Dead or Alive Or never quite clicked. There was some decent advancement to many subplots, but it lacked the intensity of the past three episodes.
A big reason for that was focusing so much of the episode on B- players Gabriel and Tara. They’ve never been portrayed as vital characters. These are two characters who seem to be sticking around just so the writers can kill off someone in a shocking twist.
Gabriel and Dr. Carson are on the road again trying to make it to Hilltop. But Gabriel is losing his vision and only has sermonettes to offer Carson. I liked the visual of Gabriel’s tunnel vision radar sense. Unlike Daredevil, it only helped improve his sense of hearing. Every time Carson gets skeptical, Gabriel stumbles into something else to help their quest. From a shelter to antibiotics to fight off Gabriel’s infection to a set of hidden car keys, Gabriel feels like God is ordering his steps.
Even when things get bleak like when Carson gets caught in a bear trap, Gabriel is calm and at peace. Just as things look like they’ve finally turned around, some Saviors capture them all over again. Carson is starting to believe as well … or at least in the sign of a possible escape route. He grabs one of the Saviors’ guns and promptly gets killed. Carson was on seriously borrowed time after Siddiq showed up. It’s not like any main character got killed helping Carson.
Daryl and Rosita are busy leading the Alexandria survivors, including the newly promoted Dr. Siddiq back to Hilltop. But Daryl has to deal with a mini-revolt as Tara wants to go rogue and kill Dwight. Maybe this was karma getting a big bite out of Daryl’s backside for his refusal to stick with the plan earlier?
With The Saviors all around, Dwight has an idea — wade in the (swamp) water. That’s so treacherous that even Negan didn’t want to waste men on. But the hype around the swamp and the gloriously hideous swamp walkers proves unnecessary as Daryl, Siddiq, Rosita and The Alexandria B-team handle it with no problem. They may all float down here, but they’re hardly a challenge.
But Tara is intent on screwing things up and gets set to shoot ‘ol Dwight away from the others until some Saviors come around. Dwight takes one for the team and returns to the Saviors to lead them away from the Alexandria refugees. And so far nobody knows he’d turned on them to help Rick and company so he’s all good. For now.
At Hilltop, the gang is mostly all here. Siddiq introduces himself to Maggie and immediately wants to be useful as the new doctor. Enid seems to be the only one who takes Carl’s death hard and Maggie starts the Savior prisoners on a work release program. What is Jesus doing all this time? He’s been making a ton of supply runs with seemingly little results.
Negan spends some quality time with one of the remaining members of his inner council and dispatches Eugene to make some bullets. Eugene is not happy to see the recaptured Gabriel, more likely out of fear of being found out than concern over his old ally.
Eugene is probably one of the most flexible characters on the show and he’s not about to let someone’s stupidity get him killed. And Eugene definitely likes his new position of authority even talking down to one of Negan’s ‘wives.’
Negan knows the bullet making process is going to be a slow one and introduces a new means of warfare. During a Saviors’ pep rally, Negan reveals they’re going to use walker guts and blood edged weapons. Rick’s crew is either going to be Dead or Alive Or something else.
That’s a pretty disgusting plan. Effective, but disgusting. Will Dwight be able to get the word out to Rick and company or will Negan’s latest scheme end up taking out a lot of Hilltoppers? I liked the potential fallout for what could happen next probably more than the episode itself, but this was one of those slower episodes that align the players in place on the board for some future excitement.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC