UK TV review: The Walking Dead: Season 10, Episode 8 (The World Before)
Neil Brazier | On 25, Nov 2019
When it comes to mid-season finales, The Walking Dead excels at mediocrity. Over the years they have tried to avoid this by killing characters to create talking points, but lately, they have been used more for shock value which has only fuelled anger and disappointment among fans. Mid-season finales are also, usually, extended episodes and that is the case in The World Before, but like those that have come before, the show fails to do anything extra with that time. Instead, it delivers a rather subdued, below-par episode with a semi-cliffhanger ending that must satisfy our appetites until February.
The episode follows three storylines: the fallout from Dante’s (Juan Javier Cardenas) revelation, the hunt for Alpha’s (Samatha Morton) horde and the cover for Michonne’s (Danai Gurira) absence before she eventually leaves the series completely. None of them drive the plot and they feature the survivors doing things, not the first time this season, that are completely out of character. Either Alpha has worn them down enough they aren’t thinking straight, or the writers needed to get from point A to B by any means necessary. (It’s likely the latter.)
Opening with an irrelevant small package of how Dante infiltrated the survivors camp, this is part of the extended time that has been wasted, because it doesn’t matter how he got there, and it doesn’t tell us anything new about him. Dante is exposed when Rosita (Christian Serratos) comes to visit Siddiq (Avi Nash) and there is some mild peril as the couple argue, but Dante is quickly locked up and the pressure is once again put on the council and Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) to decide what to do with him. The outcome of this doesn’t resonate; we’ve spent so little time with Gabriel throughout many of the past seasons that we don’t know enough about him, or care. He’s one of the last members of authority left in Alexandria, but we don’t know how this is affecting him, only that his actions are the complete reverse of what Rick fought for.
Dante’s lie is relayed to Michonne, who is en route to Oceanside, so when they find a stranger within their walls, she is hostile thinking it could be another mole. The stranger, Virgil (Kevin Carroll), a non-comic character, does very little to convince Michonne he is not a threat. We learn he comes from a naval base that is stocked with weapons that Michonne thinks could help wipe out the herd – cue her exit story. Although there is still time to tell more of her story, there is not enough drama in this episode that is worthy of an exit for a character who has been around since Season 3.
The writing, for the most part this season, has been good. The episodes, for a series in its tenth season, have been fresh and exciting. The graphic brutality is unquestioned and, even though it is a repeat of the slow-motion slicing and dicing from the opening episode, it is still beautiful. But there is something about a mid-season finale that is unable to capture the same magic that we’ve seen elsewhere. Last season, we had the reveal of the Whisperers in the graveyard with an iconic scene that saw a supposed zombie dodge an attack. There isn’t any of that this year, except for the final stunning visual – a perilous predicament that looks inescapable – but it isn’t enough. Instead of leaving us clamoring for more like a zombie needing brains, we are left empty, like Alexandria’s drinking water butts.
The Walking Dead Season 10 premieres on FOX UK at 9pm on Mondays. Don’t have pay-TV? You can also stream it live and on-demand on NOW, for £9.99 a month, with no contract and a 7-day free trial. Seasons 1 to 9 are available on Sky Box Sets and NOW until November 2019.
Innards and entrails (spoilers)
We were wrong, we thought Siddiq was still alive at the end of the last episode, but Dante did choke him to death. Caught out by Rosita, Dante doesn’t help his survival when he hesitates to let Rosita ensure Coco is safe first. If his audition tape was true, Dante was a father so perhaps that kept him from attacking Rosita instantly. But if that were the case, he wouldn’t have made the comment about parents eating their young. While it is agreeable that the death of an infant would be one of the last horrific acts the show could do – that is why Judith (Cailey Fleming) is alive after all – the hesitation ultimately cost Dante his life.
Father Gabriel kills Dante, quite horribly. Rather than have the Alexandrian public raise up in arms again or because Dante believes he would face a fair trial, like Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) – who is regrettably missing this episode – Gabriel repeatedly stabs Dante, unleashing all his aggression and frustrations. Perhaps he had pent up anger from being in a relationship with an unfaithful woman, or perhaps he was furious he’d now have to be more of a father – we don’t know because of the little time we’ve spent with him.
This former weak man who couldn’t bring himself to kill a walker, came to idolize Rick Grimes and the things he stood for. Yet here, what Rick stood for and what Gabriel believes in seem as dead as Dante.
The World Before features another example of fast travel as Michonne has been on the road to Oceanside for a while now, yet Eugene (Josh McDermitt) can get from Hilltop to Alexandria for a funeral rather quickly. Ezekiel (Khary Payton) is at the funeral too and manages to speak to Carol (Melissa McBride), but not about his thyroid cancer. That is still a secret, but this short scene felt like maybe it is one of the last times the King is going to grace our screens. Killing any of the staple characters off now feels wrong but the show wants to increase drama and killing off those characters we barely know isn’t going to have the same effect. But killing off any beloved character could have negative effects in the long run if viewers decide to switch off.
When the season started, the survivors looked at Alpha’s borders in fear and did not want to cross them. Daryl hesitated but ultimately went with Carol before, but here, the small group out hunting take one look at the border and cross, without a care for the consequences. The characters haven’t grown that much and we haven’t seen any of this small group’s reactions to Alpha so why did they decide to go hunting and cross into land that isn’t theirs so easily?
Another action that is frustratingly out-of-character but with little other option is Michonne leaving Judith behind. Michonne knows how hard it was for Judith to lose her Dad and what a hero he was to her, and with Gurira’s departure she leaves Judith to grow up an orphan. Perhaps there are plans for a Judith exit too and for all the Grimes family to eventually get reunited?
Dead Pool time. Daryl, Carol, Aaron, Kelly, Connie, Jerry and Magna are in a cave, surrounded by Alpha’s herd. How will any of them make it out of this alive? Well, by wearing the skins of the dead and just walking through them. In fact, didn’t Daryl do that last season to rescue Henry? Carol, although not herself at the moment, will likely survive as she needs a proper stand off with Alpha. Daryl has to be safe or the series will lose all its viewership. That doesn’t mean Connie is safe / with a fledgling relationship, we know what tends to follow happiness. Similarly, for Magna, her relationship isn’t going well, so her death may hit Yumiko hard. Kelly nearly died already; she might be safe. Jerry seems a totally random choice of person to be in this group but as a fan favourite is prime zombie chow. Finally, Aaron. It would be a huge mistake to kill him off but why would he have a scene with his daughter, showing them happy, if not to only kill him? He has been disastrously under-used this season. Connie, Magna, Jerry and Aaron are our likely picks for those not making it past episode nine.