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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”

Gene Page/AMC

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 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 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”

Gene Page/AMC

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?

The Walking Dead Recap Season 7, Episode 5, "Go Getters"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 5, “Go Getters”

Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 5, “Go Getters”

One of the things that has kept me loyal to The Walking Dead over the years is its matter-of-fact feminism. Some of the best fighters and most strategic thinkers in Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) gender-neutral meritocracy have always been women, and they were usually toughened up by the kinds of trials that all too often turn women into skilled survivors, like the spousal abuse Carol endured or the loss of an adored child that galvanized Michonne (Danai Gurira), a somewhat passive and subordinate housewife, into becoming a latter-day ninja. Even Paula, the Savior who captured and nearly killed Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Carol in season six, gained our respect—and a soul-sister acknowledgement from Carol—for her focused ferocity after we learned that she had been a mousy, abused secretary in the pre-walker world who seized on the apocalypse as her chance to stop eating so much as one more morsel of paternalistic shit, even from her own men.

The Walking Dead Recap Season 7, Episode 4, "Service"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 4, “Service”

Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 4, “Service”

“Service” approaches war and other forms of carnage, which appear more and more to be the true subject of The Walking Dead, from a new direction, focusing on the stockpiling of weapons. Its two parallel themes, exploring who controls those weapons and the shifting allegiances within Alexandria, may explain the extra length of this episode, which actually feels less repetitive than many hour-long episodes from the show’s past seasons that have pounded home the same point one or two times too many.

The Walking Dead Recap Season 7, Episode 1, "The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 1, “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be”

Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 1, “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be”

My husband used to fret that I was convinced civilization was about to collapse because I watched zombie movies, but he had it backwards. Having grown up in 1950s and ’60s Detroit, I saw firsthand how fragile even apparently solid social infrastructures can be, and ours seem particularly vulnerable these days. To pick just three existential threats out of a very large hat, hackers are poised to shut down the Internet, a foreign dictator plays chicken with nukes while an American presidential candidate keeps asking why we don’t use ours, and a global refugee crisis makes homelessness in New York City look manageable by comparison. That’s why I love stories about the zombie apocalypse: They’re a safe way to explore my fears about the breakdown of society, and to imagine how we might rebuild our lives and create communities after a major disaster.

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

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 6, Episode 15, “East”

Gene Page/AMC

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.