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THE WALKING DEAD Review: “Twice as Far”

Beware of Spoilers! Proceed with caution, survivors. For reals, if you haven’t yet watched tonight’s episode, we highly suggest you do so before proceeding. Okay? We good? Let’s go.

No, but for reals. There’s some death of major characters discussed below. We cannot urge you enough to only read after you’ve seen the episode, or don’t care about being spoiled. Because this is us warning you. Okay.

I’ve heard some fans express the thought that each season of The Walking Dead gives us a handful of necessary episodes and then a number that, while they may be enjoyable, aren’t crucial to one’s appreciation of the show. But as I sit here typing, my heart still racing after watching “Twice as Far,” I’ll be damned if I can remember the last Walking Dead episode that was anything less than important. The one where Rick and Michonne hooked up? No way, that made way too many of us happy. The one where the group makes a preemptive strike against Negan? Nope. It was key in establishing the similarities and differences between his people and our own own. And certainly not last week’s exploration of Carol’s mental state, which factors into this week’s “Twice as Far” in ways as unexpected as the episode’s shocking death.

Opening with a wash-rinse-repeat look at life in Alexandria (including Morgan’s new pet project, a town prison, and Rosita’s new, well, pet), this week’s episode quickly confirms that “The Same Boat” was the final nail in the coffin of grief that Carol’s mind has become. Melissa McBride is such a great actress we don’t really need props like her rosary beads to tell us where she’s at. As usual, her face alone is the road map.

Then “Twice as Far” shifts its focus, to two survivors whose will has increased steadily in the last several months even if their fighting skills aren’t always the equal of our other heroes. Eugene and Denise head out on separate missions, the former with Abraham and the latter with Daryl and Rosita. The loquacious mullet-head leads “red” to a factory in which he intends to produce bullets. Elsewhere, the young doctor accompanies the two seasoned warriors to an apothecary in search of meds. Daryl and Rosita may be skeptical of Denise and her abilities (and I’m still not sure their skepticism was unjustified, because risking one’s life for what turns out to be a six-pack really is all kinds of stupid), yet the doc remains firm in her belief that she could have gone it alone. So you have to give her all the points in the world for bravery. Which of course makes it all the more heartbreaking when her reward is an arrow through her eye. The sad truth of this world, however, is that hard work, talent, and courage are still subject to the all-too-fickle finger of fate and the writers’ room.

As for Eugene, fate’s a bit kinder to him this week. But he too is still learning, almost driving away his best friend (whether he knows it or not) with his adolescent-level arrogance. Though he quickly realizes/remembers his true skill set and uses it to ultimately save Daryl and Rosita’s lives, even if he has to risk Abraham’s in order to do so. As Clint Eastwood famously observed, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”

Concerned as I am right now for Carol — and happy for Abraham and Sasha finally deciding to give their relationship a go — I’m even more obsessed with just what in the name of hell is going on in Morgan’s mind, and whether it will prove beneficial or detrimental to the rest of the group. Love him or hate him, the man ain’t boring.

Addendum: As a number of readers have pointed out, there’s an uncomfortable trend towards lesbian deaths on TV, and the fact that Denise’s death occurs a moment after she explains to Daryl and Rosita what Tara means to her makes it all the more troubling. And doubly so when one realizes that it’s Abraham who dies in the comics with an arrow through his eye, and not Denise (though she does die later). I’m eager to hear more of readers’ thoughts on the matter.

The Walking Dead

Undead Afterthoughts

— Too many gems from Eugene and Abraham in this episode to single out just one or two quotes. But I’m going to use “Welcome to Stage 2” from now on whenever I pay anyone a compliment.

— Rosita’s boy toy doesn’t get much screen time, but he manages to evoke our sympathy all the same.

— “I learned a lot of things from a lot of people.”

— That metalhead walker was such a great idea I’m almost sad to see it used for what amounts to a mere character moment. Can we please have a full army of these things march on our people? Because that would be some serious Mad Max-by-way-of-Game of Thrones shit right there.

Images: AMC

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).

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