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The Walking Dead - Bounty - Review



The Walking Dead “Bounty” was written by Matthew Negrete and was directed by Meera Menon, whose other credits include The Magicians, The Punisher, and Fear the Walking Dead – so a few TWD connections! The episode finally has us catching up with the Kingdom and is split both temporally and geographically. Menon does a good job taking us back and forth, and this episode was just so much better than last week’s. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that it centered a lot more on characters that we’ve come to love. I loved the themes that ran throughout this episode and the contrast they set up between the Kingdom and the Whisperers.

As the episode begins, we’ve flashed back, but that isn’t immediately apparent. We join Ezekiel (Khary Payton) and Jerry (Cooper Andrews), and they are clearly waiting for something, but we don’t have to wait long for Ezekiel’s “Jerry” as he tries to find out what it is that Jerry wants to tell him. Jerry makes Ezekiel – and Carol (Melissa McBride) who is with them – swear not to say anything because he wasn’t supposed to tell. And this is when we discover we are looking at the past because Carol’s hair is just starting to grow. I’m still struck between this contrast of hair between Carol and Alpha (Samantha Morton) – it’s a terrific symbol.

Ezekiel tells Jerry to spit out the gigantic wad of gum he’s chewing, which he does, before Jerry starts using euphemisms, which are hilariously lost on Ezekiel and Carol, to tell them that Nabila (Nadine Marissa) is pregnant. Jerry is full of joy at the thought of being a father, and Ezekiel moves in for a hug, telling Jerry that he is the biggest hearted among them – also clearly thrilled. It’s hilarious when Jerry’s gum gets stuck to his King and he plucks it off – and sticks it back in his mouth! And then it’s back to business – the reason the three are out there.

And it was SO bittersweet to see Jesus (Tom Payne) come riding up, slicing a walker’s head off as he cantered by, accompanied by Tara (Alanna Masterson). They have all come together to trade. It’s clear that communication lines are open between the Kingdom and Hilltop as Maggie would have come if her son wasn’t still sick – the reason for trading medicine. Carol expresses surprise at Tara being there, and this is the moment when Tara breaks from Alexandria to move to the Hilltop. This also seems to be the point at which Michonne started to really pull back.

Tara took one last thing – that Michonne was letting collect dust – the Multi-Community Charter of Rights and Freedoms – that she had written for all the communities to sign. I found this also pretty cool as it’s not a “Bill of Rights” as the US has, but a Charter of Rights and Freedoms – which is what the equivalent Canadian document is called!

        They present it to Ezekiel to be its keeper. And it’s a perfect choice as Ezekiel has always been the keeper of hope too. He hasn’t given up on the idea that it will bind them to something more – because they are family. He sees the signing as a new beginning. It’s also a nice way for Payne to get a goodbye scene with McBride, Payton, and Andrews. Ezekiel opens the document to look at and, there are only places for three communities to sign – Alexandria, Kingdom, and Oceanside – no Hilltop.

And then we flash forward – our cue is that Dianne (Kerry Cahill) is there telling Ezekiel, who is in the theatre – also looking at the Charter – that it’s 5 minutes to go time. He has added places for Hilltop AND Sanctuary to sign. He’s clearly getting anxious to sign – also clearly at this Fair – before anymore communities can disappear. They are going after a herd of elk to feed everyone – and Dianne has scouted the nearby herds of walkers. They’ll have a 6 hour window. Preparations are already underway for the Fair. Ezekiel welcomes Dianne back and we see Carol’s longer hair just to solidify that we are back in the present.

Carol overhears Ezekiel’s remark about feeding Alexandria and asks him if he knows something that she doesn’t. Ezekiel is just holding out hope. Carol is clearly planning on coming on the hunt, and it’s adorable when she tells him that it still feels like an empty nest (with Henry (Matt Lintz) at Hilltop), and she missed him while she was away – AWWW! We also get a quick look at Jerry with his THREE children. I also loved that Carol once again told Ezekiel not to call her the Queen – half-heartedly to be sure. The group takes off – with a fabulous jump mount by Payton onto his horse! He tells them that it’s all going to work out, and Carol says yeah – and actually seems like she mostly means it.

And then we cut immediately to why it’s not all going to work out: Alpha at the gates of Alexandria. She still wants her daughter. Daryl (Norman Reedus) tells them to leave and nobody gets hurt – to which Alpha says “wrong answer” before calling more of her people.

We get a quick scene with Enid (Katelyn Nacon) at work as the doctor, looking after Earl (John Finn) who is riddled with arthritis and has been burnt by hot metal he dropped. Tammy (Brett Butler) joins Enid in telling him to take a break – but takes it further, urging him to retire. He’s not going to retire – he’s got shoes to finish before the fair.

Tammy tells Enid that the work is a way for Earl to fill the void left by the loss of their own child and with Alden (Callan McAuliffe) being gone it brought it all back. Nacon is quite good in this scene as we see her worry over Alden too. Enid also reveals that she’s grown close to Earl too – who has always been like a father to both her and Alden. Tammy tells Enid not to lose hope. Another thing that I liked about this episode is that it fills in quite a bit of the backstory on the five year jump.

Kelly (Angel Theory) keeps an eye on Connie (Lauren Ridloff) who is hiding in the cornfield, while the others discuss what to do. Daryl is adamant that he’s not sending Lydia (Cassady McClincy) back, but Tara is worried about pissing them off and what will happen to Luke (Dan Fogler) and Alden. Magna (Nadia Hilker) takes the bull by the horns and asks about Luke and Alden – no point in speculating, right?


      Alpha says they didn’t kill them. She wants to talk to the leader – but isn’t disturbed when Daryl says what does it matter? She tells them that there will be “no conflict” over them crossing into their lands or killing their people (surprising – but after all, it’s everyone for themselves in Whisperer-world), but there will be conflict if they don’t give Lydia back. Lydia is surprised because they don’t care if anyone is killed, but it is consistent with the backstory we saw last week. Alpha killed her husband when he was going to take Lydia. Lydia is clearly the only thing/life Alpha values.

The entire storyline with the Kingdom underscores the differences between the Whisperers who have given up everything to mimic the life of the dead while the Kingdom is all about nurturing the past and their people. They’ve bagged some elk on the hunt, and Ezekiel is ready to send them back – with Carol. I loved this little scene with Carol and Ezekiel. She knows something is up and that Ezekiel is scared to tell her. Jerry refuses to get in the middle at first. Ezekiel tells her it’s a little side mission that she wouldn’t be interested in…. but of course she is, so he tells her that he’ll show her.

They are going to try to get a new bulb for the film projector at a cinema that is full of walkers. Jerry declares – with his usual glee – that “It’s movie-time!” Carol is dumbfounded that Ezekiel is taking the risk for a projector bulb. Ezekiel has a plan – in and out – like a Cobra strike! Carol points out that they are getting by with what they have – these people are fathers and mothers and she clearly wants to protect them for their children’s sakes. It’s been five years since their last movie night. Children need whimsy and wonder. It’s not just about getting by for Ezekiel – it’s always been about a full life.

Ezekiel also sees it as a way to make the fair even more memorable. The movie will be a wonder that will help to sear the moment into their minds – along with the fellowship and bonds formed at the fair. Movies have always been about community – coming together to share in a story. Ezekiel says they are giving the gift of joy and lifelong friendship. Jerry points out what seeing a movie would mean to his kids – who have never seen one. Carol agrees – and of course, she’s coming to keep Ezekiel safe.

I loved that they used music to lure some of the walkers away – and that everyone is also bopping to the music – Jerry even mouthing, singing along! The cobra strike itself begins silently. As Dianne explains that the buttery substitute has an expiration date that’s likely just a suggestion, the group is accosted by a walker with a fresh head wound – which we soon see is from crawling through the destroyed popcorn machine. You have to love how creative the effects team is!

Daryl assures Henry that he’s not giving Lydia back – but he’s not done talking and goes out to talk face-to-face with Alpha. Daryl tells Alpha that she can’t have her. He tells her that they have enough fire power to light them up. Alpha isn’t worried. I’m having a hard time really assessing Morton’s performance because I’m distracted by her stupid make up, which keeps changing. So far, I find her stilted performance – no doubt a directed affectation – even less impressive that Jadis’ stilted way of speaking.

Daryl is distracted by a Whisperer with a baby. Alpha explains that they are animals. Animals live out there. Animals have babies. Daryl is clearly not going to “light up” a baby. Alpha says she doesn’t want conflict – she’s proposing a trade. She’s brought Alden and Luke to the gate – complete with masks. Alpha tells Daryl that she wanted to kill them, but she’s now offering him a really good trade – two for one!

When the dead show up, Alpha attributes it to all the talking. She tells one of her people to keep the dead away from the prisoners for now, but not to lead them away. Meanwhile, Luke has seen Connie and signs to her – even with his hands behind his back – that the walkers are coming. Daryl comes back inside to get Lydia. They don’t have a choice. Tara had already decided to give her back and they’ve already discovered that Lydia is gone – and of course, it’s Henry who has taken her. I also loved that Dog is apparently trained to track by smell – of course he is!

When the Whisperer baby won’t be quiet, we get one of the most horrific moments in the show’s history (character deaths notwithstanding). The mother can’t quiet the baby and she knows what that means. Alpha needs only to look and shrug. There’s no regret on her face at all. Alden freaks out, and Alpha calmly explains that they must live in silence with the dead. If the baby can’t do that and the mother can’t silence it, it’s just Darwinism! I liked how this circled back to the episode “Evolution” – and how it is clearly not the kind of evolution that Eugene was suggesting. I also loved how Ezekiel is fighting to bring more noise, more conversation, and more joy into their children’s lives and how sharp the contrast is here.

How did Daryl seemingly not know about the hidden tunnel? Addy (Kelley Mack) saves them the trouble of having to track them further because she knows they’ve gone to the house the kids go to. Enid convinces Daryl to let her go instead of him when they hear the pounding on the walls to try to save the baby. Meanwhile, Luke signals to Connie what’s happening and she races out of the corn to grab the baby. Alpha doesn’t care and simply shakes her head to keep her people from interfering.

Connie’s run through the corn looks like it’s going to end in disaster – and really made me wonder how a deaf person would survive alone. Just when it looks like all is lost, Daryl, Kelly, Earl, and Tammy show up to save her!

Back at the movie theatre, Jerry performs surgery on the projector to get the bulb. Carol helps Ezekiel with his side mission in the side mission – getting a poster display box to put the Charter in once it is signed by everyone. Ezekiel is determined that Alexandria will come. Carol tells him that she just doesn’t want him to get his hopes up – she’s told him Michonne’s answer. In fact, Carol is thinking in the opposite direction. She suggests that they should talk to Jesus – who they crushingly don’t even know is dead yet – about taking them in if things get worse. Shrinking their world instead of expanding it – at least until they can find someplace better.

Ezekiel rightly asks what place could be better than the Kingdom. He’s not wrong – they can’t run forever – or they could, but what kind of life would that be? Carol replies “Surely a dreamer could dream of such a place.” Ezekiel admits that he has been foolish not to consider all outcomes. Carol is, after all, his reality check. And then the boombox dies and it seems that the herd trapped behind the popcorn machine is about to breach, and finally, just as Jerry and Dianne get the bulb, they are attacked by walkers and Jerry drops the bulb into the full theatre. Reality crashes in.

Henry has taken Lydia to the house and given her clean clothes. Lydia is shocked that Alpha has broken her own rules to come for her and considers that her mother actually misses her and maybe she’s sorry. Henry tells her that she’s not. And then Addy and Enid is there. Enid tells Henry if there was any way she could help her, she would, but Alden and Luke are theirs and they have to save them. Henry wants to know how they can live with it. This is one of Nacon’s best scenes in the series. Of course, I’m prejudiced because it’s a callback to Carl (Chandler Riggs). She tells Henry about her parents and how it changed her and made her all about surviving – somehow. When Carl died, his letter to her pointed out that just surviving isn’t really living – and she’s finally figured out what he meant. You live with it by staying who you are and not letting the bad things change you. And again, this dovetails beautifully with the contrast between the Kingdom and the Whisperers.

Lydia offers to go back – and she tells Henry that she wants to because it’s her mother and people. She tells him that she’ll miss him and that they’ll both be ok – and then she kisses him.

The exchange is made and Enid welcomes back Alden while Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) is the first to welcome Luke. Lydia thanks her Mama for coming to get her and gets slapped for it. She then hugs her and tells her to call her Alpha – like all the rest. Alpha smiles at Daryl, who is clearly coming out of his skin with anger – and can’t do anything.

Jerry tells Ezekiel about dropping the bulb. There are 30 – 40 walkers in the theatre and they don’t have the music to lure them away. Ezekiel is ready to admit that the posterbox is win enough. Carol, however, isn’t ready to give up. She steps up as Queen – which may be my favorite moment in the entire episode. The Queen says it’s just a few kills each – they should get what they came for! Carol tells Ezekiel that it’s not just for him – and flips “Cobra strike” back at him with a smile. The attack is brilliantly done with a music over.

As they drive home, Ezekiel thanks her. She tells him that she’s not always a killjoy – she just wants him to be safe. They’ve all lost so much… and with Henry gone. Ezekiel assures her that Henry is safe with Daryl (I’m not so sure about that!), and he’s safe with her. Ezekiel tells her that she’s right to be ready for any eventuality but maybe they are done losing for a while. Oh Ezekiel… Carol doesn’t look too hopeful and they pass a strange symbol on the back of a sign as they leave. When have symbols like that ever been a good thing? I’m betting they just crossed into Alpha territory… which will result in conflict.

Back at Hilltop, Henry is practicing with his stick. He tells Daryl he gets why they had to do it but it doesn’t make it ok. Daryl says he never said it did – they just have to live with it. Henry points out that he’s seen the scars on Daryl’s back. He’s inadvertently cruel – or at least likely doesn’t understand the extent of the cruelty of the remark, when he tells Daryl that he thinks Daryl knows better than anyone what he’s sent Lydia back to. D’uh, idiot Henry. Daryl tells Henry that sometimes the world is just shit and all you can do is live with it. We have a much greater appreciation for all that Daryl has been through – and kept going – than this little shit. And Daryl tells Henry he doesn’t know.

The final montage shows Ezekiel and Carol putting the Charter into the posterbox and Jerry firing up the projector. I loved the shot of Carol and Ezekiel kissing backlit. The new folk get drunk in their new home. Enid and Alden fall into bed together – perhaps making a baby – and we see that Tammy and Earl have adopted the Whisperer baby. We see Jerry with his kids again as Nabila sleeps. Henry can’t sleep – and neither can Daryl. Addy brings Daryl a note from Henry’s room. Naturally, the idiot has gone after Lydia, so Daryl goes to Tara and tells her he’s going after Henry. Connie insists on going with him. Connie can’t live with it either. And it’s a part of who they are that they can’t. Living with it doesn’t mean that you don’t act on it.

I really liked this episode on first watch because it moved more quickly than the last episode, but it also focuses on characters we never seem to get enough of. On second watch, I loved this episode even more by how it weaved the theme throughout out. What does it mean to live and to live with it? It’s not enough just to survive without community and family. It’s not enough to just live with the bad things and not try to make things better. What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!






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