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The Walking Dead - The Bridge - Review

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The Walking Dead “The Bridge” was written by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick and was directed by Daisy von Scherler Mayer, whose other credits include Fear the Walking Dead, Bosch, Chicago Med, Halt and Catch Fire, and Outcast. This episode had some really nice character moments and saw a real character arc development for Maggie (Lauren Cohen) moving past her grief to some extent. It also saw poor Aaron (Ross Marquand) lose his arm – but that incident gave us that brilliant walker-killing-log maneuver! Go Rick (Andrew Lincoln)!

Of course, the title of the episode is ironic because the bridge they’ve come together to build to join the communities helps to underscore that the communities are only being partially successful in forming real connections between the communities. The episode is book ended by Rick dropping in to taunt Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). We learn that they’ve been working on the bridge for 35 days. Rick tells him that they are building and growing on their own terms – and aren’t letting the world define them anymore. We get an awesome shot in voice over of Jerry (Cooper Andrews) leaving for work and being kissed goodbye by Nabila (Nadine Marissa) – and even though this has been in all the previews, I still cheered! What a great pairing!

Rick walks past a bunch of road signs – and the last reads “the future.” It’s really a bit too on the nose for me. Be subtle show – that’s why we loved you. He tells Negan that they aren’t just fighting to survive anymore, and as he takes up a watch position over the bridge under construction, he adds they’re building a new beginning. But Rick fails to notice that even though the camp is made up of tents from different groups, the tents are all shared by people from specific groups.

We get a terrific scene between Ezekiel (Khary Payton) and Henry (Macsen Lintz) as he gets his armor on ready for the day. Henry sees the bridge as just a bridge – hardly a story worthy of telling his grandkids, but of course, Ezekiel sees it in romantic terms. Again, his speech about the lifeblood of civilization is a bit on the nose – but that’s ok from the King!

Carol (Melissa McBride) arrives, and it seems like a typical family moment (shades of housewife Carol and her delicious cookies and horrible sweater) when Henry runs walks past her and she asks if he’s forgetting something. It’s adorable – and solidifies this new family unit – when her runs back to kiss her goodbye, but that’s not what she meant. This is still our Carol – he forgot his weapon!

Then we get some adorable banter between Ezekiel and Carol about Henry being taller and off to college soon – Peyton and McBride are gold together. There’s also a little adorable flirting. The King must go back to the Kingdom – and things are back to “normal” enough that Henry has school. Carol isn’t ready to leave the Sanctuary yet – they still need her leadership. And Ezekiel stays “real” with Carol. He knows that it’s only fairy tales where heroes live happily ever after and that in this world “it’s about finding the small moments.” And really? That’s good advice for everyone. But he tells Carol that he’s not giving up on the fairy tale – and Carol needs that. She still needs him to believe for both of them.

Rick is juggling multiple concerns. Food is running short, and there are herds coming close. Rosita (Christian Serratos) is in charge of blasting a rock slide, so they need to ensure that the herd is pulled in another direction. They have a system of sirens to do that. There’s a nice moment when we see Eugene (Josh McDermitt) focus on a worker who is missing all the fingers on one hand – a result of the guns he booby-trapped. It’s clear that Eugene does feel real remorse for that even while he’s back in a position of trust and security himself. It’s always a joy to listen to Eugene talk about anything – although sometimes it takes a second pass to sort through exactly what he’s saying! Six Saviors have also just walked off the job.

I adore what they’ve done with Enid (Katelyn Nacon)! She is now in training under Siddiq (Avi Nash). We see her stitching up Cyndie (Sydney Park). And of course we know something is coming when Rick asks Siddiq to head back “home” because there is a bug going around. I liked how they were vague about what “home” Rick was talking about. Is Siddiq still at Hilltop? Or is Rick referring to Alexandria – his home? Siddiq and Rick have full confidence in Enid – though she’s a little freaked out about being left on her own.

Michonne (Danai Gurira) visits Maggie to discuss the food situation. I was a bit shocked to see how lame Michonne’s horse was as she trotted in… We also get to see that Maggie is busy doing farm work – breaking a horse! Michonne tells Maggie that the Sanctuary did send the ethanol as they were supposed to, but they’ve disappeared. Jesus (Tom Payne) confirms that they have the food, but Maggie insists with no tractor their food surpluses won’t last long.

Michonne asks about the plow, and that’s a nice segue into asking about Earl (John Finn) and how long Maggie plans to keep her blacksmith locked up. Here’s Michonne’s perfect opportunity to suggest some common rules. She also asks Maggie why she didn’t just execute him as she did Gregory. Michonne points out that Earl should pay for what he did but keeping him locked up hurts everyone. Maggie puts Hilltop first, however. They’re keeping their surpluses until the ethanol shows up – but Michonne takes Maggie up on her invitation to stay the night. She’s planted her seed – now she just has to wait for it to grow. I really liked that this episode showcased Michonne’s intelligence – we never see her pull the katana.

Cut to an adorable scene on the bridge between Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Aaron. Aaron is talking about changing baby Grace’s diaper – so he’s clearly still looking after her. Aaron is loving fatherhood and tells Daryl he will too one day. It’s another indication of how they’ve changed their thinking about the future – there is one. Daryl, of course, isn’t there yet. He doesn’t so much question whether he’d be a good dad (and he would be!) as that he’ll ever have the chance to be one.

And of course, Daryl proves that Aaron is right when he goes to Henry’s defense after Justin (Zach McGowan) pushes him down and takes the water from him. Of course, Henry does a fine job taking Justin down in the first place. Was anyone surprised when Justin fought “dirty?” Rick breaks up the fight.

Daryl is pissed that Justin gets a pass – but Rick needs the worker – too many have already walked off. Daryl clearly still doesn’t like the Saviors despite having been in charge of them. He dismisses them walking off as typical of them. Carol supports Daryl, pointing out that these people have never had to live together and he can’t just expect them to forget the past. But Rick is focused on the future. He doesn’t expect them to forget, but they’ve all got to move forward together.

Rick insists that if they can focus on the future, they’ll all eventually see that they are on the same side. And then Daryl asks if they really are all on the same side. Specifically whether Rick is. Rick asks Daryl to tell him. Daryl says he’s been trying to tell Rick – but Rick hasn’t been listening. Daryl walks out.

Rick tells Carol it’s been “complicated.” Carol urges Rick to talk to Daryl. Of course, Daryl’s always had an easier time talking to Carol. Carol tells Rick that she understands what he’s trying to do – and it’s the right thing. But she also points out that some people just aren’t ready yet. It begs the question of whether the future – a nebulous concept at best – is enough to unite the communities – or do they need a common enemy. It seems with the impending introduction of the Whisperers that we are going to get that – and Justin’s disappearance at the end of the episode seems like we won’t have long to wait.

At Hilltop, Michonne overhears Tammy (Brett Butler) begging Jesus to let her see her husband. And a shout out to how great Butler has been on the show. Tammy is being essentially ostracized by the community and has no one else. She grabs a stool and tells Jesus to tell Maggie that she’s going to sit outside the storm cellar until Maggie will let her in.

Michonne takes the opportunity to talk to Jesus. She asks if he’s going to talk to Maggie about Earl. He insists that Maggie will do what she’ll do – and it’s not his call. Michonne presses to know whether he agrees with Maggie. He admits that he doesn’t know if Maggie killed Gregory for herself of the community – but he doesn’t seem to disagree with that decision. He also admits that he’s not against letting a grieving mother see her husband. Michonne encourages Jesus to talk to Maggie. I loved how she played this scene out. She doesn’t ask him to say anything he doesn’t believe, she never even tells him her own opinion. I also loved the body language – Michonne keeps her hands behind her back in a completely non-threatening stance – there is no threat or coercion in anything she does. Jesus tells Michonne that he trusts Maggie’s instincts – if not always her decisions. But no one is right all the time – not Maggie, himself, or Michonne. Which is why they need a court with a panel of judges… And Michonne tells him that’s why they need to build something bigger than any one of them – or even any one community.

I loved the surprise relationship we see pop up between Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) – he’s Episcopalian! – and Anne (Polly McIntosh). She’s been doing portraits of loved ones as remembrances for everyone – check out the wall in Maggie’s office later in the episode. He tells her she’s good, and she tells him she likes doing it because it feels “intimate” – like she’s one of them. Gabriel insists that she is one of them. Anne says that it’s because Gabriel, Rick, and Morgan reached out to her. Gabriel, of course, also had a long time being accepted. Anne makes the first move thanking him for being there and placing her hand over his. He tells her that’s his job, trying to brush it off – but Gilliam is terrific here as his face totally gives away that he is interested in her too!

Jesus does talk to Maggie. And they set the stage for Maggie’s departure when Jesus finds a letter from Georgie and Maggie says that Georgie has asked her to join her. Maggie insists Arthat she’s building a future there. He then breaches the subject of Tammy. She knows immediately that he’s been talking to Michonne. She assumes that he doesn’t agree with her decisions – especially about Negan, Gregory, and Earl. Jesus points out that some decisions are bigger than one person – it’s why they used to have laws. Jesus doesn’t tell her she’s wrong. He tells her that he thinks she’s a good person and that good people can disagree.

Maggie relents and finally lets Tammy in to see Earl. He doesn’t harbor any ill will to being locked up. He admits that what he did was wrong. Tammy tells him that he just lost himself and she forgives him. But he’s not looking for her forgiveness. Maggie listens as the two comfort each other over their son. There’s a great reaction shot of Lauren Cohen’s face. She may not have realized why she spared Earl in the first place – but it’s starting to occur to her now – and it reinforces Jesus’ belief in her instincts.

Rosita is helped by Arat (Elizabeth Ludlow) when she blows the rock slide. Arat expresses some doubt – and Rosita points out that she still doesn’t really trust Arat – who was the one who sliced open her face. As expected, the noise turns the herd – and we get more shots of how super-decomposed they are getting.

Maggie goes to see Earl herself. Ironically, Earl built the cell he’s in. He asks her to tell him about the drinking. She wants to understand how he ended up in the cell. Finn is really good in this scene. He tells Maggie that he started drinking when he quit smoking and doesn’t even remember the day Ken was born. He tells her some horrific stories. He tells Maggie that Tammy has stuck by his side through it all. He tells Maggie that after Tammy declared she’d never leave, he finally stopped drinking and never took another until the night of the funeral. Maggie thanks him and goes to leave.

Earl stops her, however, and wants to know why she didn’t hang him. He doesn’t try to lay what he did on Gregory. He fully accepts that what he did was “in him” – a part of him. He’s brutally honest. Maggie asks him if he thinks she made a mistake in letting him live – he says no.

Tara (Alanna Masterson) is in charge of the siren signals, and calls Mother Goose – Rick! – to update him on the herd movements. He tells her to start the signals. I liked how they ramped up the tension here by having Alden (Callan McAuliffe) also demanding Rick’s attention here. Jerry is on one siren – and Justin is supposed to be on the other. Alden tells Rick that none of the Saviors who left made it back. Alden points out that they don’t have guns – and Rick tells him they took the Saviors’ guns for a reason. When he promises to protect them, Alden points out that working for protection sounds like somebody else…Negan…

When the second siren doesn’t go off, it puts the crew working on lumber at risk – and sure enough, they are overrun by the herd. Once again, the Saviors, who are always about saving themselves, drop what they’re doing and run – dropping a gigantic log on Aaron and trapping him. We get a terrific sequence of Daryl’s knife fighting style. And we get a horrific view of Aaron’s utterly destroyed arm when the log is moved.

Just as it looks like Daryl is about to be bitten, the crew from the bridge arrives – alerted by the system in place to do so! We get a nice shot of Beatrice (Briana Venskus) taking out the walker threatening Daryl with a harpoon! Rick tells Daryl to get Aaron back to camp. We get a nice shot of everyone fighting together – Alden, Gabriel, Anne, Carol – and Ezekiel who came back because he heard there was trouble! And then Rick releases the logs – and it’s amazing! I loved that he sharp shooted it, and the effect rivaled the wire between two cars that Rick and Michonne did.

Daryl gets back to camp, looking for Siddiq, and it’s only Enid. He looks at her like he’s going to doubt her – and then he doesn’t. She takes one look at the arm and insists that she has to amputate. There’s no way in those conditions, with the bone exposed, that they could have saved the arm. I loved poor Aaron’s tiny “what?”s. Daryl wants to know if there isn’t another way – and then wants some pain meds. Enid is fantastic in this scene as she remains clear and calm on what she has to do. She knows the pain meds wouldn’t kick in fast enough. The only time she seems to doubt herself is as she sits down to start and looks at Aaron. He tells her she can do it – and to do it. He wants to live – and he knows what she needs to hear.

Daryl is distraught after having to hold down his friend to have arm cut off and goes in search of blood. Carol is in the command tent already giving Justin a dressing down. Justin – unlike Earl – tries to evade taking responsibility, saying that the walkie wasn’t charged – and Daryl points out that he should have checked. He then proceeds to beat the crap out of him. Carol stops him. She agrees he needs to be punished – but not like that. Daryl insists that it’s all “these people” know.

One of the best scenes in this episode for me, was the discussion between Michonne and Maggie. Michonne again demonstrates excellent negotiation skills. She begins by complimenting Maggie on what she’s accomplished at Hilltop. Maggie tells her that she knows why she’s there, and she’s open to talking about common laws. But she also stipulates that she will stay in charge of Hilltop and make decisions that she thinks are best for her people. Michonne says they will do the same at Alexandria – but what’s best for everyone, should be best for Hilltop too. Maggie isn’t 100% convinced but she hopes so.

Maggie tells Michonne that she’s sending the food – all of it. Meanwhile, we hear the blacksmith’s hammer as Maggie tells Michonne that Earl will work under supervision until a council decides otherwise. In the meantime, the plow gets fixed and the fields get planted. Michonne asks what changed. Maggie tells Michonne about Hershel. If he hadn’t been given a second chance, a lot of people would have been a lot worse off. And let’s not forget that it was Rick and Glen who went after Hershel when he went on a bender. Michonne remembers that she was one of the people who would have been worse off without Hershel.

Maggie goes on to say that some people deserve a second chance because they can be redeemed. Gregory was given chance after chance – he deserved to die. Some people can’t be redeemed. Michonne wants to know who makes that decision. Maggie admits that’s something that she’s got to figure out.

I loved how this scene segued into the next as Rick confronts Justin. Justin tells him to keep his dog on a leash – and Rick tells him that he “knows him.” He used to be a cop – making all these discussions about the law particularly nuanced. Rick picks up the thread about responsibility. He relates picking up guys like Justin every Saturday night and how they’d blame everyone else for their problems. Rick tells him that he gave Justin the benefit of the doubt – but that’s over now. Rick tells him if he sees him again, he’ll do worse than something that needs stitches.

Rick goes to check on Aaron. Daryl is sitting with him, and Enid is hopeful for a recovery – as long as no infection sets in. Rick apologizes, and Aaron tells him he couldn’t have known. Rick admits that he’s been pushing everyone really hard, that he prioritized the bridge over everything else and Aaron paid the price. But Aaron tells him it was worth it. He tells Rick that when the dead first started to rise, he thought it was the end of everything. Aaron tells Rick that Rick changed all that. It’s not the end of the world anymore. It’s the start of a whole new one and he’ll always be glad that he was there to be a part of it.

And we segue from that into proof of the new world and regeneration – frog mating calls with Gabriel and Anne. Anne wants to know about the woman she drew for him. He points out that they don’t talk about the past. Anne says she’ll talk about her past – just not her secrets. Gabriel tells her part of the story – that he lost the woman because he was afraid. He points out he’s not Catholic and Anne makes the first move again. When he doesn’t immediately respond, she asks if he’s still afraid – and he goes in for the kiss! He points out that he’s supposed to be on watch… and I can’t think that his being distracted may have some negative consequences…

Rick pauses to look over the camp – we see Tara, Rosita, Eugene – and a blond woman I couldn’t immediately place – laughing and playing cards, Carol is with her little family group, and others are clustered about fires. It totally reminded me of the camp in the first season outside of Atlanta – thus making this truly seem like a new beginning.

Carol and Ezekiel are watching as Henry plays with Jerry and Nabila. Carol asks if Ezekiel is still carrying that ring around. He thinks she’s teasing him – and then she says she’s not saying yes, but she thought she’d try wearing it. Ezekiel is clearly thrilled and tries to get down on one knee – but Carol stops him – she wants this just between them. He insists that he wrote a speech – and she’s not surprised. She takes a little pity on him and tells him that he can tell her later. I don’t think much beats Khary Payton’s gigantic smile!

And then we are back with Rick and Negan. He admits that it was a hard day, but at the end of it, the people chose to be together. It’s human nature to come together. And finally, Negan speaks. His voice is still scratchy – from his injury or from disuse? Negan assures Rick that things will fall apart. Negan can still get under Rick’s skin. Who is Rick building this future for? Carl? Rick tells him not to speak his name. Negan insists that both their families are gone – the bridge is just a monument to the dead.

        Negan then tells Rick that Rick isn’t saving the world – he’s just getting it ready for him. We get a super close up of Negan’s eyes – before going back to a close up of Rick’s face – another nod to the very beginning of the series and the close up on Rick’s eyes in the hospital – and last season waking in the future. Is this a passing of the torch?

Back at camp, Anne is on watch and sees a light in the sky – is it the helicopter back? She looks worried – even as she was working on a wire sculpture of a frog – no doubt for Gabriel. And then Justin is sucked into the woods. Are these both signs of the Whisperers? It looks like the action is going to start ramping up…

I definitely liked this episode better than the premiere. Lots of great character scenes and some great action. I wonder what losing his arm will mean for poor Aaron. Will he have to give up Grace? What work will he be able to do now? Does Carol accepting Ezekiel doom them? I’m really, really hoping that the show gives us a respite from any more major deaths – especially with the impending departure of Lincoln and Cohen – who were both amazing in this episode. What did you think of the episode? If my favorite scene poll was an indication, I clearly missed something everyone else loved! Chime in below with theories on the helicopter or who took Justin!

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