Last week, The Walking Dead returned from its mid-season hiatus (and I was too busy recovering from surgery to talk about it). The gist of it is that Rick and the Alexandrians have decided to fight the Saviors and are looking to recruit other communities to join them. Also, Gabriel ran off to the houseboat that was floating in the zombie-infested lake. When Rick and company go looking for him, they are surrounded by a group of people from a community we’ve never seen before, presumably one that has a Hot Topic because they look pretty gothy.
Before we get to the somberly-attired junkyard dwellers, though, let’s talk about Daryl. He’s hanging out at The Kingdom, hoping to convince King Ezekiel to join in the fight. Richard, Ezekiel’s right-hand man, is all for this – he’s sick of bowing to the Saviors. But Ezekiel wants to protect the peace his kingdom has enjoyed due to their arrangement, and Morgan isn’t being helpful at all, what with his annoying aversion to taking human life. There were some great Daryl character moments, particularly involving his relationship with Carol. Part of Richard’s plan to force Ezekiel’s hand with regard to the Saviors is to provoke them into killing this woman who lives on her own outside the Kingdom’s borders. He and Daryl will attack some Savior vehicles and when the others come to investigate, they’ll find a trail leading to this woman’s home, where he’s planted weapons. The Saviors will exact bloody revenge and then Ezekiel will be forced to act. It’s brilliant, except that the woman in question is Carol. And Daryl loses his shit. Nothing better happen to Carol. EVER. Daryl is the toughest tough guy, but Carol has always been his soft spot.
This is why, later in the episode, when he and Carol finally unite (and yes, I cried) he chooses not to tell her about Glenn and Abraham. Carol is Daryl’s humanity. The hurt in his voice when he asks her why she left is compounded when she says, “I had to.” Daryl knows that to reveal what the Saviors have done, not just to Glenn and Abraham, but to him, would break her, and clearly, he needs her to remain whole. I’m not a Carol/Daryl shipper, necessarily, but I love their deep, emotional bond. My other favorite Daryl moment was with Shiva, Ezekiel’s pet tiger. Daryl sits beside the cage, regarding the captive beast. We can’t help but think of him, imprisoned in that dank cell in the Saviors’ stronghold. Now, it seems that there must be a caged tiger inside him – the rage for the loss of his friends – that will eventually be unleashed.
Meanwhile, Rick, Michonne and the gang are surrounded by the junkyard people, who are, for the most part, creepily silent. Their leader is a woman named Jadis who talks like a character out of Mad Max. I don’t really get this eccentricity of speech – surely not so much time has passed since apocalypse began that people start developing different languages, but maybe it’s an affectation like King Ezekiel’s medieval act. Apparently, the junkyard folks are scavengers (“We take, we don’t bother.”). They waited for Gabriel to retrieve the goodies from the houseboat and then they took him. And the stuff.
Rick wants Gabriel back, so he wants to make a deal. Let me be clear – I still think Gabriel is a douche-weasel. But it’s obvious to me that the writers are going to try to make him more likeable because he starts evangelizing about Rick to Jadis. Rick can do anything. Maybe Rick is Gabriel’s new religion. I don’t know, but his faith impresses Jadis. Whatever the junkyard people need, Rick and his group will get it for them. That’s what they’ll trade for their lives. Jadis needs to know that Rick is serious, so first, she tosses him into a garbage pit with a spiky, walker-thing to see how he handles himself. He kills it, natch, and the deal is on. Jadis wants guns – lots. Rick is on it.
There’s still a sense in this episode as there was in the previous week of a gathering storm. Alliances are forming, resources are being gathered, and new warriors are emerging. Gabriel, Aaron, and maybe Morgan? We’ll see. Does anyone else think that Tara will lead Rick’s group to the seaside community and their stash of weapons? We’ll find out soon.