In the latest episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead the story of the main survivors progressed a bit, but for the most part it was just a ho-hum type of episode that was used to re-position all the main players for the inevitable climactic showdown between Rick and Negan before this season ends. Unlike the midseason premiere episode, this one, which is titled, “Dead or Alive Or”, like the second return episode, lacked any sense of urgency or tension, so it felt rather boring and a bit flat. It followed the adventures of Gabe and Dr. Carson, as well as the Alexandrian survivors being led by Daryl, Tara, Dwight, and Rosita. It also touched in on Eugene over on the Savior side.
I wouldn’t say any of the threads were overly entertaining or intriguing, because each of them were paced slower than a walker with no legs. Each thread was meant to setup a bigger thread, which is the next massive showdown between Rick’s groups and Negan’s Saviors, so again, it lacked any sort of narrative weight, and the only few key moments happened very late in its run.
Either way, there were still a few key moments like I prefaced — none that I’d call memorable though — but a few definitely were of note for either filling in plot details that we’ve been missing, or setting up future plot points to be revealed. I only counted three in total, and that was a tall task, because for me personally this was a tough episode to slog through due to how uninteresting each narrative thread was, and how predictable the flow of them would be due to obvious plot setups that the writers used to push a character towards their new fate. Anyway, you can learn more about each of these key moments from “Dead or Alive Or” below.
1. Dwight Saves the Day After Everyone Plots How and When to Kill Him
Throughout this episode we were shown a group of Alexandrian survivors being led to Hilltop by Daryl, Tara, Rosita, and Dwight, but not everyone is happy that Dwight is in the group. Tara is definitely the most upset that Dwight is with them and still breathing, so it’s clear early on that she may try a shady stunt to exact her own revenge in an attempt to make her feel better about losing Denise. In lazy writing, Tara gets her chance to take Dwight out when she forces him to go on a Walker murder patrol with her, at which point she opens fire on him. Just as she corners him and he pleads with her to chill, a group of Saviors who are looking for the Alexandrians can be heard in the distance. Right when they say they’re head in the direction of said survivors, Dwight runs from their hiding spot and reveals himself while making up a story about why he was in the woods in the firs place. Dwight effectively saves everyone’s asses by giving himself up and becoming a double agent again, so maybe he’ll get a pass from Tara if they every meet up again?
The main reason this scene made it on this list is because it shows how much of a changed man Dwight is, and how much he is really trying to prove his loyalty to Rick’s group. Unfortunately, when you have teamed up with Negan and have executed his terror, people who suffered from his special brand of terrorism aren’t usually up for forgiving those who helped to carry out. This is the situation Dwight is in, and regardless of how that he has done for Rick’s group, those he affected the most — Daryl and Tara — are having a very hard time forgiving him and seeing him as a changed person. I think this will eventually lead to Dwight heroically sacrificing himself to either save Daryl or Tara, or both, but as he dies they’ll finally realize the errors of their treatment of him and respect his actions in a revered way.
2. Father Gabe and Dr. Caron Captured
The worst plot thread of this episode had to be the one featuring Gabe and Dr. Carson, who we finally learned had broken down on a road while looking for the Hilltop after they escaped the Sanctuary a few weeks back. These two dominated this episode’s time, and their little adventure, which seemed like a ploy to remind viewers and the good doctor that faith in God can lead to amazing things, but by the time their adventure ended, it also reminded us that life sucks in a zombie apocalypse, and that faith doesn’t always get us where we want to be in life. After all of the harrowing situations these two get in, which there are plenty of thanks to Gabe’s vision loss (he’s got a bad virus), they end up getting recaptured by the Saviors anyway. Then, just when he was starting to feel like God was on his side, Carson tried to shoot his way out of being captured, but he was killed immediately, so when it comes down to it, faith alone can’t save everyone in a world full of the walking dead and the living maniacs.
The reason their capture made this top moments list is because of how it sets up future narratives. Killing off Dr. Carson was done to show that Siddiq’s rescue by Carl wasn’t done in vein because now he can be the Hilltop doctor since Carson is dead. Having Gabriel placed in Eugene’s bullet making factory will surely lead to some sort of coup by the both of them, or by Gabe himself. I’m guessing he may sabotage the bullet production to screw over Negan, but it will probably be done at the cost of his life, so watch out for Gabe joining the deceased before this season is through.
3. Hilltop Reunion
By the end of this episode Daryl and his group, plus Rick and Michonne, all finally make their way to the Hilltop. It was a slightly emotional moment as Maggie and Enid both realize that Carl has died, but more importantly it served as a means to get all of the main players back into one location.
Quite frankly, that’s the only reason this moment made it on this list, because nothing happened of weight after everyone showed up at the Hilltop. It was just a plot device to reconnect the heroes for the inevitable final showdown between themselves and Negan’s forces.
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