At the end of last week’s episode, Carol and Maggie were captured by Negan’s forces during the raid on The Saviours outpost. This episode revolves around getting them back to Rick’s group.
Yet the focus of this episode is on how similar these groups are and how blurry the line is between who are the “good guys”. Several times throughout this episode we see how this group of The Saviours are not all so different from Rick’s group. None of them are bad people, the only exception being Donnie (the only guy in this otherwise female-dominated episode, which is great to watch) who got shot by Carol at the beginning of the episode, so it is a bit understanding for him to be angry and aggressive towards her. The Saviours we see could easily be on another show we would be watching in a parallel universe and feel just as attached to as we are with Rick’s group. The similarities are so deep it serves as a tool to analyse the differences between the characters.
Paula (Alicia Witt) is like Carol, while Michelle (Jeananne Goossen) is like Maggie. We see how each of these characters has responded to the zombie apocalypse and how those choices have made them who they are today. This is a theme which has permeated all of The Walking Dead since the first episode between Morgan and Rick: how two very similar people can make different choices which leads them to such different places to become the people they are today.
“The Saviours we see could easily be on another show we would be watching in a parallel universe and feel just as attached to as we are with Rick’s group.”
Carol has been suffering a bit of an existential crisis the past few weeks, feeling burdened by the things she has to do in order to survive. It is great for the show to explore this idea, especially with Carol who has had such a huge arc over the series. This allows the show to acknowledge how tough this new world is to live in, and despite Carol being used to having to do horrible things, she in no way feels anything other than guilt about having to do them. This is fundamentally what separates Rick’s group from all the others they have encountered: they often feel horrible about having to do these things in order to survive.
Sure, every other group probably justifies their actions like this but the “bad guys” (a term I use loosely) generally have buried their humanity so deep they have stopped feeling anything – they are completely numb to the world in order to survive. On the other hand, we have Rick’s group who are trying to rebuild the good things human beings are capable of: love, family, babies, baseball and cookies.
We are also learning more about Negan’s group and what they are capable of. You would be forgiven thinking they are a bunch of pushovers after Rick’s group has dominated them like a prison bitch all season long. However, we see in this episode they are well equipped and very, very organised. Surprise and anonymity are the only things going for Rick’s group at the moment. The Saviours have continuously underestimated Rick’s group only to get killed off quickly and brutally. Perhaps they are arrogant in their abilities having survived so long. After seeing what they can do, Paula is the only one who acknowledges how tough Rick’s group is yet even she gets taken off guard by Maggie and Carol.
“We know how badass Carol is when she needs to be, yet lately she has become more susceptible to letting some feelings back into her life.”
Lastly, it is great to see Melissa McBride bring a vulnerability to Carol without having too many lines in this episode. We know how badass she is when she needs to be, yet lately she has become more susceptible to letting some feelings back into her life. Perhaps Morgan is finally getting through to someone? She used to think this made her weak, and to an extent it still does, yet she also realises it can give her strength to keep going and doing those things in order to survive. McBride needs to be in the show more simply because she has done such an amazing job with this character, who was apparently supposed to be killed off back in season one. It was a nice touch too when she is reunited with the group and Daryl asks her if she is alright, she says “no” and he embraces her. Those two have always had a spiritual connection with each other, and it would be nice to see their friendship explored more as well.
This was a tense show, not due to suspense but because of how uncomfortable it was for our people – Carol and Maggie – to brutally finish off The Saviours who had captured them. Yes, we know this was going to be the likely outcome but we saw how Paula’s group were not terrible people but just another group trying to survive. The Saviours here could just as easily been a part of Rick’s group had they not found Negan instead. This dynamic is what makes this episode interesting to watch, and it holds a mirror up to both the characters and the audience to make us think about the extents good people are willing to go to for survival.