This Walking Dead review contains spoilers.
The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 5
The Walking Dead pulled itself out of the darkness this week with a much more hopeful episode. “Go Getters” is a very welcome respite from an overwhelmingly grim and mediocre season 7 that has so far delivered one flavor of storytelling. Except for the Kingdom episode, which really felt out of place as a follow up to the grisly season premiere. Even though last week’s episode, “Service,” was also notably dour, “Go Getters” is less of a sharp turn in the other direction, with several nice moments that ultimately earn it a passing score.
I’m relieved the writers decided against an entire episode of Maggie mourning Glenn. I was really afraid that we’d get an hour of Maggie crying over his grave while flashbacks (and maybe another alternate future dinner scene) reminded us how great Maggie and Glenn were before Negan splattered his brains all over the ground. Instead, we get an empowered Maggie, who decides to keep going at a moment when she has every right to be devastated and immobile. That’s not to say Maggie isn’t mourning, but it’s just that she channels the sadness into strength, which is something I really love about this character.
That strength allows Maggie to put the treacherous Gregory (Xander Berkeley) in his place. She owns the Hilltop’s cowardly leader, who is pretty much marked for death in my book, and even gets to knock him straight at one point when she finds her father’s watch in his possession. This is a particularly important scene since it sets up the passing down of the watch, a significant moment that shouldn’t be understated.
Maggie leaving the watch at Glenn’s grave could be interpreted as her losing hope in the future, letting this artifact from a distant past rust in the rain. And while it’s true that the new world doesn’t seem to have any need for clocks, that watch is a symbol of hope, passed down from hero to hero. The fact that Enid, who has continued to appear in episodes for no particular reason but to remind us that there are teenagers on this show, gets the watch is a hint that she’s perhaps destined for greater things. Or at least she’s destined to be a force for good for as long as she can.
In fact, “Go Getters” does a great job of emphasizing the newfound bond between Maggie, Sasha, and Enid. These three women have suffered many losses since the outbreak, but have come out stronger and more determined to push forward. That’s something I’ve always liked about The Walking Dead. Even when characters like Carol or Sasha or Rosita are at their very lowest moments, this show doesn’t just let them mourn and perish (something that did pretty much happen to Carol in the comics). Instead, they become renewed. If and when they die, they’ll die fighting. The Walking Dead continued that theme tonight.
I have to briefly mention how much I enjoyed tonight’s action scene. Season 7’s been pretty low on action, but the two big sequences it’s delivered so far have been absolutely excellent. While not quite as good as Rick’s terrifying scavenger hunt in the season premiere, tonight’s mix of vehicular, melee, and kung fu (?) action really elevated this otherwise talky episode. I cheered when Maggie ran over those walkers with the tractor, and watching Jesus dropkick (???) the undead in the face just became my new favorite thing. It’s campy fun that pays tribute to the zombie flicks of yore. The scene felt a bit a surreal, too, like it almost wasn’t actually happening, as the walkers appeared through the smoke to the sound of classical music. It was almost dreamlike in nature.
“Go Getters” picked up some pieces from last week’s episode, too, which helped make it feel connected to the larger picture. Carl’s still having a tough time dealing with the new management at Alexandria and decides to take matters into his own hands. This kid is obviously in way over his head, but that’s actually pretty exciting. Not only are the writers allowing him some time in the spotlight this season, but they’re also letting him make mistakes for once. Carl has always sort of been the perfect teenage killing machine who rarely rebels against Rick or any of the other adults. The one time we did see him at odds with Rick was all the way back in season 4 – in the midseason premiere, “After,” one of that year’s best episodes (the one with the chocolate pudding). Now that Carl’s on a mission to find the Sanctuary and kill Negan, the writers have a chance to really create an independent character that’s not just an extension of Rick.
Readers who have kept up with the source material know that the show is following Robert Kirkman’s comics pretty closely with the Carl storyline this season, but the fact that Jesus is tagging along for the ride does remix things a tiny bit, although the Hilltop scout also made his way to the Savior base in the book. It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out.
Steven Ogg returned this week as Negan’s right hand man, Simon, and he delivered another enjoyable performance. With only two major appearances to his name (he only appeared briefly in the season premiere), Simon is already a much more interesting villain than Dwight, who returned to scowling bastard last week after a sympathetic turn in “The Cell.” I love that Simon didn’t turn true heel this week or do anything particularly awful to any of the characters – well, except for taking Gregory’s Scotch, which was just hilarious. I much prefer his friendly neighborhood asshole demeanor to Dwight’s scowling or Negan’s yelling. Of course, this is The Walking Dead and it’s probably only a matter of time before it’s revealed Simon likes to eat children or something…
Until then, I’m glad “Go Getters” pulled us out of the misery long enough to remind me of what The Walking Dead looks like at its very a best: a story about people who strive to make good things out of very bad situations. In other words, at its very best, The Walking Dead is a show about hope.
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– I mentioned that there were some lighthearted moments and even a bit of humor in this episode. One subtle moment was when Sasha revealed to Enid that she’d put the balloons on the wrong grave. I giggled.
– Enid and Carl finally had their first kiss tonight. Good for them. Also, they got to skate!
– How many times has Enid climbed over that fence at this point? Alexandria needs better security.
– I really hope that we learn more about Jesus this season. He’s still a pretty vague character. We know almost nothing about him. I want to know why he likes to dropkick zombies instead of just stabbing them. Seems inefficient.
– I didn’t really talk about Sasha much tonight. She had some great moments, including the scene where she was willing to give up a life at the Hilltop in order to secure Maggie’s place at the settlement.
– I’d like to see Carl drive some more. Maybe a roadtrip with Enid and the other teens. Maybe a spinoff? Speed Past the Walking Dead.