This is a spoiler-free review – read on at the bottom for additional, spoiler-filled analysis.
Anyone annoyed that there aren’t enough powerful women in television will enjoy this episode of The Walking Dead. Carol (Melissa McBride) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan), captured by the Saviours at the end of the last episode, have been taken away to a safe hold. Their kidnappers, a group of women (and one insignificant man), decide if it’s worth trading their hostages for the one Saviour Rick (Andrew Lincoln) holds. The episode takes place almost entirely in the one location and provides another star turn from McBride.
The Walking Dead provides many things to fear, be it living or dead, but the scariest thing that it is currently showing is the downfall of Carol. Struggling to cope with the new world and what she has done to survive, Carol is showing signs of post-traumatic stress, as her usually strong character appears to be crumbling, which is causing her to look weak – and that frailty could be targeted by others. While many have said there would be no Walking Dead without Rick or Daryl (Norman Reedus), what would the show be like without Carol? A terrifying thought.
It takes putting Maggie’s unborn baby in danger for her to snap and show any sign of the woman we know she is. The pregnancy has appeared to make Carol regress, the purity of new life forcing her to rethink what she has done, who she has become. The pain of losing her own daughter is suffocating her, but instead of using it to fight and not let the same fate befall parents-to-be Maggie and Glenn (Steven Yeun), she has become fragile and repentant. She needs to find a balance – perhaps she needs to relate to Morgan (Lennie James) more than she realised.
The Saviours are led by Polly (Alicia Witt), a confident female who thinks quickly to act after seeing what Rick has done to their compound. She questions how Carol has survived the apocalypse this long, when she appears feeble and helpless, bound and gagged in front of her. “You’re not the good guys,” she says and she’s right. Although Rick and his group are our protagonists, he has committed just as many horrendous acts as any of the other groups who have threatened him. But in this world, what is good and bad anymore?
The only male in this group is angry and frustrated with Polly, but he is bleeding out from a wound. He doesn’t see why his life should be lost over another but his fragility stems from his complaining. With his self-righteousness grating the rest of the group, he loses his place in the pecking order to both Maggie and Carol. Polly isn’t showing a preference for female power, he just fails to recognise his actions are a detriment to his faction. But the episode isn’t about a group of dominant women: these Saviours were Carol, she sees part of who she had to be in them, and part of what she must become again.
“We’re all Negan,” is a phrase said by multiple Saviours throughout the episode, giving the illusion to Rick that he is more of a symbol than a person. If they are all Negan, then has the threat been eliminated or are there more of them ready to seek revenge for their fallen comrades? With only three episodes left this season, and the palpable tension growing stronger, we are undoubtedly in for an explosive finale.
The Walking Dead Season 6 is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video, as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription. You can also buy and download it on pay-per-view VOD. For more information, click here.
Photo: Gene Page / AMC
Spoilers and further consideration
– Is Carol putting on an act? Could her hyperventilating and shaking all just be another character she is playing like she did as the Stepford wife when she first came to Alexandria? If it wasn’t for her crushing the rosary beads in her hand at the end of the episode, it could certainly have been construed it was an act, Carol only showing her aggression and resolve once Maggie suffers a slash to the belly, even offering to let Polly run and live another day. Hopefully, the hug she shares with Daryl is enough to help her through these tough times.
– Despite Polly’s group showing such strength, they also exhibit all the pitfalls of a Walking Dead antagonist. Asking Carol how she survived this long was a mistake; she didn’t survive by taking prisoners and waiting for trouble. Polly also grossly underestimated her enemy; façade or not, they should never have left Carol alone. This let their group split, easier to pick off – another mistake. This strong group of women suddenly don’t look as powerful. Simple mistakes, for a group that spoke about surviving in this new world, cost them their lives.
– Of course we know there is a Negan and he’s to be played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, but Rick doesn’t know this, nor does he really know anything about the Saviours with his shoot first, think later mentality. To recap, Daryl wiped out a group of bikers on the road, Rick and crew slaughtered everyone at one safe house and Carol and Maggie wipe out a third and a fourth group. How many Saviours are there and how will they respond?
Photo: Gene Page / AMC
Need to catch up with AMC’s zombie series? See Where can I watch The Walking Dead online legally?