I managed to push past my frustration/bewilderment of The Green Book winning Best Picture to check out Bounty, one of the weaker installments of the post Rick Grimes Walking Dead era. It’s not so much that this was a bad episode, just filled with some of that questionable decision making that plagued previous seasons.
Bounty was split into two subplots: Alpha and her Whisperers at the Hilltop gates demanding Lydia’s return and Ezekiel’s side mission.
Right away we’re shown how time is fluid now as we get a flashback following Rick’s ‘death.’ Jerry reveals he and his wife are expecting as Jesus and Tara ride up and hand Ezekiel the charter to unite the communities. Was anyone afraid Maggie or Michonne was going to burn it on a cold night or something? Fast forward a few years and Jerry and his wife now have three kids and the Kingdom Elite is making a supply run.
Not for anything to sustain life at the fading Kingdom, but for recreational purposes — Ezekiel wants to retrieve a projector bulb to show movies. His thinking is the communities will come together from the shared experience of watching movies. I love Ezekiel, but man does he constantly come up with the most hairbrained schemes to put his people in jeopardy. Granted, if one of the movie offerings were Empire Strikes Back, I’d be arrow and sword slinging to get said bulb, but was this the best use of resources and potential troops?
Ezekiel had something else he wanted from the theater — a poster board to frame the charter. Hilltop has a blacksmith, but The Kingdom doesn’t have someone who can frame the charter? No wonder Kingdom is in such shoddy shape. Jerry manages to drop the bulb forcing Ezekiel to think about the likelihood of losing troops in fighting the walkers. Course if I imagined these walkers were all the movie jerks who talked or kept their cell phones on during a movie, I would be able to take them out by myself. Carol convinces Ezekiel to fight for it and they’ve got a new projector bulb and a frame. On their way back home, they pass a spray painted sign in the other direction and no one catches it.
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With the goofy music and less serious theme, this subplot clashed too much with the tension-filled atmosphere at Hilltop.
Alpha says she doesn’t want a war, but doesn’t mind calling out a few more Whisperers to show she’s got plenty of backup. Daryl tries to play hardball saying they won’t give Lydia back to Alpha. Daryl’s loyalty to Lydia seems a bit overstated and it was slightly annoying that he stole all of Tara’s thunder as the Hilltop leader. Things get dicey once Alpha brings out Alden and Luke. Luke notices Connie hanging in the fields and messages her via sign language. That’s a really useful skill and one that should be taught throughout Hilltop especially now in dealing with The Whisperers.
Daryl finally realizes the best move is to give up Lydia, but he can’t since moron Henry has ran off with her. This storyline really would have a lot more weight if this were Carl in Henry’s place like the comic. Henry hasn’t earned any goodwill to not be viewed as anything but an idiot. Hey remember when Daryl was an expert tracker who didn’t need a dog to find people? Enid and Addy find him at the teen clubhouse awkwardly trying to be cool with Lydia. Maybe he just creeped her out, but Lydia decides she’ll go back with her mother, but not before kissing Henry to make him all confused about that funny feeling in his pants.
The Whisperers are a cold group, which was further evidenced when one can’t keep her baby quiet as a walker herd arrives. Alpha gives her a look and the mother puts her baby on the ground to either shut up or become walker food. Luke tips off Connie, who rushes out to rescue the baby. Then we get a pretty great scene where we get a sense of how surviving in this walker world is for Connie.
As cool as the scene was, it was a little weird seeing Daryl, Tammy, Earl and Kelly coming out to save her. Did Alpha and The Whisperers miss this rescue effort or just stepped out of the way? We don’t even see how they get back in to Hilltop as next we see Daryl leading Lydia to Alpha. Maybe there’s a trap door? I know The Hilltop has given up its kill ’em in their sleep mentality post the first attack on The Saviors, but after The Whisperers killed Jesus, wouldn’t it have made more sense to just kill them right then and there?
Alpha greets Lydia with a slap for calling her mother instead of Alpha. Daryl isn’t too thrilled with that. Neither is Henry who decides he’s a competent hero now and heads out to bring her back. Oh Henry. You’re a big dumb dummy aren’t you? Daryl immediately takes off to bring him back and Connie stops him. She wasn’t cool with the whole Lydia trade-off either and wants to help. Now this is a partnership with potential since Daryl barely likes to talk anyway.
Bounty was a weird combination of subplots with one almost a whimsical freewheeling fun excursion while Daryl and Hilltop contended with the very serious threat of Alpha and company. The good outweighed the weird here, but this would have been a tighter, more terrifying episode if it focused strictly on The Whisperers standoff.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: AMC