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The Walking Dead - Home Sweet Home - Review

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  The Walking Dead returned with “Home Sweet Home” written by Kevin Deiboldt and Corey Reed and directed by David Boyd. The episode centers on Maggie’s (Lauren Cohen) return and fills in what she’s been up to and introduces a new round of bad guys – Reapers. Maybe it’s been living through our own semi-apocalypse, but the episode felt a bit flat to me. I was excited for Maggie to return, but it’s clear that she doesn’t bring any hope with her – though she may have brought a love interest for Kelly (Angel Theory)!

The episode begins with a voice-over recap by Lydia (Cassady McClincy) who tells us she learned of a new life and that hope, love and civilization are what they have to protect at whatever cost. She justifies Carol (Melissa McBride) letting Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) out – and sets him up to become a card-carrying member of the good guys. This voice-over really reminded me of something I’d hear on a CW show… she finishes with saying that when the new leader arose, they all banded together to defeat it – “united, we sacrificed everything for a brighter tomorrow, and we won. Now we’re on the verge of something else. A bigger world filled with endless possibility and uncertainty.” It sets us up for this episode and the end of the series – leading into the new possibilities of the united “worlds.” It was a clunky start.

I loved the scene of Maggie and Judith (Cailey Fleming) walking along, and Judith explaining how she explained Michonne’s absence to RJ. Fleming is still blowing me away – it felt a lot more like two adults talking that an adult and a kid! 

Maggie comes upon Negan unexpectedly. It doesn’t go as badly as it might – she’s clearly taken off guard and is flooded with emotion – it’s great to have Lauren Cohen back. Judith watches as it’s just the three of them. Negan tells her he didn’t escape – the subtext being that he’s now a part of the community. But he knows that Maggie is never going to accept or forgive him and that’s going to be a major stumbling block for him every really becoming a part of their community, and Judith knows it too. 

Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Carol meet in the woods and discuss how the survivors are being divided up and leaving for Alexandria and Oceanside. Maggie meets up with her people – Cole (James Devoti) and Elijah (Okea Eme-Akwari) – the guy in the mask. They’ve been to check on Hershel (Kien Michael Spiller) and the rest of their people, who are fine. Maggie tells Carol and Daryl that they lost their village and need to live with them now, she’s thinking Hilltop. 

Maggie is devastated when she views the destruction of Hilltop. Carol immediately tells Maggie that Negan was with the Whisperers. Maggie immediately knows that Carol was the one to let him out – it’s an awfully big leap of logic. Carol tells her that Alpha needed to die and Negan was their best chance – and of course, she was right. Carol tells her that they were going to lose everything and Negan is the reason that they didn’t. Cole fans the flames by asking how they are supposed to go and live in Alexandria next door to the guy who torched her home and killed her husband. Daryl just glares at him and says that they’re still figuring things out. Daryl has as much reason to hate Negan as Maggie, but he’s come to an understanding of sorts. It’s also clear that Daryl is trying to figure out Cole. Maggie thanks Carol for telling her. 

Daryl tells Carol she didn’t have to tell her, and that he’s going with Maggie to get the rest of her people. Again, why wouldn’t they all have just come with Cole and Elijah who saw the end of the fight and knew it was over… plot hole… to set up a pretty pointless episode. Carol tells Daryl what we already know – Maggie will never forgive Negan. Daryl asks her if she has – it’s like they both have mostly accepted him but no one wants to admit it first!

Kelly tags along with Daryl in order to keep an eye out for Connie (Laruen Ridloff). We get a lot of nice shots of them walking through the woods with Daryl showing Kelly how to track. Elijah seems like Maggie’s shadow. Cole wants to keep finding somewhere safe to stay before dark, but Maggie insists that they keep going. She finally gives in and suggests that they stay in a fenced yard with shipping containers – that is full of “sickos.” Daryl suggests finding somewhere in the woods, but Maggie wants shelter. 

        Cole suggests it will be no sweat to clear the parking lot. Cole is the next guy to fight with two super-cool looking knives. Maggie ends up with a nasty scratch – and didn’t those used to result in zombification? We get a nice popping walker head – only expected when they were shutting a container door on a bunch of walkers. It was satisfyingly gory, but totally expected.

Maggie and Daryl catch up as she looks after her arm. I found that the sound on this episode was way too muffled, so I missed some of the dialogue – no matter how high I turned up the volume. Daryl tells her that he’s glad she’s there, and she tells him that she wasn’t close to the drop for a long time and then for a time she just didn’t check. She tells him that Georgie had lots of big ideas. They’d find groups and do what they could, but it would always go sideways. Georgie and the twins had gone out west with the twins and Maggie had stayed back with Hershel. When that place fell, they ran, and she’s lost touch now with Georgie. Maggie is clearly still getting over it, and tells Daryl its good to say some of it out loud. 

Maggie tells Daryl that she almost came back then, but she took a detour to a place by the ocean that her Grandmother had. It was a chance to just be peaceful with Hershel, who loved it there. It was peaceful, and there were hardly any walkers. Sounds like Maggie might be perfect to take over Oceanside… Hershel asked how Glenn died, and she told him that a bad man killed him. He wanted to know if the bad man got what he deserved and was dead. She tells Daryl she left home because Glenn’s death took up too much room in her head – and the next day she met the people’s she’s with. Daryl tells her that it’s not decided with Negan yet. She should come home. Anybody else think that it was super weird that they all slept in separate cars?

When they’re all ready to go the next morning, a walker wanders in, and Cole asks if Kelly is supposed to be on watch. It turns out that she’s checking out an abandoned truck to see if Connie might be there. She’s just climbing up to check out a coat on the roof when Maggie grabs her ankle and almost gets a slingshot to the face! She’s angry that Kelly left her post. She tells her that she can’t go running off by herself – and Daryl tells her that Kelly’s sister is missing. It’s Elijah that jumps up and throws down the coat. Maggie explains to Kelly that he just lost his sister too. The coat isn’t Connie’s. 

Daryl tells Maggie that they are still hoping for Connie to be alive, but they’ve been out a lot and some people are just gone. Maggie says sometimes they don’t come back even when they do and says something that Hershel used to say that is completely unintelligible. It’s clear that they’re also talking about Negan – can a person change? Their conversation is interrupted by the sight of a column of smoke coming from where Maggie’s people are supposed to be. They all break into a run – and should rightfully be killed by snipers – and Cole looks shocked and says – it’s them. They’ve found us.

Maggie runs into the smoldering remains of where they were staying, frantic to find Hershel. They find the burned husks of two people. Cole is certain that the Reapers have found them. When Kelly asks who they are, Cole says that they wipe out anything in their path. Maggie tells them to shut up – they need to get their heads on straight and find her son. Good thing they brought tracker Daryl. He tells her that they are definitely running and scattered. Daryl promises that they’ll find all of them. Maggie tells the others to stay quiet and alert – and to kill anything they find out there that isn’t their people.

Now the group moves quietly and cautiously through the woods. Daryl loses Hershel’s tracks and suggests splitting up. Cole thinks it’s too dangerous, but Maggie insists it’s the fastest way to find them. Daryl and Maggie go together and Kelly goes with Elijah and Cole. Elijah is reluctant to leave Maggie. 

The three see something and hide to get a better look. When Cole wants to resume, Kelly gets up but Elijah doesn’t, so she goes back to see if he’s ok. She asks him to remove his mask – which he does. I was totally expecting a horror show, but he’s quite a handsome young man! Kelly tells him it’s a lot, but he’s not alone and Maggie’s counting on him. I loved how much of Kelly is revealed in this short, quiet scene. These are her own fears, but she is also so empathic as to recognize all this about Elijah in a short time, including his devotion to Maggie. Hmmmm – I’m already shipping these two!

Maggie and Daryl find some of her people in the woods with Daryl almost cutting Maya’s (Brianna Butler) throat. I loved Maya’s being offended at Daryl and Daryl’s somewhat embarrassed “sorry” – which he totally wasn’t going to offer until she gave him the stink eye! They tell Maggie the building was just suddenly on fire and they didn’t see who did it. Hershel is out there somewhere but they haven’t seen anyone else in hours. Gus (David Atkinson) declares it’s the Reapers – right before being shot in the throat and dying. 

The rest run headlong through the woods with shots bouncing off trees. Ainsley (Haley Leary) is shot in the gut as a trap – which Daryl (and Maggie) instantly recognize, but Maya doesn’t. Before she dies, Maya does manage to signal where she saw Hershel. 

Against Daryl’s better instincts, Maggie insists on going around to flank the shooter (Michael Whinnett). He’s waiting for her, having left the gun and being heavily camouflaged. His opening eye in the foliage is perfect. I thought the lighter music earlier in the episode wasn’t quite right for the show, but the almost Predator like music here is perfect. Maggie ends up caught in a rudimentary trap after a short fight. Daryl gets a shot off into the shooter, who just pulls it back out. He’s either got exceptional body armor or he’s high on something or he just doesn’t feel pain! Daryl rushes in only to be picked up and flung against a tree. Daryl really needs to practice his hand to hand combat more!  

We get some great shots from Daryl’s barely conscious perspective, through his hazy, blinking eye. The attacker takes the time to strip off some of his camo and collect the various knives. Maggie is facing him down and Daryl is coming up behind, when the other three arrive and Kelly shoots him with Daryl’s dropped crossbow. Daryl is ready to finish him, but Maggie tells him to wait. She wants answers. Who is he, what do they call themselves, why did they attack them. 

He drops his knife, like dropping a mike, and says something unintelligible – sounded like “bobochip” to me – but is apparently “Pope marked you.” He then pulls out a grenade and commits suicide. Luckily, Maggie sees him pull the pin and shouts for them to get down. Also luckily, the grenade only explodes him – guess that really is good body armor… or was.

The group carries on and we get our first shot of Hershel. Sitting in a tree, smiling down on them and wearing Glenn’s old ball cap – or one just like it. I loved how this mirrored almost our first shot of Glenn – looking down at Rick as he lead him to safety up a ladder. Daryl also clearly sees Glenn in Hershel. 

That night the survivors stay in the cargo containers again. Elijah brings Kelly some food as she’s sitting with Maggie and Hershel. Maggie thanks Kelly for helping Elijah. Maggie asks who’s older, Kelly or Connie. Kelly tells her that Connie is. Kelly came as a “surprise” and Connie really raised her because their parents were too tired. Kelly can tell that Maggie was older. She can tell because she seems like she’s been in control her whole life – of course, that’s not really the Maggie we first met. Kelly sees a lot of Connie in Maggie, and Maggie tells her that she hopes she gets to meet Connie someday. Kelly assures her that she will. This was a really nice scene. 

Daryl comes in to check on them. He tells Maggie after Kelly leaves that it’s really quiet, and the dead man was just messing with her. They decide to take a few days there to make sure that he was alone. Maggie insists that nothing can follow them back to Alexandria. Daryl agrees. He’ll cover his tracks. Daryl eagerly asks if this means she’s coming home. Maggie says that her people deserve a home – and so does Hershel. She’ll deal with Negan if she has to. The only thing that matters is Alexandria.

When they get back to Alexandria (with either more of Maggie’s people or some unknown Alexandrian guards), it’s been battered too. There is plenty of destruction that needs to be dealt with and everyone is busy trying to put things back together. The windmill seems to be gone. Cole asks if this is home sweet home and Maggie tells him it is before taking Hershel’s hand and walking in. Negan watches her, knowing it means trouble for him. 

There were some good scenes in this episode, but It definitely won’t got down in history as one of my favorites. I found it a bit too slow to be honest, and do we really need yet another super-villain right away? 

I don’t get AMC+ and I never will – I can’t afford all the streaming services. I’m beginning to wonder, however, if AMC is trying to force people’s hands by not only showing the episodes a week later on cable, but also showing an almost impossible to watch version with the dialogue so low in the mix that you miss half of it. If that is the case, I’ll be sad not to finish reviewing this series to the end…

What did you think of the episode? Are you thrilled to have Maggie back? I can’t wait to see Judith take Hershel under her wing – cuz you know she’s going to! Are you excited to see the Reapers? Do you think they can hold onto and rebuild Alexandria? Can Negan and Maggie ever come to an accommodation? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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