New Best Friends was an interesting episode of The Walking Dead. Historically, the wider, more expansive episodes that spotlight the entire cast are better than the character specific episodes. This episode, while fine, would probably have fared better just focusing on the Rick storyline.
That’s mainly because the other subplots were so frustrating. It’s hard to watch Ezekiel pick up the mantle of early Season 7 Rick with a complete disinterest in fighting The Saviors. It’s weird how Richard is being positioned as an extremist for being the only one who truly understands The Saviors’ threat. They’re not going to just go away or be content with what they’re getting all the time.
Eventually they’re going to demand more and Ezekiel is going to give in to preserve the peace. I don’t like Richard’s chances of making it through this season. Just like I doubt his death would truly be enough to spur Ezekiel into action. Rick shouldn’t have been able to convince Ezekiel right away, but Ezekiel has to know the time to fight is right now.
While the overall Kingdom arc just feels mildly repetitive after already learning the lesson with Alexandria, the more frustrating aspect of New Best Friends was the focus on Carol. It’s hard to understand what Ezekiel sees in her to just blindly go along with her desire to be an outcast. The Kingdom has never had an interesting woman stroll in?
Carol’s pacifist stance has become tiresome. There’s nothing to her character now as long as she is the crotchety old woman who doesn’t want anyone coming on her lawn. It was extremely annoying watching Daryl lie about things being A-OK with The Saviors. No matter what Carol said or how broken up she was, learning that they killed Glenn would have rekindled her fighting spirit. Maybe it was an act of mercy from Daryl, but keeping one of their best fighters sidelined doesn’t seem the best long-term strategy in this war.
Thankfully, the other main arc of the episode was much more entertaining. Rick and his crew get taken to a junkyard …or Planet Junkion and try and strike a new alliance. This new community, run by Milla Jovovich lookalike Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh, Tales of Halloween) has an interesting outlook on life.
They’re not so big on upsetting the nature of things, like the boat Rick and Aaron stumbled upon, but they’re fine stealing from others. It seemed pretty insane that they’d just wait around for someone to come and risk the boat walker gauntlet all that time. And Jadis’ crew isn’t overly fond of complete sentences.
To prove himself, Rick got thrown into a pit with a Resident Evil 4-style walker. Winston easily ranks as one of the more visually impressive walkers ever. He proved pretty formidable too until Rick started using the junk piles against him. Jadis and her crew will join Alexandria, but they want something in exchange first — guns.
Oh if only one of Rick’s crew found a community overflowing with guns… pay attention Tara, this is your one chance to be useful.
The creepiest thing about this episode? Rick didn’t lose his smile. He knew Gabriel hadn’t deserted them and now they’ve got a new community alliance. But with the Kingdom and Hilltop still sitting on the sidelines, Alexandria is going to need more help.
I don’t need the fight against The Saviors right now. That pacing is great, but it’s time for the other communities to start bracing for war instead of watching it unfold.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC