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Chandler Riggs (#110 of 28)

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 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 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 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”

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.

The Walking Dead Recap Season 6, Episode 11, "Knots Untie"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 6, Episode 11, “Knots Untie”

Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead Recap: Season 6, Episode 11, “Knots Untie”

“Your world is about to get a whole lot bigger,” says Jesus (Tom Payne) to Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Michonne (Danai Gurira), Daryl (Norman Reedus), and Carl (Chandler Riggs) during the opening minutes of tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead. His words hum with a self-conscious sense of enthusiasm, a certain recognition that more than just Alexandria, but the series itself, has been trapped in a sort of standstill from which it’s been trying to escape. Jesus does a fine job of convincing Rick’s group that he means them no harm, negotiating a mutually beneficial future and rolling out the red carpet toward a nearby place known as the Hilltop. And for a moment, the group’s cautiously measured excitement rhymes with our own.

The Walking Dead Recap Season 6, Episode 10, "The Next World"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 6, Episode 10, “The Next World”

Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead Recap: Season 6, Episode 10, “The Next World”

The latest episode of The Walking Dead, “The Next World,” is by and large a necessary, if not exactly radical, pressing of the reset button. “Start to Finish” culminated with a vision of what appeared to spell the end for Alexandria, and “No Way Out” with the promise of its salvation, with the denizens of the safe-zone fighting in emphatic lockstep to reclaim their little patch of earth from a mass of zombie marauders. “The Next World” jarringly leaps forward in time to reveal Alexandria still standing, and it conveys all the gumption that went into keeping it so through a wide range of non-incidents.

The Walking Dead Recap Season 6, Episode 9, "No Way Out"

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The Walking Dead Recap: Season 6, Episode 9, “No Way Out”

Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead Recap: Season 6, Episode 9, “No Way Out”

It’s Valentine’s Day, and The Walking Dead’s mid-season premiere aptly kicks off with a gesture that makes clear that audiences are never too far from the minds of the show’s creators. If you missed the coda that would presumably serve as the setup for the second half of the show’s sixth season, either because you tuned out after the mid-season finale’s credits or your cable provider (cough, Cablevision, cough) forced you to, “No Way Out” replays the tense scenario before following it to its logical—given Daryl’s (Norman Reedus) typically slick standards—conclusion.