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The Walking Dead - The King, the Widow, and Rick - Review

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The Walking Dead “The King, the Widow, and Rick” was written by the team of Angela Kang and Corey Reed and was directed by John Polson, whose other credits include Elementary, Blue Bloods, and The Mentalist. This was another well-crafted episode. Two images run throughout the episode. People are trying to do what’s right – whatever that looks like to them. There’s also the image of the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

I loved the opening of this episode as each of the current leaders receive report letters from the others. Rick (Andrew Lincoln) picks one out of a microwave, and Carol (Melissa McBride) accepts the one for the Kingdom as the people mourn their losses and Ezekiel (Khary Payton) remains locked in his theatre. Michonne (Danai Gurira) accepts for Alexandria, and she and Carl (Chandler Riggs) read together.

Rick’s message is one of hope. The plan is working. They’re winning, even though they lost people, brave people, all the Saviors were killed. Maggie’s (Lauren Cohan) message is more nuanced – things got complicated. She puts the burden completely on her own shoulders to decide what to do about the prisoners. Carol’s message is the most bleak. She, Jerry (Cooper Andrews), and Ezekiel are the only ones who made it back.

Rick admits that it’s scarier than he thought it would be. They are all being confronted by challenges, not just to their lives, but to the burdens of command, the responsibilities that have fallen on their shoulders. Their sacrifices are real and they need to make “it” right for them. And it’s clear that Rick means the world – it can’t remain under Negan’s (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) control. And that’s something that each of the characters has to decide in this episode: What does the future look like? What do they look like? How do they make it right?

The letter from Rick is another nice rallying cry for his troops and mirrors the speech we heard at the beginning of the season. He tells them it’s time to move on to the next step of the plan. The Sanctuary is surrounded by walkers and watched by snipers. They are all to meet there in two days. To end this. To win it all. Rick reminds them that they’ve fought ever step of the way to that moment and the path has lead them there to who they are and to each other. And that’s the theme that’s been running through this season. Who are these people now? Rick tells them that this will be their last fight – but is that realistic? Probably not.

Rick of course, is going to see Jadis (Polly McIntosh). The first we see of her, she is sitting naked – except for a very uncomfortable looking orange plastic apron – sculpting a wire tiger – Shiva? Is she thinking of the fight in Alexandria? Her people, fully dressed are scavenging a car. Clearly, they are the ones doing the taking and the work. There’s a knock at the door, and she signals her people to open the container door – but we don’t know who is really there. We assume it’s Rick, but when Jadis greets him, she’s fully dressed, so is this another bit of time play by the show?

At the Hilltop, Jesus (Tom Payne) is feeding the prisoners turnips – the food nobody else wanted! Maggie comes out and calls to him – and I loved the way Cohan said this as it sounds as much like she’s cursing as saying his name! Maggie is not happy that Jesus is giving away their food – that they may need in an emergency. Gregory (Xander Berkeley) and Enid (Katelyn Nacon) are with her. Gregory butts in to tell her to just build the gallows now – save the bullets. Maggie sends him away – with Enid as his keeper.

Maggie takes Jesus further away from the prisoners so they can’t hear her – they certainly heard Gregory! And of course, he would never look for mercy for anyone else. Maggie is angry with Jesus for putting her in the position to have to decide the fate of the Saviors. Maggie tells Jesus that every option is on the table, and he questions what they’re fighting for. He thought they were fighting for peace – that’s why he brought them and didn’t just slaughter them. Maggie insists that they have to end “this.” Which means ending Negan – and let’s not forget that all the soldiers are “Negan” – at Negan’s own insistence. Jesus, however, points out that once they’ve won, they have to make sure that what they lost is worth it. Worth who they’ve become. What’s the point if they’ve just become the new Negan? And that finally gets through to Maggie.

Carol tries to talk to Ezekiel. Jerry has re-taken his post – complete with regalia AND A NEW AX!!! Jerry tells Carol that Ezekiel isn’t taking visitor. He may be at his post, but Jerry seems to have lost most of his own hope. Carol yells at Ezekiel that they have to meet Rick and the others with everyone who can fight. Henry (Macsen Lintz) is in the background practicing with his bo staff – and listening.

Jerry tells Carol that Ezekiel told him to go away. That he didn’t need to do “this” anymore. But it’s what he does. Henry tells Carol that he’ll go with her and fight. What is with Carol attracting kids?? Carol tells him not to follow her.

Rick is presented to Jadis – and I loved the crane shot that shows the group forming an Archimedean spiral – look it up, it’s cool. The Archimedean spiral is used – among other things, to square a circle – Rick wants to use them because they need the numbers – but also to surprise Negan. Jadis says she shot him, and Rick insists that she just grazed him. She doesn’t believe that he can be trusted because she shot him and killed his people.

Rick insists that he has the numbers now and could have taken them if he’d wanted to. Jadis thinks he wants them to save him – she’s not entirely wrong. And finally, we see why Rick has been taking the polaroids as he shows them to Jadis as proof of what they’ve accomplished so far. He’s there to offer a better deal than Negan. He offers them the chance to be a part of the new world or they’ll destroy them.

Jadis is sure she has the upper hand. But Rick assures her that his people know he’s there and what they do next depends on her. She tells him no, and her people take him away – not toward the way out. Jadis remarks that he talks too much! We get another crane shot, and the carefully formed pattern circling out from Jadis now looks like the chaos of individual atoms. The next time we see Rick is at the end of the episode – he’s naked in one of the shipping boxes – and Jadis is wearing his boots. This is another nice echo back to Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) in the trailer with Negan and even Daryl when he was held captive. Have Negan and Jadis collaborated in some way?

Maggie is sitting in Gregory’s chair, playing with Glenn and Hershel’s watch. Gregory, like the evil spider he is, is in a dark corner of the room, spewing poison in her ear. He tells her that no one understands the burden of command. She points out that she found it very easy not to sell out the Hilltop to Negan. She accuses Gregory of being afraid and selling them out just to protect himself. Gregory insists that he has sat in that chair – he can help!

She clarifies that he’s just there so that she can keep an eye on him. She doesn’t need him trying to turn someone else! Gregory is that guy who’s there to tell her to follow her gut! He tells her that she’s the Shepard – she can’t have wolves wandering around in her flock… Oh Gregory. Such an idiot. He has no idea what Maggie’s gut is saying – and bringing up Matthew 7:15? You just stuck your foot right in it, you dolt.

Back in Alexandria, it looks like the plan might be starting to go off the rails. Certainly, it seems like everyone there is following their own agenda. Michonne can’t stand being out of the action – she just needs to take a look. Rosita (Christian Serratos) tries to stop her, but when it’s clear Michonne is going, Rosita hops in the car too.

Daryl (Norman Reedus) drops by to see Tara (Alanna Masterson), and she was looking for him too. She wanted to tell him he was right for not killing Dwight (Austin Amelio) – they wouldn’t have gotten this far without him. But she does want to kill him once they’ve won. In fact, she wants it to be her. Daryl suggests that they could both do it – and maybe they don’t have to wait that long.

Jesus continues to watch over the Saviors during the night. Dillon (Callan McAuliffe) insists on talking and it’s clear that Jesus doesn’t really want to listen – he doesn’t want to get too attached to the stray dogs he’s brought home in case he can’t keep them. Dillon’s story isn’t that dissimilar from everyone else’s. He was alone and then found a group where he was safe and fed. Leaders changed, and he didn’t pay attention. He was only at the satellite station because he’s good with his hands. He was sent there to build a fence – it’s an explanation, but it’s also a job application. Jesus stops him. None of them are innocent. Dillon agrees. He’s no angel – but no one is anymore.

Michonne has been anxious since they all left for the Sanctuary. She helped start it and it’s making her crazy not to know what’s going on. As they’re driving, they hear music. They don’t think the sound could reach the sanctuary – and draw the walkers away – but they don’t know, so they go to investigate.

Meanwhile, Carl has also left Alexandria on a mission of his own. He’s trying to bring food to Siddiq (Avi Nash) and finds him killing walkers. This theme of dogs/wolves continues. I loved how Carl approached Siddiq like he was a wild dog, slowly and gently. He explains that it was Rick who fired at him – and they were only warning shots. Carl proves that he’s become the man Rick and Lori were afraid he wouldn’t be. The death and killing haven’t turned him into a monster at all.

Carl tells Siddiq he’s there because of what Siddiq said about his mother, that you have to help people. And Lori told Carl that you have to do what’s right. Carl admits that sometimes it’s hard to know what that is and sometimes it’s not. Is it just me or has Riggs’ voice finished changing? He proves that he’s an adult now, when he tells Siddiq that he and his dad are in a community and then he asks Siddiq the three questions.

He starts with how many walkers have you killed and is allowing that it may be hard to keep track, but Saddiq interrupts him with the answer: 237. Carl is impressed – that he knows that accurately and that it’s that many. Carl asks how many people has he killed – one – and why. Siddiq tells Carl, because the dead tried to kill him, but didn’t. It’s a scenario that Carl can relate to.

Then Carl asks why he’s building traps and if that’s how he’s killed so many. Siddiq tells Carl that he’s doing it for his mother. She thought that killing them freed their souls. Siddiq is clearly holding on to her being right. Carl asks if that doesn’t make things harder while Siddiq is just trying to survive. And there’s the question. Is there more to life than just trying to survive? Siddiq clearly never thought of that, and simply answers, you’ve got to honor your parents.

Carl is completely wrong when he tells Siddiq that if he was honoring his father he wouldn’t be talking to Siddiq. But Carl is. Carl is moving past simple survival to what comes next. Rick is trying to be better than Negan – and even better than he was before. Of course, Carl is really just talking about the fact that he’d told Rick that he’d stay put in Alexandria. But he’s also wrong in thinking that Rick wouldn’t want Carl to bring Siddiq in.

Carol finds Henry in the woods killing walkers with his stick. Carol tries the same scare tactics that worked for her in the past – kids go missing in the woods and turn into monsters! But Henry is made of sterner stuff – he’s not scared! I loved that Henry gives Carol crap for going to the Saviors’ place by herself. Carol gives him a gun and tells him to stay close to her.

Outside the Hilltop, they can hear building, and Dillon asks Jesus if he’s still not worried. Enid tells Jesus to bring them in – and he’s clearly thrilled to see that she’s built a prison. Maggie announces that they will keep the prisoners there. They won’t mistreat them, but they won’t stand for anything less than full cooperation.

Gregory tells Maggie that they can’t let people they don’t trust run around inside their walls, and Maggie agrees – and locks him up too! Maggie also tells him that she grew up on a farm – she knows all about sheep and wolves. In an episode with so many great moments, this is really a standout. Who hasn’t been waiting for Gregory to get even a small comeuppance?

Jared (Joshua Mikel) makes a play for Dianne’s (Kerry Cahill) gun and Maggie takes him out with the butt of her rifle. Could someone please kill him already??? Dillon takes the opportunity to thank Maggie, but she warns him not to make her regret it.

Aaron (Ross Marquand) is there, having dropped off baby Grace, and he’s clearly not happy about Maggie taking prisoners. Enid doesn’t seem entirely on board either.

Carl and Siddiq stop on the way back to Alexandria to kill some walkers – Carl says “for your mom.” Carl thinks that there’s on a few eating a deer, but they are soon over run. Siddiq is clearly not used to fighting in a group or hand to hand fighting, and it’s a pretty tense scene. I was sure that one or the both of them were going to end up bitten. It was a pretty rookie move on Carl’s part.

Carl tells Siddiq that he’s responsible for him now. That’s how it works. Siddiq says he doesn’t want to make any trouble – Rick didn’t want anything to do with him. But Carl tells him that sometimes, kids have to make their own way – and show their parents the way. Aw Carl! Can we all just take a moment to be proud of how this kid’s grown up?!

Rosita and Michonne sneak into the warehouse and find two saviors – Zia (Ciera Payton) and Leo (Adam Cronan) – and the huge sound system they’ve tied to the back of a truck. It’s clear that Michonne, like Carl, is rusty when she tips them off by kicking a tennis ball. Even Rosita isn’t sharp – proving, of course, that Rick was right to leave Michonne, Carl and Rosita behind.

Zia sends Leo to the Sanctuary, and Michonne tells Rosita to stop him. Leo makes the last mistake of his life when he tells her she’s not going to use it – and she blows him away with the rocket launcher! For some ridiculous reason (ie you can’t kill the star – so unusual for TWD!), Zia just runs away while Michonne is distracted rather than killing her and running away…

It looks like Zia is going to get away with the music blaring, until Daryl and Tara come out of nowhere with a garbage truck! It occurs to me that a garbage truck has to be a significant part of the next part of the plan to get Rick out… Michonne tells them that she needs to see the Sanctuary – it’s why they’re out there. Daryl tells them that they’re there because there’s a lot more work to do.

Carol returns to the theatre. Jerry is still mostly on guard – though he’s having some cobbler! Carol tells him to stand with Henry, and is about to blast open the door, when Jerry tells her it isn’t locked. And really, why would it be? No one’s getting past Jerry unless he wants them too.

Carol goes to Ezekiel and tells him the people need him. I loved how this scene is blocked. He’s still on the stage, but he’s no longer on the throne. He holds a chain – with nothing on the end of it. He’s taken off his armor. It felt very much like a scene from King Lear. Ezekiel is consumed with guilt over the death of his people, feeling that he’d chosen for them.

But Carol points out that he’s their King – that’s his place. Ezekiel insists that he was just playing a part – and the stakes were people’s lives. He tells Carol that he can’t be what they need. He asks her to leave him alone, and it seems that she’s going to, but then she turns back.

She asks him why he kept coming to visit her. He tells her it was his duty to make sure that she was ok. Carol insists that she was ok; why did he really come? He tells her that she made him feel real, not a fiction. McBride is amazing in this scene. She tells him that he is real to her – but he’s also real to the Kingdom and they need their King. Ezekiel tells her that she can lead, but she tells him it has to be him – he’s the one who inspired them to build the Kingdom. He gave them something to believe in.

She tells him that he has to help them grieve, to move on. He needs to be there to help them end it and for Henry. She tells him that if he can’t be the King, he needs to do what he does best – play the part. I loved how they circled back to Ezekiel’s “fake til you make it.” Carol confides that she has to act every day – it used to bother her, but it doesn’t any more. She knows that’s why she’s still there. I loved this self-awareness and rare look into the real Carol. She goes on and tells Ezekiel that he has to act like everything is normal until it is – it’s what his people need and what he has to give them. But Ezekiel just doesn’t think he can.

Dillon puts a stop to Jared trying to get free. Jared is sure they won’t kill them and that Negan will retake the Hilltop. Gregory watches the exchange. Will he prove to be useful in the end?

Aaron sits with Enid in Maggie’s office as she holds Grace. And yes, if that isn’t a little on the nose symbolically… Maggie has achieved Grace by not executing the prisoners, by choosing life over death. Aaron is grieving for Eric, and Maggie can completely relate. Aaron asks if it gets easier, and Maggie tells him the truth: it doesn’t. But it does help to do something about it. And what she’s done is honor Glenn’s memory, what he wanted for the future.

Jesus joins them and thanks Maggie. He thinks she did the right thing. But Maggie isn’t being completely compassionate. She tells Jesus not to thank her – they may have to use the prisoners as bargaining chips to get back their own people. Jesus is clearly disappointed, and even moreso when she tells him that if they don’t need the prisoners, they can’t let them live. Aaron is also troubled and leaves.

Enid follows Aaron. He wants to make sure that they win. Enid wants to go with him because they need a win. Aaron tells her to grab her stuff and some food – they might be gone for a while. Are they headed to Oceanside for more help?

Daryl takes Michonne and Rosita to the Sanctuary so they could see. Rosita wants to know what they need her and Michonne for, and Daryl tells them, to end this thing right now. Has Daryl lost his mind? What is he planning?

This episode really delivered on so many levels. We got some real insights into how Carol, Carl, and Maggie have grown and changed. Do you think that ultimately Maggie will be able to kill the prisoners? Were you happy to see Gregory get what he’s had coming for so long? Are Daryl and Tara going rogue? Will they end up hurting everyone’s chance at a victory? Where do you think Aaron and Enid are going? Is anyone coming for Rick? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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