The Walking Dead: Still Gotta Mean Something

"What the shit? No, really, just tell me, what the shit??"

Am I going insane?

I must be, because Jadis and Negan were the best part of this episode. These are two characters whom I don't at all like or find interesting, largely due to the terrible writing choices that accompany them. Negan, in particular, has dragged the show down for some time. From the moment he was introduced in that disastrous, insulting cliffhanger finale, Negan has leaned more toward being a failure as a character than a success. He's had a moment or two where he threatened to become interesting, but largely he's been a chore to watch. Negan was overhyped to hell and back, his dialogue is often laughable, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan has struggled to rise above the poor writing. Jadis started out interesting, but fell victim to The Walking Dead's most prevalent problem of repetition.

For this episode, however, I found myself wanting to spend a lot more time with them, especially Jadis. God help me, but I kind of wanted one of those one-hour-with-just-one-character episodes if it meant finding out what makes Jadis tick, and a lot of that comes down to Pollyanna McIntosh's sublime performance. She communicated so much with an expression and minimal dialogue. Jadis is still grief-stricken and lonely, having been humbled by Simon's brutality and lost everything. I felt for her, I really did. Jadis crafted a character to play and a world to inhabit, all in the name of survival. It was a world that was always doomed to fail, but it was hers, and she kept at it for a long time. She had an interesting, spartan room (thanks for teaching me about what spartan means, Gwendolyn Post), turned a walker into a cart, and is connected to the helicopter people. Just who is Jadis, and what's she doing? I imagine we'll find out sometime in Season 11, because freakin' LOST didn't drag out mysteries like this show does and LOST had to wrap up questions with a five-minute DVD extra. I'm guessing Jadis is military or maybe connected to Georgie.


Negan was the most fascinating he's ever been, because he acted like a human being instead of a swaggering moron. He was allowed to be vulnerable; he was actually more honest and open than Rick was in this episode. I guess all it took for me to like Negan was to turn him into a completely different character, but JDM made the transformation from one-note asshole to semi-sympathetic villain believable. He was almost noble, accepting responsibility for the sins of his right-hand man going rogue. There was something in his eyes as he drove back to the Sanctuary; he came across as more introverted, more cunning, and even a little tired. Maybe he's gained a fresh perspective, but I'm sure he's mostly preoccupied with finding out who's really on his side. We also got an interesting hint about his wife, that she kept him going through the world before the dead started walking. Perhaps Negan feels more at home in the post-apocalypse than he ever did in the normal world.

It's a shame that the rest of the episode alternated between repetition, idiocy and tiring cruelty. I believed Rick when he said he would take the Saviors back to the Hilltop, and one of them even saved his life. He and Morgan decided to brutally murder them all anyway, operating on a What Would Negan Do philosophy. It seems the writers aren't going to abandon their "who is the real monster" schtick anytime soon. It's still Negan, guys, it's still Negan. I can see how Rick could get there, but he hasn't crafted a harem nor is he casually sadistic. He seemed to be channelling the Governor far more than Negan, but maybe that's intentional and I've missed the mark. Like the Governor, Rick lost his child and now he kills without hesitation or mercy. I mean, he's been killing without hesitation or mercy since Season 3, but these were people who wanted to be saved. It was a cynical and cruel moment in a show that deals in being cynical and cruel. Then again, maybe I'm cynical and cruel, too. After all, I kept wanting them to find Henry dead, because that would mean the end of that dumb storyline repeat. At least we got the semi-satisfying end of Jared, who was a true believer in the Saviors right to the end. He certainly earned a nasty end.


I'm being forced to repeat my comments about repetition. Is that irony? Probably not, but it is annoying. It's just that I've seen the same scenes so many times in this show. Scenes where the likes of Rick and Morgan talk in hushed tones about what it means to live in the world, what it means to kill, how the world has changed and so on and so forth. They never say anything new. They adjust their dialogue, sure, but the meaning is always the same, and the meaning is empty. Only questions are posed. I feel weary watching these scenes. Rick looks so tired all the time. All the regular players look tired. I'm hoping Henry's story has at least come to an end. Jared is dead and Henry seems remorseful, so maybe Morgan can just head on over to Fear the Walking Dead where maybe he'll actually develop as a character instead of stagnate.

Bits & Bobs

- We didn't see who Negan picked up, but I'm betting it's either Gregory or Laura the tattooed Savior.

- Negan's wife was named Lucille, as many guessed. Of course he would name an instrument of death after his wife.

- We didn't get as much of Ezekiel as I would ideally like, but I liked what we got. Khary Payton imbues this character with so much natural charm and sympathy that I can't help but consider him my favorite.

- Dwight is being insufferable. He insisted that Tara just got lucky with a non-poisoned arrow, even though it's beyond clear that Dwight is still on their side. What did he think? That Tara had just become immune? That 'tough' people don't turn? Insanity.

- That herd sure did teleport in, huh?

- I've already mentioned McIntosh and Morgan, but Joshua Mikael was very good as Jared this week. He's always been good at playing such a supremely nasty character. I shouldn't have watched The Talking Dead afterward, because Mikael was so damn nice and happy to be there and emotional about leaving the show that I almost wished Jared had stuck around. McIntosh was also lovely and super-gorgeous; she wore an awesome Jadis shirt. She also made a good point about Negan showing even the slightest sliver of humanity making him more interesting. Chris Hardwick might be the best actor in the entire franchise, though, since it takes some serious skill to be able to sell these subpar episodes as anything worth getting excited about...although even he seems frustrated by Negan's continued plot armor. His greatest talent, however, comes in overreacting to everybody's jokes.

Quotes

Negan: My wife's name was Lucille. She got me through. I didn't give her shit, and she got me through. Just life ... regular life. The bat, that got me through this. That's it, nothing more to do with me than that. But it is the last little piece of her that I got left.

Negan: Daddy's home and it's gonna be a surprise.
Simon, you got some 'splaining to do.

Rick: Just tell me. Why'd you save me?
Morgan: Because my son was there.

Two out of four helicopter flares, both of which are for Jadis and Negan.

2 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Yeah. I was *so* disappointed in Rick. Doublecrossing the Savior prisoners is the exact opposite of what Carl would have wanted him to do.

Jadis is so much more interesting now. I particularly liked her ultra clean, Spartan :) living space. And I am now wondering about the helicopter stuff. I just wish she had killed Negan. I'm ready for him to be gone.

Patryk said...

Which time is it that we see an unexplained helicotper in this show? Is it the same one as in season 1? :)

While Negan is still the real monster I can't really root for rick anymore. Maybe he should die taking Negan out this season.