As this season’s penultimate The Walking Dead episode, ‘East’ focused on as many characters as possible, making sure we understood everyone’s general mindset before the inevitable clash with Negan, where many characters will likely end up dead. It wasn’t really any new information, but it was just enough to remind viewers who feels what, before leading up to the slaughter.
Rick & Morgan have their classic “murder or mercy” conversation, but Morgan finally doesn’t sound crazy while talking, going through an interesting chain of events to show how saving the Wolf-man saved Carl’s life. Maggie’s not crazy about jumping into the fray, but she’s found her place in running Alexandrian operations & becoming Enid’s foster mother – who, by the way, is a FAR more tolerable character now. Michonne and Glenn are general worrywarts, which justifies their kidnapping, while Rosita’s apparently gunning to be the female Daryl, now that Carol’s gone in a different direction. All these character choices make sense, and align well with what we’ve known of these characters in the past to not feel out of place.
That being said, Carol’s transformation this season still feels wholly unjustified, and this episode did nothing to alleviate my concerns about what’s next for her. Sure, it stinks that Daryl had to kill some people, but Carol shot a girl in the head not too long ago. Not to mention all the lives Carol’s chronicled in her Death Note. It doesn’t line up that she’s sobbing at having to kill the Truck Brothers that are off to kill all her friends. Not only that, but she now appears to be a terrible killer – out of the five guys in the truck, she apparently only kills two with her gun, as three of them manage to get back up. It’s possible that all this alienation and loss of killer instinct is all set-up for Carol dying in the finale, but if the softening of her character is really just for that, it’s an absolute waste.
The episode ending with Daryl’s “death” seems silly. There’s been a lot of talk that The Walking Dead may be killing him off, but if anything, this episode seems to refute that. Daryl’s apparent death at the end of ‘East’ is The Walking Dead’s equivalent of (GAME OF THRONES SPOILER) Jon Snow’s ambiguous fate at the end of last season. It is possible that Dwight just killed the fan’s favorite character with a gunshot & cut to black. It’s possible that Negan will come and add Daryl to his death count next week. But if Glenn’s Great Dumpster Escape proves anything, it’s that The Walking Dead doesn’t really like killing main characters. With this big teaser maybe death of Daryl, it seems like Daryl will turn up alive and well next episode, while the major deaths will be contained to more minor characters, like Tobin or Heath.
As far as the set-up for The Walking Dead’s finale, the only thing that’s got me all that interested is the promise of Negan showing up and causing havoc at the camp. Maggie’s seeming pregnancy complications are convenient, but could be something interesting, depending on how it plays out with the fight. Morgan and Carol will likely have a sit-down sequence, as Morgan tries to lead her back to the pack. And to put it bluntly, the show has too many couples. With everyone being paired off, and so close to the finale, there had better be some deaths that split up the overabundance of post-apocalyptic coupling. Wherever everything lands in the finale, though, The Walking Dead will need to sift through whatever characters survive and make sure they know what everyone really wants.