryl’s bike. They also find Daryl who admits that when Dwight captured him, he had the opportunity to kill him and didn’t.
  • Glenn passionately argues that he come home and almost sways him. In the end, he can’t and Daryl heads off. Rosita goes with him and, dejected, Michonne and Glenn head home.

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  • They’re captured almost immediately.
  • Back with Rick and Morgan, the two men finally come clean with one another. Morgan uses the events at the prison to explain how Carol’s changed. The woman who murdered two victims of the sickness isn’t the same woman they’re looking for. People can come back and Rick, a man who lives by moral absolutes, is having real trouble with that.
  • “People can come back, Rick.”

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  • They have a shouted conversation with a man hiding in a nearby farming house looking for his horse. As he makes a run for it from an oncoming Walker herd Rick fires at him but Morgan knocks his aim away. Rick also saves Morgan from one of the Walkers and, again, the debate kicks off. Morgan comes clean about the Wolf he rescued who, in turn, saved Denise who was in turn there to save Carl.
  • Rick is stunned by this news and Morgan gently, but firmly, sends him back to Alexandria. He vows to return with Carol but makes Rick promise not to look for him if he doesn’t.

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  • Back at Alexandria, Rick and Abe talk about the terror of connecting with people again. Both men admit they’re frightened. Both men refuse to back down. Both men wait at the gate for Michonne and the others to come home.
  • Maggie calls Enid to her house to ask a favour. Her hair’s been getting in the way and she wants it cut. She’s pleased with the new look but suddenly doubles over in agony…

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  • Out in the woods, Glenn and Michonne are tied up and under guard. Daryl and Michonne sneak up to them but they frantically try and warn them off. Before they can, Dwight ambushes them. Daryl turns to attack him and Dwight shoots him point blank in the shoulder.

Review:

“The world’s ours and we know how to take it.”

The Alexandrians were safe for the first time. It’s this episode where the sheer audacity of what they’ve been doing really strikes home. The town is barely put back together after the herd and the Wolf attacks and Rick has already jumped head first into war with an unknown quantity of foes.

There’s a lot to be said about him there, in particular that he’s actually pretty justified. Alexandria can’t sustain itself independently, neither can the Hilltop. So this awful blood-soaked compromise isn’t even the best answer: it’s the only one on the table. This isn’t post-apocalyptic fiction any more it’s post-post-apocalyptic. The New World is here and it’s being built on the backs of people brave enough, or desperate enough, to sacrifice their morality for the greater good.
“She left because she can’t anymore. That’s what her letter said.”
“She could because she had to.”

And that’s embodied here in the long overdue talk between our two favourite pragmatists. Rick and Morgan finally get a good chunk of screen time together and it’s as impressive as hoped. Rick is back in old habits; the cop turned soldier forced to make any sacrifice for his people. Morgan is questioning everything he’s been told, little realising that his example was one of the principle reasons why Carol left. The two men are brave enough to admit they might be wrong and braver still to keep going. This is the only road they have open to them and both are prepared to face the consequences for travelling down it.

“It’s gonna go WRONG out here.”

Glenn couldn’t be more correct. That’s where the real horror of the episode comes in as the vast majority of the principal cast leave Alexandria on a wide variety of foolhardy but essential missions. The attack on the Saviours has had the biggest ripple effect of anything on the show to date and this episode shows us Carol, Daryl, Rosita, Michonne, Glenn, Maggie and all the others caught up in in different ways.

They make horrible mistakes here. Those mistakes are the only things they can do. Not all of them will live to see the consequences play out. They do it anyway. Tragic and heroic and flawed and most of all human.
“Everything gets a return.”

This is a grim episode heading towards a grimmer one but even here there’s hope. Morgan’s revelation is both the thing Rick needs to get some distance and, perhaps, the last thing Morgan needs to do. The two men certainly make their peace when they separate but whether or not we see Morgan again is open to debate. Like so many of the characters he’s heading off to do something almost impossible that may end him. Like all of them, he’s not hesitating for a momenyt.

But that line in particular has a dark underside to it. Dwight returns. The Saviour Carol doesn’t kill returns. The consequences of their attack return. No one and nothing in this world gets off easy and now, at last, the characters are going to meet the embodiment of that. Next week, Negan takes the spotlight. And the war truly begins.

 

The Good:

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  • Mad Max hatchback! Carol’s car was great. (It actually reminded me of cult ’70 Australian movie The Cars That Ate Paris – ed.)
  • “Michonne did steal that protein bar.” All the Rick and Morgan stuff this episode is great but this is the standout. These two men have finally cleared the air. I’d love for their relationship to evolve next season but if, as seems possible, this is the last time they see each other it’s a hell of a sign off.
  • Morgan hasn’t read the script. We’ve talked about this elsewhere before but it’s hugely important to praise every time it comes up. Any TV show brave enough to have its characters make valid, but wrong, calls based on evidence is always a cut above its competitors. The fact Morgan is convinced Carol is hurt due to the blood on the stake is subtle, clever writing. It becomes even more impressive when you realise she might actually be hurt too.

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  • The ongoing conflict between Carol who wants to live and Carol who knows how to kill is brilliant TV. That entire opening sequence, especially the aftermath of the fight, is untidy, brutal and tragic. There’s no romance to these deaths, no redemptive action, just people trying very hard to not die and in most cases failing.
  • Morgan on a horse next week! Maybe!
  • That ending! Dwight has gone from being a weird, creepy dude to the Anti-Daryl and he’s suddenly both a very credible threat and clearly a bad guy in the way the comics version wasn’t quite. Also, while Daryl will be okay, that’s not a good place to be shot. I mean nowhere is, but he was turning as Dwight fired. That bullet is either lodged somewhere in the complex meat and bone of his shoulder or has punched through the front of his chest. Neither is going to be fun to deal with.

 

The Bad:

  • So many people leave and wander around the wilderness putting themselves in danger that it almost feels like there should be a queue at the gate. It’s not that any of them are being dumb either, but the sudden exodus of three quarters of the main cast feels a little forced this close to the season finale.

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  • That ending! The COPOUT! It’s almost impossible not to hear Dwight’s dubbed-in, “You’ll be alright,” as a sop to viewers after the great Glenn non-death from earlier this season. It’s understandable but man is it clunky, and that’s something this show has not been at all this season. He may as well as say “He’ll be fine so you can be worried about him next week, see you then viewers!”
  • No Jesus! Again! Again with the booing!

 

The PT Barnum:

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  • Not so much a criticism more an observation. The Walking Dead is trying out new ways to engage its audience and a lot of them are based on twists and showmanship. We saw that specifically with Glenn’s “death” earlier this season and the fallout was as bad as it was good.
  • That’s continued here with the way the episode ends, which, as you see, is definitely a Bad thing.
  • However it also ties into the rumoured ending of next week’s episode which we can’t talk about yet. If what we’ve heard pans out, then this is a show fully prepared to torture its audience almost as much as its characters. If it doesn’t, then we’ll tell you what we heard and compare it to what we see. Or perhaps don’t see… Regardless, the show’s to be commended for trying new stuff but it’ll be interesting to see how much of it is successful.

 

The Random:

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  • The song playing in the early scenes is, appropriately, “It’s All Over” by Johnny Cash.
  • Pretty much the entire central cast is in jeopardy next week from what we see here and what’s rumoured. So, instead of baseless speculation on who dies, we’re going to speculate on who lives.
    • Eugene! The redneck genius has hit level two and he’s in Alexandria. We think he’s good to go.
    • Everyone else, though, is on their way to meet Lucille…

Review by Alasdair Stuart


 

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