As we approach The Walking Dead’s mid-season finale, it’s become impossible to ignore the fact that “All Out War” isn’t as exciting or as good as we all hoped it would be. While the first episode certainly provided some thrills as we watched Rick’s plan get off to a triumphant start, what’s followed has been one of the duller wastes of ammunition seen on television.
There’ve certainly been bright spots this season — while stupidly predictable, Ezekiel’s fall was at least coherent and paced well enough to be entertaining. Plus, that episode saw the return of Carol’s fake-meek routine, and frankly, that bit deserves its own spin-off. “The Big Scary U” provided us with some of the best scene work TWD has served us in recent memory in the moments between Dwight and Eugene and Negan and Gabriel. But, at the end of the day, Season 8’s been an unfocused, confusing and frankly irrational journey toward an ending audiences are fast losing interest in if the ratings are any indication.
This fact was brilliantly manifested in Rick’s recent ridiculous sojourn to the Scavengers’ garbage lair. Supposedly he went to talk terms with Jadis because without the Kingdom, Rick no longer has the numbers to defeat the Saviors. He inexplicably did this without any backup (I guess he was in the neighborhood, but considering there seem to be an endless supply of cars, guns and walkie-talkies, would it have been so difficult to find a buddy?), and to the surprise of absolutely no one, wound up locked in a shipping container. And this brings us to the matter at hand — the absolutely asinine scene in which Jadis the Hipster Garbage Queen takes photos of Rick in his underwear so she can sculpt his dadbod “after.”
She opens the shipping container labeled “A” (Why? So the other garbage people don’t sneak a peek? To remind everyone that that one isn’t the exit? “A” for “art”? We may never know.) and goes full Hipstamatic on Rick. When he asks what the f**k she’s doing, Jadis Jadises that she’s going to sculpt him and ignores his further pleas for her to listen. It was exactly as fascinating as it sounds.
We know it might feel like we’re making a trash mountain out of a trash molehill, but this scene perfectly encapsulates everything wrong with this season — the implausibility, the inanity, and the seemingly rudderless narrative that, at this point, feels like 80% filler. Even if Jadis could find a working Kodak Brownie camera and film and flash bulbs (and that is a very, very big if), HOW WILL SHE DEVELOP IT? We won’t go into myriad necessary chemicals and conditions necessary for developing film, but suffice it say, we’re not buying that Jadis has a damn darkroom. P.S. You do not need flashbulbs when it is broad daylight, especially if you’re just using the pics for a sculpture reference. We get it, Jadis is the post-apocalyptic version of the most pretentious artist you’ve ever met, but where the Scavengers’ were strange and mysterious, now they’re just weird for weird’s sake. And that would be fine if it were at all entertaining. Because their weirdness has gone round the bend to utterly implausible, it fails to interest and leaves us all wondering, “Why are these people here again?”
The illogic and pointlessness inherent in this scene has permeated the entire season. Presumably Season 8 is built entirely on Rick and company’s execution of his Master Plan — and that’d be fine if we a) had a better idea of what that plan was, and b) people hadn’t already gone off-book completely. In an attempt to throw some shock and awe the audience’s way, the show’s let Rick’s Plan unfold before our eyes, which, to be fair, really worked… for one episode. But it’s difficult to invest in the dramatic stakes of the Plan because it’s still shrouded in mystery, and that, in turn, makes it difficult to invest in someone deviating from the Mysterious Plan. We know because, we’ve literally spent two episodes watching one of the show’s most popular characters try to convince people to drive a dump truck into a wall and it wasn’t that interesting. Spoiler alert – he did! And spoiler alert — it made no difference to the overall plot, considering Eugene would’ve figured out how to rid the Sanctuary of zombies regardless of whether Daryl got to rub out his rage boner.
Supposedly, this week’s episode will house the shockiest shock that ever shocked, but it’s hard to think of anything that’ll make up for Season 8 dragging its feet so much. There are still times when this show is wonderful, but the bad is starting to outweigh the good in a very real way.
Airing Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC, The Walking Dead stars Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, Lauren Cohan as Maggie Rhee, Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes, Danai Gurira as Michonne, Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier, Lennie James as Morgan Jones, Alanna Masterson as Tara Chambler, Josh McDermitt as Eugene Porter, Christian Serratos as Rosita Espinosa and Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan.