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'The Walking Dead' Recap, 'How It's Gotta Be': Just Because It's Longer Doesn't Mean It's Going To Be Better

By Brian Richards | The Walking Dead | December 11, 2017 |

By Brian Richards | The Walking Dead | December 11, 2017 |

Previously on The Walking Dead: Rick had all of his guns and clothes taken away, so we could see him forced by Jadis and the Not-At-All-Affiliated-With-Bill Cosby Junkyard Gang kill yet another armored Walker wearing nothing but his boxers. Oh, and Eugene spent the entire hour hemming and hawing about his loyalty to Negan and the Saviors. It’s exactly as exciting and fascinating as it sounds.

THE STORY SO FAR: Thanks to Eugene using his makeshift drone to steer the horde of Walkers away from their compound, Negan and the Saviors decided to once again strike back against Rick and company by taking over Alexandria and bombing the shit out of each location, while letting everyone know that there would no longer be any mercy. Maggie was forced to watch as Simon killed one of her men to make it clear that the tables have once again turned, which resulted in Maggie killing one of the Saviors held captive back at the Hilltop to even things out. Rick and Negan beat the shit out of each other for a couple of minutes before Rick was sent flying out of a window and made a run for it. Dwight’s double-agent status is discovered by one of the Saviors after he shoots several of them down before taking a bullet to the shoulder. Eugene’s hemming and hawing finally came to an end as he agreed to help Gabriel get Dr. Carson to Maggie to assist her with her pregnancy. King Ezekiel allows himself to be captured by The Saviors in order to let his people escape. And apparently, Carl was bitten by a Walker, which means he is not going to be around to see this show make it to Season 10.

WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT THIS EPISODE: Rick and Carl’s conversation about hope and what they’re looking to achieve and accomplish once the All-Out War is over (and sorry to break this to you, everyone, but that war most definitely doesn’t end in this episode)

The scene between Carl and Negan, in which Carl is willing to sacrifice himself to Negan and The Saviors in order to keep any of his people from being killed. Until we learn in the episode’s closing moments about what Carl is suffering from, he seems very sincere when expressing that he doesn’t want to die but if doing so will protect others from Negan’s wrath, then that’s what he’s willing to accept. Negan, who has clearly shown some fondness for Carl in his own unique way, doesn’t seem all that happy about hearing any of this. Kudos to Chandler Riggs and Jeffrey Dean Morgan for making this scene work.

Rick and Negan’s all-too-brief fight.

Rick: “Don’t you ever shut up?”
Negan: “Nope!”


IS NEGAN IN THIS EPISODE?: Yes, he certainly is. And he is so damn eager to kill Rick and make everyone suffer for putting him and his people through so much shit.

MICHONNE?: Yes, and unless you want her sword in your eye before you get repeatedly chopped to pieces, do not be a Savior who tries to ambush her and then boast about all of her people are dead.

CARL?: He spends most of the episode helping others escape and evade capture, trying to convince Negan to not kill everyone, and also leaving good-bye notes for Rick to find.

JUDITH?: Yes, the third Fanning sister is in this episode as well.

MORGAN?: He is, though he really doesn’t do much.

IS DARYL STILL ALIVE? BECAUSE IF HE’S NOT, THEN WE RIOT: Yes, Daryl is still alive (and he finally gets his angel-wings vest back from Dwight) and at this point in the series’ run, we might as well admit that if any rioting is going to take place over the death of any major character, that character is and will be Michonne.

TO SUM IT ALL UP: As I’ve said far too many times since recapping this show, whenever The Walking Dead decides to do a ninety-minute-long episode, it doesn’t take very long for the show to remind us that nothing ever happens to prove to us why the episode needed to be ninety minutes long in the first place, and this midseason finale is no exception. All that really happens is The Saviors brag a whole lot about how they’re going to make things go back to the way things were back in Season 7 (while leaving me to wonder how they still have enough numbers to make such a threat after all of the prolonged gunfights and the Walkers invading their territory), Rick and company run for cover in the sewers, Jadis and the Junkyard Gang (who are supposed to be helping Rick take down the Saviors as promised in last week’s episode) immediately disappear like Homer Simpson walking backwards into the bushes and run for cover themselves all the way back to the junkyard, and The Walking Dead doing everything possible to keep their viewers from doing the same by showing us that Carl was bitten by a Walker and that he eventually is going to become on himself. (A plot twist that took a lot of people by surprise, and not in a good way) And even though I’ve been watching this show since its pilot first aired, it says how much my interest in this show and almost everything about it has taken such a sharp decline that this…


…was the strongest reaction I could possibly have when finding out the truth about Carl, a major character who has been a part of The Walking Dead since its very first episode. Too much low-quality and slower-than-molasses plotting and lackluster characterization has made it rather difficult to care about what happens next and who it happens too, especially when The Walking Dead is too overly fond of repeating certain plotlines and not caring anything about that because…you know, zombies and they look disgusting and wow, look at how gruesome it is when they finally kill (insert character’s name here). I won’t sit here and pretend that The Walking Dead has never been entertaining or never achieved greatness, because it certainly has, and the actors do impressive work and refuse to phone it in no matter what material they’re given to work with. But the show being so damn inconsistent with its quality and seemingly not working harder to determine what works and what really, really doesn’t is what makes watching it all the more frustrating.

And really, The Walking Dead, if you’re going to include that many montages of all the characters’ faces in close-up, especially in this needlessly long episode, then you might as well have had Katey Sagal singing over the soundtrack.

This episode of The Walking Dead is brought to you by “This Life” by Curtis Stigers and the Forest Rangers:

See you all in February 2018, when Black Panther finally drops in theaters and we can all hopefully rejoice over how awesome it is The Walking Dead returns in February and the All-Out War will finally and hopefully come to an end.

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Brian Richards is a Staff Contributor. You can follow him on Twitter.