REVIEW: The Walking Dead 710 – “New Best Friends”

While better than last week’s premiere, The Walking Dead struggles to find strong footing.

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The not-so-peaceful exchange at the beginning of the episode doesn’t feel quite as dire as it wants to, but Ezekiel is magnetic to watch. It’s great seeing him have dialogue with characters outside of The Kingdom. What’s more interesting here is the dynamic between Daryl and Richard; there’s some fun development present, and it’s nice to get character stories that mean something again.

Later, the episode does a great job at playing up our Garbage Pail Kids; the music is generally unsettling and the camerawork used creates such a spooky, uncertain feel. Although their introductory circle formation ceremony felt hokey — almost childlike, it doesn’t hurt the overall presentation too much (not as much as the fake looking backdrop when Rick is atop the junk pile). It feels ethereal and otherworldly, but not in a silly fashion. Pollyanne McIntosh as Jadis is bizarre because her accent slips uncontrollably. What kind of name is Jadis anyway? I can’t help but think that’s another zinger from Gimple (whose created names include Mika, Enid, etc.); no one names people these things. Writers shouldn’t bless a character with something obscure from a baby name book just for symbolism sake.

The “star walker” Winslow looks like he belongs in a lost Mad Max spinoff than TWD proper. Questionable design. It’s an intriguing sequence, though. It manages to feel different than the gladiatorial arena from Woodbury.

Rick is able to recruit the Trash Bag Jedi as allies easily. It’s quite unbelievable — and ultimately, we’re just gaining more cannon fodder for the impending All Out War. These characters are more interesting than the no-names from the Hilltop, however.

The reunion between Daryl and Carol is touching, albeit short-lived. I feel as if their scenes together are setting us up for later heartbreak. I haven’t decided what will happen in terms of my personal predictions, but Gimple’s storytelling is predictable in this way.

Rosita creates drama where there is none. Her character is becoming more and more annoying as weeks go on. Immediately comparable, it’s insane how tolerable Gabriel has become (and honestly how valuable he is to the cast as a whole).

Shiva still looks bizarre, especially when she’s interacting with living, breathing humans. She never quite looks like she’s inhabiting the same space as the human characters. It leads me to believe that there were no points of reference for the actors. The floatiness and weightlessness of something that should be heavy makes it hard to suspend my disbelief. I worry it’s not going to get any better.

In the end this wasn’t bad, but I’m having strong Negan withdrawals. We haven’t seen him in quite some time (his voice cameo in the previous episode totally doesn’t count). That being said, next week’s preview looks infinitely more exciting and promising that the last two episodes combined. He’s back.

I hope it lives up to my hype.

7

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