We’re two episodes in to the Angela Kang executive producer era of The Walking Dead and it already feels like an immediate course correction has occurred. The Bridge was another indicator that this feels like classic The Walking Dead again.
There’s a real freshness for a show that at times felt more like it had been on for more than 10 seasons. Now there’s a new dynamic with characters evolving in logical ways that threatens to upset the delicate balance that’s been established over the last five seasons.
Rick stops by to talk to Negan. Rick Grimes is not a prideful man, but he has to prove it to both himself and his hated arch rival that he’s right. Society can return because at their core, people want to work together for something greater together.
It’s not that Rick is being naive, but it’s becoming increasingly clear he’s ignoring both the powder keg and that slowly lit fuse getting dangerous close to the dynamite. The dissolution of this utopia seems like an ideal way to write off a beaten down and distraught Rick Grimes. Of course the problem is under this new era, Andrew Lincoln is probably leaving at the worst time as the series looks to have rebounded from its funk.
Rick catches Negan up on the communities’ latest project — building a bridge…together. As Rick tells Negan they’re not fighting to survive anymore as they’re making a new beginning. Naturally some folks are more on board with this than others. Carol has taken well to the new order. She’s enjoying her relationship with Ezekiel and operating as William’s mother with no traces of the hurt from Sophia and Lizzie.
Six Saviors have walked off and abandoned the effort, which is an issue as the Saviors make up half the project work force. Making the Saviors do manual labor is a smart plan right up until the point the tensions lead to trouble. Justin (Zach McGowan, Agents of SHIELD) is the obnoxious Savior — because there’s always one — mouthing off and otherwise being a jerk.
Daryl has long since reached his breaking point trying to keep the Saviors in line and Justin represents his last straw. In recent seasons, Daryl has kind of felt like a character treading on his reputation. The Bridge presents him in a better light as the wolf desperate to keep his pack safe and getting rid of the threats to them.
At Hilltop, things are equally strained. Maggie has kept Earl locked up for a month in the cells he built. But imprisoning the blacksmith has caused some delays on the harvest and crops. With Rick’s crew needing more supplies that causes more of a strain on this once strong alliance. Michonne comes by for the supplies Hilltop pledged, but there’s a problem as the expected Sanctuary drop off hasn’t arrived.
It’s interesting that Rick or Michonne haven’t determined the obvious need for a police force. Constitutions and common laws are great, but someone needs to enforce them and help the people feel safe. With missing saviors and botched assassination attempts, establishing a little law and order is probably long overdue.
After a little prodding from Michonne via Jesus, Maggie allows Earl’s wife to see him. Earl explains his alcoholism struggle to Maggie providing a more human side to a background characters than we’ve seen in years. Earl’s tale is enough to warrant a parole as Maggie was reminded of Herschel’s alcoholism issues and how he made the most of his second chance. Gregory pissed his away one time too many and Maggie doesn’t regret executing him. But who will be the judge in these matters?
One random reveal in The Bridge was Gabriel and Anne having some romantic tension that results in a kiss…and more. While she hasn’t won over everyone’s trust yet, Anne’s portraits are a popular commodity. I wouldn’t have pictured Anne and Gabriel together, but that’s the fun of this pairing.
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Rick’s gang didn’t have as much fun with a finely timed redirection of a herd. Someone was asleep at the wheel to point them away from the lumber crew and the herd came in quickly. It’s nice to see the walkers feel more like a threat again. This sequence had a real action thriller feel to it even before poor Aaron got his arm trapped under a heavy log. Rick’s group arrived in time to save Daryl’s crew — the rolling logs was a creative way to kill a slew of walkers.
Enid had to amputate Aaron’s arm from the elbow down. Between the beard and now one hand, Aaron really is becoming the comic version of Rick Grimes, huh?
Turns out Justin was the one who was supposed to redirect the herd. Well, that was just stupid on Rick’s part. Put the one Savior malcontent in charge of an important assignment like that? What about cool boy Clint? Daryl naturally is pissed and proceeds to lay a mammoth beat down before Carol pulls him off.
Justin is still in his feelings and mouths off to Rick, prompting him to get kicked out of camp. Justin probably will regret that as he gets pulled into the woods by someone he knows. Is this a Savior rallying fellow malcontents to spark a revolt or one of Rick’s allies killing off problematic Saviors? This is a decent mystery.
At the campfire, Carol wants to try on the ring, but not have an official proposal, which disappoints Ezekiel (and me). He had a speech! Anne spots the mysterious chopper again and Rick happily wolfs down a slice of winner’s pie in retelling the story to Negan.
Despite Rick’s optimism, Negan sees this going down a different way and he wants Rick to tell him all about it when it goes sideways. Since nothing good lasts for months on this show, I’ve gotta agree with Negan on this one.
The Walking Dead followed up last week’s strong season premiere with an equally solid episode. The Bridge continued showing the unraveling of these fragile alliances suggesting it’s just a matter of weeks before it all goes downhill like Negan predicted.
Rating: 9 out of 10
Photo Credit: AMC