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The Walking Dead 8.12 Review – ‘The Key’

March 19, 2018 | Posted by Katie Hallahan
The Walking Dead - The Key

Tonight on The Walking Dead, Rick tries to get his bloody vengeance, Negan realizes Simon has been lying to him, nearly dies, and ends up kidnapped by Jadis the last heapster, and the Hilltop goes on a sidequest to test once again if Maggie is making good choices.

The plot: Michonne and Rick get to Hilltop, but neither stays put very long. Rick joins Daryl and some others in keeping watch for an inevitable attack by the Saviors. He spots the caravan of Saviors (with gut-coated weapons) on their to send yet another message to the Hilltoppers, and instead of calling for backup, he runs Negan off the road and chases him into a building to try and kill him. He ultimately fails, though they have some interesting exchanges, and somehow Negan ends up held captive by Jadis in a car by the end of the episode. Simon takes advantage of Negan’s disappearance to take over the Saviors, which Dwight helps him pull off as he falsely believes Simon would lead the Saviors to leave the area entirely. Which Simon plans to do, but only after they wipe out the people at the Hilltop. Meanwhile, Michonne, Maggie, Enid, Rosita accept a strange invitation to meet with a woman named Georgie offering a trade of food and records for knowledge. Maggie considers just taking the food the woman has, but eventually agrees to the trade. Georgie not only doesn’t take food, but leaves some, and gives her a booklet with plans and instructions for numerous medieval-era tools like windmills, etc, that could help them build a future, and tells them she plans to return someday.

I’ll admit up front that this episode again felt a little like filler, but better filler than last week, and with some seeds of what might be the next chapter in the >Walking Dead story after All-Out War. Also, I just love any scene with Rick and Negan and we got a solid extended one tonight. So let’s talk about that one first!

Negan and Rick. Not only are these two actors excellent in their roles, the characters play against one another so well. These two have always brought out strong emotions in another; there’s never been a calm moment between them, instead every interaction has been tense and if it’s not boiling over, it’s right on the edge. They’re always at a 9 or higher, these two. And now, with Carl’s death hanging over them, with Rick driven even more into embracing his anger and rage than before, he is officially not effing around. He unloads a shotgun and a handgun on Negan–somehow failing to hit him even once–and hurls an ax at his with remarkable force and accuracy. Lucky for Negan he dodged that one just in time. But while this cat-and-mouse game is interesting, it’s also filled with great exchanges between the two men.

Negan tries to offer Rick a new deal that would be a better one than they had previously, so long as Rick comes to work at the Sanctuary. He once again blames Rick for not saving anyone, for ruining a good thing, for being a failure as a leader and a father. Rick’s too angry to let this distract him, plus he’s heard it all before. And as he points out, why should he believe any offer when Negan’s men just killed the trash people? This, of course, is what hits Negan where it hurts, because he realizes he’s been disobeyed and lied to, and he had no idea. On top of this, Rick calls him out on the fact that no one is coming to help him because he doesn’t have any true friends or loyalty because he doesn’t care about anyone. All he does is use them. Rick is both wrong and right in this. Simon and Dwight have both betrayed Negan, but Simon is able to use the loyalty of the rest of the Saviors as a rallying point. Of course, Negan’s set up such a cult of obedience that they don’t think to question this or the change in plans that Simon swiftly institutes.

One more quick thought on Rick: I found it interesting that early on, Daryl apologized, sort of, for what he did at the Sanctuary, saying he just wanted it over quicker. At the moment, Rick didn’t seem to be upset and agreed with Daryl that rather than thinking about others, they should focus on protecting their own people. But then later, Rick doesn’t even do that–much like Daryl when he drove the truck into the Sanctuary, Rick thinks of himself first and doesn’t alarm the others. Clearly, he’s still not ready to come over to the way of thinking Carl was pushing. And seeing Rick wielding Lucille was a little chilling anda clear sign he’s not there yet, too. Also, Daryl, that wasn’t really an apology and I don’t think you know what you did wrong.

Which is why it’s for the best that he wasn’t at Hilltop when Maggie and the ladies got their strange offer and had their encounter with Georgie. This storyline definitely felt oddly placed since we’re still in the middle of the war and all, and it also felt redundant for Maggie’s character arc. Literally just last week we had the “Will Maggie be merciless or compassionate?” storyline, and she chose to be compassionate, as she generally does. But this week, here we go again! Come to think of it, didn’t that storyline happen earlier on this same day? Anyways, despite these things, I found Georgie interesting. She’s quite different from anyone we’ve dealt with before, and it’s always refreshing to get a new personality on this show. Her offer was also quite interesting, the knowledge she shared was extremely valuable, stuff that would be an honest game-changer if they can survive the war. It was also refreshing to see someone who wasn’t interested in fighting for once. Georgie promises that she’ll be back, and I hope we don’t have to wait too long for that.

The sidequest also provides a chance for Michonne to talk to Enid and try to calm the anger she has over Carl’s death. The best line to come out of this and a great summary of Carl’s message comes from Michonne: “I don’t think Carl wanted us to stop fighting for our future. But I think he was telling us that to get to our future, it’s gonna take more than just fighting. …there’s gotta be something after.” Well put, Michonne. I hope you can talk some more folks around to buying into that, though.

Other Thoughts:
– What’s Jadis up to with her new hostage?
– What’s going to happen to Simon? I’m certain he’ll die, but at whose hands? Will Negan even get a chance to deliver some retribution?
– Will Rick hunt down Negan again, or get back to Hilltop to help out?
– We lingered so long on the coating of weapons in guts early on that I had a thought: what if the storyline of Gabriel’s illness has been setting this one up? What if the real takeaway is meant to be that unless you’re infected from a bite, the infection can be fought of and survived, and isn’t fatal? Thoughts?

The final score: review Good
The 411
While this episode retread some ground in terms of character arcs, we got some interesting scenes out of it and some interesting new developments for the future. The introduction of Georgie was a refreshing change of pace, and the information she's given to Hilltop is immensely valuable. That said, the placement of this in the overall season arc felt weird. I'm not sure where it would've fit any better, though. Simon's full-on takeover of the Saviors will make for an interesting on-going contrast of his style versus Negan's, and who knows? Maybe Negan will finally engage in some character development int he aftermath of all this as well.