Written by John Edward Betancourt
THIS IS THE EMERGENCY SPOILER ALERT SYSTEM...YOU ARE ADVISED TO READ AT YOUR OWN RISK...
Often times The Walking Dead is filled with some kind of incredible storytelling concept or theme and that's what gave birth to this breakdown, the chance to take a deeper dive into the quality story the show delivers us week in and week out. That subtext to the tale is often easy to spot, sometimes it takes a little more pondering on my part but this week...they went and did something different.
This week, after I spent time reflecting on this episode, I came to realize there was no subtext here, no commentary or surprises, just an episode filled with raw fear. This episode was not designed to speak to us on a deeper level, it was designed to leave you incredibly uncomfortable and rob us of any hope we had built up over the last half season. It was made to let us experience exactly what was happening to the lead characters and it was brilliant.
It also pulled this whole thing off in deceptive fashion, taking the time to pepper in some important and heroic moments with the supporting cast from Alexandria, since they finally figured out how terrible and tough this world was becoming and they were ready to do what it takes to keep others safe at last. But what followed next for them made all of that for naught. Annie's sacrifice was important and indeed slowed down the dead, if only for a moment. For as they tore into her the quick cutaway to show the rest of the herd approaching made her heroism slip away from our memories and even Michonne's promise to David to get him home meant nothing when she was forced to witness his painful and horrible end. He too was ready to sacrifice in order to save people...but he never even got that chance, the dead simply tore into him.
Suddenly the hope and joy we felt in this episode, that the Alexandrians were finally getting it was gone from our minds. There was merely the force of nature that was the living dead, and with such powerhouse numbers you were quickly reminded that this was their world now and in a moment's notice they would make anything good in this world simply disappear and the hopelessness only got worse from there. That penultimate moment with Glenn sucked more life out of us during this episode and by the end, seeing Rick legitimately look defeated, and to see Heath and Michonne also appear defeated, well we felt it too.
What makes all of this so amazing and worth highlighting today is the fact that it is such a rare occurrence on the show. The Walking Dead thrives on one basic rule of the horror genre, take us on a ride, scare the crap out of us along the way and make us feel safe. So many episodes, even the dark ones have that glimmer of hope. But this episode offered nothing of the sort. It poured on the gloom and doom as the hour progressed and at the end we are left feeling devastated, uncomfortable and completely and utterly heartbroken. For the first time in a long time on this show, nothing feels safe, nothing feels right and what's worse...we really have no idea what horrors await us next...