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The Walking Dead - No Other Way - Review

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  The Walking Dead returned with “No Other Way” written by Corey Reed and directed by Jon Amiel whose other credits include The Borgias, Aquarius, Carnival Row, and American Gods. We were right back in the thick of the action with the fight with the Reapers and the storm in Alexandria. Sadly, we finally get closure on Alden’s (Callan McAuliffe) fate. I don’t think they ever made real use of McAuliffe’s talents, and I’m really sad to see him go. We also seem to be losing Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) at the end of the episode, but something tells me we’ll be seeing him again before too much longer.

The episode picks up exactly where we left off with exploding walkers everywhere. Unfortunately, Maggie (Lauren Cohen) takes shelter and is joined almost immediately by a Reaper, and a brutal fight ensues. She manages to push him out, and he’s immediately hit with a rocket and explodes. Maggie makes her way into one of the buildings, and luckily, because this is her former home, she knows all the hidey-holes. 

She soon encounters Negan and Elijah (Okea Eme-Akwari), gets them medical supplies and slips into a secret room. Maggie and Negan disagree about next steps. Negan wants to get the food and go, but Maggie insists that she’s not leaving Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Gabriel (Seth Gilliam). Carver (Alex Meraz) comes into the room as she watches, and they overhear Leah (Lynn Collins) tell him to find Maggie and that not one of them is leaving alive. It would seem that Maggie has no choice.

Back in Alexandria, Rosita (Christian Serratos) and Lydia (Cassady McClincy) are struggling to keep the walkers at bay on the stairs. Dianne (Kerry Cahill) arrives to tell them that Judith (Cailey Fleming) and Gracie (Annabelle Holloway) never made it upstairs. 

In the basement, the water is rising. The girls try to reenforce the door with a shovel, but it only buys them a couple of minutes. They end up on a table surrounded by walkers. Judith manages to kill one, but then drops her katana – where are the bungee cords when you need them?!?! 

Back out in the storm, Aaron (Ross Marquand) and Jerry (Cooper Andrews) have retreated from the windmill fire. Aaron insists that they have to try something else, and Jerry in an unusual moment of pessimism suggests a fire truck. Seeing the others running by looking for another breach in the wall, Aaron calls them in to where they are sheltering. Carol (Melissa McBride) tells him they’ve closed the one, and Magna (Nadia Hilker) says there has to be another one. Carol tells them they’re headed toward the east wall, and Aaron tells them that if the windmill falls, it will open a breach they won’t be able to close. Magna and Connie (Lauren Ridloff) go to take care of the breach, and Carol and Kelly (Angel Theory) stay to help with the windmill. Connie and Kelly tell each other to be careful – and I love the connection between these two. Aaron hears Gracie’s alarm whistle and immediately goes to save her.

Gabriel is limping across the courtyard, and Austin (Lex Lauletta) is about to shoot him when Daryl comes out of nowhere and the two fight in the schoolroom. While this was a good fight, I was really disappointed at how easy it was to tell that Reedus did very little, if any, of the actual stunt work/fight. It’s a problem when an actor moves so distinctively and suddenly the stunt double takes over. As Daryl is choking out Austin, a walker appears at the door – and we get a splat before someone starts yelling for Austin, and we hear Leah’s voice say to knock the door down. Daryl finishes him and ducks into the secret hiding place behind the blackboard before Leah comes in. She declares ‘no more’ over Austin’s now dead body.

Back in Alexandria, Judith has resorted to kicking walkers away. They know they have to get to the window – and Aaron arrives at one to help them – but they can’t get there. There’s a nice hero shot of Aaron leaping down onto a walker and crushing its skull, but realistically, there’s no way he could have crawled through that window and done it. Once again, the show does a good job in ramping up the tension by cutting back and forth between perilous situations. I was really worried for Aaron here! Especially when he was trapped under the water! Naturally, he gets the girls out – but there’s clearly no way for him to get back up there… He tells Judith to get Gracie to safety before going for help. Again, there’s more hand waving in this episode as we never see how Aaron gets up on that pipe…

Gabriel stumbles upon Mancea (Dikran Tulaine), who is in his super creepy chapel. He’s clearly not helping with the fighting. Mancea reveals that he saw Gabriel at the grave and that God speaks to him. Gabriel doesn’t believe that God would speak to someone who helps monsters who kill children. Mancea insists he’s just doing what God says. Gabriel sarcastically says ‘just following orders – where have I heard that before?’ If you’re wondering, it was the Nuremburg trials of Nazi war criminals – and it wasn’t considered a defence…

Mancea tells Gabriel that violence is not the path he takes but blood has been spilled in God’s name for centuries (true!) and all he can do is trust in Him. Gabriel insists that God would not allow him to murder his friends and he won’t either. He tells Mancea to stand aside, and Mancea realizes that Gabriel doesn’t hear God anymore. He tells him to listen. He offers to help renew Gabriel’s faith, and that they can take fresh steps for both their flocks. He tells him that no matter what anyone has done, no one is above saving. Gabriel thinks about it for a minute – until he is distracted by a noise on the roof and runs Mancea through with his machete. He tells Mancea that he doesn’t believe it. I thought this was a really powerful scene for Gilliam and shows how far Gabriel has come. I’m not entirely convinced it is in a good way, however. We’ve seen that Mancea was a bit unhinged, but was he sincerely offering a peaceful solution? It’s doubtful Leah would have agreed anyway.

Maggie, Elijah, and Negan set up a trap for Carver. We get a good fight scene, but Maggie, Elijah, and Negan are all pretty pathetic here. Well, maybe not Negan, who makes use of sand to blind him before punching him out with a bell – “Ding-ding!” He just happens to save Maggie in the process. Elijah wants Maggie to kill Carver for him for killing his sister, but she’s stopped by Daryl. He tells him that he hates ‘this prick,’ but they need him for leverage. Negan is doubtful in will work. Maggie promises that they’ll get what’s coming to them – maybe not today, but some day.

Back in Alexandria, Lydia finally goes to the cellar where Aaron is trapped on the pipe. It eventually lets go and creates some good tension. Lydia shows up and says she’ll be right back… and then we cut to Aaron getting out via a rope… um… what? What is it anchored to inside the basement? Where did it come from? It makes no sense… Aaron thanks her, and she says he’d do the same for her. He thinks about it for about a second and then says yes. Has Lydia finally been accepted? I didn’t think Rosita and Dianne looked like they had everything under control, but Lydia and Aaron head back to the windmill.

Daryl leads the others to a meeting with Leah. Elijah wants Maggie to just leave him so he can kill Carver, but she won’t – because, um… stupid? Daryl drags Carver out and Leah and the two Reapers left come out. Daryl tells them to leave and they will head out. When they get far enough, Daryl will let Carver go. Leah asks if she’s supposed to trust him now. He tells her that she’s doing this all wrong. They’ve survived for this long, why keep fighting and killing each other? Leah says ‘if that’s what it takes.’ It’s her way of surviving. Daryl tells her that he’s giving her a chance to save what’s left of both their families.

It almost looks like she’s agreeing as she says no more lies – but she has a sniper on the roof… or does she? There’s a warning shot, and she tells everyone to come out. Leah tells Janson to take out the woman. Daryl releases Carver, and Elijah tries to go after him and no one stops him and he simply falls on his face. Suddenly, Carver is shot in the leg. I LOVED the look on Negan’s face as he hears over Leah’s radio – “No Janson here. Call me Gabriel.” The avenging angel?

Maggie tells her that now Gabriel will pick Leah’s people off one by one. Leah calmly agrees but points out that they may still take down some of them first. Leah tells them they can have the town. They’ll walk. She turns to Daryl and says, ‘I save my people, you save yours.” Maggie asks Negan – and he says she knows what he thinks (we all do). Maggie appears to agree, telling them to drop their weapons and go – but Carver stays. Leah agrees and tells Carver that she’ll see him soon, clearly thinking Maggie will honor the initial deal. 

Maggie goes to Elijah as Daryl goes to Carver, telling him to get up. Elijah says something unintelligible, ending with ‘for all of them,’ and Maggie follows the other Reapers, shooting them in the back. Leah is only wounded and gets away. She then comes back and finishes Carver with Elijah’s weapon when the gun (that Daryl gave her) runs out of bullets. Maggie and Gabriel have definitely gone to very dark places. Are they really our ‘heroes’ any more? Is Maggie any better than Negan now?

Daryl tracks Leah’s blood to where she’s hiding. Neither really acknowledges the other’s presence. He tells her that it’s not what he wanted, and they both could have had a second chance. He tells her to go before he changes his mind.

Everyone loads up a wagon with food. Maggie leaves Gabriel in charge and tells Elijah she’ll be back soon before heading out. Negan thoughtfully watches her go. She’s gone to FINALLY give us closure about Alden. When she gets to the church, she calls out to him before opening the door. She’s met by a Reaper-walker, and then finds Alden, also turned crawling on the floor. I was really sad – though not surprised to lose McAuliffe in this way. Every time I thought that they were finally giving him a nice juicy storyline, the other person in it was killed! And then he got that nice long morality speech in Part 1 – always the kiss of death on this show. Maggie sobs over his body after putting him down. Not only has she lost a friend, but he also represented a part of her that was still willing to show mercy – remember that Alden began as a prisoner of war from Negan’s Saviors…

It’s fitting then, that as she finishes burying him, Negan shows up. He sees how Maggie has changed. He knows that “promise or not, it’s just a matter of time” before she takes him out. Maggie clearly thinks that when he says he’s not giving her a choice, he’s going to kill her, but instead, he simply goes on his own way. There’s no way this is the last we’ve seen of Negan.

Gabriel and Daryl have a great scene over a fire as they roast some nebulous little animal. Gabriel tells Daryl he heard what he said: “You’re doing it wrong.” Daryl questions whether they even have a choice anymore. Gabriel tells him it depends on who’s making the choice. Gabriel tells him that doubt is important but it doesn’t make you wrong. Of course it doesn’t make you right either… Daryl assumes Gabriel is asking him to have faith. Gabriel smiles and says he supposes so – ironic isn’t it? Daryl asks ‘what about you’ and Gabriel says he’s tried as he fingers his collar. I suspect we’re going to see more existential crisis coming Gabriel’s way.

Daryl gets up to kill a stray walker as Dog barks (clearly he’s decided to stick with Daryl now). Maggie’s arrow beats him to it as she returns. She tells them about Alden and Negan. It’s interesting that Gabriel and Daryl share a look over Negan – they’ve both started to see him differently.

Jerry and Carol are on watch as the four make it home. Jerry wonders where everyone else is. Alexandria is full of burning dead piles of walkers. The kids all run to parents. Elijah is welcomed by masked members of Maggie’s new group presumably. Lydia is the first to ask where Negan is, and Daryl tells her he’s not coming back. Lydia is the only one to visibly care. Rosita asks Gabriel if it’s all food, and Gabriel tells her that he made a promise and kept it. There is a brilliant reunion between Daryl and Connie – he drops a basket of apples to run and hug her! 

Aaron checks on Gabriel and asks about Alden. Gabriel tells him that Alden died so that they could all survive. Aaron tells him that after the storm, they had nothing. But now they will survive… and at that very moment, Eugene (Josh McDermitt) arrives with Hornsby (Josh Hamilton). So, it would seem, that Alden – and the others – all died for nothing.

Eugene is his usual bubbly self. He addresses the gathered people of Alexandria, and introduces Hornsby. Hornsby tells them that they’ve clearly fallen on hard times, but they are there to help and can provide labor and supplies to build back all they’ve lost. However… he also has another – potentially more interesting choice to offer.

And then we jump ahead 6 months. Maggie and Elijah stand on the gate at Hilltop. I love how the camera pans from Daryl in the moment to Maggie in the future. The house at Hilltop is still a burnt out shell, but there is some movement behind her. Standing in front of the gate, are a troop of Commonwealth soldiers. It looks like Hornsby is also there – though we don’t see his face. He steps aside and a soldier steps forward, telling Maggie to open up. She is now the one saying it doesn’t have to be this way. The soldier removes his helmet and it’s Daryl!!!!! He tells her, “yeah, it does.” Clearly a LOT of interesting choices have happened in the interceding six months….

An action-packed return with a great twist at the end. Terrific performances by Reedus, Cohen, Collins, and especially Gilliam. I’m curious as to whether Eugene is really on board. I’m betting the Alexandrians are going to choose the Commonwealth after all they’ve been through. What did you think of the episode? Should they stay or go? Has Maggie lost the thread? Will you miss Negan? Alden? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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