Last night The Walking Dead returned to AMC with a pivotal episode, if you’ve read the books, the episode hit all the notes needed, but there wasn’t emotion behind a single one.
If you haven’t watched last night’s episode, please stop reading as the ending will be spoiled.
Here is what the ‘No Way Out’ episode needed to accomplish visually; Sam needed to get caught by zombies, Jessie needed to get her arm chopped off, Carl needed to get shot in the eye, and Rick needed to kill all the zombies.
The episode achieved all those moments, but the show didn’t build up to those moments with backstory and or dialogue and the episode came up flat.
The ‘No Way Out’ storyline in the comics is a redemption tale. Rick is in a protect your own state of mind. He wants to get Carl, Ron, and Jessie out of Alexandria with no cares of the others. When Ron gets caught by the zombies, Rick begs Jessie to let go of Ron, and when she gets caught and tries to pull Carl with her, Rick cuts her arm off without any hesitation. The build up of that moment is huge, and the look on Jessie’s face, when she is left to die, is epic. Rick establishes that the only one worth saving is Carl. All of these events and emotions are conveyed in less than three pages of a comic book, but they are so powerful.
Then Carl gets struck in the eye by a bullet. Rick rushes him to the infirmary. He realizes that in order for Carl to have a chance to recover from his injuries, Rick needs to defend the house from the zombie hoard. In the comics, Rick has one hand and still goes out and destroys the zombies. This inspires the rest of Alexandria to pick arms and fight for their town. The group defeats all the zombies and Rick realizes there is hope for society. As a team, they can accomplish way more than individuals.
This is a significant turning point in the comics which builds up backstory leading up to the first meeting with Negan.
Since the cannibal storyline, the AMC version of The Walking Dead has failed to convey the emotional weight that Robert Kirkman’s writing delivers. In the first part of the Alexandria story, Rick’s group are the villains. There was never a moment in the show when you’re like, ‘Oh shit! Rick is the bad guy in this story,’ but that is what you said reading the book. Kirkman’s writing has a way of leading you in one direction and then flipping the story on its head.
The ‘No Way Out’ episode should have been expanded to a multi-part episode to give the situation gravitas. Instead, it felt rushed, and the sad part of it is that minor script tweaks could have vastly improved the episode, see the comic below.
At best the episode is left vague and open to interpretation.
One possibility for the rush job on the plot thread is showrunner Scott M. Gimple feels pressure to get to the Negan storyline to drive ratings.
What are your thoughts on the AMC’s version of the ‘No Way Out’ storyline?