“Ready to tear the world a brand new asshole.” (Spoilers Ahead)
“East” is the lead up to Season 6’s grand finale and while it does raise the stakes for Rick’s group, a number of missteps makes this a very flawed set up episode. On the surface level, this is an episode seemingly about two factions waging war with an opposition they are only beginning to truly understand, yet it’s the internal war or inner conflicts in these characters which are the true danger to themselves. It’s a messy episode, frustrating at times particularly with the decisions characters make but also offers a great scene with Carol.
The major sticking point is in how the show manufactures moments where the survivors are put into life or death situations. Previously we’ve seen many Alexandrians like Nicholas and Jessie’s sons (Sam and Ron) make boneheaded moves and as a result put our main crew at risk. We can blame it on the Alexandrian’s ineptitude, character flaw or just plain moronic behavior. When it comes to our core survivors who should know better and take sound advice from their friends, it’s harder to reconcile their decisions despite understanding their iffy motivations.
So while the episode leaves us on a supposed cliffhanger where Daryl is shot and three others are captured, the slog to get that point didn’t come about as organically as it could have. In a way, it’s a little anti-climatic because we know Daryl will be okay, he got shot in the shoulder not in the head. But this also presumably takes him out of the running to be killed off in the finale, since it’s unlikely the writers would almost kill him off, only to do so an episode later. Or maybe that’s what the writers want us to believe.
It’s understandable that because Carol is a like family member, the group would obviously go out and look for her as predicted in last week’s review. Glenn continues to be the clear voice of reason but if everyone took his advice that they should go back home because it’s too dangerous outside of Alexandria this would be an uneventful hour of people on guard duty at the wall. The scene between Glenn and Daryl stood out because it brought to mind how little these two have interacted with each other, at least in this season, but also in how much Glenn has grown to be able to confidently stand up to Daryl.
As for Glenn’s possible fate, it would be too much of a cliché if there was a death and a birth, representing the circle of life, in the finale. More likely, if I were to put on my prediction hat, Maggie’s bruises and internal bleeding as shown in the shower with well placed steam is causing her pain and will lead to a miscarriage.
The irony in Carol’s decision to leave Alexandria to prevent getting more blood on her hands is that the first day she’s out on her own she’s had to take several lives and inadvertently put her friends in danger. Certainly more time could have been spent developing Carol’s recent character turn, particularly since it’s impacted the story in a significant way here. Putting that aside for a moment, I can see how conflicted she’s become. Perhaps a part of it is because of Melissa McBride’s strong performance who sells the emotional conflict her in facial expression and body language.
One distinction … it’s not that Carol won’t kill when necessary, it’s that she doesn’t want to put herself in situations where she has to make that choice. This is a different position from Morgan’s no kill code. As for the argument that this arc is ruining her character, I would like to see where the finale lands before passing judgement. It would be disappointing if this arc ends on Carol having to sacrifice herself because she can no longer pull the trigger. Yes, this is an inconsistency from what she’s has done in the past, at the same time she’s still a deadly, capable survivor as seen when she took out many Saviors by herself. And as a fan of Carol, I can’t say that I would like her to go down the path of becoming cold-hearted and remorseless like Paula, the red-head in “The Same Boat“, rather that she can come to peace with this inner crisis.
“East” is a problematic episode having to set up the finale and position certain characters. In doing so, to a certain extent it comes at the expense in what we know about these survivors. Up until now, Dwight has been the face of the Saviors, this will change in a big way in the finale. This half of the season has been building up to Negan’s show stopping arrival and it should be eventful to say the least. For a sneak peak at Negan, take a look at the teaser trailer here.
Do you think the show could kill off Daryl in the finale? Do you think the writers are ruining Carol as a character?