One More was the kind of Walking Dead episode that I nearly loved and hated in equal measure.
This one had a lot of potential. It focused on two under served characters that warranted the extra attention and just let them do their thing, have some nice bonding moments and deal with some occasional major threats from walkers.
Everything was going just fine until the episode dusted off a far too common Walking Dead trope of the gang meeting another emotionally scarred nut job.
On the plus side this nut job was played by Robert Patrick so it wasn’t all bad.
We kick One More off with a pretty artistic opening sequence from Director Laura Belsey (TWD: The Tower) with Aaron and Gabriel spraying the flowers with walker blood. As they approach a field with tall grass, they use a nifty trick of tossing a clock to wake up the slumbering walkers. Question: why do walkers lay down at all? Is that some mental residue from their past and why are they not like cows and sleep upright? OK, that was two questions.
TWD and bleak and depressing go together like ketchup and fries, but even for this show, it was a little heavy on the all hope is lost overtones.
Gabriel and Aaron have been checking off locations on Maggie’s map and finding all of nothing. Gabriel keeps pushing to try one more location but after two weeks of depressing sights and little to show for it, Aaron is over it.
They stumble onto a warehouse where Aaron kills a random boar and they have a long overdue relaxing night with a bottle of whiskey they find and some grilled boar. I wonder if everyone in TWD is like Samwise and carries a Ziploc bag with some season salt just in case they stumble onto some food that needs some extra flavoring?
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Gabriel’s soliloquy about ministry felt like one of the more honest and real takes on Christianity on TV that I’ve seen in awhile. Aaron takes that as Gabriel’s ready to get back into preaching where he can do the most good, but Gabriel questions if humanity is really capable of being good enough to hear his message.
This gets tested very on the nose when Gabriel awakens and finds a stranger with a gun asking about the boar. Turns out it was his place and the boar didn’t just casually lock himself in that room. Well, in hindsight that does make more sense. The stranger has Aaron’s mace attachment and after taunting Gabriel for a bit, brings a strapped in Aaron on a rolling office chair.
The stranger isn’t interested in Gabriel’s sudden change of heart about people. Instead, he wants them to play a little game of Russian roulette. Sigh. Things were going so well and now we get this on the nose metaphor reinforcing Gabriel’s point. This wasn’t the case last week, but I’m so tired of these random strangers on Walking Dead being crazy, video game style encounters with mini-bosses that are on varying levels of crazy. Can’t they just be regular people relieved to find more decent people running around?
I got a little annoyed with the game and the stranger arguing against Gabriel’s insistence that there is still good in people. The stranger has been distrustful of people ever since the brother he saved countless times in this new world stole his last bit of food and taught him a valuable lesson on trust. At least the stranger had his gun aimed at them to explain why they didn’t just attack him instead of playing.
Gabriel offers to help him if they’ll let him and the stranger lowers his gun and announces his name is Mays. Before he can say much more, Gabriel smashes his face in with Aaron’s mace. This was crazy and completely unexpected. That was such a shocking payoff that it totally made the awkward buildup worth it. Gabriel telling Aaron it’s alright and they’re good followed by Aaron’s questioning “are we?” was such a terrific moment that really should have been the conclusion of this story.
Maybe writers Erik Mountain and Jim Barnes were too reluctant to make Gabriel look like a cold blooded killer and we get a major walk back with Gabriel and Aaron finding Mays’ twin brother chained upstairs forced to look at his long dead and rotted out wife and child. Mays’ brother promptly kills himself with a gun I’m still trying to figure out how he grabbed.
Regardless, this completely validated Gabriel’s shades of grey decision. This seemed like a huge missed opportunity to introduce some doubt and an interesting direction with Gabriel. Instead, it felt like a return to status quo by the end of the episode.
After they make it back out into the clearing, Gabriel notices the water tower in the distance and this time, Aaron is down to check out one more.
One More had enough moments to make it engaging, but it was so close to being a special streamlined episode. It’s too bad it felt like the writers lost their nerve given the chance to take Gabriel in an unexpected and interesting direction.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Photo Credit: AMC
Check out earlier episodes of Season 10 on Amazon.