It was inevitable after a series of strong episodes The Walking Dead would deliver a clunker.
It’s not even that “Twice as Far” is necessarily bad but it was more transitory than previous weeks, feeling more like an echo than a song. It had a conflict with the Saviors, some supply talk nonsense and character movement into positions primed for the season finale, ominously titled “Last Day on Earth.” It just didn’t have quite the narrative momentum of previous weeks and Denise’s death (thankfully taking the arrow, as it were, for Abraham who died the same death in the comics) while sad wasn’t unsurprising in thet least.
The Walking Dead has always been directorially ambitious enough to match its apocalyptic story, going all the way back to the amazing shot in the pilot of Rick riding a horse into a desolate Atlanta. “Twice as Far” gave us an opening montage with an interesting visual dissolve technique. When the story suffers, as it always does on this show, it’s nice to see the filming conventions pushed further.
Speaking Walking Dead stories, the best seem to percolate in the background and have hard time in the foreground. The Carol/Morgan conflict of killing vs. no killing has played off to the side all season but now seems to coming to the fore in the last two episodes, what with Carol leaving Alexandria and Morgan set to find her. For my money, it’s been the best part of the season, a character-driven storyline about moral consequences (albeit with a lame ending to the Wolf’s story back episode 9).
I realized belatedly this episode that Morgan’s actual prison cell he’s been constructing in his house, akin to his friend Eastman’s, will be the future home of (START COMIC SPOILERS) Negan. If it ends up being Morgan instead of Glenn who meets his maker at the hands of Negan in the coming finale, it’ll add some symmetry to Rick’s decision to keep Negan alive after winning the war against him (END COMIC SPOILERS). For those wary of spoilers, what this means is the show thinking ahead to Season 8. Gimple has always been clever, perhaps too much, about his Chekov’s Guns, laying the groundwork well ahead of time for maximum payoff.
“Twice as Far’s” main focus was the twin supply trips of Daryl, Rosita and Denise as well as Abraham and Eugene. While the former searches for medicine, the latter find a factory where Eugene can manufacture bullets. Both are boring in of themselves but it’s the characters’ trajectories that actually at play here. Eugene gets to assert himself to Abraham, Rosita gets to stand aside from Abraham (until she hilariously is upstaged again at the end), and Denise gets her moment in the sun that predictably precedes a death.
One cool development that did occur was the return of Dwight (Austin Amelio) last seen in Episode 6 stealing Daryl’s bike and crossbow and christened with a new burn scar as punishment for his previous insurrection. Daryl retrieved his bike from the Saviors’ compound two weeks ago and gets his crossbow back this time but only after Dwight used it to shoot Denise through the eye. He then takes Eugene, who separated from Abraham to prove his mettle, hostage and demands Daryl and Rosita take them to Alexandria.
Fortunately, Abraham followed Eugene and ambushes group allowing our team to escape. Eugene takes a bullet but survives. Back at Alexandria, boring white boy Spencer tries to get in boring Latina Rosita’s pants, Abraham wants to shack up Sasha, and Carol leaves her new romance with Tobin to depart Alexandria, determining if she’s lost the will to kill, she wants to be away from those she would kill for.
It’s a similar sentiment that Rick banished her for way back in Season 4 and it even gets a reference in Carol’s letter/ending monologue. It could backfire and make this story a retread of last time, but for now, I’ll take anything that bring Lennie James and his stick to the fore.