For Blood marked a solid wrap point for the first installment of The Walking Dead’s final season.
The Colonel and The Reapers, with special brooding guest star Daryl Dixon, spot Maggie and Negan’s horde slowly advancing on their base. This was a great plan from the Maggie and Negan brain trust as it artificially boosts their numbers and theoretically allows them to get in, get the food and get out.
One of The Colonel’s top guys offers to lead the horde away, but doesn’t count on Hero Whisperers slicing him up for the walkers. That’s a bad way to die. The Colonel isn’t too bummed out though as it somehow confirms his thoughts that Maggie is still after him and has now brought the undead to help her.
Leah is irritated The Colonel is passing the buck for her friend’s death on God’s will. The Colonel has a few more tricks up his tightly knit skullcap. One is a minefield that slowly decimates the walker numbers and catches Elijah and Negan with some shrapnel. The other is a super projectile using fireworks. Definitely not a bad makeshift weapon in this walker world.
Daryl has navigated The Reapers well enough, but the weapon is a trump card and he tells Leah about his folks among the walkers. This provides one of the more tense moments in recent seasons as it’s a complete toss-up what Leah will do. Turn on The Colonel she’s already starting to question and pursue her heart or turn on the man who betrayed her?
Her decision gets to wait for a moment as Maggie breaks The Reaper’s barricade, which allowing the remaining horde to get in. The Colonel goes off another ill-timed sermon diatribe and orders one of his soldiers to unleash the weapon even if it means killing his men. Leah has an objection, and by objection her large knife through The Colonel’s neck.
Daryl kills the projectile operator, which seemed like the right move to save Leah, but she sees it another way. The Colonel went nuts, but she’ll do anything to save her family including pinning The Colonel’s death on Daryl. Uh-oh. There’s a new head Reaper in town. Hopefully, she’ll reinstate the horror movie style masks as they’ve been 99% less intimidating without them.
And to make matters worse, Leah grabs the fuse for the weapon and unleashes it on Daryl, Maggie and Negan in the courtyard.
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In the B subplot that never really managed to feel that important, a storm was rocking Alexandria and walkers were getting through the patchwork barriers. Aaron and Carol take all the useful fighters save Rosita and Diane (and Virgil) for a worthless side quest of non-importance. Meanwhile, Judith encourages Gracie that she can use her fear to fight and be a bada$$ warrior like Michonne or Rosita, who fights off a surge of walkers.
Rosita’s needed a big time moment and this was a terrific spotlight for her.
In 11 seasons, The Walking Dead has typically avoided having children act like idiots so it’s easy to extend a little grace for one indulgent scene with…Gracie. Inspired by Rosita and encouraged by Judith’s courage, Gracie decides to head to the basement in search of a weapon.
While everyone else heads upstairs in hopes of bottlenecking the invading walkers. Judith follows her, but before they can get back up, the walkers have broken through and they’re forced back down to the basement. It’s not looking good for our plucky young protagonists.
The teaser for the next half of the season amazingly spoils all of the cliffhangers from this episode revealing everyone in any trace of danger survived to fight another day. This was an odd play.
On one hand, it doesn’t insult viewer intelligence for trying to spin that Maggie, Daryl and Negan were gonna die in this scenario or that Judith was somehow going to get killed in the basement with the walkers. That’s actually admirable and makes the wait for the next half far more tolerable.
This was a solid string of episodes to close out 2021. Given the cliffhanger from last episode it would have been nice to have gotten some glimpse of The Commonwealth, but there’s still plenty of time to resolve that major subplot.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: AMC
Grab The Walking Dead Compendium Vol. 4 on Amazon.