This is a spoiler-free review – read on at the bottom for additional, spoiler-filled analysis.
In some ways, Episode 15 of The Walking Dead is very much like the one that came before it. Slow, patient build until it signs out with a moment of pure, unadulterated suspense that will have every single one of you screaming out loud. But unlike the previous episode, East contains an element of tension that runs throughout, enough to leave you writhing with anticipation, as you wait for the moment of terror that is always lurking around the corner.
Our group is divided: two sets of survivors leave Alexandria, one in search of a runaway, the other looking for redemption, but both having left their home weak and at risk. With Carol (Melissa McBride) wandering off lonely into the night, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Morgan (Lennie James) go off in search of her and find one of Alexandria’s vehicles, as well as signs of a recent attack. Following a potential trail, they share some big truths, such as all life being precious and the truth of who actually ate Morgan’s protein bar.
Like the last episode again, we’re left fearing if we’ll ever see one of the more fleshed out characters again. Morgan is going to search for Carol alone, but his talk with Rick feels like a hard goodbye. Admitting he knew Rick sent Carol away from the prison, Morgan is almost taking away another hard choice so Rick doesn’t have to carry the burden alone – for this is not the same Rick that Morgan once knew and while Morgan isn’t blaming Rick for what he’s had to do, he knows there is another way. But will Rick see that light? Morgan believes so, he knows people can come back – and not just as zombies.
While Morgan and Rick head East, Daryl (Norman Reedus), chased by Glenn (Steven Yeun), Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Rosita (Christian Serratos), is in search of revenge for the death of Denise. Growing up with the merciless Merle, Daryl was always living in the shadow of his brother. From it, he gained a hard exterior but inside, there was always a kind heart. It is Daryl’s heart that is ruling over the head, blaming himself, vying for salvation, making poor choices. This behaviour can only lead to trouble and with the season finale next, trouble is just around the corner.
With its players divided, the season showdown between the Saviours and Alexandria looks firmly in favour of the visitors. The fear that has been somewhat lacking in the past two episodes must explode in the finale – which has recently been announced as extended to 90 minutes, to fit in all the feels. The relationships that the show has built up this season give the Alexandrians something to fight for, but they’re also something to fear, especially when love is separated by walls.
After an interesting pre-credits segment, focusing on a puddle of blood and some muffled voices, we later see how it came to be and that action sequence is delightful. There are some further walker kills later, but otherwise, East is another slow-burner until it reaches the final shot that snaps to black – a cliff-hanger that will have everyone fretting all week. And if that is how the penultimate episode ends, what will Episode 16 hold?
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