“Meet us on the kill floor” (Spoilers Ahead)
After the ruthlessly violent “Not Tomorrow Yet”, we might expect that the follow-up episode “The Same Boat” wouldn’t be able to keep up the intensity. Aside from some minor lulls, this turned out brutal in its own way. Last week’s enemies were nameless strangers, whereas “The Same Boat” spent a bit of time giving some personality and back story to these Saviors before brutally disposing them.
The Walking Dead writer had a few different options in which plot device would push this episode further. The major point of conflict could have been a hostage exchange or group rescue mission. It looked like either of those could have been a possibility at one point during the hour. But turning this into a “we are going to save ourselves, leave a trail of bodies in our escape” type climax worked for a couple of reasons.
If it were Daryl and Rick getting captured, we would expect that they would find a way to turn the tables on their captors. Everything we know about Carol and Maggie’s capabilities, they should be treated with a similar reverence. Damsels they are not. Of course, the bloody savagery is entertaining but more than that, the decisions Carol and Maggie had to make in their escape reflect where they are at. Taking those decisions away from them like in a hostage exchange would have been a missed opportunity for some character insight and development.
At first, I was thinking that redhead Paula’s group would see through Carol’s fake weakness because they know that Carol didn’t hesitate to shoot Donnie on sight. But shooting Donnie in the arm can be seen from Paula’s perspective as either Carol is inexperienced with firearms or she doesn’t have it in her to kill, which we know isn’t true. The best liars tell the truth or some form of the truth. This made it harder for Paula not to see right through to Carol’s true colors. Even Maggie seemed unsure whether Carol was pretend hyperventilating. While Carol doesn’t have strong religious convictions, her growing body count is eating at her soul and in a way she wasn’t exactly lying that faith got her through grieving for Sophia, though not the kind of faith that Paula’s group might think.
The Savior characters specifically written for interacting with Maggie and Carol in this episode are thought out by the writers. It’s noticeable that even before Donnie got knocked out that this was a strongly female centric story. These Savior women could relate to Carol and Maggie and vice versa. It’s pretty clear, if not a little too on the nose, that each of these Savior women reflect a side to Carol and Maggie. Chelle is the Maggie of her group. And like Carol, Paula has transformed from meek to capable survivor who’s had to get her hands bloody.
It’s interesting to think about how a group of male Saviors would have treated Carol & Maggie and what the outcome would have been. Would they have empathized as much upon learning that Maggie is pregnant? When Molly shared a smoke with Carol that was a moment of kindness, on the flip side she didn’t care about second-hand smoke on the unborn baby.
Decisions, decisions. You can make the case that the writing was on the wall when Paula decided against the hostage exchange, believing it to be an ambush. Who can blame her? All she knows is that every Savior who has met with Rick’s group gets killed. And in the end, Rick did put a bullet in Primo’s head.
So what exactly does Molly mean that they’re all Negan and Primo’s last words “I’m Negan”? It would be an interesting idea that Negan is not one man, but a collective who share the same beliefs. Perhaps Negan is a boogeyman, an urban legend told to instill fear and control people.
Or Negan is a megalomaniac, controlling the will and actions of his Saviors like his personal meat puppets. So giving up information on Negan would be a slow, painful death sentence; taking a quick bullet to the head would be a less cruel fate. Or you can see it as Primo making a sacrifice to protect his group, knowing he was going to die anyways. Whatever the case, this half of the season is building up the mystery on Negan.
“We can’t leave them alive. We have to finish this” sounds like something Carol from last season would say, not Maggie. This is Maggie at her most merciless. We can see where she’s coming from. Maggie needs to protect her baby and family. Chelle was questioning on where Maggie lives which puts Alexandria at risk if the Saviors were left alive. Although Paula’s group aren’t outright evil, they would have every reason now to declare war on Alexandria.
In Paula, Carol can see what might happen to her if she continues down a cold-hearted, remorseless path. At the same time, Carol is putting herself and Maggie at risk when she hesitates to pull the trigger. How much of this is setting up something in the finale is really hard to predict. But I imagine at least one major character will meet a cruel fate by season’s end. Paula’s death was gross and one of the episode’s highlights. Trapping the other saviors in the kill room was icing on the cake. “In The Same Boat” is a really good solid episode, let’s hope the final three can keep the ball rolling.
What do you think about the decisions Carol and Maggie made in “The Same Boat”? Do you feel any empathy for Paula’s group?