Show: The Walking Dead
Title: “Some Guy”
Air Date: November 12, 2017
The Walking Dead immediately won me over this week by proving that Ezekiel, the self-styled Shakespearean king, is a fucking idiot. It immediately lost me again, of course. But it was fun to feel vindicated for a moment. We guessed last week that Ezekiel’s nonsensical plan and outlandish proclamations were going to get him and his loyal subjects in some trouble. We found out this week that we were correct.
We opened with – surprise, surprise – a speech. Ezekiel addressed his assembled electorate like the wise, verbose leader that he is. He was doing a lot of smiling. But what was there to smile about? His slippery silvery tongue had led his people into an obvious trap. For once, one of the show’s smarty-pants editing flourishes actually paid off here. Here are Ezekiel’s group, gathering around him, hugging him, cheering for him, and then flash, there they are again, on the ground, with chunks blown out of them and their intestines spilled on the ground. Turns out smiling is no protection against bullets. Who’d have thought?
So Ezekiel is dead?
Not yet. Thanks to the loyalty of his followers, he’s trapped underneath a pile of them; shot in the leg, but quite alive. For how long, though? First he needs to hobble away from the area, which is complicated by each of his fallen allies rising up as a zombie. Then he’s captured by some Jeffrey Dahmer looking dude who wants to take him back to Negan, first as a prisoner, and then, when that seems too taxing, as a severed head. It seems each episode needs at least one comically over-the-top performance. This guy provides it.
In the nick of time, though, Jerry and his axe split the Saviour in half. But for some reason Jerry’s giant two-handed medieval weapon can’t hack through the rusty chains of a nearby fence, leaving him and Ezekiel trapped. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. There’s only one woman tough and resourceful enough to stage a rescue. Ladies and gentlemen… Carol Rambo.
Does anyone even remember when Carol was a meek, timid housewife who got slapped around by her abusive husband? This episode briefly alludes to it in a flashback about Carol and Ezekiel each deciding to become whatever the apocalypse needed them to be. But I’m not convinced anyone actually remembers that version of her. What we see now – decked in body armour, slinking around vents like a retired Ellen Ripley – is so distinct from a recognisable human that you can’t even consider it development. Like so many things in this show, it’s contrivance. It’s the writers getting carried away and scripting their loveable everyday heroes as unstoppable badass killing machines.
For once, none of this is a criticism. Carol is awesome.
What’s Carol actually doing this episode?
She’s looking for the guns that Rick and Daryl (more of those two soon) were looking for last week. I should say that this episode was good. I should also say that it had a lot of issues all the same, and some of them were a consequence of the shoddy storytelling that has plagued the previous three episodes of this season.
See, last week, when Rick and Daryl discovered the guns had been moved to another base, we should have had a moment of panicky recognition. “Oh shit,” we should have thought. “That’s the base where Ezekiel and Carol are!” Only we didn’t think this, as the timeline and geography of this show was contorted so extensively in its first three hours that nobody had any idea where we were or what we were doing. This week, things started to come together. Story threads overlapped. There was cohesion and drama. It was, again, a good episode. But I was mostly left thinking how it could have been a great episode had it been properly set up.
Maybe next week.
What does episode 4 get right then?
For one thing, it’s focused. We witness the exploits of Ezekiel and Carol, mostly, who were in roughly the same place at the end of the previous episode. There are no artsy stylistic or structural flourishes. We understand the stakes. The action is clear and sensible. Guns have ammo again. There’s a moral choice that feels at least halfway compelling. Will Carol let the Saviours escape with the guns just to save Ezekiel and Jerry? I mean, yes, of course she will. But there was a version of her character that might not have done, and in the moment that’s the version you think of. Et voila. Tension.
Speaking of tension, though, please can we stop having characters insist on being left behind to die? I’ll concede that sometimes it’s moving and heroic and a great send-off for a major or minor personality. Mostly it’s dumb. And it was incredibly dumb this week, as Ezekiel continuously insisted that he couldn’t go on. Okay, writers of The Walking Dead. We get it. The guy’s having an identity crisis. He’s realising that talking like a 16th Century playwright doesn’t actually make him a king. But there are better ways of communicating that message. He was determined to die in frankly quite trivial (for this show) circumstances.
But he doesn’t die?
No. The general sense of the episode was that he would, and for a moment I thought he might. But the show sacrificed Shiva instead. His faithful teleporting CGI tiger leapt into the scene to save him from a fate that he didn’t really need saving from. In honour of the beast, and the money that the show is inevitably going to save on it, Carol, Jerry and Ezekiel all sat and watched it get eaten. Which is weird.
You mentioned Rick and Daryl?
Oh, yeah. Crockett and Tubbs, aka Starsky and Hutch, aka Rick and Daryl. They arrive on the scene late in the episode for a car and bike chase as they pursue the fleeing weapons. This could have been set up slightly better (a scene reminding us they were on their way, maybe), but I certainly didn’t hate it. Clear action, clear stakes and clear logic. This is all I’m asking for, and “Some Guy” finally delivered it.
So Some Guy is the best episode of The Walking Dead season 8 thus far?
Easily. It probably says something about this show that a good episode is one that simply makes sense, but I’m feeling positive today. I’ve had plenty to pick at this season and I’m sure I’ll have plenty more issues in forthcoming episodes. For now, let’s just enjoy the fact that this week we got a decent episode of The Walking Dead. It ended with Ezekiel returning to the Kingdom with no smiles and no speeches, met by the glassy glares of the wives, husbands, children and siblings of all the fighters his delusions of grandeur got killed. Thy Kingdom, done.
I’ll be incredibly surprised if the show is able to maintain this level of quality, but I guess it’ll be fun finding out.
Enjoyed reading this recap? Then you will probably like listening to us too, so check out our podcast below.