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The Walking Dead - Hunted - Review

  The Walking Dead “Hunted” was written by Vivian Tse and directed by Frederick E.O. Toye. The title refers to both storylines – the Reapers hunting and the hunting for the horses. The episode carries on directly from the previous one with Maggie’s (Lauren Cohen) group trying to escape from the Reapers. We pretty quickly lose all the red shirts so that Maggie will be forced to team up with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Callan McAuliffe (Alden) is terrific in this episode, and it’s a shame that the show once again only highlights an actor in order to kill him off – as seems likely. The episode also gives us some insight into what’s happening back at Alexandria. I have a LOT to say about their ridiculous horse scenes. I can only imagine the wranglers rolling their eyes when they heard what the script called for the horses to do. Animals are notoriously difficult to work with, and I hope these horses were particularly so as a protest for the ridiculousness they were forced to be part of…

The attack in the woods is pretty brilliantly shot. It’s so chaotic that it’s hard to know what is going on, other than seeing people wounded or killed and them all being separated. The spotlight on Maggie’s face lets us see her terror and confusion, but it was also a bit distracting as we’re supposed to be in a dark wood… Alden is quickly injured, Cole (James Devoti) is outright killed, Duncan (Marcus Lewis) looks severely wounded, Negan is wounded, and Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) is slashed across his throat. Daryl (Norman Reedus) seems unscathed and gets away with Dog. Maggie is almost caught, but Elijah (Okea Eme-Akwari) ends up getting roped in freeing her. Is he dead? I suspect we’ll find out in the next episode. Maggie displays razor sharp reflexes and manages to get away. It’s a pretty damn good opening scene.

Back at Alexandria, Magna (Nadia Hilker) is on guard duty when Carol (Melissa McBride) and Kelly (Angel Theory) return together. She’s clearly not happy about the two spending time together and seems like Kelly is pulling away from Magna. Meanwhile, Carol gets a reprimand from Aaron (Ross Marquand) for missing her shift to help with repairing the wall. They’ve been out tracking the horses, and Aaron thinks it’s a fool’s errand, reminding her (and us) about he and Daryl getting Buttons killed. It is hard to believe that animals that are so difficult to catch get eaten by walkers on such a regular basis! Meanwhile, Carol makes a good case for why they need the horses – to carry heavy things and range farther for food.

I’m actually a bit disappointed to see Cailey Fleming (Judith) stuck in a scene with a bunch of other kids! She is wonderful as always, but I think she really shines when she’s paired with an adult. However, we get Judith, Gracie (Anabelle Holloway), RJ (Antony Azor), and Hershel (Kien Michael Spiller) playing cards – like normal kids. It quickly comes up that they’re hungry. I have to wonder if this is one of the first times that Hershel has been around kids his own age. 

        He asks if they ever worry about their Moms when they go away. Judith makes light of it – ‘Grown-ups are always running off doing things.’ I love how she makes it seem almost naughty with ‘running off.’ Hershel astutely points out that they used to say that (I’ll see you soon) in olden times but can’t promise it now. They are like kids who can’t remember a world without computers! Only it’s a world that is safe. Judith says they say it so the kids won’t worry, but Hershel once again astutely points out that it’s really to make themselves feel better. Judith says yeah, but her mom always comes back. RJ agrees – but it’s clear that he’s really missing Michonne.

Maggie makes her way to a mall. As she tries to open a locked door a knife slams into the wall beside her. She takes off, finds an open door, and starts down some stairs. She sets bottles to act as an alarm on one of the doors. She finds another set of stairs and heads up them. How she ends up attacked by a walker on a landing is a mystery. In shoving it over the railing, she also loses her flashlight. It does make for a great shot though. On the next landing, she’s almost killed by a Reaper but is alerted at the last second by the bottles breaking – hard to believe she can hear that so far away, but whatever. She quickly dispatches the reaper down the stairwell – and takes off when she hears steps coming quickly up towards her.

Gabriel seems more troubled by the thing stuck in his leg than his neck wound. He’s tracking an even more badly wounded Reaper. He pulls what looks to be a screwdriver out of his leg and keeps going…

Maggie ends up in what is clearly supposed to be an old department store – but really is very badly dressed as one. She quickly sees Alden who is then tackled by a Reaper and one jumps on Maggie. I actually really liked Maggie’s fight. She gets a leg up to the guy’s shoulder to stop him stabbing her with his scythe and then gets a bottle, breaks it, and stabs it into the side of his head – at which point Negan shows up and crowbars the guy to the back of the head. Alden, meanwhile, is not fairing well. Maggie throws a knife in the back of his attacker who throws a flashbang at them and gets away with the other Reaper. 

Alden has been slashed or stabbed several times – there’s not a ton of blood, so we’ll say slashed? Maggie asks if he can move and he says yes. Negan wants to know what the plan is. Maggie says the plan is the same – get to the radio tower, find the supply house, and wait for the others. Negan points out they could all be dead. I loved Negan telling her that he knows theatrics – he’s certainly made good use of them himself – but these people just showed them how insane they are. He tells them that they can’t be on any road. These people aren’t trying to scare them off – they just want them dead. The scene ends with a fantastic shot of the back of Negan and Maggie with Alden between them in silhouette from the lighting.

Rosita (Christian Serratos) is picking mushrooms when Carol finds her. Carol tells her that some of the mushrooms she’s about to take are hallucinogens – she might not want to feed those to Coco! Did Daryl fill Carol in on mushrooms? Hard to believe housewife Carol would have known. Rosita is clearly bored being stuck in the house, and quickly agrees to join Kelly, Magna, and Carol in their hunt for the horses.

So the first rule of trying to catch a horse? Don’t wheel things about in the air when you are close to them. They are prey animals and will run away. None of these people have ever been around horses. Clearly. Anyway, Rosita tells Carol that she’s been dreaming about Abraham, and she’s sure that he’s trying to tell her something. It’s important and about something she’s supposed to do. He gets shot in the head before he can tell her, and she’s sure that it’s a message for Alexandria.

Magna tells Kelly some crap about horses trusting you if they let you touch their ears. There is some truth to this only if a horse has had a bad experience with its ears and is therefore ear-shy – doesn’t want them touched. Magna also tells her that horses are wild creatures, so she’s not sure they’ll be able to catch them. Horses have domesticated for thousands of years (wild mustangs and a few others to the contrary). These were their horses. It’s like telling her that cows are wild animals… If they had any grain, they could have brought a bucket and caught them in two minutes – by standing still and not waving about madly…

Alden is resting and walkers are getting closer. Maggie and Negan help him up to keep moving, and Alden tells Negan he doesn’t need his help – maybe Negan should kill some walkers. They hear screaming, and once again, Negan gets the best lines – I just love Jeffrey Dean Morgan in this episode. We are getting to see the new Negan now… Anyway, he says, “So, we’re just going to go toward the screaming? Cool…” He might be being sarcastic, but he’s still staying with them – not that he really has a choice. 

They find Agatha (Laurie Fortier) with a dying Duncan. Negan watches as Alden barely manages to kill a walker – he’s just not helping… I was really sad to lose Lewis as he promised to be one of the more interesting new characters. Maggie apologizes “for all of it” – as she should. She’s managed to get them all killed. He tells her not to be, that they’ve been lucky. I had to wonder if there was something between Agatha and Duncan. His last words were for Maggie to make sure that Agatha got home. Maggie holds his head gently as she drives the knife into his brain before he can turn. 

The women find a bunch of the horses dead – and dismembered. Kelly is very upset. Rosita points out that it’s getting late and they should head back and Kelly agrees. Carol insists that Alexandria needed the horses yesterday – she’s also clearly upset that she wasn’t able to save them. For the very first time ever, I actually liked Magna. She just goes up to Carol and gives her a hug. And just like that with no words, Carol agrees to go home… which is, of course, when they find the other horses.

There’s a beautiful slow motion hero shot of the horses galloping across the top of a hill. Rosita suggests penning them in the corrals at a nearby dairy farm. Kelly tells them to drop the lassos. At least she’s noticed it doesn’t help. Also? Horses don’t rear at you and then come for a cuddle. And fyi, that’s 50 years of experience with horses every day…

Gabriel finds the Reaper he’s been chasing leaning up against a fallen log. He’s dropped his mask some time before and Gabriel finds his shoes before finding him. He tells Gabriel that he’s a little slower than he thought he’d be and not to be scared! Gabriel tells him that he’s not scared. He tells Gabriel that he’s been blessed and asks Gabriel to pray for him. Gabriel points out that he has a strange definition of blessed and he tried to kill his friends. The guy points out that Gabriel’s friends tried to kill him. He also says Gabriel should pray for him because he’s a man of God. Gabriel chillingly tells him that God isn’t here anymore and kills him.

There are now twice as many walkers as there were, but Maggie insists that they stick to the plan. Negan asks her to let him help, telling her that her friends had come to trust him – she was gone a long time. He tells her that he’s changed, and she insists he can’t fool her. Negan goes ahead.

Maggie helps Alden, and he asks her if she’s ok. He’s not talking about Negan. He knows that she’s had a rude homecoming. Maggie tells him that not much surprises her anymore. Except Hilltop. She’s clearly disappointed that it’s not what she told Hershel to expect. He tells her that she’ll build it back up – better than it was before. She insists that “WE will.” Alden is clearly not thinking he’s making it back. He tries to ask Maggie to look out for Adam, but she won’t discuss it. Alden points out that Negan lives in Alexandria – so they won’t have to see him!

Meanwhile, Negan comes upon a burnt walker tied to a tree with a sign saying “Judas” over it. The Reapers clearly have some bizarre religious thing going on. It is a stunning hero walker.

The distraction allows them to be surrounded by walkers. It’s utterly stupid – these aren’t people new to the Apocalypse. And they lose Agatha in the stupidest possible way. Negan has to drag Maggie away from her even though it’s clear that there’s no way to save her.

The women bring the horses home – and at least Carol was leading hers on the correct side… They tie three of them up – because why put them in a secure barn or paddock? Carol leads one away, and Magna joins her asking to talk. She knows that Carol is going out with Kelly to look for Connie (Lauren Ridloff). She tells Carol that Kelly looks up to her, and she’s giving Kelly false hope and wants her family to be able to heal and move on. Carol needs to know for sure what happened – because she still feels guilty for it. Magna asks her to stop.

And now we come to the stupidest scene ever in the show. Carol gets the horse that they couldn’t catch to lie down and lie there quietly. Horses ARE prey animals and do have a highly developed flight instinct. If you wave things about like a predator, they will run. They know that they are vulnerable when they are on the ground, so they rarely like people to be near them when they do lie down. When horses are actually euthanized, they fight most when the drugs cause them to lie down. Horses are slaughtered standing up. A thrashing horse can kill you faster than a herd of walkers. It would be far kinder and quicker to drive a bolt into a horse’s brain. It would take tremendous strength to cut a horse’s neck as Carol does, but if you did want to bleed the horse out, it is very easy to simply insert a needle in the jugular and let it drain – also more human. As soon as she slashed its neck, that horse would have been on its feet and running everywhere. The bottom line is that this scene is crap.

McBride is fantastic in the scene, however. And I loved when Aaron joins her and sees her grief. He now understands why she’s been so focused on getting the horses. It’s not just about transportation. This food will feed the community. 

Of course, none of the kids are too happy about having to eat horse meat. Horses haven’t been a source of food for them. Hershel, however, really has had it worse than they have and has had to eat a lot of different things on the road. The aversion to horse meat really is a North American thing – and don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t and wouldn’t eat horse even if I was starving – but lots of people do. Hershel is the first to dive in. RJ who we already know is starving says no thanks. I loved that Hershel teased them about eating spiders!

Rosita brings Coco to pat the horses, and sees Carol washing the blood off her hands. It’s a nice segue to the next morning when Carol stops by to pick up Kelly and go on patrol. Another way to wash the blood off her hands. Kelly has come out to join Magna on the steps where she is eating. It’s a nice touch when Kelly reaches up to stroke Magna’s ear in the way she said horses trust humans. She’s asking Magna to trust her too. 

Negan, Maggie, and Alden have gone onto the road, but Negan and Alden are both uneasy. They take a break by going into an old church. And this totally looked like the red machete church to me. But more importantly, give all the religious stuff we know about the Reapers is this going to be significant? Maggie suggests that they’ll rest a while and then continue. Maggie tells Negan she knows what he’s thinking and the answer is no. But Alden agrees. Negan is right. Alden is slowing them up. Maggie says they’re ok, but Alden says that from everything she’s said about the Reapers it’s going to get worse.

This was another great scene – and one I’ve been hoping to see for some time as I’ve always liked the character of Alden. As Negan looks out the window and listens, Alden tells her why he walked away from Negan in the first place. Morgan is great here even though he has no lines. He’s clearly still hurt by the betrayal – and the loss of his group. Alden tells Maggie that he trusts her to do the right thing – no matter how hard or the cost to her. He forces Maggie to look at him. He tells her that supplies are all they need right now. The community – Judith, Hershel, Adam – are all counting on them. Maggie insists that Adam needs a father. Alden knows he can’t make it out alive. If her plan fails, everything she wants for the future dies with it – and that’s Adam’s future too.

Negan points out that the sun is going down. She needs to make a decision. Maggie turns on him, telling him it’s easy for him because he’s reckless with other people’s lives. Maggie tells him that he doesn’t get to decide who lives or dies anymore. She tells him that they’re only there because he destroyed everything that they built. He doesn’t rise to the bait or try to defend himself. He tells her that she still has to decide. Cohen is excellent here as she clearly makes the decision. She starts leaving Alden with her food and weapons – and then gets Negan to give his knife. Negan starts moving pews to block the door. Maggie tells him that he’d better be there when they get back, and Alden tells them that they’d better come back.

Negan and Maggie set off across a field. Negan takes out a walker as Maggie watches, and there’s a great shot of Negan’s gore-dripping crowbar with Maggie in the background on a tilted angle that is a beautiful mirror image of Negan’s gore-dripping Lucille from the night Glenn died. Maggie is the one forced to play judge now and has it given her any perspective on Negan? The cross is in the background – perhaps suggesting a higher power will judge them in the end? 

This was an interestingly structured episode with lots of punishment and redemption themes running through it. Who has the right to play judge and make decisions and why? How do we atone for the sins of our past? Great performances here by McAulliffe – and I’m really, really hoping this isn’t it for him – Cohen, Morgan, and McBride. What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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