The Walking Dead (#110 of 94)

The Walking Dead Recap Season 7, Episode 16, "The First Day of the Rest of Your Life"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 16, "The First Day of the Rest of Your Life"

Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 16, "The First Day of the Rest of Your Life"

Skipping lightly across the surface of relationships and individual states of mind to focus on the stockpiling of weapons or the formation of fragile alliances, The Walking Dead's seventh season was almost exclusively about the march to war. Negan's (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) sadistically fetishized slaughter of Abraham and Glenn in the season opener established him as a ruthless despot who could only be unseated by extraordinary means. Several characters, including Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Morgan (Lennie James), and Ezekiel (Khary Payton), tried to resist the call to battle that was Maggie's (Lauren Cohan) unwavering response to Negan's psychotic display, but their reservations were swatted away with no real debate, creating the illusion that war was the group's only viable alternative.

The Walking Dead Recap Season 7, Episode 15, "Something They Need"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 15, "Something They Need"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 15, "Something They Need"

Aside from the armored walker that Rick (Andrew Lincoln) fought in the junkyard where Jadis's people live, it's been months since roamers posed a credible threat to anyone on The Walking Dead. They're usually just a slightly titillating excuse for some action, and the catalyst for a jolt of camaraderie or tension among the humans they encounter. True to form, the barnacle-festooned skeleton that stumbles into focus at the start of “Something They Need,” and the herd that materializes behind it, lurch obligingly into Oceanside just as Rick's arms raid is teetering on the edge of catastrophe.

The Walking Dead Recap Season 7, Episode 14, "The Other Side"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 14, "The Other Side"

Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 14, "The Other Side"

The absence of dialogue in the scenes before the opening credits of this week's episode of The Walking Dead, “The Other Side,” makes Maggie (Lauren Cohan) seem nearly iconic: a legend in the making. Throughout these scenes, she teaches knife-throwing and does that benevolent-leader thing of acknowledging people by placing a reassuring hand on their shoulder. It's good to see her, since she's been absent from the last few episodes, and particularly gratifying to see her looking good, almost as happy and loose as Rick and Michonne did during their extended supply run in “Say Yes.”

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 12, "Say Yes"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 12, "Say Yes"

Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 12, "Say Yes"

A lot happens in “Say Yes,” almost all of it compelling. Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) insists that Rick and his crew bring her even more guns than the shitload they reclaimed from the soldier walkers. Tara decides to tell Rick about the Oceanside group. (Might the women at Oceanside be willing not only to join the fight, but to hand over some of their guns to the trash dwellers?) And what is with that giant female walker Rosita encounters with the bloated head and neck? Is that just normal decay or it is some new mutation they aren't yet aware of? It's getting a little tiresome, though, to watch Rosita (Christian Serratos) stomp around in an unchanging state of stony-faced rage, telling everyone she wants to be alone. At least she eases up at the end of the episode, recruiting Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) to help her kill Negan, even though that's unlikely to end well.

The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 11, "Hostiles and Calamities"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 11, "Hostiles and Calamities"

Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 11, "Hostiles and Calamities"

The gods must have heard my prayer. Tonight's episode of The Walking Dead, “Hostiles and Calamities,” takes a break from the hatchet-faced military strategizing and obligatory slicing and dicing that's lately dominated the show to look at Negan's (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) Sanctuary, that Dantean dystopia with an Orwellian name. The death count isn't quite zero in this episode, but Dr. Carson's (R. Keith Harris) Holocaust-evoking demise feels anything but titillating or gratuitous. And, for the first time I can remember, not a single walker is whacked, though one does lose its bottom half, along with some gooey innards, as part of its slow slide toward total disintegration.

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 7, "Sing Me a Song"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 7, "Sing Me a Song"

Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 7, "Sing Me a Song"

The Hitchockian opening scene of tonight's episode of The Walking Dead, “Sing Me a Song,” makes clever use of Michonne's (Danai Gurira) inscrutability. Walking down an initially empty country road and whistling “The Farmer in the Dell” to attract her prey, Michonne is the epitome of the existentially alone western hero she personifies more than anyone else in Rick's group as she sets a walker-lined trap whose purpose is disturbingly opaque. The close-up of the sword and walkie-talkie she leaves behind as she drags a body down the road is a particularly unsettling bit of misdirection: Is she planning to commit suicide by walker? And even if she's doing something else, like setting things up to make it look as if walkers got her so she can go underground, how long can she survive without that sword?