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The Walking Dead Recap Season 7, Episode 13, "Bury Me Here"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 13, "Bury Me Here"

Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 13, "Bury Me Here"

With “Bury Me Here,” The Walking Dead snaps back to its default position for this season, focusing on how Rick's group and their allies are getting motivated and ready to engage the Saviors. The dialogue gets reset too, laden with expository or aphoristic speeches, so Richard's (Karl Makinen) suicide-by-Morgan death galvanizes other key players to commit to the cause—but only after Richard has portentously warned Morgan (Lennie James) that he will live to regret it if he doesn't abandon his dream of pacifism, then spouted one of those geysers of backstory that always signals a character's death.

The Walking Dead Recap Season 7, Episode 10, "New Best Friends"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 10, "New Best Friends"

Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 10, "New Best Friends"

Rick (Andrew Lincoln) is still uncharacteristically happy in “New Best Friend,” thanks to the group that he ran into at the end of last week's episode and forms an alliance with this week—and he hasn't even been told yet about the seaside community that Tara (Ma Masterson) encountered during her last supply run. Yet, even by the standards of The Walking Dead (whose characters often speak in aphorisms, if they say anything at all), this new group is theatrically taciturn. It's as if their response to the end of the world had been to devolve rapidly, losing the power of speech in the process. Their leader, Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh), talks, like The Road Warrior's Lord Humungus, in the clipped monosyllables of a toddler, ordering a follower to escort Rick to the top of the trash pile by saying: “Show Rick up-up-up.”

The Walking Dead Recap Season 7, Episode 9, "Rock in the Road"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 9, "Rock in the Road"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 9, "Rock in the Road"

If The Walking Dead were a boxer, it'd be hit-like-a-hammer George Foreman, not float-like-a-butterfly Muhammed Ali, so the sly head-fake that opens “Rock in the Road” throws us surprisingly and effectively off balance. The episode starts where the midseason finale left off: outside at night in Alexandria with Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) just after an as-yet-unidentified stranger, whose face we've yet to see, leaps down from the wall where he or she was spying on him. The ominous memory of that mystery stalker—not to mention the show's penchant for blowing up any post-apocalyptic community that starts to feel safe or stable—primes us for mayhem, as Gabriel finishes pondering a passage in his Bible and heads into the supply room. So when the camera lags behind him as he rounds a corner, the sudden clatter registers as the sounds of a struggle until the camera catches up and Gabriel is seen loading up on canned goods and tools that could double as weapons, which he then puts in the trunk of a car that he drives off into the night.

The Walking Dead Recap Season 7, Episode 8, "Hearts Still Beating"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 8, "Hearts Still Beating"

Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 8, "Hearts Still Beating"

This season's start was as bleak as any in The Walking Dead's history, but the show's midseason finale closed on a major note of hope. Tested by the fire of Negan's (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) sadistic dictatorship, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and most of his core group wound up stronger than ever, determined to stand up to their tormentor—and to do it together. “Hearts Still Beating” ends on a shadowy figure who's spying on our survivors, the close-up of his (or her?) boots establishing that it's the same person who shadowed Aaron (Ross Marquand) and Rick on their supply run earlier that day.

The Walking Dead Recap Season 7, Episode 2, "The Well"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 2, "The Well"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 2, "The Well"

Given The Walking Dead's fondness for settling every conflict with a bloody fight to the death (or undeath), I suspect the show's creators arranged for Carol (Melissa McBride) and Morgan (Lennie James) to encounter the Kingdom mainly so its residents can team up later with Alexandria and the Hilltop against the Saviors in a war to end all wars. But even if that's the ultimate goal, watching the two most pacifist members of Rick's group explore this seemingly humanistic new world provided a much-needed respite from the nihilistic violence of the seventh season's premiere episode, “The Day Will Come When You Won't Be”—and a welcome change of focus, from how to merely survive in a post-apocalyptic world to how to live.

The Walking Dead Recap Season 6, Episode 16, "Last Day on Earth"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 6, Episode 16, "Last Day on Earth"

Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead Recap: Season 6, Episode 16, "Last Day on Earth"

Last week's episode of The Walking Dead, “East,” ended with what felt like a dozen cliffhangers. Maggie, after getting a new hairdo for reasons that were far more symbolic than practical (if she were truly concerned about a walker grabbing her by the hair, she would have cut it a long time ago), clutched her stomach in agony and fell to the floor. Did she lose her baby? Carol, after obliterating a group of Saviors, set off for destinations unknown, with Morgan and Rick hot on her trail. Is she forever lost to her friends and surrogate family at Alexandria? And, of course, there was Daryl's blood as it splattered, like something out of a pulp film, on the camera's lens as Dwight shot him from behind and said, “You'll be all right.” But is he truly all right?

The Walking Dead Recap Season 6, Episode 15, "East"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 6, Episode 15, "East"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 6, Episode 15, "East"

Tonight's episode of The Walking Dead is a coup of sorts, and one that you might have seen coming. After all, “East” was co-conceived by Scott M. Gimple, whose last teleplay for the show was “Here's Not Here.” The lessons learned by Morgan in that episode are pointedly advanced here, and in ways that suggest that “East” was written by Channing Powell as a riposte to last week's “Twice As Far,” which was so cagey about so many of its characters' intentions that Denise's self-psychoanalysis at the end came to suggest both a weird telegraphing of her death and a meta-textual frustration on her part with the show. Much of what felt hidden last week is refreshingly, if bluntly, laid on the line here, but with a price, as “East” confirms my suspicion of The Walking Dead's dubious opinion of one of its most finely shaded characters.

The Walking Dead Recap Season 6, Episode 14, "Twice As Far"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 6, Episode 14, "Twice As Far"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 6, Episode 14, "Twice As Far"

Tonight's episode of The Walking Dead, “Twice As Far,” is reminiscent of a bad relationship, as its sketching of two Alexandria groups searching for supplies is so unimaginatively and patronizingly drawn as to make one rethink all the complexities, aesthetic and otherwise, proffered by the show's last two episodes. Carol (Melissa McBride), in last week's remarkably self-contained “The Same Boat,” brilliantly engineered her and Maggie's escape from a Saviors bunker with the same savvy she exuded while setting the Terminus compound ablaze from the outside. Last week, her pretending to be a woman of faith so as to manipulate her captors seemed consistent with the behavior we've come to expect from this character so spectacularly cut from the cloth of a B-movie badass. This week, though, the show suggests that she may not actually have been pretending. Carol, it seems, has found religion.

The Walking Dead Recap Season 6, Episode 13, "The Same Boat"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 6, Episode 13, "The Same Boat"

Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead Recap: Season 6, Episode 13, "The Same Boat"

Last week's episode of The Walking Dead, “No Tomorrow Yet,” ended with the sudden dampening of whatever sense of triumph Rick's (Andrew Lincoln) group felt after its successful, if morally fraught, raid on a Saviors outpost. And tonight's episode, “The Same Boat,” immediately backtracks to reveal the moment leading to Carol (Melissa McBride) and Maggie's (Lauren Cohan) capture and Rick's attempt to orchestrate their release. You may shudder, and for all the wrong reasons, at the sight of the brusque Saviors using Binocular-O-Vision to spy on Rick and his troops. Notwithstanding the scene's artful use of sound, the bad memories stirred of Fear of the Walking Dead's first season finale suggest that director Billy Gierhart doesn't have anything up his sleeve as radical as Gregory Nicotero's delirious co-opting of John Carpenter's style for “No Tomorrow Yet.”

The Walking Dead Recap Season 6, Episode 12, "No Tomorrow Yet"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 6, Episode 12, "No Tomorrow Yet"

Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead Recap: Season 6, Episode 12, "No Tomorrow Yet"

More proof that we're increasingly entrenched in an era of “peak television,” and that we're all struggling to keep up, last week the Vulture's Margaret Lyons answered a series of questions by readers asking for the best “batches” of TV episodes. In calling her recommended blocks “sure things,” Lyons inadvertently exposes the struggle that such infuriatingly spotty shows like The Walking Dead may face in lingering in the public consciousness after they go off the air. Indeed, thinking back to the entirety of its last season, and the current season up to tonight's episode, even this sometimes apologetic fan of the series is struggling to come up with three episodes in a row to recommend to someone looking to fill in a few hours between lunch and picking up the kids at school. But if you only have one, then you can't do better than “No Tomorrow Yet,” which exudes a corkscrew tension that's redolent of some of John Carpenter's finest work.