Monday, 5 December 2016

‘The Walking Dead’ recap: Season 7 Episode 7

Negan has got to go. And not because he’s ruining the lives of the characters of The Walking Dead. Because he’s ruining the entire show.
This has been the most frustrating season of The Walking Dead since Season 2’s ill-advised sojourn to Hershel’s farm. Negan is a one-dimensional villain, meaning there’s nothing new to do with him until the show gets rid of him. We’ve been subjected to episode after episode exploring his villainy. And we get it.
The third extra-long episode of the season that’s all about Negan does little more than the first two did in terms of advancing the overall arc. After the umpteenth dirty joke and expression of violence from the man, it really does start to feel like filler.
Seven seasons is a long time to sustain a narrative like The Walking Dead. The show wants to keep up the tension and the danger, and so it constantly creates new threats, or recycles old ones. But at a certain point everything starts to feel stale. Negan and his brutishness was meant to surprise us, but he ended up exhausting us. Hopefully in the mid-season finale next week we’ll see the last of him.
Field Trip
We didn’t need any proof that Negan is evil than the fact that he is amused by Carl. Literally no one else is.
He who wears the cowboy hat tagged along with Jesus’s reconnaissance mission to Negan’s compound and immediately flails at his master plan to kill Negan. But instead of killing him or turning him into a slave or whatever, Negan decides to give Carl a tour of the tyranny at his factory compound. It's some of what we've seen before, and it's some new awfulness. And guess what? It doesn't teach us anything about Negan that we didn't already know. He has a harem of wives? No, we're not shocked. He sexually abuses them through intimidation and emotional manipulation? You can stop now. He mutilates a man's face with a hot iron? Seriously.
Negan decides not to kill Carl but rather to accompany him back to Alexandria where he terrorizes Olivia (in perhaps the most disgusting scene the show has ever aired) and takes a tour of the town, where he discovers Judith for the first time (was that toddler just sitting in that room by herself?). His big plan is to creepily hold Judith while waiting for Rick to return from his scavenging mission. Because, you know, he's evil.
But hey, at least Jesus snuck into the compound.
Convenience Stores
Speaking of Rick, the graciously non-Negan parts of the episode found us on the road with Spencer and Gabriel, Rosita and Eugene, Rick and Aaron and Michonne and her kidnapped Savior.
Everyone's scavenging, supposedly. Rick and Aaron go off on a boring trip together and repeatedly mention how they only have one day before they return to Alexandria (hold on there, Judith). Rosita manages to successfully get a bullet and to demean Eugene (two birds, one trip). Michonne manages to capture a Savior and follow in Carl's suicide-mission-to-kill-Negan path.
Spencer, meanwhile, finds the post-apocalyptic jackpot. Isn’t it just an awesome coincidence that Spencer found a survivalist walker stuck in a tree, right where Gabriel told him to stop the car on their scavenging trip? Isn’t it also a super awesome coincidence that this walker wrote a code to his secret stores of food and medicine in Latin, and Spencer happens to know Latin? There's nothing fishy about that whole deal at all.
In addition to all its Negan woes, this season has suffered from an imbalance in featuring its characters -- Carol and Morgan have only been on one episode so far. Hopefully when things come to a head next week (please let things come to a head next week), we'll start to get that balance back.

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