After several episodes of good momentum, “The King, the Widow, and Rick” shows us how marvelously “The Walking Dead” can completely lose said momentum and make an episode of bad decisions and infighting.
1. The King: Reluctance of Leadership
For the first part of the title, Ezekiel’s role in the episode isn’t really all that significant. Yes, Carol Peletier’s decision to have Henry help her is connected to his reluctance to do anything at all, but he himself (and by extension the nominally unemployed Jerry) don’t really have much to add to this episode. Still, his reluctance to lead seems to be pointing toward someone else taking the reins, unless he can pull himself together to be an actor again.
However, could he please lose the “and yet I smile” nonsense? It’s very annoying.
2. The Widow: Pitfalls of Leadership
Maggie Greene Rhee’s leadership style needs a lot of work. She spent most of the episode leading Gregory around, despite him being deposed. It’s to the effect of a traitor being allowed to stay around a community leader as their right-hand man despite nobody even liking him. Yes, he was thrown in with everyone else at the end, but why even bother to do that much? Why not just throw him in some cell-type area the first place?
Furthermore, Jesus’ decision to keep the captive Saviors alive seems to be going relatively well, but Jared’s insistence on causing some kind of uprising is enough to make some seem like they should have some serious guards around, enough to keep the area stable. After taking so many people in, why do that?
3. Rick: How Not to Meet Your Enemies
Rick Grimes’ decision to go to Jadis for a meeting makes absolutely no sense. There didn’t seem to be any actual indication that it was still on the table beforehand when she had shot him (grazing him or not doesn’t matter, she shot him), and it seems to just be a way to get him to stupidly give himself up. Why would he even do that? He went in, completely alone, and expected to be able to hold sway? As Brion noted, he had absolutely nothing to actually offer beyond “dreams and threats.” It’s really a wonder that he was only thrown into a cell/container and stripped of most clothes. On the whole it seems beyond stupid for him to even agree to any of this.
On the note of Jadis, what was with that “Scavengers naked except for red smocks” thing?
4. Right Hand vs. Left Hand
There seems to be a lot of “Rick’s group turning against leadership” in this episode.
First off, we have the quartet of Michonne, Rosita Espinosa, Tara Chamblers, and Daryl Dixon going against Rick’s word from the Alexandria Safe-Zone. Daryl is continuing his virtually villainous, homicidally vengeful turn with his decision to keep helping against orders and get ready to go against the Sanctuary, which all things considered is likely to lead to disaster for the alliance. Tara is talking out of two sides of her mouth, thanking Daryl for not killing Dwight on one hand for his position as a mole in the Saviors while also saying she wants to still kill Dwight for his murder of Denise (who he wasn’t even aiming at, wanting to kill Daryl in the first place). Rosita is, as ever, overly kill-happy, as shown by her decision to waste ammunition to kill a single man with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher (which didn’t even leave an ounce of a trace, just as if he flat out disappeared). Michonne is the only semi-rational member, as she is finally semi-recovered from her injuries and is worried about the efforts, rather than being fight-obsessed to ridiculous levels.
On the other hand, we have Aaron and Enid, who are going against the implicit word of Maggie at the Hilltop Colony, rather than that of Rick. They both seem to want to just finish the war, but honestly, what could only two of them even do? It seems geared to do nothing more than, at best, merely make things even worse, and at worst, kill them both and make things even worse.Continued below
5. Parents vs. Children
The sole bright light in this episode is the adventure of Carl Grimes and his new companion, the returned Saddiq. The man, who was last seen after Rick had scared him off in spite of his attempt at merely getting food and water and getting the supplies from Carl when he left them anyway, appears to be a very competent killer of Walkers, mostly through the use of traps. Still, he also shows the worst parts of the battle between the living and the undead: the fact that some of the former will try an extermination of the latter, despite that being unreliable and implausible to the point of ridiculousness.
Saddiq believes he has to keep killing all of the Walkers he sees to free their souls, as his mother had taught him. On the other hand, Carl is going against his father’s decision to leave Saddiq alone, and seems to finally get the older man to live for himself instead of his deceased mother. It was an odd lesson, but perhaps a trip on the path to get a new, very useful member of the alliance along with some divergent character evolution for Carl to separate him from Rick.
Hopefully next episode will be better, but hard to tell at this point.