On The Walking Dead this week, we followed several groups before they were eventually reunited with the people they were looking for or running from. Here’s our recap/review for “Dead or Alive Or”!
This week’s episode “Dead or Alive Or” felt very much like filler to me. It didn’t advance the plot in any meaningful ways, but it did set up for the backslide of season eight to the finale.
Every group we followed had some issue: they were trying to get somewhere, trying to make something, or trying to understand death or revenge.
It’s been a struggle for Hilltop over the last couple of seasons, but more so now. Rations are low, and Jesus is out scavenging. Maggie must make a decision on whether she should keep feeding the Saviors she has hostage or let them starve. In the end, everyone’s rations are cut, and they hope to find a solution to the problem without starving anyone.
Around Hilltop, Henry is set on getting revenge against the Savior who killed his big brother. Morgan wants to tell him, but Carol doesn’t think that’s a good idea. The fact that Henry can be so detached when staring at the Saviors they’ve captured is pretty chilling. In fact, the Saviors ask that the little boy be moved because he’s so creepy
“Morgan? It’s Morgan, right? The kid is creeping people out. Maybe you can, you know, move him along. Listen, you don’t want him here. Saviors are gonna roll up and let us out, and, hell it ain’t gonna be pretty.”
At the end of “Dead or Alive Or”, the ASZ survivors arrive at Hilltop with news of Carl’s death. Enid breaks down and Maggie holds her. When they move on, Saddiq approaches Maggie and asks about the medical supplies in the camp and lets her know he has medical training and wants to help.
Near the captured Saviors, Morgan tells Henry that Gavin actually killed his brother so he’s already taken his revenge. It’s a complete lie, but after finding out about Carl’s death, it seems like Morgan has crumbled a little, too.
The ASZ Survivors
Things start out pretty terrible for these guys. Daryl and Rosita are team leaders on this one with Tara playing a strong backup and voice opposing anything that has to do with Dwight.
While they’re walking through the woods to get to the Hilltop, a walker stumbles out toward them and Tara slings it toward Dwight. Due to his injured arm, it takes him a few seconds to kill it. Meanwhile, Daryl and everyone else watch. So, it’s not just Tara, but she’s the most obvious this episode in her attempts to murder Dwight.
Daryl ends up being the parent on this hike from Hell. He’s just trying to get everyone to their destination, but they all want to take a break or ask how much further or can we kill Dwight yet?
It almost makes sense that Daryl would want to run headlong into a questionable swamp (with walkers that pop up like a whack-a-mole game) just to get away from them.
After they get the swamp cleared, Saddiq helps, they go back to the get the others to cross, and that’s when Daryl finds out that Tara chased Dwight through the woods.
Let’s back up and recap what happened there…
Tara took Dwight out to kill some stragglers that weren’t posing a threat to the survivors at all, but she wanted to get him on his own, so that’s what happened. Dwight uses this opportunity to apologize to Tara.
“I’m sorry about Denise. I truly am. I don’t expect you to forgive me. I don’t deserve it. I just wanted you to know, that’s all.”
“You should’ve stayed with the Saviors.”
“I hate ’em. I hate Negan.”
“Don’t care. You don’t get to switch sides and make it okay.”
“I know I don’t. I never will, but killing me right now, like this what’s that gonna do?”
“It’s gonna make me feel a hell of a lot better.”
“I knew it was gonna happen. I just wanted to help you win first.”
Tara shoots at him, misses a lot, and finally corners him before they hear some Saviors and hide. Right before the Saviors find them in the bushes, Dwight walks out and gives himself up when it seems like they’re about to walk in the direction of the other survivors. These Saviors don’t know he turned on them, so they welcome him back and take him with them to the Sanctuary.
When Daryl finds out what happened, he’s obviously pissed and yells at Tara.
“I told you to wait! For all we know, he could be tellin’ ’em everything! Negan could be on his way here right now!”
“He isn’t. He won’t. He led them away. They were coming right for us, and he saved us.”
“She’s right. He did. I saw it.”
“I don’t give a damn what he did. He can stick with them, he can come back. Hell, he can run. When I find that son of a bitch, I’m gonna…”
He only stops when he sees Tobin rocking Judith. That’s when he reins it in and says the need to get back on their way.
We don’t see the rest of their trek, but they make it to the Hilltop by the end of the episode. You can watch Dwight’s interaction with the Saviors here:
Father Gabriel and Dr. Carson
This is the journey that leads the episode, and I’m honestly not sure why. We aren’t close to Dr. Carson and Father Gabriel was on death’s door and still is. These two were sprinkled throughout the episode to remind us that we’re not supposed to give up and to re-energized Gabriel’s faith.
When we see them, they’re lost and out of gas. Gabriel is looking at a map and realizes his eyesight is failing. Instead of being a rational doctor and taking the map to figure out where they are, Dr. Carson follows Gabriel out into the woods and they find an abandoned house.
Inside, they find radios and transmission logs, detailing the former occupants attempts at contacting people. Throughout, Gabriel’s message is the same, God is leading them. They’re supposed to be here.
When we find the walker that used to be the radio guy, he’s obviously took a lot of pills then suffocated himself. It’s not a bright outlook.
Gabriel finds antibiotics, with his poor vision, and within a matter of minutes? hours? his fever has broken and it looks like he’s going to live, but his eyesight might not return.
“Well your fever appears to have broken, but your eyesight. Well, if there’s not some improvement soon, I’m afraid you’re looking at permanent damage. I’m sorry.”
“You’re sorry I’m going to live?”
“You know what I mean. Losing your vision. In this. The thought of that doesn’t scare you? Or piss you off, even a little bit?”
“I’m letting Him lead the way.”
It’s around this time that Gabriel knocks over a piggy bank and finds keys to a car. Since they’re out of gas, it’s another sign to him that God is watching out for them.
Later, as they leave the house, Gabriel somehow sees a sign that Carson doesn’t, warning that there are traps ahead. He doesn’t call out in time, and Carson goes down as walkers approach. He holds one off, and Gabriel runs through the traps, missing every single one, finds the gun Carson dropped in the grass, closes his eyes and shoots the walker in the head.
Gabriel, whose eyesight looks like someone put a horrible tunnel Instagram filter over it, manages to avoid every trap and kill a walker with a headshot. At this point, it’s just freaking unreal that I can’t even explain my feelings.
Gabriel gives more words of wisdom about there’s a plan and God’s continuing to lead them. Then they get ambushed by Saviors shortly after finding the Jeep.
Gabriel is placed in the back or their truck with his hands tied, telling Carson that He’s still leading them. That’s when Carson makes a grab for a Savior’s gun and ends up shot in the chest. Gabriel breaks down and starts sobbing as they dump Carson’s body and drive off.
When we see him again, he’s being lead into Eugene’s bullet outpost with Negan. Gabriel didn’t rat out Eugene, instead, he told Negan that Carson was responsible for their escape.
He is put to work sorting shells for bullets. He might not be able to see, but his hands still work.
“I thought I thought I found it. What I was meant to do.”
“You have. So have I. Now get sortin’.”
And just like that, it appears that all the building up they did over “Dead or Alive Or” is gone along with Dr. Carson. This begs the question, why set your characters up for such heartbreak? Why lead your audience along with an extended journey with someone you’re not invested in if there’s no point?
We’ve seen lost Gabriel already. We don’t need to see him lose faith again.
Eugene and Negan
Negan isn’t thrilled with finding out that Dr. Carson and Father Gabriel have escaped, and he makes that very clear to Eugene. It also seems like he doesn’t suspect Eugene at all. This leaves Eugene in a very unique position.
If Negan thinks there’s no way he’d betray him because he’s bent the knee (so to speak), then Eugene could sabotage whatever he wanted when the time came and really screw up Negan’s plans.
This is especially true since Negan just promoted Eugene to head of his own outpost. He’s now the official bullet maker for the Saviors.
This would be the only way Eugene could redeem himself.
At the end of the episode, Negan tells Eugene that he needs him to make bullets faster, and Eugene gives him the idea to hurl walker parts over the Hilltop fence until he can get a big enough supply of bullets.
This turns the wheels in Negan’s demented brain, and we see that he’s put a twist on Eugene’s plan. With all the Saviors together, Negan pushes Lucille into a walker chained to their fence and gets it good and bloody.
Dwight pushes his way to the front to see all the carnage as Negan explains:
“No more smashing and bashing. With this…well, this, it can just be a touch. Or a big, wet kiss. Either way, this gets you full membership, and that’s what we want. We want people to join the club. Hilltop is gonna learn to toe the line one way or another, dead or alive Or some kinda shit in between.”
Whenever they attack Hilltop, things are going to get very bad, very quick.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC!