In “Time For After,” things turn out a little better than the previous episode, mostly through a character focus. Unfortunately, that does not mean it was actually all that good either.
1. Eugene’s Descent
This episode showcases Eugene Porter’s descent into his role as a key Savior, willing to do anything he needs in order to survive. He says that he is willing to help save the workers despite Dwight’s meticulous planning, and even tries to do so by sending off his “DIY plane with an iPod” scheme. Despite the wise words of the terminally ill Father Gabriel Stokes (infected from Walker flesh getting into his system during the “cover ourselves in guts” scheme from “The Big Scary U”) and the admonishment of one of Negan’s wives, Tanya, he nonetheless settles into the idea of only caring about his own survival, no matter what happens.
This selfishness reaches to the extent of keeping Doctor Harlan Carson at the Sanctuary to keep himself alive rather than lead him away for his own safety once the coast was clear. Of course, the fact that Daryl and his allies broke open a hole in the compound (see 3 and 4) likely didn’t help any, but he was already calling them “former traveling companions” rather than friends even before that, and berating the terminally ill preacher was ruthless and cruel no matter how one looks at it.
That said, his self-interest doesn’t necessarily mean he is loyal to the Saviors, either. He is fully willing to work with them and do his best when Negan is overly nice to him, even saying he is the “second most important person” in the Savior compound next to Negan himself, but as soon as Eugene tells Negan that the best he can do is to repair the intercom system to make communications better (which is completely useless while the Walkers have essentially taken over the lower level due to the new hole in the wall), Negan goes back to essentially dismissing him, seeming disappointed in his efforts even after having praised his perceptive and intelligent nature as his strength.
Due to the combination of rejecting the alliance and being implicitly treated as practically useless by the Saviors in the current situation, Eugene, alone, seems to be trying to drink himself to death using a combination of a toxin and a bottle of alcohol. He does not appear to succeed come the episode’s end, but it’s hard to tell.
2. Eugene versus Dwight
Dwight doesn’t have quite as much focus as Eugene, but his role is still notable as the opposing side in the conflict with Eugene. Both want to save as many people as possible, but their methods differ completely. Eugene wants to drive the undead away, while Dwight wants to prioritize keeping the chaos high until Negan can be killed. That said, both of them have similar advice for one another: don’t interfere. Eugene wants Dwight to stop his betrayal so that the Saviors can get Sanctuary back together, but Dwight wants Eugene to stop helping the Saviors because they will eventually lose the war anyway at the current rate, and if they do make it out, Negan is going to go on an even nastier warpath than usual.
Of course, being the coward that he is, Eugene won’t back down, and ultimately Dwight is unwilling to shoot him despite all of the indications that he would do so, instead shooting at his plane to stop his plan. If he wants as many people alive as possible, perhaps Dwight wants to keep Eugene alive for his intellect? It seems too dangerous, but maybe he feels that he can use that kind of ingenuity, or even plant blame on Eugene altogether.
3. Dwindling Party
Slowly, the members of the Tara Chamblers-Daryl Dixon alliance seem to be getting a clue as to just how stupid their plan really is, especially when there is a far higher risk of failure than following Rick’s lead.
The most logical person to defect from the plan, Michonne, does so because she realizes that while they have no idea if their plan is going to be successful, they have been having some success already, and so she wants to keep that going. All she really wanted to do was find out the situation at the Sanctuary, and now that she’s done that, she goes on her way back (sans vehicle, apparently).Continued below
The less logical, and more out-of-character defector is Rosita Espinosa, who suddenly decides that Rick is right and they should follow his lead, despite everything since Abraham Ford’s death indicating that she cared only about vengeance, and disliked listening to Rick at all. Yes, she is being more reasonable now, but the change doesn’t really make any sense for her character, and seems to come out of nowhere.
Then we have Morgan Jones, who comes back to help again, this time using a sniper rifle again instead of a stick. It seems that the writers have completely abandoned his “if I kill again, I will go insane” arc. A shame, really, but given he is due to go over to “Fear the Walking Dead” come season 4, this is likely to lead to his death to free up his actor’s schedule.
4. A Simple Plan
Daryl and company’s plan was pretty much destined to go wrong or end up making things worse. Even if there were not an entire other half of a season to deal with, let alone a midseason finale, the gung-ho nature as compared to the careful planning goes wrong far too often in this show, especially when Rick isn’t in on the plan. It usually goes well for a few minutes, enough to just get some people free, then it ends up making everything worse if it continues.
As such, the plan was pretty much doomed to failure as soon as Daryl busted through the door to the Sanctuary. The entire point of the wall of the undead was to keep everyone locked in and allow the society to fall apart naturally and/or lead to the group’s surrender. By opening up an entrance, a herd would form, which is a very hit-or-miss strategy. Given the fact that gunfire rarely ever actually matters in terms of attracting Walkers anymore (to the point that people more often use guns than anything else, even when something quieter would be preferable), all that would happen is the Walkers would congregate around and enter through the singular entrance in the hole in the wall, leaving wide swathes of the compound open for the Saviors to exit.
5. Rick and the Scavengers
The story bookending this episode is that of Rick’s struggle to get the Scavengers to accept him and his people, and to join the war in their favor. Why he would actually go to them alone after their leader shot him and tacitly joined Negan’s side remains a mystery, even after Daryl and company talked about him going to get some allies, but that’s another problem from last episode, and thus less of one to discuss here.
The decision to reduce him to nothing but his boxers would be comical, if not for the sheer bizarre nature of the scavenger group themselves (par for the course, really). The photographs being taken, the sketches being drawn of Rick’s near-naked form by Jadis and her crew, are an explanation of the weird “arts and crafts while in nothing but red smocks” thing from “The King, the Widow, and Rick,” but still seem to just be a bit too out there, even for them.
The fight scene against a group of Scavengers, including Jadis, using a new Walker replacement for Winslow as a weapon both for and against them, is interesting to watch, but still extremely weird. Nobody bothered to hold Rick down better? Nobody kept his hands tied behind his back instead of in front of him? Yes, he has plot armor, but it seems rather blatant.
That said, at least we can finally have them actually join the effort, despite the fact that there is no way to be sure they will actually keep their word, especially given that they had to lower their take of the Saviors’ resources from half to one fourth (given the intention to split it between the Kingdom, the Scavengers, Alexandria, and the Hilltop).
The revelation that the Sanctuary has been cleared by the efforts of Eugene and/or the idiotic plan from Daryl, Tara, and Morgan seems to be a rather clear way to set up a midseason finale, but seemed rather predictable. However, maybe they’ll actually get some kind of repercussions for all of this?Continued below
Unlikely, but who knows anymore?