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The Walking Dead - Promises Broken - Review

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  The Walking Dead “Promises Broken” was written by Julia Ruchman and was directed by Sharat Raju. Once again, we bounce back and forth between storylines. There are lots of promises made, but I’m not sure that we see many broken. Lots of really great performances in this episode, and I’m really liking the parallels between the various communities – both past and present – that we are seeing teased out.

The episode picks up with Maggie (Lauren Cohen) determined to press on despite the warning that Daryl (Norman Reedus) gave them in the last episode. Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) once again tries to talk some sense into her. Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) backs Maggie up, and she tells Maggie that he can go if he wants – they don’t need him. Negan asks Maggie to make him a promise if he stays to help – that they’ll be even. Maggie insists that they’ll never be even. Negan insists, and Maggie is a bit shocked that Negan will take a promise from her. Negan tells her that he assumes that she’s a woman of her word – he’s always been a man of his word. He offers his hand, and she shakes it. 

They’re interrupted by a walker. It’s Elijah’s (Okea Eme-Akwari) sister’s best friend. He’s clearly upset. After Maggie takes care of her, she tells the others that Teresa was just a kid. They have to get all of the Reapers and kill them. Once again, Negan gets the best line as he asks if they knew “Blackbeard” – a walker with a beard – too. Maggie suddenly has an idea and asks if Negan thinks that they can find more…

They bury Teresa and Gabriel says a few words over her. They’ve caught and tied up some walkers. Maggie tells Elijah that they’ll find his sister and they’ll get the murderers. Elijah tells her that the “one” is his. Is that Pope? Or maybe Carver? Maggie sends Gabriel to take a look at the Reaper camp. She tells him to be careful, but if he can find one alone and he has the advantage, he should take them out. She then goes to Negan and tells him to find four strangers – she’s not cutting up people she knows. Negan tells her he only needs three – he’s kept his mask. And this is actually hilariously meta, because, as we know, Negan’s mask was made from a cast of Norman Reedus’s face – someone we all know! And once again, Negan gets the one liner. He tells Maggie that he kept his mask for practical and sentimental reasons (again, he is Norman’s good friend!). Maggie tells him this isn’t fun – and he quips, “Not with that attitude!”

Negan teaches Maggie how to be a walker. I loved how they filmed so much of this from Maggie’s perspective inside the mask. It’s going well until she trips and then can’t see out of her mask and panics. She blames it on the mask, and Negan points out that it won’t fit her perfectly – because it was someone else’s face! But he’s also encouraging. He tells her that if he can do it, she can do it, and she did good. He can make the mask fit better.

Gabriel watches the Reaper encampment and sees Mancea (Dikran Tulaine) come out to pray (?) over a grave. This guy is seriously weird. He asks God if there’s anything he should know. He has a tiny Bible (?) in one hand and a knife in the other. Gabriel is hiding in the trees. It looks like Mancea looks straight at Gabriel – like God told him he was there – and Mancea says “Thank you, Father.” Gabriel has his machete out. Mancea walks away and Gabriel looks shaken.

Negan cooks dinner and watches as Maggie herds more walkers into a corral. Elijah asks her if Negan has changed. She tells him there’s no way to tell. Negan is being helpful, but he would be because it’s in his own self-interest. Elijah asks about her promise – and it wasn’t clear to me whether he meant the promise she made to him or the one she made to Negan. Either way, she says she hopes she can keep it.

Maggie joins Negan at the fire. This is a brilliant scene. The two are mirror images as they sit down in exact unison. Across the rabbit carcass over the fire, Negan tells Maggie that he feels for her. He tells her that he’s not a robot. It sucks to see your friends as walkers. But even worse, she’s about to do some crazy shit – break into a community that she built and lost. In this scene, Negan has a lot more empathy than Maggie. She is utterly blinded to his side of the story. She refuses to see common ground. He asks her if she really believes he doesn’t understand the losing side of a massacre. She insists that there were no children at the satellite station – no families. And Negan asks where Aaron got Gracie?

She won’t debate battle plans or cruelty with him. He tries to show her that he remembers when his home was invaded and his people killed. Maggie says he killed people with families and did it in front of their families. Negan admits that he did – but the world is different. There are fewer people to fight against and fewer things to fight for. She asks him if he’d do things differently. He tells her yes – and then gives an answer that is raw and true – and shocking. He tells her that he would have killed every single one of them. I loved Cohen’s reaction here. Maggie is stunned. But at the same time, she’s thinking the same thing. Her desire to kill Negan comes from the same place. She asks why he’d tell her that, and he tells her because it’s the truth and if they aren’t completely honest with each other, they can’t work with each other. Morgan and Cohen are both outstanding in this scene. 

Gabriel returns and lies about running into Mancea.

Dressed as walkers and leading a small herd, they group advances on the stronghold. They let out more walkers when they get closer. As they walk, there’s an older black woman, who we can only assume was Elijah’s mother. Maggie takes his hand as they walk. Kudos to Eme-Akwari for this emotional scene in which he only gets to use his eyes behind the mask!

In the Commonwealth, Eugene (Josh McDermitt), Stephanie (Chelle Ramos), Ezekiel (Khary Payton), and Princess (Paola L├ízaro) work off their punishment by clearing buildings of walkers. Stephanie and Eugene work together, and she tells him it’s not like riding a bike – you do forget and she’s gotten used to the military doing it for them. Eugene asks Stephanie if Hornsby (Josh Hamilton) can really take care of their transgression. She tells him that Hornsby has his own way of dealing with things. It’s pretty clear that he’s a “fixer.” Stephanie tells Eugene that he can trust Hornsby.

Princess and Ezekiel work together, but Ezekiel is clearly getting sicker and weaker. Of course, he insists that he’s ok. When Eugene and Stephanie come to see if they need help, Princess insists that Ezekiel needs to see a doctor. She asks Stephanie to make it happen. Ezekiel is worried it will be another debt that they have to work off. Princess assures him that she’s never been afraid of hard work. They watch as Mercer (Michael James Shaw) leads a snotty nosed kid and his girlfriend past. Eugene asks who the hell they were… but there’s no one to answer.

In contrast to how bloody and filthy the others are, Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) is in a beautifully appointed room in a lovely new suit with her hair up and make up as she is being interviewed. She tells Marcus (Jason Turner) that she’s happy to work to pay for help for her community but she’s not planning on staying permanently. He suggests that she may want to reconsider after she meets Pamela Milton. Yumiko would rather see her friends. Marcus tells her that they are making amends for breaking the law by clearing walkers. She’s not impressed that she’s just supposed to give legal advice to Milton and her cabinet indefinitely. She asks to see Milton immediately. Marcus says that Hornsby didn’t see the timing that way. She asks if Hornsby is his supervisor and Marcus says no – so Hornsby must be holding something over him if he’s concerned with what Hornsby wants. Yumiko again insists on seeing Milton.

Tomi (Ian Anthony Dale) stops by to see Yumiko. She can’t believe that he lives in a dorm, that he doesn’t want the life that would go along with his being a doctor there. Tomi freaks out and tells her that nobody there can find out he was a doctor. He clearly hasn’t told anyone. She insists that he loved being a doctor, and he tries to tell her that he didn’t. Isn’t that typical of families – projecting their own desires on their family members with no true understanding of what really makes them happy. Tomi makes her promise not to tell. His words echo Leah’s about the Reapers. There is an order and a system in the Commonwealth. I like how the two storylines are being connected by parallels.

Yumiko tells him that she has a meeting with Milton. Tomi tells her that someone like him would never get to meet her. You have to know your place – something Eugene is about to learn too. And then the two are interrupted as soldiers descend on them and take Tomi away. She insists that she’s his lawyer, but they don’t pay any attention to her. I loved that over the loudspeaker in the background you can hear “the Commonwealth way” – and it’s apparently blackmail to force you to do what they want. 

Yumiko tracks down Hornsby and demands to know where her brother is. He tells her he’s fine. Hornsby is upset that she’d made an appointment with Milton before he was ready. He tell her that Tomi will be home that night – that’s all the time he needs. He points out that her friends broke the law. And they want help for their community. Those are big asks – but he can make it happen. Just as Maggie sees that Negan is self-interested, Yumiko calls Hornsby on it. He’s honest – as is Negan – he wants a friend in high places. Yumiko agrees to wait a few hours.

Ezekiel returns to the others a new man – he’s had IV fluids and antibiotics – and comes bearing lollipops! Hornsby shows up and asks if they are ready for another assignment. He sends Eugene and Stephanie to clear up on the north fence and takes Princess and Ezekiel with him.

Eugene sees a bunch of walkers coming up on a couple making out, seemingly unaware of their danger. He rushes in with Stephanie right behind him. This is not the Eugene we met many years ago! They make short work of the walkers, but instead of being grateful the boy (Teo Rapp-Olsson) is angry that they disrupted his date. Stephanie tries to get Eugene to leave, but he’s furious at how rude the little shit is. Stephanie sees a walker coming up on Kayla (Courtney Diaz) and takes it out, spattering the airhead with blood. When the guy calls Stephanie a stupid bitch, Eugene punches him in the face. Stephanie tries to make it better and Hornsby and Mercer come running up. It’s clearly been a set up. Hornsby has pulled Mercer away to allow Eugene to save the guy – Pamela Milton’s son, Sebastian!

Yumiko goes to see Milton. Her secretary – now listed on IMDb as Stephanie Vega (Margo Bingham) – offers her water and a seat. She then makes small talk, asking if Yumiko is part of the new group that just came in. She asks if they are all settling in ok. Yumiko says that she hasn’t seen her friends in a few days. The secretary looks worried and is about to ask more when she gets a call that Milton will have to reschedule because her son was just attacked. 

Eugene is now in a prison cell. Hornsby comes to him – Eugene was supposed to be a hero. Hornsby tells him that if Eugene wants out the price is higher – he needs the name and location of his community. Eugene wants some guarantees for his community’s safety. Hornsby points out that he’s been treated fairly – but Eugene recognizes that’s not a straight answer. Hornsby is about to go when Eugene stops him…

Back with the Reapers, Pope (Ritchie Coster) hasn’t done anything to Daryl or Leah (Lynn Collins), so maybe Frost didn’t give anything up – or maybe this is still a test for Leah. Daryl is wandering around with Dog, clearly getting the lay of the land. We get a quick glimpse of a food storage locker that appears to be full of food. Daryl offers one of the other Reapers a cigarette, in an attempt to “make friends.” Or at least keep up his cover and not get killed.

The patrol returns and they’ve had no luck finding any sign. Pope is pissed and rips them a new one. Leah steps in and says that they were only following her orders. She tells Pope to scream at her if he has to scream at someone. He mocks her, asking if she’s trying to be noble and get them to like her. He’s trying to keep them alive. The two get into a staring match, but he backs down after a fashion. Pope tells her to take her boyfriend (Daryl) and go find his enemies. Leah tells Daryl they have orders – and expects him to follow. Daryl tells dog to stay.

Daryl asks if Leah is alright. He tells her that he’s sure the guys are grateful. She wonders how he’d know, and he tells her he would be. He gently pushes for the history of the group. She says that he spent time with the other group – they must have had a story. Daryl denies it. Leah says that they needed a place… and he can fill in the rest. She seems uncomfortable about it, but she pushes him to see what his point is – is he judging her? He says he doesn’t understand why they keep hunting. They have the supplies and the walls. Leah insists that they might come back. 

She insists that he doesn’t understand because he’s used to being on his own. They have an entire community to look after. They have a structure, and a leader who got them this far. She insists that what happened before isn’t normal. Daryl asks – so you kill everyone and Pope goes back to being a good guy? Leah insists that he’s like a father to her and believed in her when no one else would. He made her strong. Daryl doubts that she ever needed anyone to make her strong. He clearly sees that she’s different here – under Pope’s influence. 

Daryl finds signs of someone’s passage, even though Leah insists the patrols have been all through it. They find a young father (Burke Brown). Leah wants to know how he evaded the patrols – and he doesn’t know anything about them. He tells them his wife (Liz McGeever) is hurt badly. Daryl tells him to show them. Leah stops to check in with Pope. She tells him they found a man in the woods, but it’s not clear if he’s part of their targets. She asks him how he wants them to engage – and he says kill them. Daryl is clearly not happy. 

The guy leads them into a building to where his wife and son (Brisco De Poalo) are hiding. Leah tells him that he needs to take his son and run – and not ever come back there. The wife knows she’s dying and is grateful – they’d never have left while she was still alive. She tells them she’s ready – but in the end, Leah can’t shoot her – and Daryl takes pity on them both. He asks her what she’ll tell Pope. She tells him that she’ll says Daryl killed them because it will look good for him with Pope. Daryl is about to tell Leah something, when she gets a call from Pope to get back. 

This episode was definitely a set up for the fall finale. We’re finally getting to the confrontation between Maggie/Negan and the Reapers. Will Leah side with Daryl or Pope? While lots of promises were made in this episode, will we see some broken? Will Maggie take action against Negan? Will Eugene give up Alexandria to save himself? Will the real Stephanie finally stand up? Really great performances in this episode from Cohan, Morgan, Reedus and Collins – and special mention for Eme-Akwari. What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! I’d also love to know if people are still watching on AMC or are getting the episodes a week early on AMC+….

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