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The Walking Dead - Worth - Review

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The Walking Dead “Wroth” was written by the team of David Leslie Johnson and Corey Reed and was directed by Michael Slovis. The episode is mostly a set up for the finale. It seems like the tide may be turning in favor of Rick (Andrew Lincoln), but it all falls apart by the end of the episode – or it mostly does. The episode sees the end of Simon (Steven Ogg) – and a huge shout out to Ogg. While Simon got what he deserved, Ogg has done some really amazing work on the show and will be missed. It would also seem that Dwight’s (Austin Amelio) number is up and that Eugene (Josh McDermitt) is beyond redemption. I’m looking forward to the finale, and I’ve been thinking about the falling ratings of the show. It’s hard to see the deeper messages in the show when we’ve been bombarded with so much death. I can’t help feeling that the show was strongest when reality was more stable and less horrific and that viewers may be looking for a more hopeful escape from reality right now. Fingers crossed that the finale can provide that.

I did love the opening scene – when we at least get to hear Chandler Riggs as Carl as Rick reads his letter while watching Michonne (Danai Gurira) with Judith. Carl remembers happy times – and normal times – from his childhood. Carl remembers not just what happened but more importantly how he felt. He felt happy and safe when he held Rick’s hand. Carl tells Rick that growing up is making yourself and those you love safe because things happen. Carl reminds us that bad things happened “before.” Rick was shot before – and it is a touchstone with the show. It’s what I’ve just said in the opening paragraph to this review. Things happen in real life. But maybe viewers need to feel safe – and our favorite characters need to BE safe. But this is also what Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) provides to those at the sanctuary – and it’s what drives Eugene. The need to be safe.

I did love Carl’s very meta remark that it felt like things went bad because Rick was shot – pulling up that old chestnut that maybe all this is a coma-induced dream from Rick! But Carl wants Rick to feel safe – he wants to give back to Rick how he felt holding Rick’s hand as a three year old. And how many of us as adults haven’t wished for that safety of childhood? Carl wishes he’d killed Negan because he doesn’t think Negan will ever surrender, but he reminds Rick of the regular people who are in the Sanctuary. Lincoln is great in this scene as all he does is react to the letter. His eyes fill with tears here, and there’s no doubt that he is filled with remorse for what he and Morgan (Lennie James) did in the last episode.

Carl reminds Rick that they are so close to starting over – and they have friends now. It’s the bigger world that Jesus (Tom Payne) talked about. And really? It would be nice to actually HAVE Jesus in an episode now and then. I am really hoping that he’s going to get a HUGE story arc next season. Carl suggests that there has to be even more people out there. There’s a chance for real lives. Carl tells Rick that if the Saviors – Negan – won’t end it, Rick has to. He has to find peace with Negan and make sure it never happens again. He wants Rick to bring safety and normalcy back for everyone. He then urges Rick to go on those walks with Judith – and this is a really nice way to bring us back to Carl’s dream. And as he finishes the letter, he looks down at Michonne holding Judith’s hand and going for a walk. Michonne sees the effect the letter has had on Rick – and that gives her the idea to take Negan’s to him.

Gregory (Xander Berkeley) has made his way to the Sanctuary. Simon is not happy with Gregory who made him look like an ass, but Gregory tries to fast talk his way out of it. Simon is interestingly more honest with Gregory than any of the others. He doesn’t hedge when he tells Gregory that Negan is no longer on the field of play and that he’s taken control of the Saviors. Gregory starts laying it on even thicker. Simon points out that optics means he can’t be seen going easy on Gregory – he has an image to maintain now! It was pretty interesting when Gregory actually loses it! Gregory insists that he’s been through too much to lose it all now – he makes things happen! Yes. But not in a good way! Gregory gets right in Simon’s face – and it takes nothing for Simon to slam Gregory physically to the ground. Gregory is still operating in the old world. This is a world of violence – not politics.

Simon tells Gregory that he wasn’t going to send him away – he was going to kill him. But this side of Gregory is one that Simon has never seen before. It’s possible that Gregory can still be of some use to Simon after all, so he asks him if he can make coffee, and of course Gregory doesn’t miss a beat in saying he makes the best. Gregory knows an opening when he sees it – and pride really isn’t in his vocabulary.

Back at Oceanside, the women are trying to decide what to do about Aaron (Ross Marquand). Cyndie (Sydney Park) wants to just wait for him to go away, but Rachel (Mimi Kirkland) in an eerie echo of Carl’s assessment of Negan, says he won’t just go away – they should kill him. When a walker accosts them, Cyndie steps forward to take care of it, but Aaron jumps out of the woods and does it for them. He’s so weak from hunger and lack of water that he collapses. Cyndie shows no mercy – they made their choice. If he wants to die waiting in the woods for them to change their mind, that’s his choice. Beatrice (Briana Venskus) at least takes pity enough on him to tell him to find water.

Eugene has Frankie (Elyse Dufour) and Tanya (Chloe Aktas) make him a disgusting meal of mac & cheese with sardines. It’s comfort food for Eugene – reminding him of his college days. Eugene gives his workers a pretty pathetic pep talk. Eugene knows his safety net is Negan and with Simon in charge, Eugene is even more insufferable because he’s afraid. He knows he can still prove he’s valuable if can keep up at least to a minimum quota.

Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) is still sick – and Eugene’s biggest concern is that he doesn’t make him sick. But he does give us hope that Gabriel will live – even if he doesn’t get his sight back. And Gabriel, at least, has been trying to work for our team by sabotaging the bullets he’s making. Gabriel is upset when Eugene tells him that the bullets would have resulted in someone being hurt. Gabriel tells Eugene that he didn’t want any of his people to die. Eugene tells him that if he can’t accept that he’s a Savior now, he should kill himself. Gabriel doesn’t want to help them, but he doesn’t want to die. Gabriel fears that he hasn’t changed. That he’s still the same scared animal, doing what he has to to survive – like Eugene. But Gabriel wouldn’t have tried to sabotage the bullets back then. Eugene pulls him off the line and tells him to sit in a corner.

Eugene goes outside to test fire some of the rounds to make sure that they are ok. He has two guards, but Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Rosita (Christian Serratos) quickly and quietly take care of them and take Eugene with them.

Back at the Sanctuary, Negan surprises Dwight as he comes out for a smoke – in a nicely paralleled scene with Eugene’s ambush. Negan tells Dwight that he was “surprised” when the fellas never showed up to save him. Dwight tries to shift the blame to Simon, but Negan wants to know what Dwight was thinking. Dwight tells him he’s Negan – and he was following Negan’s chain of command.

Negan demonstrates his total control by having Dwight butt out his barely smoked cigarette precisely where Negan directs. It’s also a nice call back to everything that Negan has taken from Dwight – it ties back directly to the stolen moments he shared with Sherri – and the fact that he lit up Negan’s car with the last cigarette he’d shared with her. Negan knows the significance of the cigarette, and tells Dwight that he wants him to remember this moment when the time comes – and he will, but it’s not the moment he and we first think. He wants Dwight to remember what they’ve done – together (they both had Sherri) – and what they can still do together. We pull back to the walker on the fence – and that’s pretty good foreshadowing to what we can expect them to be doing together in the future – especially with the reveal of Simon on the fence.

Negan interrogates Simon, who lies (of course!) and excuses his actions because he thought Negan was dead. Simon excuses his actions by saying he made the attack personal – intimating that it was because of his grief over Negan’s death. Simon says he’ll own his actions, and he asks Negan to give him a pass and that he’ll make it up to him. But he really doesn’t sound the least bit contrite.

Negan reminisces about taking the Sanctuary with Simon’s help. He wasn’t sure that he wanted to keep Simon on board. Negan mentions a settlement in which Simon killed all the men and boys – it’s the Oceanside settlement!!! Negan thought that was psychotic – so he’s kept Simon on a short leash ever since. He calls Simon and ghoul and then says that’s not someone you want to stand next to, let alone work with! Negan has all of the lieutenants gathered and he has Simon kneel.

Simon doesn’t beg and shows no emotion. Negan asks him if he’s going to make a move, and Simon says there’s no move to make. Negan agrees – because he still needs to know if there are any other traitors in his midst. He tells Simon that all is forgiven. Simon says that he won’t let him down. Negan then outlines his plan. He’s going to surround the Hilltop and snipe them until they are all dead.

Negan dismisses the rest of them and holds Dwight back. He tells Dwight that he’s smart as hell. That after everything – Sherri, the “sizzle” – he didn’t do anything stupid. Nothing shook him. He kept his eyes on what could keep him alive. And Negan tells him to keep that clear. Like Simon, he’s given Dwight a second chance. It’s yet another way that the show is revealing that Negan really does see people as a resource and isn’t simply bloodthirsty. Of course, here again, he needs to see how far Dwight’s treachery goes.

Eugene assumes that he’s still alive because Rosita is still fond of him. Eugene keeps talking until Daryl finally rounds on him and threatens to cut his tongue out! Rosita stops him – it’s more important that they keep moving. Eugene points out that he told Negan he made the bullet to save Rosita’s life. He fully expected to die, but they gave him a chance to live. He lies and says that he tried to resist.

Rosita, however, knows who Eugene is – a selfish coward and a traitor. When Eugene tries to lay the blame for everything at Rick’s feet, Rosita shoves her gun up under his chin. She tells him that they won’t kill him – not because they care about him, but because they want what he knows. He’ll get to live – but definitely not in the lap of luxury. Eugene’s face is angry and petulant as they force him to keep walking. Would he have gone with them if they’d lied to him and been “nicer?” Maybe.

Back at the Sanctuary, both Dwight and Simon put their own interests in motion. Dwight is copying the map when Simon knocks on his door. Did anyone else think that the crane shot of him opening the door revealed that he had a Big Lebowski rug? It’s a caper – and everyone is trying to double cross everyone…

Simon wants to know what Negan held him back for. Dwight tells him the truth – a pep talk. Simon tells Dwight that he’s planning a coup. Simon has decided that Negan has let them down – it’s time to overthrow him. He can’t believe that he has to sell it to Dwight after everything Negan’s done to him. At one time, Dwight might have followed Simon – but he clearly realizes that Simon is a psycho. But here’s yet another option for Dwight. He could become Negan’s second – or Simon’s.

Once they get back to the car they left, it’s surrounded by walkers and Daryl goes ahead to take care of them. Eugene disgustingly barfs on Rosita which gives him enough time to hide in a pile of ashes and bones. He’s made his choice. He’s chosen Negan.

Aaron is woken by the rain and manages to gulp some water before he’s set upon by walkers. He’s so weak, I was sure that he was about to die – pointlessly. He loses his knife and has to go hand to hand. He passes out and comes to surrounded by the women. He tells them it’s “their” fault that they don’t trust, that they hide, that they don’t lead the lives they want. He tells them that “they” will go on hurting them unless they fight.

Naturally, Simon’s rendez vous point for the coup is in the courtyard right where Negan had Dwight butt out his cigarette. Simon tells everyone who’s showed up that they are in – no take backs. He also tells them that he wants it to be quick, quiet, and surprisingly – respectful. He acknowledges that Negan has done a lot for them. But he offers the kill to Dwight – who has the most against Negan. He can’t let him have knife – not that personal. After that, they’ll start the healing by completely wiping out the Hilltop. At this point, even Gregory seems to be wondering if he made the wrong choice – psycho-wise.

Simon’s speech is interrupted by Negan’s whistling. He appears from behind the dumpster – that he had Dwight move in the first scene with them. He was clearly moving all the pieces into play right from the get go. He thanks Dwight – who seems to have chosen Negan – but of course, Dwight knew he had to get rid of Simon who has proven to be an even bigger psycho than Negan. Negan counts to three and all of Simon’s followers are killed – but not Gregory or Simon.

Simon goes right for Dwight and asks why. Dwight tells him because Negan would win. Has he given up on trying to beat him? I was curious as to why Negan spared Gregory… but that becomes clear later. Negan remarks that the Simon who just goes right for his target is more familiar than the back-stabbing one. And it’s also clear that Negan is holding Simon accountable for the garbage people. He appears to be honoring the promise he made to Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh).

Negan tells Simon that he’s going to give Simon his shot. If he can beat the man, he can be the man. Negan knows that he has to show that he’s still physically got control. Simon is ridiculously over-confident. He makes a big speech to the gathered crowd and cheats to get the first punch in. It’s a brutal fight – and a lot more personal than a knife.

Negan strangles Simon as he lists his crimes. He disobeyed Negan at the Hilltop and got Saviors killed. Negan does care about his people. And Negan is not happy about the fact that he knows he has to kill all of the Hilltoppers – because from now on they’ll always being looking for a loophole. Negan’s final words over Simon’s body – “what an asshole” – are hard to argue with…

Gregory only waits long enough to see that Simon is losing before trying to slip out. Clearly, Dwight has already made his own choice – and he’s chosen Rick. He’s left a car and gives the keys and the map to Gregory to take to the Hilltop. He can be sure that he’ll do it – and so can Negan – because Gregory will be looking for a safe place – and some leverage for when he gets there. This gives him both.

Gregory does make it back – and Maggie (Lauren Cohen) takes the map and locks him up. She shows it to Rick and Michonne and asks what they’re going to do. Rick doesn’t say anything… before we cut back to the Sanctuary.

Negan walks with Dwight back to his room. He asks him what else he could do other than crush Simon’s throat after he tried to kill him? Dwight agrees – there was no choice. Negan tells Dwight he’s his new right hand man if he accepts the promotion. Dwight accepts and tells him he’ll help end it with Rick. Negan – ominously – tells him not to sell himself short – he already has.

Dwight then opens the door to his room to find Laura (Lindsley Register) waiting there. She is a lot happier to see him than he is to see her. Laura has told Negan everything – what kept her alive was getting back and exposing Dwight. Negan tells Dwight that he knew he could count on Dwight to deliver his fake plan to Rick – and he knows that he used Gregory. The only possibility is that they won’t trust it because it came from Gregory. Negan isn’t going to just kill Dwight – he’s got plans for him.

Eugene returns to the factory and he is an utter mess – and furious. Regina (Traci Dinwiddie) tells him that Negan is back and wants the bullet order by the next morning. Eugene sends his best to Negan and his assurance that he’ll get his full order of bullets.

Eugene gives a slightly better pep talk. He also puts Gabriel back to work and joins the assembly line himself: time to do something useful with our pathetic lives.

We get a closeup of zombie-Simon tied to the fence and Negan overlooking the courtyard. Michonne calls him on the walkie-talkie from a rooftop. She tells him that she’s calling about Carl – not Rick. Carl wrote him a letter and she’s delivering it because that’s what Carl wanted.

In the letter, Carl tells Negan that he got bitten helping someone. Carl thinks that Negan is still alive and looking for a way “out.” Carl also thinks that Negan might have decided that they are all a lost cause and he just wants to kill them all. Carl thinks that Negan thinks that he has to be who he is. And then we circle back to what Carl said to Negan on the wall the last time he saw him. Is this what Negan wanted? Carl writes that maybe Negan will beat them, but then there will be someone else to fight. The way out is working together – and that’s the lesson they learned in Alexandria. It’s a nice re-cap of the journey so far.

Carl urges forgiveness, so that it doesn’t have to be a fight anymore. Carl tells Negan that he hopes that Rick offers peace and that Negan accepts it. He hopes that everything can change because it did for him. He tells Negan to start over. But Negan tells Michonne that there’s no getting out of it now. He tells her that he wouldn’t accept their surrender if they came to him on their knees. Now winning is only about killing every last one of them. That will be starting over. And this is a reflection of Negan’s own pain at the betrayal of his closest men – and how he’s starting over by cleaning his own house too.

He tells Michonne that he never wanted this and blames Rick and tells Michonne to tell him that. Negan is done talking – and he destroys the walkie talkie by stepping on it – the same way he stepped on Simon. He’ll show them the same way he showed the Sanctuary by killing Simon.

The episode is about choices. You can choose to fight for who you are – your very soul – or you can do anything to just be alive – which isn’t the same as living. And this is what the title is getting at – what is it worth to you. I loved how it was bookended with Carl’s letters to Rick and Negan – and how each of them was in a very different space to read them. Both have just come off a violent episode, but Rick is sickened by it – and has come home to family and friends. Negan – also mirroring Rick’s physical position – is looking out at Simon – the physical embodiment of his support system. The show still has something to say to us. We can be divided and isolated, or we can come together – and start again. We can live just for the sake of living, or we can choose to fight for what’s right. What did you think of the episode? Let me know in the comments below!

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