Yeah, I know, Norman “Daryl” Reedus claims that it isn’t. But c’mon. He’s not about to blab and spoil the big “Glenn’s alive” reveal that’s coming, even though it barely qualifies as a reveal at this point. (How can you spoil a “surprise” that everyone who watches the show has seen coming from a mile away?) The show’s creator promised fans a few weeks ago that we’d be seeing Glenn again, in some form, and yet Steven Yeun’s name has temporarily been removed from the opening credits. It’s all an elaborate fake-out to maintain some suspense for the three TWD fans who haven’t yet realized that the show’s going to cop out and have Glenn somehow inexplicably survive that zombie smorgasbord by the dumpster.
In the meantime, we got stuck with another “holding pattern” episode last night — not as bad as last week’s but still plenty dull as the writers figure out how to kill time until they’re allowed to return to Glenn’s fate. The plot felt less like an organic storyline than some box-checking of things they needed to do before getting back to the real plot in Alexandria. They needed to check in with Abraham, Sasha, and especially Daryl after ignoring them for weeks; they needed to alert viewers that there’s another band of survivors in the vicinity whom we’ll be meeting soon, which I assume is Negan’s gang; and they needed to drop some sort of bait about Glenn to keep viewers on the hook. Mission accomplished. The budding romance between Abraham and Sasha feels like a way to give two characters for whom the show’s otherwise lost all use something to do to plot-wise — which, come to think of it, is also how the lesbian romance between the “doctor” in Alexandria and the girl whose name I can never remember feels. Maybe that’s the fate of all expendable TWD characters going forward. Instead of being killed a la the redshirts in “Star Trek” they’ll shack up, settle down in Alexandria, and “Netflix and chill” while the people we care about advance the plot.
Two golden moments last night. One, which made me laugh out loud, was Daryl opening that bag and finding the blonde girl’s insulin. Of course he was going to risk death to bring it back to her even though he didn’t know her at all and the blonde guy she was with had threatened to kill him repeatedly. Daryl’s a hero, dagnabit, and not just a hero but the most virtuous hero on the show. There are, as such, unspoken rules that clearly dictate his conduct when presented with a moral dilemma. The odds of him leaving the insulin near a tree in the woods, hoping the blonde guy found it before it was too late for his female friend, and walking away were about the same as that zombie eating him before he yanked the crossbow out of the bag and shot it in the head, namely, zero. He had to bring the insulin back, even if it meant possibly getting shot in the face. Hero status: Confirmed. The other moment I liked was Abraham’s weird but affecting shouting match with the zombie soldier dangling off the bridge. That was designed, obviously, to be some sort of metaphor for Abraham himself — until that moment, he’s as paralyzed emotionally as the zombie is physically — but having him taunt the zombie created a strange bit of sympathy for it. Not often does the show ask you to spare a thought for the plight of the undead but when they do, it’s usually affecting. Partly you sympathized with the soldier because he’d been denied anything resembling a dignified death and partly because, at its most basic level, what Abraham was doing was having fun taunting a hungry animal. I won’t remember much from this episode two days from now, but I’ll remember that.
Exit question: Did anyone not expect those two burned zombies to jump up and bite the blonde girl when she stupidly bent down to put flowers on their corpses? I realize that the characters on the show need to be dumber than average in order to keep stumbling into exciting dramatic situations but there has to be some basic “don’t get within biting distance of a zombie” precaution ethic in place among survivors at this stage of the apocalypse, no?